-----In 2004 we bought a falling-down house and 30 acres. This blog documents our progress-----

Monday, August 30, 2004

More discussion on the cottage

When I went to Amherst the first time and saw where Mum and Dad were proposing to build the cottage I said no. It was on the peak of the hill and so would have been in full view. Instead I said they could build the cottage down the other side of the hill, so that it couldn't be seen from the main house (and is further away).

Here's a few of the email exchanges discussing the shape of cottage:

Email to Mum - 25th Aug

Our first edition of Mother Earth news arrived today, and amidst all
the semi-hippy stuff there were some really good articles, even Dave
was impressed.

A great how-to guide on making a natural swimming pool/pond which we
were wanting to do anyway but hadn't got round to finding details.

And an article about yurts. They look quite interesting, not like
camping tents, they can be quite flash. e.g., check out the two
storey one here. http://www.abc.net.au/canberra/stories/s876255.htm

A yurt might be a quick way of getting some housing to live in up
there while we were doing work, and double as spare cottage later? It
would have to be carefully positioned so as not to look odd, but the
one in the abc article above I could see blending in. I'm not totally
sold yet but it is an option to consider

Here are some suppliers of yurts, all in the US but give you an idea of pictures

And it seems like maybe they are good for bushfire protection too?
Found this on a post: "Our 15ft yurt in the Brindabella Valley, NSW,
Australia. It has been up since 1981 and withstood the ravages of the
recent bushfires here in a way that was quite bizarre. Two huge
bushfires that destroyed 300 homes in the capital city Canberra, both
swept over the yurt from different directions a week apart. Despite
there being full petrol containers under the yurt and the fact that it
had been painted with old motor oil, the shape of the structure seemed
to somehow move the fire front over and around the building so that it
didn't burn. No one can work out why it didn't go up as everything
around it was badly burned, but that's my theory anyway".

And here is a link to the only Australian supplier of yurts in kit form
If you look in their photos section you see they are the ones who did
that cool double storey yurt. I can see that working really well on
our block nestled into the slope. It is kind of like a hobbit house
in feel but taller and narrower, don't you think?

Mum's reply - 25 Aug

Yurts are fine - but what about a hobbit hole? Half buried in the land,
just the front showing and even that made with the stone on the site?
Also bushfire "safe" - well safer than a normal house. Stable in
temperature, ie well insulated. You can grow things on the roof because
that is just land.. If a yurt was to be a permnanent thing, built
conventionally, it would not be as easy as a normal house because of all
the angles to be cut. A "proper" yurt is round though the couple I
looked at were something like a duodecahedron or similar.

Although, the yurts do have a sort of feel of a hobbit house.

I was looking at the prices - I am inclined to think, without actually
running to the timber yard, that it is expensive for effectively just
the wodd cut to size. Of course, you are also paying for their
knowledge and working out of the lengths to cut, and the angles - I note
they seem to be 22 sided figures. I also note the windows are cheap
aluminium ones. Add into the equation that Dad has certain things lying
about that he would give you - second hand stuff he could scrounge and
you would never know, and so on. I think you could get a more
conventional room or two built for less than that if Dad did it.

Note that the $5000 odd was just for the frame, inside and outside
lining, roof and maybe insulation - you had to supply all else yourself.

The sort of place Dad was talking about building when you came back in
June would fit in well to the landscape. That was not a hobbit house,
which was something Dad said he would like to build one day - perhaps
in his own back yard. Not that I think his land slopes enough to make
it easy.

My reply - 30th Aug

Yes, you're right, the prices of the yurt kits are a little more than
I'd first thought. But it's an idea to add to the mix. I like the
octagonal shape. I don't much like the canvas traditional ones even
though I know they are the proper yurts.

Dad can still build a house as he was talking about it before at
Amherst, but just not in the position on the top of the hill. e.g.,
Why not on the other side of the hill so it was nestled in the slope,
with a view to the right over to Snake dam, and to the left down the
valley? I think you'd get similar views, albeit not quite as
panoramic, and it would be mostly out of sight of the other house,
except maybe for the roof etc. I don't want it out of sight because
I'm worried about what it would look like, it is more because I don't
want to spoil the effect of the main house being secluded. Also, we
now have plans for the slope up to the top in terms of garden, with a
natural swimming pool/pond at the base.

Mum's reply - 30th Aug

Fair enough - it would be good round the other side of the hill. We
were trying to make it out of sight of the hosue itself you know - it
would be much lower than your house so you sould not see it, though the
roof of your place would have been seeable from the little place. But,
it would certainly have been visible from the drive and the road and the
far side of the hill will not be.

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