Category: Uncategorized (Page 1 of 3)

Finishing off the second render coat in preparation for the final coat

In this article for the The Owner Builder magazine I explain how to finish off the second coat of render in preparation for the final coat. I also talk about:

  • Shaping the wall
  • Considerations when installing tiles
  • Skirting boards
  • Ceiling lining
  • Eaves lining
  • Sculptural features

I hope that you find the article helpful, click here to read it.


I have a new respect for these little bits and pieces.  I always thought they looked a bit useless really – handy if you needed to climb up the wall, or rest a cuppa on.   Today I learnt how effective they are at firming up the structure of the wall.  Nice one noggins!

Laying the flooring at the Patch

With the sheets of flooring weighing 40kg each, I was glad to have some helpers to finish it off.  We got a production line going to get saddles and insulation installed and flooring down one row at a time.  Now I’m looking forward to starting the frame.

Strawbale at the Patch

My building has been a fascinating journey.  Here are a few snippets of the process to date.

It was really exciting to make a start.  Marking out the house and putting up hurdles was a great introduction to getting my head around measurements and angles.  I would advise anyone planning to hire a Dingo Digger to check the weather forecast first!  July probably isn’t the best time to dig stump holes.  I was lulled into false security by the dry winters caused by the drought.  The rain made digging the holes more difficult, not to mention getting bogged numerous times.  The holes remained full of water for a few months.  We had to wait for them to dry out to put in the concrete pads.


Putting the bearers on taught me accuracy using a circular saw and hammering skew nails.  I also got introduced to a nail gun and laminated the bearers.  While putting the joists on I realised some stumps were not level which meant taking some bearers off and cutting down some stumps and packing others.  Better to check at each stage before going on was the lesson learnt here!


I’m interested to hear of other Owner Bulider’s experiences.

Cheers for now





Straw bale installation – laying straw bales

Owner builder magazine asked me to share a little about laying straw bales. In this article I explain:

  • The importance of running bond
  • What to do in wet areas
  • Bottom boxing
  • Boxing insulation
  • When you might use intermediate boxing.

I also include a number of helpful diagrams that explain the process of building and joining to the boxing.To read the whole article click here.

How do you protect a straw bale home from water damage?

The Owner Builder magazine asked me to explain how to protect exposed areas in a straw bale house from water damage. In the article, I talk about:

  • Roof purlins
  • Stormwater protection
  • Working with an electrician
  • Working with a plumber

Click here to read the article.


Owner Builder Article – Building an energy efficient straw bale home

Owner Builder magazine has recently published this article titled “Building an energy efficient straw bale home”

Click here to read it.

Cover of Owner Builder magazine article building an energy efficient straw bale home

Click the image above to read the article as a .pdf

What did you think of the article? Got questions or comments, I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.


Steve & Shelley’s working bee.

I would like to express my sincerest appreciation for the generous offers of support, which have been overwhelming. At this point we have sufficient offers for help however I have so far been unable to get back to everyone. Hopefully this week I will be able to get more details for all those people coming to the working bee regarding fascilities, location etc. Please be patient with me whilst I tie up some loose ends this week. I will endeavour to get to all the volunteers as soon as possible with the information.

There have been so many responses expressing their love and concern for Shelley that it would be impossible to respond to all of them. Consequently can I offer the deepest appreciation from Steve, Shelley and me for all your kind words and prayers.

Thanks heaps for your support



Straw bale weekend to help lymphoma sufferer

We want your help NOT your money

Steve & Shelley are a lovely couple that need our help. Last year Shelley received treatment for lymphoma and they were excited at Christmas when the tests showed good results with treatment and they thought they were in the clear. Since then they have been working on their straw bale home and have done a great job thus far. Unfortunately I have just received an email from Steve asking me if there is anyone that could help as Shelley’s Lymphoma has returned and she is undergoing intensive chemo etc. which means that Steve has to be with her to care for her and is unable to fit the bales in his house. He knows it will be 7-8 months before he can get back onto the building, and in my opinion this is too long to leave things as they are so I decided to put on a not for profit working bee to help them out.

We all know people who have suffered from cancer, many of who survive which is what we pray for for Shelley. In most cases there is nothing we can do to help, BUT this time we can.

I am donating my time for a working bee over the three days from Saturday September 24th,   to Monday September 26th in anticipation of getting all of the bales up and the first coat of render on. I can’t do this on my own so I need your help. If you have bale laying experience all the better, but if not I can teach you. We will need people to cook meals and take care of the volunteers so if you can’t lay bales but can cook a barbecue you can still help.

Ideally we are looking for about 20 volunteers. We can camp on site, but facilities are very basic so if you decide to stay on site might I suggest that you bring appropriate deodorant. This will be a great opportunity to help people in need and have a lot of fun doing it. We will have a camp fire at night, so if you are musical bring along your voice and maybe guitar.

I trust you will be able to stand alongside me in support of these people that need our help. If you can help please let me know by email advising me of any experience you have in carpentry, laying straw bales or cooking. I will then get back to you with additional information about the weekend including the job location which is about 30 minutes from Geelong near Winchelsea Victoria.

Please let me know as soon as you can if you can help so that we can continue planning this weekend.

Kindest regards


Inglewood straw bale

We are finally over all of the setting up challenges and have started to build the Inglewood straw bale house. As part of the design changes due to the meter box location we had already put in place the hurdles to establish the outer bounds of the house. Consequently we are ready to simply mark out the stump hole positions based on those hurdles and start building. We got to site only to realize that one of the locals decided that it would be fun to kick off one of the cross bars of one of the hurdles.  This was no big deal as they had only removed one crossbar. As it happened it was the easiest to replace taking about 10 minutes to fix.

Given the interference with one crossbar we checked the other hurdles which were all OK. It only took a couple of hours to mark out the stump hole positions so we took the rest of the day off.

Inglewood straw bale house begins

Inglewood straw bale house begins

When you are ordering a digger, carefully check the engineer’s specification to establish depth and diameter. In addition, if you have silt stone or weathered rock you may be required to bore into it. If this is the case you need to book a digger capable of doing the job. A standard auger is fine for soil but not rock.

This sounds costly, but it is really no big deal in most instances if you get the right machine. On an average house you could expect the post hole digging to cost around $1,500 instead of $300 – $400. If this is the case we would design your house with bigger bigger spans for the bearers and floor joists to reduce the number of holes, there-by reducing the overall cost.

The Inglewood straw bale house has now officially begun. Before I close off I should mention that we arranged construction insurance prior to starting the work. In addition to standard insurance we took out extra cover for volunteers as we will most likely have family and friends help at some point.


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