Gorgeous Green House

The Renovation Journey of a 1940’s ‘Traditional’ to 2015 ‘Contemporary, Green & Gorgeous’


Gorgeous Green House Covered by Papers Nationally


It has been a fantastic week of media exposure for the Gorgeous Green House. Lindsay Ord has written up our story and shows how living green can be much more accessible than many people realize.  If you missed the article in your local paper you can see the online IOL version HERE.

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Daily News Covers The Gorgeous Green House


Today the Daily News published the third article on the most Gorgeous Green House on the planet!

Click HERE to read the on line version.

Thank you Lindsay Ord and Marilyn Bernard for getting this information to a wider audience. Fingers crossed it will inspire and motivate others to look at some greening options in their own home.


Manage the Mozzies While Building

Turn you smelly old pool into a pond and attract wildlife like this beautiful Malachite Kingfisher

If you are renovating over several months and there is a pool on your property the odds are that within a short time it will turn into a mozzie infested swamp.  Not much fun being nibbled by these creatures and additionally the pool will be smelly and unpleasant to look at.

Paparus planted on the pool steps

Paparus planted on the pool steps

Why not turn it into a pond in the interim?  This healthy vibrant eco-system can be a lot more pleasant than the stagnant alternative.

Water Lilies

Water Lilies

I started by planting water plants in pots (gravel only) and positioning them on the pool steps.  Plants oxygenate and filter toxins in the water making it habitable.

I then added indigenous Tilapia.  These are the guys that eat the mosquito larvae.  The breed like rabbits so you really just need a few to start.  I’m hoping they get big enough to harvest.  Additional bonus!

Tilapia eat mozzie larvae

Tilapia eat mozzie larvae

This may not be the most beautiful pond you’ve ever seen, but even with the builder’s rubble that has ended up in it, it is a wonderful life affirming space, attracting visitors like the beautiful Kingfisher and this very entertaining family of Egyptian Geese.

Egyptian Geese Family

Egyptian Geese Family

Lots of fun too!


Green Demolition Can Be Easy and Fun


Slate roof conserved for another home.

One of the least green aspects of building or renovating is the waste that is created.  Figures from North America estimate that 3 600 kg of waste are typically thrown into the landfill during the construction of a 700 square metre home. Landfill operations are generally under pressure and are expensive.  Transportation to sites, normally at a distance from residential areas, increases the carbon footprint of a project. Waste from sources such as solvents or chemically treated wood can result in soil and water pollution.

Doors, sink etc to be re-used

Doors, sink etc to be re-used

What I’ve learned is that it is really easy and fun to minimize waste. Many  materials can be re-used. I’m saving items such as doors, stainless steel sinks, balustrading, metal gates curtain rails etc to put into the new house.


Oregon floor gone to new home and cavity to be filled with rubble

The Oregon floor has already been lifted and installed in a new home.  The slate tiling is being carefully stacked for the same.

The cavity left in the floor will be filled with the rubble from the walls to be demolished.


Brick paving will be reinvented to veggie planters

Re-purposing other materials just needs a little planning. For example, all the brickwork in the garden is being lifted and stacked to be reincarnated into veggie planters.  All decent solid wood from cabinetry and shelving will be re-used for storage units.In South Africa we have programmes whereby flourescent light bulbs and old shower heads can swopped for LED’s and energy-efficient products, green and economical.  Great combo!


Conserving/protecting Pavetta lanceolata with fence. Thanks team!

Perhaps the greenest aspect of Day 1 of this project was measures to conserve.  A fence has been built around our precious Pavetta lanceolata (Bride’s Bush) which is located where it could easily get destroyed.  Thanks Pretty, Wise and 3rd person (still to learn name).  I appreciate that traditional building practices are not very sensitive to the vegetation on site and it means a great deal to us that these measures have been taken.

Lastly, the easiest and most fun part of green demo is donating the multitudes of materials that don’t have much resale value but are desirable to many. Friday was the first day of our build and it is clear that everything from the old melamine kitchen, windows, doors, in fact all manner of materials will find new homes.  People were literally walking in off the street asking what they might have.  So no excuses, South Africans.  We can massively reduce our contribution to landfill and help out a few people at the same time.