The Nest

The first and biggest project on our property was building our strawbale home. Starting in late 2016, we completed this massive undertaking within a year. Here's what happened along the way....

  • The morning after the second coat
    The Nest

    Second skin

    The house got to bathe in the Libra full moonlight with its freshly covered second coat on April 11th and 12th. Mark and his assistant (the professional render team) arrived on the morning of April 11th, along with our friends Val, Charlotte and Benny Boy to help us with the second coat. Matty had envisaged the whole task taking about 8 hours each day, but thankfully we finished up around 1 pm on the second day; giving Matty and I time to celebrate this special milestone. The second coat had to be followed by someone trowelling by hand after the render pump (unlike the first coat), and this trowelling started to give the…

  • West side - round 1 complete
    The Nest

    First skin

    The house finally got its first layer of skin yesterday, thus marking the beginning of the longest milestone. The third and final coat of render will not be applied till all the internal fit-out is complete, which we estimate to be late winter/early spring. To say that this past week has been hard is an understatement. Thankfully everything went smoothly on the day, and all the hard work was worth it all, especially for the view of the house from the driveway.  As the Grand Design peeps love to say: “it blends into the environment”, and for once Matty and I seem to think so too! Render prep Prior to the…

  • All bales are in, strapped up and braces removed!
    The Nest

    House of straw

    Two and a half weeks ago the first round of strawbales were delivered, and then four days later, the second batch.  All up we have 350 bales in our possession, and they are more than enough for the house… a few will be leftover which will get used in the chook pen, much to the chooks’ delight I’m sure! Laying it all down When building the strawbale walls, it may seem simple enough to plonk the bales on the bottom boxing and then layer them as you build height, but there’s more to it than that.  Here’s a list of things to consider: side of the bale facing the inside…

  • The Nest

    Battens, cables and bales

    It is nearly time for the house’s most distinguishing feature to be delivered. Matty and I went to inspect the bales this morning, and they are mighty fine. I ain’t any bale connoisseur but these bales definitely looked like they could be the muscles of our house (the render will be the skin, the frames are the bones….important to get these anatomical details correct :D :D). Each of these wheat straw bales measure 965mm(W) x 450mm(D) x 375mm(H), making the walls quite thick and insulated. 350 of these bad bales will be delivered next week, and the remaining 100 a fortnight after. Last week we completed putting up all the roof…

  • The Nest

    A roof over our heads

    The last day of January marked another milestone on Cooinda, the roof sheets were put up!  Three days later, Matty secured the flashing around the edges as well. Tim, the plumber assisted Matty on the day.  As the skillion roof is on a 6 degree single pitch, the gutter will only be on the south side of the house, where eventually a downpipe will feed a 10,000 litre rainwater tank. We then started work on the roof battens this weekend; this is the timber on the inside portion of the roof that holds up the ceiling plaster as well as the roof insulation bats. Alongside the roof extravaganza, I managed to finish…

  • First fascia board is up
    The Nest

    The first quarter

    And so we are close to our first quarter since the slab pour; 3 months, oh how you’ve whizzed by!  We’re on the precipice of the roof inauguration (yes, I used that word with intent). Last weekend we had hired help from our local Benny Boy, a quirky character who we buy firewood from during the colder months.  He has the strength that I lack, and he lacks the fear of heights that I have, so it worked out for the better :D  He helped Matty put up the smart roof joists (as opposed to the intellectually challenged type).   In case you were wondering (like I was)… smart joists refer to a…

  • Front wall frames - view from the north
    The Nest

    Bracing ourselves for 2017

    The holiday season has come to an end, and it is bittersweet.  On the sweet side, the thrill of seeing progress is addictive; the bitter side, progress will now slow down as we won’t be dedicated to building most of the time. The front wall frame is the crowning glory of this post, albeit not yet complete; remaining are the back lintels and a few brackets to secure all the lintels in place.  As you can see in the pics: a) the posts were put up first, then b) the ring beam and front lintels, and c) the last of the bottom boxing At 3.85 metres tall, the front north facing wall…

  • It's up in the air!
    The Nest

    Three month mark and the mighty ironbark…

    Today marks the 3 month lunaversary since the day we first started prepping the site for the build,  and not even 2 months have passed since the slab was poured.  I think we are making good headway, but Matt seems to think otherwise…. The external timber frame has been progressing nicely, now with most of the bottom boxing and window lintels in place.  The back south-facing wall frame is also ready for bales to be put in. The front wall frames are yet to be done, they measure up to 3.85m in height and require many posts and beams that will provide structural support for the sloping roof and the massive north…

  • The finished wall and the window box
    The Nest

    Getting our fam into it!

    This past week has been memorable to say the least.  My sister got married and Matt’s mum and her hubby Mal made a special trip from New Zealand to attend the wedding.  Matty and I could not help but get them involved in the build process, free labour after all!  JUST KIDDING!!  :D (not really)…..they wanted to help and we happily obliged :) The looming besser block wall is finally finished, with just one brick remaining which will be put into place after the timber beam is up.  Mama and I helped fill in the holes between the blocks wherever needed and Mal helped with some much needed site cleaning,…

  • Besser block wall
    The Nest

    Bottoms up, besser blocks!

    Less than 2 weeks have passed since the first internal frame was up. Two days later, the rest of the internal wall frames were up too, this includes the walk in robe walls for the two bedrooms, and the bathroom and shower walls. Matt then started on the besser block retaining wall. This wall will be used to retain heat as the firewood heater will sit in front of it, as well as capture the heat from the north facing windows.  It also provides structural support and will be decorated with slate tiles on one side, and render (with some funky add ons) on the other. As Matt progressed from one…