Breaking ground – the work on our Roundhouse begins

The first cut

Now the rain has relented, work has begun. Two weeks ago we dug out the track. And on 21 May work officially started on the Roundhouse.

We hope to complete after 16 weeks of work (which includes 7 days float). But our contingency planning tells us to allow 20 weeks to be on the safe side. During that time three eco-construction experts from our contractor – Dales Contacts – will live in Melbourne. They will push our build up from the foundations.

And in line with the good news, we think we have enough bottles. Though Chris (WWC director, project manager and now general labourer) says:

I would rather have 100 too many, than 100 too few.

So, if you want, please keep collecting until you hear otherwise.

The plan

So, if you haven’t seen a building programme, here is the bad news. Construction doesn’t go to plan. We’ve already mentioned the need for contingency. Bad weather, supply problems and new ideas will all impact the order of the build and the, all important, schedule.

Nonetheless, we have to start with something and here is a summary of the schedule as it stood on 25 May.

complete building schedule2

From now on these posts will take the form of a diary. We would love your contributions. Please contact Chris via the Whistlewood website to share your words and pictures.

The first cut

As our featured image shows, we have made the first cut and the track is well on its way. See this post to learn about the work involved.

Track structure, showing non-woven geotextile
This image shows the track structure from the non-woven geotextile and the depth of the MOT1 hardcore

We will keep Whistlewood open as much as possible during the works, closing only when there is large machinery working outside the secure compound.

For safety, we closed the site from 20 to 26 May. And the Dales team got digging. They cleared the area of the Roundhouse down to clay, made a building site and hosted our first Building Inspection (which went very well). They completed the limecrete foundation pad and will start the supporting block work next week.

The Roundhouse takes shape
The top soil has been removed and the limecrete foundations are now finished.

As soon as he has laid the track, the same contractor (Dave) will dig out two ditches, lay the pipes for our waterworks, place the underground water tank and covered them back over.

The water works

We will use the water we collect from the shelter to supply the building works.

Once the building is complete, we will use this precious resource to water the produce gardens. You might wonder why we wouldn’t drink the water. Well, the cedar roof will give the water an unpalatable flavour.

And we need to raise more funds to buy and install solar panels, a battery, pump, filters and a UV sterilisation system to clean the water that falls on the shelter. Once we have potable water from the shelter the site will be self-sufficient in water for most of the year.

The first ditch runs from the shelter to the Roundhouse. It carries overflow from the rainwater collection system to the Roundhouse water-butt. Here it will be joined by overflow water from the Roundhouse roof. The water will flow down to the first swale.

You may remember that we initially planned a tyre foundation. Unfortunately, we no longer have the time to fill and lay all those tyres. So we are going to use blocks made from recycled building materials instead. Small changes like this will help us claw back some of the two months we lost to bad weather.

And to reopen the site, we have erected the security fencing and implemented a strict set of rules for entering the building site.

Please respect these rules when you visit. And if you take part in any building activity, please use the safety equipment provided.

Finally in our news roundup,  John Blunt and his team at the Staunton Harold estate have started felling the larch for our support poles. All our poles will be ready this week.

Are you keen to join in?

During this week Chris will be agreeing how Whistlewood members and other volunteers can help complete the build. Your support will make the Roundhouse even more special. We believe we will be welcoming volunteers into hard hats to help with the straw bale build, bottle laying and plenty of jobs around the octagonal decking. Watch this space, the Whistlewood website and our newsletter for more.


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