Sarah Beeny Visits Our Eco House

Sarah Beeny Visits Our Eco House

Evening all! We are excited to announce that Our Eco House will soon be seen on the small screen by 2 million people courtesy of Sarah Beeny’s popular Channel 4 TV show, Double Your House for Half the Money.   In fact it is on the small screen tonight at 8pm.  This is our first blog post since our first day of filming that happened back in April, the production company imposed a curfew because they did not want us to give the plot away – fair enough some people are bad at keeping things under wraps.

Certain teller regarding how our build will get cut suggest that we may be portrayed as letting our hearts rule over our minds. Personally I don’t think we have a problem with that, as that’s why we moved to Whitstable and bought a cheap little house. Its all about having a small mortgage, low running costs and as much freedom and flexibility as possible – hang on that almost sounds commercially saavy…

The behind the scenes gossip is that Sarah’s got her head screwed on, family is a priority and and once the clock strikes home time she’s off like a bullet from a gun. I don’t blame her; life must be busy with four children and two concurrent shows to shoot!

Stay tuned for site updates including photos, details on what products have been used where and details of how we plan to fine tune the place.  There are  a number of little projects still to complete – we plan to build a garden room with a bathroom and wee kitchen when we get a chance…

6 Fantastic Eco Fence and Wall Ideas

After six months of living in our (very basic) house you would have thought that we would have nailed all aspects of refurbishment. Not so, last weekend whilst sitting out in the garden soaking up the first real sun of the year, Brown piped up with “How did we say we were going to finish the boundary of the garden”, “We didn’t” was my reply. Over the last few days we have been browsing books and surfing the eco-web looking for inspiration. The below are the 6 best solutions we found for building a fence or wall for our eco project.

1. The Recycled Pallet Fence

Whilst pallets are not necessarily eco friendly in their own right due to the chemicals that are applied to preserve them, they are at least already made, so no energy is expended in cutting down more trees. I also think that when painted black – against the correct backdrop they can look pretty striking.

Painted Pallet Fence

2. The Recycled Glass Wall (Using Gabions)

I’m not sure if this design will be possible for our scheme, but I love the structural concept, which I have seen used before in Whitstable at Deadmans Corner. Galvanised steel meshes (a gabions) are filled with a product of your choice, in our case we would choose to use something surplus to requirement such as building rubble or used glass bottles. The great thing with glass is that you can install light boxes around the edge of the structure (LED of course) and create a fantastic feature wall.

Recycled Glass Wall Using Gabions

3. The Bits n’Bobs Fence

It you find yourself with plenty of old tiles, floorboards or other bits n’ bobs like corrugated steel you could make a bits n’bobs wall. In order to lend the structure some element of style you probably need to draw it out (at least loosely) before you start so you don’t end up with something butt ugly. Unfortunately in the past many good-natured eco warriors have lacked design credentials and subsequently put people off trying this type of thing with their Frankenstein like creations. Check out the below for an example of how to do it right!

Recycled Fence Bits and Bobs

4. The Woven Chestnut & Hazel Fence

Originally brought to the UK by the Romans, chestnut has been used to construct enclosures and hop gardens for centuries.  It makes a fantastic raw material for this type of construction because it is is coppice friendly, growing strongly between the typical 10 year cycles of coppicing.

Near to Whitstable there is a large supply of Chestnut in the well managed Blean Woodland, one of the South Easts most notable ancient woodlands.  The traditional fence design most associated with this type of tree is the chestnut pale, you may have seen it around sand dunes in the past, people local to us can purchase this type of design from Torry Hills, just down the road in Sittingbourne.

Personally we prefer a woven chestnut & hazel fence design and are looking for somebody who can help us construct something like the below:

Woven Sweet Chestnut and Hazel Fence

5. English Willow Hurdles

Willow when alive grows in beds of rich peaty soil, unfortunately it is not found locally near our house. It does however grow within the UK in managed rural areas such as The Levels in Somerset. Willow Hurdles are a traditional method of enclosure, which had been in decline for sometime. More recently craftsmen and women have been rediscovering the skills required to make this lovely natural product, meeting the growing demand from eco-conscious gardeners. Whilst more expensive than many fencing systems, considering most suppliers hand make them willow hurdles compare favourably with expensive FSC certified panels.

Willow Hurdle Fence

6. Bamboo Screening

Bamboo grows fast, so fast according to our architect that if you go to a plantation you can actually hear it expand! There are a number of suppliers that offer traceable stock these days, so you should be able to buy with confidence. One thing to note though is that on its own, much of the bamboo available in the UK will not be enough to form a fence in its own right. The best thing to do is to use it as a covering for an existing ugly wall surface. I can see potential to use it to screen and existing concrete wall at the bottom of our garden, which whilst looking a little wonky, can probably be modified to last another 20 years!

Eco Bamboo Screen

Thanks for tuning in, It would be great to get your thoughts in the comments!

Our Five Favourite Things At Eco Build 2013

HOME – THE DEATH OF ONE TINY HOUSE AND THE BIRTH OF ANOTHER

This is what you call make do and mend! Mind you with bale construction and a wood burner I bet it was warmer than our place!

thinkingcowgirl

There are plenty of advantages to living in small spaces: fewer possessions, reduced impact on the earth, and lower living expenses are just a few of them. More people are choosing to live more simply, and for some that means using the bare minimum of living space. writes Jane Roarski in a recent post on the tinyhouseblog.com

This is the story of the tiny house we used to live in while we were renovating the cottage and it’s eventual demise, happening now as I write.

Then we realised that this was going to be far too small even as a temporary measure, not to mention the cold. We estimated that we’d be in it for approximately 2 years. The photo above was taken in 2002  and we finally moved out in 2011…do the math (s), as they say.

Tiny House Bale House www.thinkingcowgirl.wordpress.com

Some of the sheeps wool insulation we used in the house. Maybe…

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