Saturday, July 25, 2015

Getting Ready for the Women In Their Power Cob Workshop

Today is the first day of the Womens Cobbing workshop here at my cob house site on Mayne Island.
Yesterday I awoke to rain hitting the roof of my trailer, the first rain since April. It has been an extraordinarily hot and dry summer so far. It seemed ironic it decided to rain just as the workshop is set to begin. It will be perfect if it stays slightly cooler than the temperatures we have been seeing lately, but dry. That is my wish for the next few weeks.

We have someone on the island preparing and delivering lunch to us everyday. Donna kindly offered to lend me her shelter. I had initially asked her for it as we needed some shade from the intense sun we have been experiencing. However, yesterday it was in order to keep dry, lol.
It was great to get it set up on the deck.

Lindy arrived from Texas yesterday, and it was so nice to meet her. Our other participants went straight to their B and B, so I am excited to meet them this morning.

Lots has happened since my last post here, but I have been adding pictures and updates to my facebook page, Pams Cob House.

The building inspector came on Thursday and gave us permission to move ahead with building the cob walls. This was great news as Rudi has been working so hard building the drystack foundation.

Here in BC the building code requires we have a concrete footing with rebar in it. We also had to bolt upright posts to the footing. These posts run up through the drystack foundation and the cob walls and are all connected to a wooden ring that runs around the top of the wall. This is for seismic protection and strength.
Building the drystack around these posts was a challenge as you can imagine, but I was lucky to find someone who could do it for me.

The past few weeks have been a flurry of activity as the straw was delivered, and the sand arrived.

 I found some recycled windows while I was over in Mission and was so lucky to discover that Mayne Island Home Hardware have a truck that visits the mainland every week and they will pick things up over there and bring them back to the island. What a gift. I met them in Langley, where there were six arched windows I found on craigslist, and we loaded up all my fourteen windows and they drove them back to Mayne for me. I am so grateful to Amanda at the Insurance office here on Mayne, as she told me about this service. That is the beauty of a small island community, everyone is so helpful and supportive.
Yesterday on site we wanted to arrange for a bobcat to come  and do a huge mix of cob for us so we could concentrate on building the walls and not just doing the foot mixes. Fred Bennett, who delivered the sand, suggested he bring the small excavator instead of the bobcat, and this offered us a solution to another problem we had.
Inside the drystack foundation, we have to infill up to the floor level and this is a huge job. When Fred brings his excavator, he can take down a section of a soil wall and put it straight into the middle of the floor area. This wall has to be removed anyway as it is in the way of where we need to put three post footings for upright posts that will support the roof.

So we asked Rudi to leave a section of the foundation unfinished to allow the machine to deposit the fill into the inner space. This will save us so much labour and I am so grateful, I can't wait until Monday to see what occurs. Once this huge job is finished, Rudi will return to finish the last piece of drystack.

Today we plan to visit the Mayne Island Farmers Market, Thrift Store and Recycling Depot and mix some cob manually.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Cob Building Workshop For Women.


Are you at the height of your performance and looking for a different kind of holiday?
Are you done with your job and looking to re-create yourself?
Are you thinking “am I too old to try this?”
“Off to the beach” sounds boring and you want to be inspired?
Would you like to spend a week with like-minded women?

Discover the magic of Cob building

a recreational workshop for women of power.

A 6-day workshop on cob building, in the height of summer,  on Mayne Island, BC, in Canada.  

Dates July 25 – 30, 2015.

 This is what Elke has to say about this experience.
Cob building is building with Earth. Touch earth and explore your creative side!
We build strength doing some foot-mixing in the beginning of the course. Later we will use pre-mixed cob to save our power for the actual building and shaping of walls and built-in elements like niches, benches or sculpture.
We take time to warm up our muscles in the morning and stretch them at the end of the day. There will be tasty and energizing food to support us. Our site is situated among trees that offer nice shade for cooling breaks and when it’s time for talks.

Topics covered:
  • Designing for cob
  • Choosing a good location
  • Tips and tricks to make a small house feel spacious
  • Plumbing and Electrical for the cob house
  • Beautiful natural finishes
  • Do’s and don’ts for cob
Hands- on learning:
  • Cob mixing- for walls, for details, for furniture and for floors
  • Building walls- straight and curved
  • Setting windows and doors
  • Fun details with bottles and other elements
  • Trimming and shaping
  • Sample plaster
  • Working smarter not harder

 Come and meet the inspiring Elke Cole as she facilitates this workshop for women 40 and over.
Elke Cole, is a workshop facilitator and designer who empowers women around the globe. She is a builder and architect, and has facilitated many workshops and training programs worldwide. Recently she has been working with Women in Cameroon and is leading the “Africa kitchen Revolution” project.
 This workshop is on Mayne Island, and it is actually on my cob house. :-)

When I was first dreaming of building a cob house, I was attracted to Mayne Island as it was the home of cob guru Pat Hennebery.  He had built several cob houses there.

I discovered that cob building had been established on the Island through a collaboration of Elke Cole and Pat Hennebery in the early days of cobworks. Their work with local officials opened the doors for many buildings on the coast. There are a number of cob homes on Mayne Island, including one guest cottage , which I have had the pleasure of staying in.  

I discovered Elke was giving a "How to Design Your Natural Home" weekend workshop at OUR Eco Village on Vancouver Island and that is how I met her. I asked her to draw up the plans for my cob house design and I have been thrilled to be working with her on my dream. 

Mayne Island is a beautiful island, one of the Southern Gulf Islands between Vancouver, BC and Vancouver Island. There is a great Farmers Market every Saturday, and lots of music and art to be found.

 So come and have some fun, learn and laugh a lot, and feel your power in the company of like minded women.

There will also be lots of time to relax and the beach is only ten minutes walk away.
Evenings are personal time can be spent alone or as group, depending on accommodation choices (see event website) and personal preference.
Mayne Island has a range of possibilities for your personal time: from bodywork to swimming, restaurant visits or kayaking. Enjoy a Reiki session on site of visit the local Spa. We invite you to share your music or poetry in an evening circle.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Putting in the Septic Tanks and Field

 One of the really big jobs to get done prior to building the house is the septic field. I would really have preferred not to have had to put one in. I believe that on an island that sets a priority of conserving water that it is time to seriously consider alternatives to demanding the use of septic fields as the only means of sewage treatment. It seems a shame to use so much water in order to flush the sewage into a septic tank and field.  There is now well documented evidence of communities that use advanced composting toilet systems and these communities manage to protect their water shed as a result.  It would be nice to hope that in the future such alternatives will be available to home builders on Mayne Island.

In order to put in a septic field on Mayne Island, you have to have a design engineered and approved by the Islands Trust/Health Authority. Andrew Money designed and got permission from the powers that be for my septic field and tanks to be installed.  He lives on Saturna Island and works with Matt Taylor of Mayne Island. Matt has all the heavy equipment you see in these pictures.  He was unable to put my septic in himself due to a broken wrist that needed time to heal properly.

Luckily Andrew was available to do the work and I so appreciate the job he did for me.  It is great when island folk pull together to help get the job done in this way. Andrew was excellent and I am so happy with the work done.
Andrew Money

Matt Taylor

Starting the excavation.

Ready for the pipes to be laid.

The actual septic field extends below the site where the house will sit. My lot is on a slope so we stepped down for the septic field.  It is set on a terrace that will be accessible by stairs from the patio.

Here you can see the drop off from the building site.

Lots of care taken to smooth off the field.

Lots of sand in the septic field with upright pipes.

The tanks were first placed up on the top of the site while the excavation was completed.

Tank waiting to be installed.

 There were two tanks with three chambers. These had to be buried in the ground below where the house is being constructed.

Front view of the tank.

The side view of the double tank.
In position and being filled in.
Nearly done.

Andrew was so skilled at filling in around the tanks with the back hoe.

So now I have my tanks and septic field installed I can heave a huge sigh as it was one of the major steps towards beginning the actual building of the cob house.  A very important part of the infra-structure.

Friday, September 13, 2013

The Footings are In

It has been a fantastic summer weather wise and we got quite a lot done.
I was blessed to have Peter Wilkening recommended to me as a great person to do the footings.  When he came over for our first meeting he suggested filling in the trenches we had dug down into the site and to build up instead. This was perfect as the site is on a hill and this means there will be less of a drop off to the house.  With the plans to terrace back up the hill, this is a really amazing solution for me. I also really appreciated that he called in the building inspector to check the site was sound and that there would be no problems down the road regarding the footings. :-)

After we got the OK, he started building the frames.

  Peter came up with all kinds of creative solutions as to how to deal with the curved walls etc. By building big rectangular footings we have the base needed to build the dry stack foundation on, free forming the curves.  It will work out perfectly. The engineer concurred.
 The interior supporting walls needed a taller frame.

After building the wooden forms he put in all the rebar and called for the inspection. It was passed and the engineer inspected the photos of the work done and signed off on it.

Last Monday the concrete was poured.

This is a big step towards building. It is all I am doing this year, as I have my thesis to write by October/November and then I am off on my travels for six months.

Next summer we will build the rock foundation on top of the footings, and fill in the middle so we can lay the radiant floor heating hose and the natural floor when the time comes. Some of the rock is already on site and whatever else we need I will source next summer.

I am so grateful to be at this stage of the building. I could not have done it without the expertise of Peter and Gary and the help of Matt Taylor and Andrew Money with their JCB/backhoe.  I must find out what they call it in Canada lol.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

I Finished the Outdoor Shower (part 2 of the challenge)

Well yesterday I decided I had to tackle hooking up the shower. I layed out all the bits and re-read the instructions.  This is all new to me.
Here I have connected the water pipe (hose) and the propane pipe.
I am using an  Eccotemp L5 Portable Tankless Water Heater and Outdoor Shower

When searching for something to heat my water I discovered it online. I ordered three from Camping World.  I plan to set one up with a kitchen type sink on my porch and also have one inside my shed for my guest bathroom. :-)  The description read:
"Enjoy instant hot water wherever you go with the Eccotemp L5 Portable Tankless Water Heater. Generating more than 1 gallon of hot water per minute, this compact, energy-efficient heater creates a more comfortable and convenient outdoor experience for you and your family. The water heater comes with everything you need, including the adapters required to attach any standard garden hose nozzle and propane tank (tank not included)."
This was exactly what I wanted and was quite reasonably priced, I think I paid around $129.00.

So after several attempts where water gushed out from the connection, I realized I really did need lots of the special tape they sent to wrap around and seal the joints. :-) 
Finally after hooking up to the propane tank, I flicked the on switch and it fired up and voila, hot water.
I am very happy I managed to do this and look forward to many warm and relaxing showers.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Hello Rocks and Going with The Flow

Well yesterday saw the creation of a new driveway.

And this morning Dan drove his truck down to the site and dumped the rock for the stone foundation. 

Elliot came this morning and told me that he's not able to continue on with the project as he is moving with his young family next week. We thought he could get the footings in by Tuesday for the inspectors, but that's not going to happen now. So I'm on the search for a new construction helper.
There are a few signs I've seen up around the island so I'm sure it won't take long. This gives me some time to think about my thesis. :-)
I am so grateful this project is not on a timeline. It's a joyful experience that will unfold as it should. I am sure the right person will turn up at the right time to get my footings soon.