Sunday, January 07, 2007

Lugging mud

Finally, we broke away from our materialistic adventures to focus back on the natural building aspect of our home. The challenging part of building with natural plaster is dealing with cold weather during construction. As you can see in this [somewhat blurry] photo, our living room has been invaded by a mud-mixing centre, complete with cement mixer, barrels of clay and sand, lime putty and straw. It's no surprise that it makes a big mess (it splatters all over) and it sucks up a lot of space. It's also tricky to keep enough supplies (clay and sand) in the house to last through a winter since the piles of dirt outside freeze solid. Spring-like temperatures (above 10 degrees C) thawed the ground enough to enable me to lug in loads and loads of sand and clay today to replenish our supplies (bring on the Robaxacet).

We're putting the push on to finish plastering the kitchen so that the cabinet maker can begin his work. As we finish the kitchen, we'll need to dig a hole for a five-inch plastic pipe to run through the wall as a channel for the range hood, and another for a smaller pipe to house the outdoor water tap. Two more pipes will need to be channeled through the utility room wall for the dryer vent and bathroom fan vent before we can complete that area. We'll use plastic piping directly against the straw to house the metal pipes in case they sweat.

Good news on the plumbing/heating front: We have heat (!) now that our radiant in-floor thermal system is running and we now have the civilized pleasure of a functioning water closet (the nicest term I could think of). The radiant heat feels luxurious and makes working around the house very comfortable.

The bad news of the week is that we have hard water, so we'll need to find a way to remove the "hardness." From what I'm reading on the CMHC website, water softeners put high levels of sodium in the water which is not great for humans (can you say, heart attack please?), and rather terrible for our water table/surrounding soil. Does anyone know if reverse osmosis can work just as well? I've heard of people using reverse osmosis in tandem with a water softener to remove the salt after it has softened the water, but that means big bucks and a lot of space taken up in our utility room that we simply cannot afford. CMHC indicates that it can remove minerals, thereby softening water, but doesn't give a definitive view on using reverse osmosis in place of a water softener. I'd prefer this route...

The other debate of the week is whether or not we should finish the wood (sanding and applications of water based protection) on our stairs and loft floor *before* we plaster upstairs or *after*...?


Blogger StrawBoss said...

I'd do the floors after. No matter how careful you try to be, mud and/or sand will get everywhere. If you haven't already, protect your floors with paper, less worry about the floors and makes clean-up easier.

I'm also finally getting to do the finish plaster inside-the drywall guy(s) seemed to take forever but did a beautiful job. This house may actually be finished sometime.

8:35 AM  

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