Exactly a week ago, the third (and final) coat of render took place on the eve of the Leo new moon. Matty and I woke up at 5:40 am on Saturday July 22nd, worried for the upcoming day; little did we know then that we were to be blessed in almost every way. Sipping our morning coffee half an hour later, we spotted a silvery crescent moon sitting atop the house, a position of the moon we had never witnessed whilst living on the property for over a year. To us this was a blessing, and it lifted our spirits to no end.
Matty and I spent a week in preparation, masking up windows, kitchen cabinets, doors, door frames and the new fireplace. In addition, the gaps around the windows and doors had to be bondcreted and pre-bogged with render. The whole process is a mammoth task, and we are indescribably happy that it never has to be repeated again. Our hands, skin, energy levels, morale and enthusiasm have all been compromised. I am not making these statements to put anyone off from owner-building, but simply painting a realistic view of the situation.
On the day
By 7:30 am, 8 helpers (friends of ours), Mark (the render man) and his son Robbie, Matty and I began on what was a 11 hour render mission. We made an awesome team and got the work completed on the same day; something that Matty and I were striving for, but unsure whether enough time and day light hours would assist. Matty and I cannot thank our friends enough to give up their weekend time, and do hard physical labour just to give us a hand; this support is never to be forgotten by us. I am sure the helpers will never forget either… it isn’t pleasant work, and don’t be fooled by anyone who tells you so. A big shout out to Ron, Luke, Chris, Sam, Val and Benny Boy! This house is no doubt a labour of love, of perseverance and support.
The weather gods had blessed us tremendously with no rain on the day, and no frost the following morning either. The third coat of render is heavily dependent on the weather as it is the final finish. There isn’t much to say about the rendering process as it hasn’t differed from the first two coats, except the ratio of the ingredients. This time round the render mix consisted of 75% sand, 20% lime and 5% clay and was 10 – 20 mm thick (similar to the first coat). Aesthetically, the major difference also lies in the render finish which is now smooth. Our undulating wavy strawbale walls are softened, corners seem to vanish and the play of light and shadows is simply stunning. We love the earthy, organic presence of our future home; it is exactly what we were after.
A week later
Post render clean-up was the task for the past week, which included taking all the plastic cover sheets off, taking staples out of wooden surfaces, scraping the floor, plasterboard and cement sheets free of render, cleaning window frames and then wheelbarrowing the debris into a hole in the ground. Now that we are here, the next phase can begin.
The real, ‘really-real’ finishing touches phase
A new tiny surge of enthusiasm seems to be filling our hearts again; as we are truly at the finishing stages now with Matty plastering next week, myself picking up paints and slowly but surely getting there. Matty and I are over the build process, but the end result will be worth it all.
We have started to realistically imagine living in there. It may seem strange to you, but when you start the build process, you have an idea and run with it (the creative stage). Then the task of making it into a reality begins, and you get so caught up in how to build the damn thing, you kind of forget what made you get here (the physical stage). I think we are the tail end of this now…. the third phase is simply living in it. Your creation that you have thought of, is a solid, supportive and tangible home, one that speaks to you and the surrounding nature. This is the culmination of our dream and hard work, with the support of friends and family. It is a strange and beautiful thought, of living in a dwelling that has had so much energy put into it.
Anyway, enough of my philosophical musings; spring is on its way and that in itself keeps us going…