Cob Construction Floors

Earthen Floors with Sukita Reay

Sukita wrote “the book” on earth floors and it was sweet to watch her at work in this short video demonstrating the making of an earth floor:


Summer Kitchen Renovation Part3: Electric Post

Our connection to the electric company currently runs through the summer kitchen and from there to the house. It is embedded in the structure.

  • The main above-ground cable runs from the road to a post sticking out of the summer kitchen roof. (top foreground)
  • A main cut-off switch is installed on the outside wall (bottom front – small black box on pink wall)
  • The line to the house also protrudes from another spot in the roof (top background)

The meter and antiquated main fuses are in the small hallway of the summer kitchen (right under the post in the background of the top image):

This interferes with our ability to renovate. The wall on which the meter is mounted is going to be torn down and so is the roof. So we’ve had to create an alternative path.

Our original wish was to install a completely new three-phase system with all cables buried in the ground. However, after consulting with an electrician we decided to stay with an upgraded single-phase installation that will be moved out of the summer kitchen.

As you can see in the previous post, we’d already buried a new cable that runs to the house from this hole in the ground (next to the summer kitchen):

We leveled the floor of this whole and stacked in it cement blocks to create an initial form:

The PVC pipe carrying the cable through the concrete was placed inside this form:

We had a large (and heavy) metal pipe (7.5cm diameter, ~7 meters long) lying around (it’s been here since we moved to Bhudeva) and it is going to become the post. It was quite a project for the two of us and these pictures don’t do the effort justice … but we managed to get the metal post into the concrete form and to orient it vertically straight in place:

The next step was backfilling (and tamping) and putting in rebar:

This is after the initial concrete pour (the rebars laid on top were moved aside for the pour and placed returned later):

Then we added a frame for the top part which would encase the form created by the blocks. Originally the form was placed as you see in the picture below – oriented with the blocks. On second thought I re-oriented it a bit (no picture) to be better aligned with its surroundings (I realized just before the next pour that we had not given any attention to its orientation … we’d simply followed through with the orientation the excavator was able to create while digging the hole):

And the 2nd concrete pour took place the next day:

While that was setting we completed a penetration under the wall of the summer kitchen for a new main power line from the house to the summer kitchen – inside:


and to the house:

… and runs all the way to the electric fuse box (another project that felt like way more than 9 words worth – those are two hefty cables … they don’t do stretching!) that is at the entrance to the house where they will be patched in after the electricians install the new main box on the pole (planned for this Wednesday):

And today we stripped the forms and our electric seems ready to go:

and it seems to be close to the same height of the existing pole:

… electric pole … check!


Re-roofing the Deck

We finally went on a (planned) detour from the summer kitchen renovation. We had been planning to re-roof the deck. The original roof was planned to be simple metal sheets but we decided to go instead with clay tiles. However, the angle of the roof is shallow and is not suitable for the tiles. Because of the overlapping of the clay tiles, they ended up in an almost horizontal orientation. When it rains, water accumulated in the tile channels (especially when there is debris on the roof) and leaks all over the deck.

It took us time to figure out what kind of roofing we wanted to put on. We started by defaulting back to metal roofing but ultimately decided to go with bitumen-based roofing that seems to be abundantly available in Romania.

We started by taking down the tiles:

We noticed (some months ago) that the vertical posts had come out of vertical alignment and decided to add re-infrocing diagonal supports. Using ratchet strips we pulled the structure back into alignment:

And installed 4 diagonal supports:

Iulia and I had already discussed the possibility of making part of the roof transparent, to let light in. When we started taking down the tiles and light came in we both agreed we wanted that. We originally planned a whole strip (running the length of the deck) of transparency but settled instead on a partial opening.

With everything ready for the new roof, Alin arrived to help. We started at 8 am what would become a long day. Iulia went to the village to purchase the transparent part of the roofing (the actual decisions and dimensions became clear only that morning). First came the wood decking of the roof (with the transparent part already simulated in place):

Then it was onto the bitumen roofing material. It comes in strips that overlap and bind together through sticky surfaces that meet:

We finished around 9pm, when we could barely see (one of those rare times that the LED light on the wireless drill is actually useful!) or take pictures. So the next day we found this:

The transparent plastic overlaps the roofing on all edges to safely shed water (and there is a metal flashing underneath the plastic running down the two sides):

… and the resulting feeling on the deck is indeed much better … there is more light and the space feels … lighter 🙂

We are waiting for a run to test the new roof 🙂
… and we are still left with the task of finding a place to store the tiles and to move them!

As I was preparing the pictures for this post I looped back to the beginning of what this space looked like when we just started building the deck … quite a journey 🙂