More than a year has passed since the last post, time to put some updates! We have been quite busy, with travels, design consultancies and permaculture workshops, but the work on the house is going well.
In July 2018 we more or less finished the interior walls. Then of course because the shrank, we had to refill the top part between roof and wall 2-3 times, quite an exhausting job, given that you have to work around rafters and beam. If we had to do it again, we would definitly build all the walls (interior and exterior) at the same time, to ensure better cohesion, and faster drying.
In March 2019 we covered the roof. In order to keep it as light as possible, we put sod (actually more grass than soil) directly on the HDPE membrane in some places, and gravel in others, so we could create a kind of drainage. It has rained a lot since, with hail and everything, and nothing happened: no collapse, no rain inside, so I assume it's safe to say the roof is sound
We also finished the floor. First we put the basic layers: gravel, vapor barrier and cob. It was not so great to put cob, as it shrank and cracked and was quite uneven... the best we could do was filling the largest cracks, and then we put the final (for now) layer: a lime mortar made with 1 part hydrated lime and 3 parts sand. We bought the lime in a local producer, and the quality was quite different between bags. Some produced a very nice and smoot layer that did not crack, while another batch would crack a lot and even had some kind of bubbles popping up. Now the floor is quite ok, strengthening by the day, but we will probably cover it with a water-based epoxy paint or resin for durability and easy cleaning.
We installed the electric system, which consists of a 100W solar panel, a charge controller, a 65 Ah 12 V battery and a 600W inverter. It works like a charm, we have no problems working all day on the computer, plus watching 3 hours of shows in the evening. LED lights, computer and phone charging are our only requirements for the moment, but we may have a small fridge or coolbox in the future, as well as a water pump and maybe a small washing machine.
We finished covering the outer part of the exterior walls with what we call "sticky plaster": 1 part sieved soil and 1 part cow manure. It provides a protective layer, which is also somewhat waterproof.
The interior walls were also covered with the sticky plaster, and then, because it is very work intensive to apply a clay plaster, as we previously did with the interior part of the exterior walls, we decided to paint them with limewash. We bought a better quality lime, called "type N" and put 2 coats on all walls. It looks great. The transition between the cream colored clay and the white limewash is also nice.
Finally we brought some furniture: gas stove, kitchen, table and chairs, as well as a bed.
We also advanced with the garden.
Next steps: finish the shower, which currently has a lime plaster. We will either put an epoxy on it, or a sealant they use for concrete water tanks. Then finish the water tank
, and install the water system. Hopefully by the end of January we will have everyting done (even if the tank might not be full, as the dry season will start soon).