Fianou Oanyi

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since Aug 25, 2015
Australia
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Recent posts by Fianou Oanyi

At first I thought cob would be a good idea, but having read many different handbooks etc... I am starting to think it might be quite problematic. There seems to be a lot of misinformation and misleading advice and I don't feel confident negotiating my way through that. I think it appealed to me because the carpentry skills didn't seem so complex, but I think one way or another carpentry and framing will be needed. I was also put off by the amount of earth disturbance that would be required to build the foundations and source the clay etc... strawbale looks good, but is quite difficult to source and can be costly. I then wondered if perhaps a natural timber house would be better, because the foundations can sit of plinths and it will sit more lightly on the earth.
yah i don't know....
I realise its a bit of a ridiculous question, but I thought perhaps someone would have some left of field ideas and be able to point me in a direction I would never consider on my own... like "hey have you heard of -----?"
3 years ago

Jay C. White Cloud wrote:Your comments remind me that I really need to do a post taking folks through the "basics" of this process, so they can perhaps glean a little bit better understanding of how this system works.


Hi Jay,
Did you end up doing that? Can you link me a link? I would like to read that very much! And also, how would you incorporate termite controls and barriers to that sort of system?
Thanks,
Fi


"I like vernacular architecture styles"

These "styles" only came about because they followed function and the limits of materials at hand. I don't think in any traditional context people did something because it "looked good" it always served a purpose and was at the limits of what the material could do and the purpose the construction was meant to serve. Architecture should always be functional.



I should clarify that I mean i like vernacular styles for the way they function, and work to the local conditions, not for the aesthetics. I just mean i would love to look to traditional styles and age-old approaches. There are a myriad of vernacular styles and designs....


Do you have land? What are your resources?


Like I said above, we haven't got that yet. But we know the area we are looking at.

Also, seismic activity isn't an issue. Australia is pretty calm on that front.
3 years ago
I have been reading and researching different natural building styles and I am struggling to hit upon a style of build that would suit where I am. My main requirement being that the building style is NATURAL ie. no concrete, no steel beams or huge reliance on metal, no plastic membranes, no toxic chemicals and off gassing/VOCs. I want a natural home that is as green as possible. Actually the issue is more one of energy, connection to the earth and nature and minimising interference from the materials of the home. My soul aches living in dead soul-less homes. I am not sure if that is something you can understand.
I am struggling to find the right approach, because I like vernacular architecture styles, but because I live in Australia there just is NOT a single vernacular architecture style that can be turned to. There has not been centuries of building and perfecting the right approach. Housing in australia is of a very low standard and historically all the houses built were completely inadequate and innappropriate to the climate and exigencies of the location. People who adopt western design approaches tend to find the houses don't cope well in the summer. Many have turned to asian styles imported from Bali and find they don't work so well in the winter. Also because many approaches in Asia expect regular upkeep and flexibility and government requirements want approaches that are completely permanent.
So depending on the house you are likely to be too cold in winter or too hot in summer. Most houses employ far too much concrete and paving and hardscapes that reflect heat and really make the oppressive heat of the harsh australian sun unbearable. There is a history of patching on new ideas to try and rectify the old problems and it just goes on and on. Houses are literally in need of remodelling every 5-10 years and that is not good enough in my opinion. I grew up in a mudbrick house built by my parents, but it had issues too. The heavy rain fall occasionally caused big damage despite good design and the termites still got in and needed poisoning. The mud floor needed removing eventually I believe.... Most of the so called eco homes in the area I am from were built in the late 70s early 80s and honestly they are mostly in terrible states of disrepair. (Only basing this on what I see in the real estate pages) Otherwise many just don't live up to my idea of 'green' or 'natural'. Lots of concrete and steel.
So where do I start? Is importing an architectural style possible? I am yet to find an approach that really stacks up and will suit the humid area I will be building. I am not a builder and have no experience at all.... but I don't see any wisdom in repeating the mistakes of the past and following down a bad path, just because the right one isn't available. I also figure we have no skills in particular so any and every approach is totally viable. I have read up on cob, but I think perhaps it is not a good approach.
We don't have the land or sight chosen out yet, but i want to do as much pre-reading and thinking and research as I can. So sorry I can't say what materials will be handy. But I can say, the block should have some trees some of which can be used for building and milled. There are also local mills that use selective harvesting of trees. Straw is actually hard to get and valuable.
The climate I am building in swings between mild temperate dry winters ( like a european spring) and subtropical summers. Summers can be hot and hit 40 celsius, and winters have cold evenings that need heating/fireplaces, but days that are sunny and a jumper will suffice. Late summer is wet and often floods, spring is hail season. There are occasional fierce storms. The air is moist and mould is a housing issue. Also of importance is the issue of termites, which is a big problem here. The common methods employ poison or barrier approaches. Barriers include metal meshes, metal or plastic capping on foundations and constant vigilance. The soils are rich chocolate loamy volcanic basalt.
So where should I be looking to for a starting point and inspiration? Any ideas you wonderful clever people?
3 years ago
Thanks, that's a little more understandable.
Honestly though, I don't really want to hire a structural engineer... might have to just stick to one material to play it safe.
3 years ago
cob
... yeah I am sorry but I honestly don't understand any of what you are saying! I think that all just went right over my head.

Terry Ruth wrote:Using similar materials (clay or binder type mainly, and aggregates, brick/COB/mortar) of the same density and plastic index(PI) will be key at the interfaces in this hybrid design so they expand and contract at the same rate or are not too far off each other. High density will be less permeable or "breathable" but will be more structural and visa versa. PI determines expansion/contraction. How breathable and how structural will depend on seismic and wind activity an Engineer can determine structural requirements. If they spec out a high density brick, mesh and bar reinforcements, then other less dense hygroscopic materials like an inner plaster can be used to re-gain breathability. In harsh cold climates, double wykes may be required. There the outer wyke can be a structural rated brick to take loads, the inner can be a brick_COB combo for breathability and anesthetics. The center insulation core/vent cap would serve as a thermal brake an ventilation gap. The core r-value would depend on climate. Roxul makes an rigid mineral board IS that is high perm (30 ish) for applications like this and they are rated to be in contact with soils to also be used as foundation outsulation.

What I do when I'm not sure how designs will perform is build a mock-up in the climate zone, add radiant heat from a heater and/or moisture from a spray bottle and see how fast it dries or if it cracks. I'll even soak it in water or spray it with a hose. Temp and moisture meters always help. A pro lab is always best.

3 years ago
cob
I saw this picture today and it inspired me. I am interested in using a combination of fired clay bricks and cob for my build. I was thinking at least a brick foundations/stemwall, and perhaps also brick load bearing columns and cob infill. Anyone got some practical ideas or experience to share about doing this? Are there any issues with adhering the cob to the clay brick? Does it shrink and pull away? Does the use of clay fired bricks affect the breathability and moisture movement of the cob wall like concrete does?
3 years ago
cob
I saw a great idea in a house once... now unhelpfully I can't remember where to try and find a link/reference, but anyhoo... where they used a bank of glass facing the sun for passive solar gain, with a paved flagstone floor to gather heat, hydronic heating in the house, but also, a big rock. Essentially the house was built around a rock that was used as a bank of thermal mass to both heat and cool the house. In the winter the windows captured the sun and it would hit the floor and the rock and the heat would be stored. In the summer the sun would be higher and would not come in the glass windows and the rock would store the cool. I thought it was a brilliant idea. It took the notion of thermal mass to a whole other level. Plus the bonus was the rock was a stunning feature and gave a great connection to the earth.
3 years ago
I wanted to throw in my thoughts:
I don't live in a tiny house, but we are hoping to build one soon. So I have been figuring out a lot how to do this with a growing family. It won't be a house on wheels, too pricey in australia, but small and affordable. I have given a lot of thought to this. Mostly because we don't have heaps of money, but also because we just don't use the space in a typical house. We have grown to a small family with 2 kids and we still only sleep in one room. I think the thing I have come to is to forget the dogma and the "tiny house movement" but take the inspiration to only have a house as big as what you need. There is a lot of wasted space in a typical house. I think for inspiration design the house like a small apartment. Have heaps of storage planned into it to. We have been downsizing and organising. We currently live in a 3 bedroom house and we literally only use the bathroom/laundry/ kitchen/lounge/ and one bedroom. We are always squeezed into one room together. Kids don't want to be on their own, they always want to hang out with you. I have figured out that our dream house would have one bedroom/sleeping loft, small bathroom (a small bath is helpful with kids), a family WIR/linen, an open living space, and a small galley kitchen that at least accommodates a large fridge and decent sized pantry. It can be open to the living area, but needs to be a bit more than what you see in a tiny house. I would also like a patio or veranda and would keep the washing machine out there. I guess if the kids need their own room down the track we could add on another room. I'd probably want a spot for shed storage and to keep some keepsakes. I keep a few boxes of clothes the kids will use down the track. Its not necessary to hold on to it all, but I like to keep it and save and reuse stuff, especially as I sewed a lot of it myself. I keep shoes! They cost a bomb and they grow fast so its great to have bigger shoes on hand for the next kid. At this point we don't know how many kids we want. But i aim for something that could eventually accommodate 6 kids if need be. I like what Ross Chapin has designed for his pocket neigbhourhoods. They are a good size for a family. Rather than separate rooms for everything they utilise nooks for extra space. So a one bedroom house can have a nook for a study that could be enough space for a bunk bed instead, plus a little loft provides storage or extra sleep space. Its a good approach that you might like. If I thought the kids needed their own room, I probably would only consider a little spot for a bed. They won't play on their own in their room. I also think its important to balance tight space with open space. If its all too tight it will feel crazy uncomfortable and crowded. But some spaces can be tight and well organised like the bathroom, storage, kitchen, sleeping. I guess the living space is the main thing I'd like to have open and spacious and not over crowded with storage. I'd also have some massive doors to open to the outdoors and give more space. A good indoor/outdoor connection with kids is really helpful!
I thought if the kids need more room as teenagers we can add some space. They can build their own tiny! And take it with them if/when they leave home. They can park it elsewhere on our property and start their own tiny house compound. Maybe you could have a little compound of tiny's or two connected by a veranda?
The thing about kids and stuff is not necessarily true. I don't think kids need to own more than they can look after as in pack away easily. So the baby has 2 baskets of clothes/including cloth nappies. My son has a little cube storage and one special box of treasures. Their toys fit into the buffet in our lounge. I have embraced the Konmari method of decluttering/organising. I guess if I had to quantify it we each have about a suitcase of clothes. We have 2 pairs of shoes each. I have 2 sets of sheets only per bed. A small number of muslins and washers and towels. Now, this isn't about living some sort of idealogical life of austerity, I'm not into that, but honestly its just so much easier and less work to have less stuff to keep track of. I decided we can't own more stuff than I can remember where it is, because somehow "Mama" is the master "keeper of all the things". Kids don't need stuff, and kids don't need their own room. My kids have always slept with us. My oldest is 5 now and has his own bed pushed against ours. I think I'd need a sleeping space ( without wardrobes, just space to sleep) big enough to fit 2 double beds. I'd like to get 2 ensembles ( no frame) and push them together.
When you have kids the first thing is to not allow people to give you too much stuff! Train your family and friends to give your kids experiences not stuff, a trip to the zoo etc...
The other awesome thing is the toy library. I don't know if your community has that, but mine does. My kids could really just get a new toy out each week and take it back and get something new. They don't even really need to have toys then. But they have a set of duplo and lego that gets used heaps. The toy library is great for novelty toys that you get bored with quickly or large toys that take up lots of room. We were given heaps of toys at my sons first birthday, we just didn't have the room so we gave a lot to the library. Avoid toys that a child can't use in open ended play. If its too narrow in its range of play or it just entertains,is a novelty, it needs batteries, or its flimsy plastic its not worth having.
Living small with a family needs thoughtfulness about what you have and what you do.
Check out these. A "tiny" house for a family may not be as small as the tiny's they show on the webs that couples and singles use, but they will still be real small. I have found though, that actually its not always cheaper to be crazy tiny.
[url=]http://rosschapin.com/plans/cottages/[/url]
3 years ago

Rose Pinder wrote:I'm jealous, sounds like a great plan.


I am glad, because right now this week, I am rather terrified! We moved down here and took the plunge and the risk 3 years ago. It was crazy stressful and we leapt into the void and were okay, but ended up living in a tent with nowhere to go approaching winter for about a month. We ended up staying somewhere lovely and meeting some great people travelling through the camp site. It was private so there were no limits to the length of stay like a lot of public camp grounds. But a storm undid us, we packed up and luckily a complete stranger took us in and we camped on her loungeroom floor for 2 weeks. Somehow we were able to buy an old housing commission house with no money under a scheme and have somewhere to live. Could have worked out well as the house is real cheap. We'd have the mortgage payed off in a few years, It wasn't the plan at all, but we couldn't get a rental, so go figure its easier to get a mortgage than a rental contract. But we really don't like the area... its very conservative and closed and we don't feel at all at home. Its not a place I want to raise my beautiful rainbow boys. Its also not very satisfying a lifestyle and we never wanted a mortgage. So lessons learned we are a little wiser this time round, but it feels like we are leaping back into the void again! I know to trust, and that we will be rewarded but I am still scared. Its not so much "letting go of pebbles to find gems" in my mind right now, as "come to the edge he said, we are afraid, they said.... they came, he pushed them and they flew" .... well I hope we will fly. My heart still yearns for a proper connection with the earth and to develop my Dadirri. I am scared but hopeful.

Are you talking about the camping while you are travelling or once you are on the land? They're two different things in my mind eg at the land you can build infrastructure to protect you during storms or have an backup shelter.


No I mean camping once we are on our land. Yes, it's what I had in mind. How to go about camping more permanently. I thought maybe build a toilet first, power and a water tank, then maybe a bathhouse/laundry, then start the main house?
3 years ago