Mon Abri MkII update

16 06 2018

It’s been busy here for the past month or so since we started coming out of the ground… As I type, the masonry work is as good as finished, weather permitting will be so next Monday. So on a rainy weekend – and I have to say we’ve been so lucky weather-wise – I’ve decided to update you all on the progress.

I started with 24 pallets of blocks, and it looks like we’ll have almost three left over, even after the numerous broken ones found beneath the plastic wrap around the pallets. Beats me how everything is plastic wrapped now, even concrete blocks…

Mark the Irish block layer has done a wonderful job….. he may be six years younger than me, but us old farts can sure work when the pressure’s on!

Having fitted the electrics on top of the first course, it occurred to me that dropping


Marking blocks for cutting

concrete from a great height onto the plastic conduit spanning almost 400mm between the block webs might not be a good idea, so I filled the bottom course by hand to support all that hard work. Didn’t want to find out after the core filling that my power cables didn’t work anymore! 

Then I had to cut all corner specials with my father in law’s 40 year old 9″ angle grinder that still works as good as new. Lots of dust and noise and concentration to ensure it’s all cut right, but after a couple of days it was all done, ready for Mark’s craftsmanship. Originally, I thought I’d need Caleb’s young muscles to move blocks, but in the end I managed to keep up with Mark, and we worked really well as a team. I’m now an experienced bricky’s labourer…..

It’s amazing just how much weight is in all this stuff. 400kg of cement alone; 2 tonnes of sand; and that’s before you add in the 27 tonnes of blocks, all the steel inside the blocks, and the (guessing, haven’t done the maths yet) ~20 tonnes of concrete we’ll need to core fill the walls. It might all seem unsustainable, but I remind myself that this house contains a mere fraction of the concrete in a wind turbine’s foundation… and it won’t need any energy whatsoever to keep us warm.


We got great quality timber from the last five logs

Then out of the blue, the sawmillers came back to finish cutting the five remaining logs that have been waiting eighteen months for their appointment with the blade… the mill itself was supposed to be gone by now, but sadly Pete’s partner had a cerebral haemorrhage on the very last day they worked here, and last I heard she was still with us but on life support. Between that and my 93 year old mother in law taking a fall and breaking her wrist and cracking her pelvis, I now take every day I wake up in the morning as a bonus. Life sure is full of surprises, and some are not pleasant at all….. hopefully everyone will get better.


I unloaded Pete’s old truck on my own, let me tell you I’m getting fit…..


Only the two eastern internal walls to go…


Electrics ready for the next course of blocks

Now the walls are up, a feeling for the way the house flows is becoming obvious, and as we are virtually at the winter solstice, it’s great to see how my design embraces that solar gain we get when the sun does its trick….. every single room gets bathed in sunlight.


All the electrics from the power station and sundry power cables disappearing below the slab are now ready for the eventual joining together in a switchboard, once the roof is up and they can’t get rained on……

There were two regrets at my last build….. not having enough thermal mass inside, and not cutting the tops of the walls to follow the raked ceilings. Both those things have been corrected with this house….. it means even more block cutting, but years down the road I will have forgotten all about it!


The ‘stink pipe’ for both compost toilets have been fitted, and there’s even a starter threaded bar sticking out of the top of the wall to hold down and fasten the horizontal beams that will one day support the roof above what I call ‘the pointy bit’ that reaches into the hill… lots to think about, can’t afford to forget any details when you cast your design in concrete!  Now all I need is the right weather to pump some concrete in those blocks…….


Tie down bar…..


….in situ, with the whole column core filled






4 responses

16 06 2018
Practical Parsimony

You are filling some sort of blocks with cement? Does the block and concrete expand and contract at the same rate? Otherwise, there will be problems.

16 06 2018

No problems, it’s common practice….

16 06 2018

The brickwork looks good enough to be face brick!

17 06 2018

That’s because except where it will be hidden by built in furniture or tiling, it’s the finished internal wall surface…

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