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Hybrid house in Clunes (Vic) – your thoughts…

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    Hello one and all :wave:

    I come before you men, women and children, artists, builders, cooks, weavers, accountants, mums and dads, nannas and pops – seeking advice and comments to my house plans.

    Below you will see some draft floor plans for my house. I would like your thoughts and opinions on any aspect you feel you’d like to comment.

    All the external walls are strawbale, and all the internal walls are rammed earth (pise). The ‘tower’ will be rammed-earth, assuming I can convince the local council! (I will be armed with the engineering specs, to counter any of their objections).

    Where possible, the floor will also be an earthen floor (rammed-earth).

    This is the ground floor:

    The dimensions are to scale (not guaranteeing accuracy at this point by resizing the pic to upload), but for those of you who don’t know, the strawbale walls are 500 mm thick (including 50 mm of earth-lime render); the internal rammed earth walls will be 300 mm thick, and I dare say the tower wall, being three floors will, be 500 mm thick also (at the base).

    I will be the owner-builder. My intention is to do as much as I can and only getting the tradesmen (plumbers & electricians) to do the minimum I need to get the job done.

    The walls are load-bearing, so the roof will be supported by the walls. This means there is no internal framework.

    The floor is – what would you call it – split-level? (not exactly two-floors) with the bedrooms being upstairs.

    The strawbales are locally sourced (I’ve already seen them in the field 2 kms away).

    As much as possible of the rest of the building materials will be second-hand / preloved/ recycled. Now that I am a proud owner of a shipping container (delivered Monday .. woohoo) I will have secure storage, so now I can start visiting demo-yards etc. to begin the hoarding. I’ve got about two years to get it all together (that’s when I envisage leaving the Navy). My aim is minimum (no?) mortgage. The earth/clay for the walls and floor will be sourced on my 60 acre property. I may have to bring in some sand …

    As you may have noticed, my intent is to use no cement. (the council will no doubt have some input here, so it will be my challenge to convince them otherwise).

    My original drawings ended up looking like your standard house; straight-lines, right-angled walls, etc. Well, (and in my humble opinion), strawbale & rammed-earth lends itself to a more ‘imaginative / organic’ approach. However, I may have been a bit carried with the curves.

    (DW says that if it is done well, it will look fantastic, but will look like absolute $%#T if it isn’t done properly). Lucky me, I’ll be living in a caravan for the duration of the build.

    Other things to bear in mind – it will incorporate passive solar design: large windows to the north to capture winter sun, thermal mass in the floors and internal walls to act as a heat bank. The windows to the west and south will have large eaves & deciduous trees, that way there can still be natural light but no direct sunlight to unduly heat the house.

    I’m not connected to the grid, so it will be all solar/wind generated power. The solar-hot water will be assisted by the wood stove (water-jacket) in winter. In summer, I envisage a lot of out door cooking in the cob oven. If you look carefully at the wall between the kitchen and laundry you may see darker lines; this is the water pipes. All the plumbing is restricted to the one wall to reduce costs and materials, but also to minimise the wastage of hot water sitting in pipes. The solar-hot water will be directly above.

    Anyway .. all comments welcome. :tup:




    Andre, would love to see your plans but they haven’t materialised


    I had a couple of problems uploading, ballamarra .. should be okay now :tup:

    And here is the second-floor.

    This floor will be recycled timber, and will include a walkway to the tower.

    Note: bathroom and toilet are directly above the other water areas to reduce plumbing costs, and water/heat loss.


    A few notes on the tower.

    I want you to picture the old Roman / or Mediterranean courtyard (but enclosed) – with water feature to one side and fernery.

    The floor level is about a foot lower than the doorway. This will allow the cool air to drop below the main floor level; the opening in the ‘mezzanine’ will allow warm air to rise and not enter the house. In this way, the internal temperature of the house should remain relatively stable.

    Not sure yet whether I will have a spiral stairway.

    And yes, still working on the entrance to the top deck. Should it be enclosed, or open? (would love to have an observatory!)


    this is looking sweet.. For the the top deck I’d have windows that large windows that fold up, allowing you in summer to open them up and be able to enjoy it.. In witer you could keep them closed and still enjoy it.


    I am very impressed Andre, it looks terrific. Have you decided what colour the outside render will be?&is there only one outside door?


    Wow! This is fantastic!


    Thanx baldcat

    I do like the idea of the cantilevered? windows .. or even sliding windows/doors to get the fresh breeze in, and considering it isn’t really part of the interior, I don’t have to worry too much about sudden temperature changes getting inside. :tup:

    ballamarra – as for being impressed, well see what the final product looks like :tongue:

    the final exterior colour will depend on the the clay in my area, which will be lighter, with the lime render. I can of course add an oxide to make it darker / redder.

    Maree – ty, imagination is limitless – except for when it runs into council re-tape … oh yeah.. and physics/reality 😆

    a quick google search for strawbale (images) will provide a plethora of ideas / visual aspects.


    Wow what a great looking set of plans. I bet you can’t wait to get cracking! Look forward to hearing about your adventures with beaurocrats and building off the grid.


    thanx 65, Yes you are sooo right about not being able to wait, BUT, I can be patient.

    In the two years that I will be accumulating building materials, I envisage spending many hours sanding/ repainting / repairing.

    I plan on making the main doors .. umm .. out of sleepers. I know.. the weight will be enormous, but considering the 500 mm thick rammed-earth walls in the tower, it can handle it.

    (Just as a point of interest, there is an estimated 70 cubic meters of earth in the tower walls alone.)


    I was thinking of getting Peter Lees to draw up the plans to proper specs.

    He is an architect (with experience in strawbale and rammed earth etc. designs) in the Hepburn Shire – the same shire as myself – so will have a good working knowledge of the local red-tape – and hopefully how to get around it.

    Anyone had any experience with him? Good / bad?

    Once I am completely satisfied with the floor plans, I will make up a 3D model with all the odds and ends I have at home. That way there will be no nasty surprises when I do build. Hopefully that will be ready to show in a few weeks! :tup:


    Fanbloodytasmagorical! :clap: Love it! :clap:


    One of the things I hate is hanging out washing .. in hindsight I suspect this is mainly because the washing-lines I’ve had to deal with lately are the one hinged to the walls. I am 6′ 5″ .. so my head generally ends up between (and above) the lines.

    I plan on having a tall, narrow hinged window in the laundry with on a pulley system.

    The washing comes straight out of the washer and pegged to the line. As each new item is added, the line is pulled/pushed further outside. This alleviates several things – the lugging of loads of washing in and out of the house / the opening and closing of doors (thereby maintaining a constant internal temperature) and one that we probably all understand, no more racing outside to get the washing out of the rain. Simply pull in the line, and rapid removal of clothes in the dry. .. this is of course assuming it will rain again!

    Once the washing is deployed, the windows can swing shut. The line will fit snugly in between a couple of ‘rubber-flanged’ grooves in the frame. :geek:

    And there is a chute from upstairs to drop washing directly into the laundry.:lol:

    I think you will all soon think I’m lazy 😐 but I’d rather work smart than hard 😉


    Once the washing is deployed

    :lol::lol::lol: You can take the man out of the Navy but never get the Navy out of the man!


    Aww Tulls.. you make it sound like a bad thing!

    I’m pleased you like it, though.

    balla .. I missed the other point in your post:

    No, there are four doors to the outside, just not clearly marked.

    There is the main entrance in the tower, there is also the back door via the mud-room. I dare say I’ll have a couple of glass doors from the living area onto patio/conservatory from the living room, and also, for cooking in summer, I will have an outdoor area off the dining room.

    Something else I had considered was to continue the rammed-earth walls to form outside wall for a courtyard. If you imagine the dining room wall continuing the arc thru the strawbale wall, that would make a courtyard/patio area. (shaded, of course).


    Oh I just love it espicially the washing line idea….

    A mud room, I read it as a mus (music) room, couldn’t quite understand why the pantry was in it though:lol:

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