{building outside the box – spring 2019 update}

When I first wrote a post, sharing the beginning of our farm house building journey, I had intended to update monthly…silly naive little me figured there would be something to actually share each month. Back then, I also thought we would hopefully be in said house by Christmas. Ah, past self, what oh what were you thinking?

6 months on from that first post, and I have been getting some messages and questions asking about the house and how we are going with it. The short version – we aren’t a single step closer to starting. In fact, we might be even further behind. Our town house still hasn’t sold, which in a way is a blessing, giving us plenty of time to consider our options and really tweak things to best suit us. It’s also given us time to make some big decisions.

One of those was – how far were we willing to push the straw idea along? What was our ultimate goal for the house, and where would our priorities stand? It felt the further we travelled along that journey, the further we got from our original intention to simplify and downsize (well, down-size as much as one easily can with a family of 6, and factoring in rapidly approaching teenagerhood). We adored our floor plan, but as we inched closer to finalising it all, the more complicated it got, and the larger the footprint grew. It looked stunning but the sheer size of it all was starting to stress me out – two staircases, two fireplaces, three lofts, acres of windows.

Then as we started nutting out the practicalities of it with our builder, it also started to seem like strawbale wasn’t going to be the best option with our chosen design. Le sigh. So then we had to strip it all right back to basics, and reassess everything. How committed were we to straw? How committed were we to our design? Or was there a better way to do both?

Which leads us to our current stage – we have design 2.0 with the draftsman. Its a lot simpler, a lot more space efficient – not quite as fancy but hopefully we can incorporate some design features to tizzy it up a bit. It should, however, be a bit more flexible as our family grows and changes. We are working towards a reverse veneer construction. using compressed earth bricks that are manufactured semi-locally as an internal thermal mass, with an external cladding. What we are still keeping from the first round is a solar-passive orientation, and big windows off the living area to make the most of the view, leading to a large deck for outside living. What we are adding is more northern sun and views to the bedrooms, which should make each and every one of them warm and welcoming, and a joy to be in.

So now, we wait. If we can get the DA in by Christmas I will be happy. It would be nice to be in the house proper by next Christmas, but I am trying very much to let go of any concept of deadlines and timeframes. With so many moving parts that rely on other moving parts and many of which feel circular, I am attempting to adopt an attitude of “it will happen when it happens”. One day in the future, I will have a glorious new home to move in to. On that day it will be worth the wait. It’s just the waiting isn’t all that much fun!

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