Gorgeous Green House

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


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Green Demolition Can Be Easy and Fun

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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Recycling Crazy Paving

Common crazy paving or ‘slasto’

We are sending mountains of rubbish to our landfill, much of it unnecessarily. With our massive housing shortages in South Africa (sorry Zuma, not buying the ‘election speak’) building materials of all kind are especially valued.If on your DIY or restoration project you are just chucking your old ‘stuff’  into the rubbish ……there is an alternative! If you are feeling unmotivated to sell it or recycle/upcycle, find someone to give it away to.  You will be amazed at how valued those bits of wood, iron work, carpets, cabinets, sanware etc. are to many. Just get the word out in your neighbourhood and you won’t even have to do the dismantling!

OK, long winded start to the Crazy Paving bit. The word is out on my project so I’m farming out and fending off. The Crazy Paving which has long fallen out of fashion I thought would make great pathways through the garden. This is what I’ve just done:

1. Measured out pathway with sophisticated measuring instrument, logs either side

2. Set out the paving so the shapes are easy to see

3. Put about 5cm of soil down and had lots of fun playing puzzles.

Bonus pic of gorgeous Burchellia bubalina (small tree). Fantastic nectar plant for birds and butterflies and fruit for barbets, bulbuls, mousebirds and starlings. Larval food plant for 4 species of moths.

4. Filled in the gaps with more soil and in no time at all, garden path!