Friday, 21 March 2014

The grant

I managed to obtain a grant for some of the work on condition that it was done by artisans and that it would result in an energy gain of 25%.  After months and months of paper work, visits, quotes and research the roof, roof insulation and double glazed doors and windows were done.

fitting the windows

The roof is re-slated and veluxes put in
Recycled paper is blasted between breathable membranes

The ground floor of the house

The ground floor of the house had been partially covered in concrete ( a no no as this forces humidity to travel sideways up the walls of the house - concrete doesn't let water vapour through and holds on to humidity - the other part was wooden beams with chestnut floorboards that had seen better days.  I broke up the concrete with a breaker and took up the floorboards and supporting beams and hired a digger to dig down 35cm.  20cm of 20/40 stones were then painstakingly wheelbarrowed in to create 'un hérisson' into which was placed an agricultural pipe with holes in it to air the stones.  The water evacuation pipes were laid into this with sand around them for protection.

The concrete floor broken up

Digging out 35cm depth of earth
The ventilated agricultural pipe laid to aerate the stones
The stones arrive

Barrowing in the stones

Building a straw bale wall

In November last year I worked with a couple of friends to build a straw bale wall for the house - the last bit of the downstairs to fill in.  I had already replaced the rotten lower beam and put in uprights thinking that I would do a torchis wall.  I sourced some straw bales from neighbouring farmers and then set to re-sizing the bales to make them bigger to fit the gaps.  It was a case of trial and error - adding bits of wood and beams here and there to create a supporting structure for them.
John, a neighbour who lives off grid helps
The method  is called 'Cellule sous tension' - the bales are compressed with straps and then forced between two uprights.  Narrow strips of wood are then screwed into the uprights and positioned in  grooves made with a chainsaw in the centre of the top of each bale - this holds them in place.

A third of the wall done
In March/April I will render the bales with earth and lime.