Friday, August 20, 2010

Work In Progress

A few pics to show what I was doing the last two months off-line:

As explained in an earlier post, a free-standing roof was first erected over the old farmhouse. The new house was then built around the old one and the inner walls were knocked down or modified as I completed each section.

The pic above shows the S-East corner with the last piece of the old farmhouse still standing, exposed.

My first task was to complete the inner-shell of an en suite shower/toilet - the roundish structure to the left in the pics.

I still haven't decided how to do the roof of this bathroom; a corrugated sheet roof is simplest but will look ugly; a thatch roof would be ideal but expensive.

Perhaps I'll do an elaborate dome if there are enough rocks left-over after finishing the walls.

After the wall of the old house was broken down I built the inner wall for the new room with brick and installed a larger window frame.

For strategic reasons the old roof inside has been left intact until I've finished the outer wall and am ready to plaster the inside walls and install a new ceiling.

You can see how low the old ceiling was and how much more spacious and light the new room will be.

After the inner wall was done, I started building the new outer wall with rock. Slate is used on the insides around the window frame.

When I started building, my intention was to only build a rock fireplace on the N-east corner but, after discovering a nearby source of beautiful stones, I decided to do the whole house with them.

There are no architectural plans or drawings - everything is in my head and I get new ideas and adapt as I go along. Looking back at my earliest work, there are some things I would do differently today.

It's sometimes physically-demanding and I'm glad the heavy work is almost finished - it's taken me more than 10 years to get this far.

There's still a lot of work to be done inside; plastering, ceilings, bathroom and kitchen fittings etc. - the expensive stuff.

Each of the four corners of the house has a different feature.

The pole attached to the roof is my telephone antennae - my useless internet connection.

In order to be more self-sufficient, I intend using solar water heaters for the bathrooms and kitchen - there's no shortage of sunshine here.

... and this is as far as I got. The final grouting between the rocks must still be done but that can wait awhile. In October I hope to finish all the outer rock walls.

So what do you think, how should I do the bathroom roof?

Related Posts:

OneStonedCrow's Stoned House

Pics To Illustrate How I'm Building With Rock



  1. I am not a roof expert in anyway, this is just my opinion in response to you asking the roof question, I think the work you have done is amazing and the house is beautiful, a dome rock roof seems like it would fit best with the rest of it. Thanks for sharing. Good luck with finishing it and I hope you share the finished results I would enjoy seeing how it turns out.

  2. Thanks for your visit and comment Collette - yes, I'm leaning towards a rock dome but it presents all sorts of logistical problems to build it ... and I'll probably have to go fetch more rocks ...

  3. Graham I am sooooooo impressed this is going to be beautiful. The stone work looks fantastic. A stone, dome roof would look good but not easy to do. I should hate a rock to fall on you!! Is thatch that expensive? Our house is stone but with walls over a metre thick. The front has exposed stone, the back is plastered. I suspect the back part, being built later, is probably blocks, but the original house is over 200 years old. I doubt if there will be much to interest you but you can see our house and renovations at Our bedroom was the biggest change as that was an old barn with a sloping earth floor. I hope when you mover there there will be some improvement in the internet connection:)))) Diane

  4. Wow thanks for your kind comment Diane - I checked-out your house (yes, I'm interested in other peoples' renovations) - you have a lovely pad and you've done a lot of work, it takes a lot of time hey ... I just love those wooden shutters, something we don't see here except at the coast ... 1m thick walls you say? good grief, and I thought my 30cm walls were thick ...

    yes, you're right, to build a rock dome would be complicated but not impossible ... luckily I've had no major accidents as yet - touch wood ...

  5. It seems to have been the way people built 200 plus years ago with massive thick stone walls. No damp proofing, but very wide. We don't have a damp problem as such, but there are some type of crystals that build up on some of the walls (lower part) and this happens all year round. Fine on the stone walls as it just sweeps off but where the is paint it just lifts the paint!
    It seems to be a common complaint in France in the old buildings. I have got used to it now and it does not worry me. Just have to clean it off from time to time. Diane

  6. Salt crystals Diane? ... I meant to say in my previous reply that I just love your wooden stairs too ... I want ... hehe ... I mustn't go getting ideas now, there's still too much work to do ...

  7. Thanks for sharing these photo's with us - I think your house is very special indeed .... thatch would be lovely over the bathroom, but as you say, expensive. What about roofing tiles, to match the colour of the main roof ? The dome rock roof would probably be your best choice - but would this not be heavy, and would the rocks have to have extra support underneath ?
    Does anyone live in the house in your absence, and do you work alone or have people to assist you ? So ... now we know where you disappear to when you go offline for a while ... I'm with Diane on this one, hope you can improve your internet connection once you move there !

  8. Thanks Lynda - I hope my kids will appreciate it some day ... it's probably all I'll leave behind ... :)

    Roofing Tiles? I hadn't thought of that but it would still mean I'd have to install some sort of supporting frame ... I'll check-out the idea though ...

    Yes, after the death of Meme Anna earlier this year I employed Inacio to look after the house and Fur People when I'm not there - he also helps me with the heavier work like mixing concrete etc. - but I do all the building myself.

    I don't know what to do about the internet connection ... hopefully technology will improve soon ...

  9. Hi Graham, yes salt crystals. Did you notice those wooden stairs, (not clear on the photo), have one side of the step wide and one narrow. If you look carefully at the third pic from the left on full size you may be able to see it. Because they are steep it is easier to walk up and down them so long as your remember which foot to use first!! If not you may fall flat on your face.:-) They actually work very well. I will send you a better photo. Diane

  10. Thanks Diane - from what I can make out the thin and wide steps alternate? Interesting - reminds me of a recurring dream I used to have of climbing or falling down extremely steep steps ...

    looking forward to seeing a close up of how the steps work ...

  11. I always enjoy seeing the work in progress on your house. I have to admit I like the brick work on the dome building too!!! ...ah well if you must cover it all Westmount the wealthiest part of Montreal there are many stone houses and "by law" they must all have copper roofing, which as you probably well it ages, turns into a patina of green...I find it quite beautiful..though it may be costly...or sheet metal painted to mimic copper..anyhow whatever you choose its great work you have done!!!

  12. Thanks so much Monica ...

    Copper roofing you say? I don't think I've ever seen anything like that ... I can imagine that it must look beautiful when it ages ... do you perhaps know why it's a legal requirement to have copper roofing? ... hehe I just had a thought - maybe some of that copper came from the Tsumeb Mine where I worked ...

    Yeah, when I started building I had grand ideas of building (where I'm building the bathroom in the pics) a tall tower with a jacuzzi on top - a Sunset Tower - time and common sense have scaled my plans down a bit ... I mean, what fun would a tower be if, by the time I've finished it, I'm too old to climb up and enjoy it and have to be winched up in a Bosun's Chair ... ? ... :)

  13. Wow. It must be satisfying seeing your house come together like that. My suggestion is to have no roof at all. Just imagining showering with a sky full of stars at night. They do that in Bali but of course I don't know if it is feasible option with the wildlife there.

  14. Yeah, it is pretty satisfying lgsquirrel ... sometimes I look at what I've done and think "Did I really do this?"

    I love your suggestion about having no roof at all ... it may work but the many varieties of insect we get during the summer (including mosquitoes) could cause some problems ...

  15. Diane's other half, Nigel here. I'm a QS so I know how difficult it is to do stonework and what a godd job you are doing. Copper roofing would not, I think, suit a stone house and the cost of it would make thatch look a bargain! I would really think about thatch - we used to built timeshare chalets at Bakubung resort (next to Sun City) and that suited the African "rustic" design and was quite cheap, but the thatching grass material was close by. Looking at the photo, you have quite a difficult interface with the pitched sheet iron roof so you have to think (if you haven't already)about waterproofing around the edges of the thatch (or whatever)

  16. Hello Nigel and thanks for your comment ...

    Yes, before I make a final decision I'll get a few quotations for thatch - perhaps it's not as expensive as I imagine it to be.

    You're right about the interface with the sheet iron roof and the problems rainwater might cause - if I go for thatch I'll have to think of installing a short stretch of guttering and also, if the roof is cone-shaped, some way of preventing water from seeping in where it meets the wall ...

  17. Oh I wish my carpenter home building brother was online. He would be interested.
    My suggestion - make it look like a castle turret.

  18. It is an amazing house and is so beautiful with the native stone work. Kudos!

    How about putting a metal roof on with good support and then dirt and grow grass.

    I really like the round roof with the grass growing on it. Or plant a garden?

  19. Thanks for the suggestion lisleman - I have thought of building the round walls another 6 to 10 ft higher, casting a reinforced concrete slab floor then building the rocks to make it appear like a turret (with a ladder access from inside) - maybe I'll still do that ... thanks for reminding me ...

  20. Thanks Callie - that's an excellent suggestion and something to mull over ...

    I followed the link and love the pic of the round wooden cabin with the grass growing on top ...

  21. I had another idea... put a hot tub up there.
    I love the castle turret idea too.

  22. Wow! I'm totally impressed. I greatly admire anyone who can craft or build. Yours is a treasure and I see you've already gotten some great ideas about how to finish the roof. I hope you will share more photos as you get to completion. Personally I love stone and wood in building. Sadly I'll never have that kind of home here in my country. Now maybe if I lived in Africa ... someday.

  23. Thanks Penny - yeah, I surprise myself too because I'm not really a handyman type, mechanical things scare me - my mind rejects them because they always seem so complicated ...

    I'm lucky in that here in the bush I don't have to adhere to any regulations but, I believe my work exceeds any municipal or city standards.

    I certainly will post more pics as I go along.

  24. Wow! I am totally ignorant on many matters, esp building stuff, but can I ask if the thatch would be of grass, hay or reed? Is a turf roof even feasible?


  25. Yeah, when I started this project I knew nothing about building either, it's been trial-and-error all the way ...

    Thatch would be grass which comes from the Kavango region of Nam

    I've never seen a turf-covered roof in Namibia ... I don't know if our sunshine is too harsh ...

  26. Many years ago I took a civil construction course. I was a student of the high school then. Our teachers were architects from the Academy of Architecture. And their major interests then were the roofs!!! They lectured on many innovative ideas of how to build roofs. And right now I've found the photo which reminded me of the time: . Probably it will prompt you the idea of how to make your bathroom roof.
    In general your house looks fantastic!

  27. Thanks Irina - the image link you provided may prove useful when I finally decide how to do the roof ...

  28. I am coming in here very late so you may already have a roof design in mind. My cottages are all stone (and very old) and I have ancient thatch roofs that need to get replaced and mended now. I have always loved thatch but now that I am living with it, although beautiful, I would maybe prefer something else. They are messy and dusty and are going to cost me a fortune to fix. I would go with a tile option if I were you. Your building is beautiful. When you are finished and bored you are welcome to come help me fix my ramshackle home:)

  29. Thanks for your kin comment Slowvelder ... hehe ... don't hold your breath, I've still got a lifetime's worth of work to do here ... :)