Category Archives: Action in the Garden

Our fabulous Shed cost €44.95 to make!

I heard a frightening statistic recently about waste generated on construction sites – for every five houses built, one house will go to landfill. This linear process of take-make-dispose is anathema to the ethos of the 5k extension project. So when we started building a shed at the back of the garden a few weeks ago we decided to make the shed a project in itself: it was to be constructed as far as possible out of reclaimed materials or stuff diverted from landfill.

Building a structure out of found objects takes time and patience – learning to wait, to pause. You have to wait until the right possible material turns up, then you have to work it into the design or adapt the design around it.

The shed is almost complete, and it is  a BEAUTIFUL structure not least due to the exquisite craftsmanship of our expert carpenter Krzysztof Piwowarczyk, but also because of the abundance of good intention around it.

Hand on Door

And we fulfilled the brief for the project – almost all of the materials were waste or surplus, reused or destined for landfill.  Much of it came via ReCreate, a reuse initiative in Dublin that takes end-of-line and surplus stock from businesses to repurpose as art materials. In fact our total outlay for materials came to the grand total of €44.95.

Here is how we did it.

Task Krystoff BuildingS 022 Inside the shedS

The framework for the building was made from timber from discarded pallets, and  MDF and pine supports, which had been part of an installation by the artist Willie Doherty in the Kerlin Gallery. The gallery had chosen to recycle the material via ReCreate rather than dumping it, and we were also able to reuse the insulation they had used to soundproof the exhibition.

mixing ends of paint tins Bartek Painting

And yes MDF is not suitable for outdoor use, so soon after it was put up, it was painted using ends of paint cans that Krzysztof had squirrelled away from previous jobs he had worked on rather than dumping.

159 New shedS

The pine board sheets used to clad the front of the shed came from a time when the Celtic Tiger roared and people did not care how much excess they ordered. Krzysztof had stashed them away and kept them dry for a couple of years. He routed a v-groove in them and we had to paint them urgently with wood preserver (which we had to buy rather than find) as time and constant downpours were against us. It pains me to say it but the black wood preserver paint cost €9.90.

Shed Corner detailTwo exterior walls were then clad with rolls of a foil-backed underlay material stapled to the MDF. The underlay material also came from the benevolent ReCreate. Unfortunately we had to shell out €5 for the duct tape which was used to cover the staples used to attach the material to the painted MDF to prevent them from rusting and to waterproof the holes – Krzsystof thinks of everything!

laminate floor insulation 043

Shed Roof Material

The foil-backed flooring underlay was also used as the roofing material.  We are however up against the weather in Ireland, which is unforgiving when it comes to damp and leaks. The felt adhesive which blew our budget was used to glue the foil-backed underlay down, and we then painted over it to further waterproof the roof. This was the cause of ructions between Krzysztof and me, because he spent €20 on a tin of felt adhesive for the roof.  Don’t get me wrong, my family was not going to go hungry on account of it, but I was convinced we could have found ends of the stuff in tins all over the sheds of Dublin, and thereby adhered to the experiment of building entirely from re-use.

Shed interior roof detail

Ken and KrzysztofLocal hero Ken Milofsky from Woodworkers and Hobbies in Terenure, who was clearing out a storage space in his premises, supplied us with a big batch of chipboard off-cuts which clad the internal walls. He also gave us some unsaleable end-of-line laminate flooring which was used to make a ceiling. We scavenged some extra pre-used rockwool insulation from a refurbishment job that I was working on to insulate the ceiling.

windows and perspex Hand on Door

ReCreate supplied us with perspex off-cuts which Krzysztof used to make the windows

sliding door tracks sliding door track

Pre-used sliding wardrobe track holders were used to seal and protect the roof.

aluminium cut-offs trims

We got off-cuts of aluminium-covered Foamex® from Recreate.  Krzysztof used them as trims and fascias for extra weather protection

Shed interior view 1

The shed is functioning now as a much-needed workshop for Krzysztof – and how he deserves it! He put his heart and soul, meticulous attention to detail and many hours into the making of it.

It is wonderful and motivating to have this lovely shed to showcase the skills and the possibilities available to us, as well as proving how collaborative efforts and the ground-up movement of freecycling and reuse networks can provide a very real alternative to unsustainable over-consumption.

In a sense we have almost fulfilled the 5k extension experiment – it would be within our €5000 budget to transform this lovely structure, with some clever interior design, into a living space with a bathroom, kitchen and sleeping area. However, because the designated purpose of the building is a shed it is exempt from regulatory issues and the crippling costs of hiring qualified certifiers. These are the issues which pose a real challenge to the 5k project.

Interior BW

The materials we got for free:

  • Pallets                                                                 ReCreate Materials
  • Pre-used MDF
  • Laminate floor underlay
  • Pre-used Sliding wardrobe Track holders
  • Pineboard
  • Perspex-offcuts
  • Aluminium covered Foamex board offcuts
  • End of line Laminate and Solid Bamboo Flooring
  • Laminated chipboard off cuts
  • Pre-used Rockwool Insulation
  • Plastic sheeting
  • Election Posters
  • Unused ends of paint
  • Pre-used lighting fixtures
  • Nails, screws and staples (from Krzysztof’s stash)

The stuff that blew the budget:

  • stuff that blew the budgetFelt adhesive.€20.00
  • Black shed paint €9.95
  • Duct tape     €5.00
  • 2 pairs of hinges for the door €5 per pair  €10.00

 

My favourite shopping destination

My favourite shopping destination!

 

Read more in the post Our Recycled Shed takes Shape

A Hive of Activity

Becoming a foster parent was one of the motivating factors behind the 5k extension project. But as my current living space is too small for the authorities to consider me eligible, I have agreed as an interim measure to foster a hive of bees for my friend and collaborator Karin Stierle.

It has been wonderful having the bees in the garden – so far they are much easier to mind than teenagers. I have invited Karin, the Bee Maven, to share her expertise about this particular hive and all things bees….

checking the frame

Bees in the Garden

 Anyone who has been reading the 5k Extension Blog will know that a number of weeks ago Krzysztof made a beautiful beehive for Natasha’s garden. We used the hive as a lure or bait hive to attract a swarm. To do this we put a few frames of wax foundation and a few drops of lemongrass oil, the wax foundation attracts the bees but it is the lemongrass oil which I am told is similar to the pheromone of the queen bee that is the real attraction.  The plan was to wait for a swarm to arrive! Well!? As with all things to do with nature things don’t always go to plan, my plan that is, nature has it’s own way of making things happen.

 I have two hives of bees in Wicklow and as the swarming season approached I began my swarm control procedures, all was well and going to plan when on one of the hottest days of the year to date a hive swarmed unexpectedly.  Luckily they alighted to a nearby tree and I was able to capture them. So this is how there are now bees in Natasha’s garden, the swarm from my hive was brought to town and is now residing in the 5k Extension garden.

 The trip to town was traumatic for these bees as it was a very hot day and a good number did not survive the trip, yet I am hoping that a sufficient number did survive to begin a new life in town. The question now arises did the queen survive the trip? As you will know a colony of bees must have a queen to continue to exist.  I will leave the bees for a few days; I will look at them during the week and try to determine what to do next.

We will keep you posted.

KS”

Tash at her beehive

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Our Recycled Shed takes Shape

I am a scavenger! I have been one since I was broke at college, when I put my salvation in the hands of the Hare Krishnas for a couple of hours in return for one of their delicious meals, while my ancestors buried in the ghettos of eastern Europe reeled in their graves.

These days I never walk by a skip without investigating it for potential treasures. My house is almost entirely furnished with cast-offs.

My ancestors must have forgiven me by now because in the last couple of weeks we have been blessed with extraordinary bounty  delivered by wonderful coincidences…

Krzysztof's sketch of the shed

Krzysztof’s sketch of the shed

A few weeks ago Krzysztof, carpenter, scavenger-of-note and genius upcycler, had to vacate the workshop facility where he stored tools and the odds and ends of materials that he had been collecting for his various projects. I suggested he use the end of my garden to make a shed for himself. The deal was that I would provide the site, he would build the shed, and it would be used both for his storage needs and for any materials needed for the 5k extension.

We decided to make the shed a project in itself: it was to be constructed as far as possible out of reclaimed materials or stuff diverted from landfill.

So in telling the story of our shed so far, I am like a six-year-old child, excitedly prefacing each turn of events with “And then…”

And then … we got a delivery of pallet wood which would otherwise have been discarded, from a pal of Krzysztof’s at the factory where he used to work.

pallets delivered Rusty Nails Pile of Nails CompostS

And then … my neighbour Liam, an urban farmer who uses my garden for his overflow (he needs more space, I don’t have the urge to garden), emptied the compost bin to fill his vegetable beds.

wheelbarrow spud

The concrete blocks from the now-empty compost bin were used to build foundations for the shed, and the space was mapped with pallet wood.

Space for Shed text

And then… Francis drops by to chat about his wife’s 50th birthday and leaves behind some heavy-duty plastic sheeting, that he is no longer using. Essential for protecting the structure from the relentless Irish weather!

002 001

And then it all starts pouring in… and not just the rain.  Bloom Fringe showed an interest in our project and introduced me to Dara from ReCreate who run a recycling initiative that takes end of line and surplus stock from businesses to reuse as art materials. Dara mentioned that a gallery that they collaborate with was in the process of dismantling an art installation and did we want any MDF and wooden supports to which I said YES!

Dara ReCreate232 6mm MDF boards 246

And then … my neighbour Dave who happens to work at the aforementioned art gallery heard that I was taking the MDF and offered me the Rockwool insulation that was used to soundproof the installation as well. I said YES! The hero Dara from Recreate collected it for us even though they wouldn’t normally stock that type of insulation. And this, along with the pallet wood, gave us the bones of a shed.

012 023 031 036

And then.. it rained and rained but between the showers we had lots of visitors and helpers and cake!

visitors and cake 030 252243  Planting 2 pride cake

I really like the look of the shed at the moment – it makes me nostalgic for my South African childhood.

037 038

And this is how we stand…waiting for the ancestors to do their heroic work of intercepting good stuff on its way to landfill and sending materials our way to finish the walls, and floor. We are thinking about using the election posters to make the roof tiles (best use for them!). Any suggestions welcome.

Lots more to come: My pal Karin is putting a bee lure in the garden to try to coax in some local bees. Krzysztof is making it from found materials.. Work continues on the shed…

Bloom Fringe comes to the 5kextension

On the 31st May we are opening up the garden between 3pm and 5pm see www.bloomfringe.com  for details

  • The Project Architects will discuss their response to the project brief
  • Krzysztof will show how he will reuse discarded materials to build a structure
  • Information on bee keeping
  • Beautiful sculptural flowers and insects produced by Karin Stierle from scraps courtesy of ReCreate

Read Liam Patersons’ post about his garden efforts in the  Neighbourly Garden. Liam is an avid gardener who helps out and shares a space in my garden- You can peek at his own edible front garden Bloom Fringe day too

 

Please have a look at http://www.crni.ie/The Community Reuse Network  is the all Island representative body for community based reuse, recycling and waste prevention organisations. 

A multimedia message sent from Krzysztof to me, We will forgive him the spelling, it's not many of you who can pronounce the Polish for "extension", let alone spell  "przedtuzenie domu"

A multimedia message sent from Krzysztof to me, We will forgive him the spelling, it’s not many of you who can pronounce the Polish for “extension”, let alone spell “przedtuzenie domu”

 

Container Living

Anyone who knows me, would testify to the fact that I am utterly fascinated with housing and  design. I have a real interest in low-cost housing and alternative ways of providing shelter.

Many years ago I read about a student housing project in Amsterdam, which was revolutionary in that the housing units were constructed from disused shipping containers. I was intrigued and excited by this concept, and made a point of visiting the site when I was travelling in The Netherlands.

Since then I have been on the look- out for other interesting structures made from shipping containers. I have scoured the internet looking for ideas, as I always had in mind the possibility of using a container for my own back yard project

In my mind’s eye, the container would sit where my utility room is. I would have to demolish the utility room so the container would attach to the west side of the house and extend 20 or 40 feet down into the garden. Containers are usually only 8 feet wide and I would have that space available. It would fit neatly down the side of the house without having to change the French doors leading to the garden and I could customise it like some I had previously seen.

I looked into purchasing a second-hand 20 foot or 40 foot container –

Used shipping Containers in good condition can be purchased in Ireland for about €1650 incl. VAT for a 20 foot container and about €2400 incl. VAT for a 40 foot Container.

What I did not bargain for was the cost of transporting and craning the container over the roof of my house, which could cost from €950 -€1500.

So with the demolition of the utility room; purchasing the container and transporting it – my budget would be decimated. And that is before any structural changes, insulation etc.. Unfortunately a disused container is not on the cards for this specific project.

However, take a look at some exciting structures made from disused containers

This shipping container guesthouse is fitted with a bathroom and one side is used as a garden shed. love the living roof poteetarchitects.com

This shipping container guesthouse is fitted with a bathroom and one side is used as a garden shed. I love the living roof!  poteetarchitects.com

Two shipping containers surround a taller common space. The containers flanking the central space are used for work and sleep  while the central area is used for dining, and living and a loft above.  This structure is off-grid using solar orientation, passive cooling, green roofs, pellet stove heating and photovoltaics to create electricity. www.studioht.co

Two shipping containers surround a taller common space. The containers flanking the central space are used for work and sleep while the central area is used for dining, and living and a loft above. This structure is off-grid using solar orientation, passive cooling, green roofs, pellet stove heating and photovoltaics to create electricity. http://www.studioht.co

The Cross Box, France, comprised of 4 x 40' shipping containers, accommodation totals 1280 sq ft. cgarchitectes.fr Note the different types of cladding

The Cross Box, France, comprised of 4 x 40′ shipping containers, accommodation totals 1280 sq ft. cgarchitectes.fr Note the different types of cladding

The Manifesto House. Constructed from 85% recycled, reused and nonpolluting materials  Two 40-foot shipping containers and two 20-foot shipping containers sided with wooden pallets.

The Manifesto House. Constructed from 85% recycled, reused and nonpolluting materials Two 40-foot shipping containers and two 20-foot shipping containers sided with wooden pallets.

Interior view of The Manifesto House

Interior view of The Manifesto House

Containers of Hope, Costa Rica. The roof between the two salvaged containers, is made from the scrap pieces of metal cut out to make the windows. The central roof creates a feeling of openness and provides cross ventilation and diminishes the need for air conditioning (not that air conditioning is required in Dublin!) benjamingarciasaxe.com

Containers of Hope, Costa Rica. The roof between the two salvaged containers, is made from the scrap pieces of metal cut out to make the windows. The central roof creates a feeling of openness and provides cross ventilation and diminishes the need for air conditioning (not that air conditioning is required in Dublin!) benjamingarciasaxe.com

Keetwonen is the largest container city in the world (1000 units) and is the second most popular student dormitory offered by the student housing corporation "De Key" in Amsterdam. each unit is soundproof and has its own bathroom, kitchen and balcony.  tempohousing.com

Keetwonen -Student Housing, in Amsterdam is the largest container city in the world (1000 units). Each unit is soundproofed and has its own bathroom, kitchen and balcony. tempohousing.com

an office building in Japan

an office building in Japan

I will be watching with great interest Cathy Hogan’s container house  project. She is building a low-cost house (€25000) in County Kilkenny – Very Innovative for rural Ireland

The Brief

My house is a normal suburban style house built by the Guinness Brewery for their workers in Dublin in the 1950s.  There are 3 bedrooms upstairs. The original house had just a living room and kitchen downstairs, but about thirty years ago was expanded by the addition of a flat-roofed kitchen and bathroom extension: the original kitchen now serves as a dining room/workspace. The extension also continues on the left hand side joining the coal shed which serves as a utility room.  The house and its neighbours all have very long narrow gardens – around 50m long, 5m wide. These unusually long gardens were intended by Guinness to facilitate their workers in being self-sufficient. The garden is north facing and the part closest to the house remains shaded for most of the day.

gardenview

View from the kitchen to the garden

Even though I have a very long garden with potential to build further from the house, I did not want to go down that avenue.  Anyone who lives in Dublin would know that the necessity of walking even 50 meters or so on a cold wet evening down the garden is not an exciting prospect. In addition, a development further down the garden would also create more complexity (and cost) in terms of the provision of services, heat, light, sewerage etc.

View  from the end of the garden toward the kitchen

View from the end of the garden toward the kitchen

For all of these reasons, building close or connected to the house was an essential starting point. With this proviso, the brief to the team was to provide a design for the most cost effective way to add an extra room to the house. My vision for the room is as an extra living/sleeping or working space – my thinking on its precise use is still fluid at this time.

I am quite open to any suggestions re construction materials and would be happy to experiment with alternative options without increasing my carbon footprint excessively.

Architects Survey of my back Garden

Architects Survey of my back Garden

And So It Begins

Natasha It is customary for me to sit at my kitchen table, looking out into the garden and dream about the possibilities of what I could do to my house if I won the Lotto.

I have mentally redesigned the interiors hundreds of times, I have constructed elaborate extensions, which would double, even treble the size of the living space – only to come back to the sad reality that winning the Lotto is an impossibility as I don’t actually play it, and besides (with all the day-dreaming) I struggle to maintain and clean the space I have now. I certainly would not have the time to procrastinate as I do now, if I had a bigger house.

It occurred to me one day as I found myself on the wrong side of forty five, my work as an interior designer impacted upon by the construction implosion in Ireland, that I might need to invest in my future and look for alternative source of income. And that my home could possibly provide the pension fund that I had not made provision for…

Once my children were to move on (a sad inevitability that I am already struggling with, even though the youngest is only 13!) I could let out a room or foster a wayward teenager. But on clear reflection, given the price of renting or buying , my children may never leave and the plan B of fostering when they are eventually gone may render me too old to qualify, and given my own experience with less than wayward  teenagers, I do not want to leave it until I am too long in the tooth.

So that got me thinking, that if all else fails… I could build an extra room, so that I could start earning an income from my house!

However,

I do not have the funds or borrowing capacity to build….. Hence I got to thinking…  could I build an extension with no money or maybe for under 5000 euro????

And so I find myself here in this virtual reality, putting my quest out to the universe and Hey the universe has responded…

I walk the hills with a man called Mark, whose daughter had recently graduated as an architect. She  was one of the very few in her class who went into a job straight after her studies, so I thought it safe to ask her if she could recommend someone out of her class, who might have an interest in social media and working with me on this project. I met young Emma Byrne and she immediately responded positively to my thoughts and suggested she and her colleagues Fiona Nulty and Aisling O’Sullivan would be interested in joining my team and take on the architectural design.

Since meeting them, they have launched into the project wholeheartedly. they have done trojan work, surveying the site, drawing up plans. collecting source material and not least drawing up some wonderful ideas, all of which I will share with you…