The Super Shed Project
Turning the humble backyard shed into a Passive House
Woden SEE-Change loves a challenge. Our latest is to turn a tumble down shed on the Canberra City Farm (CCF) site on Dairy Flat Road, ACT into an inviting, energy efficient educational space for CCF volunteers, schools, community groups and all visitors to use and learn from. With a lot of help this is happening now.
Just one more item to go and we are ready for the Canberra City Farm Open Day on 11th November where over 1000 people are expected to attend. We need to fit Polyester insulation to the inside of the western wall of the Super Shed. This is an easy task and volunteers are being sought now. If you have hands and can manage a stapler then this is the task for you. Please contact Leigh Duxson at the number below.
After the Open Day we have a big weekend on 24-25th of November when we install double and triple glazed windows and a door on the northern wall to begin our major transformation of the shed. It is getting exciting!!!
If you would like to help and learn some on-the-job skills or you have skills to share then please text Leigh Duxson on 0407283195. We particularly need Carpenters at the moment.
Read about the most recent developments directly below….
Tidying up after the Concrete Pour – Sunday 28 October 2018
During the week after the pour we removed the concrete form-work from the path edge, cleaned the shed, cured and cleaned the concrete path, removed the star pickets and generally tidied up the site. Then on Saturday Leigh, Luis and Phil met to continue cleaning up around the shed for Open Day.
We refitted the rain guard and the bottom sheets of metal to the shed wall, filled the trench alongside the path with the earth that we had carefully taken to the Dept of Broccoli site some time ago. We stomped a lot and watered a lot. Then we removed the Corflute covering the broken louvre window and made up some temporary sheets of corflute to replace the three broken glass plates. This will once again enable us to have a cross breeze in Summer. Then we were finished. An easy afternoon’s work on a beautiful Spring day.
Thanks Luis and Phil, see you on the weekend of 24th and 25th November.
Footpath and Rain Pouring – Saturday 20th October 2018
If you have a need to break a long term drought in your area then I have the perfect solution. Call Woden SEE Change to build you a footpath and it will bring rain. True.
We arrived at 8am ready for a busy time before the concrete arrived at 10:30am. The weather report sounded threatening but how many other days had this been the case and nothing much had occurred. So we took the risk, because volunteers are usually only available on weekends and concrete delivery is only on Saturday morning so that meant that this had to be the day.
Luis started by delivering our morning tea and lunch, thanks again Audrey. Then after a quick chat, he began taking off the lower cladding pieces to make screeding the concrete easier, later on. Meanwhile Phil cleaned the rubbish that had gathered in the form-work spaces, removed the steel mesh and rolled back the plastic ready for the fitting of the expansion joint material to the slab edge over the Termite mesh. But there was a gap in the mesh around a bolt that needed to be filled so Leigh zoomed off to Bunnings to buy some gap filler, then back to stop those termites.
Paul fitted the expansion joint material to the rest of the slab edge then Phil refitted the plastic at the base of the form-work. Our new volunteer, Joe, arrived and was introduced to all. Joe , as it turned out, knew more about concreting than the rest of us put together, which was good because we knew we needed help. The steel mesh was reinstalled and Paul, Luis and Joe started tying the different pieces together while Phil and I filled the holes in the existing path with metal glue and hammered in the reinforcing bars.
Then the concrete mixer arrived 20 minutes early as we were still tying the mesh and hammering the rebar. So does that mean no-one else is ordering concrete today? Hmm, that is a worry.
Joe went off to get the concrete mixer organised and the wheelbarrows and spades ready to go. Paul and Luis started moving concrete early and Joe managed it’s placement. No time for morning tea yet.
Leigh also began moving concrete, as we had 3 cubic metres to move and a 1 hour concrete mixer time limit. All going well. Phil then took over a wheelbarrow and Leigh used the concrete vibrator to remove voids and air bubbles in the mix, then Luis also started screeding with Joe’s guidance. We were half way through the third side of the shed when the mixer operator announced we had used all the concrete. No point arguing, we ordered another cubic metre just before they closed the cement works and it came out in a smaller truck.
It started raining just as we were moving the last cubic metre. The driver helped us spread some of the concrete, then he was off, just as it began bucketing down. There was nothing we could do, except have morning tea, of course and pat Harriet who had been banned from moving from the shed while the concrete was being poured.
We tried to bring up some more sand and cement mortar from the mix and were doing well, it was starting to look better, but then we had another shower and another break. After that, we scrounged for some more fines, Joe started using a broom to hide some of the blemishes, Luis started edging the path. We were determined to finish this if the weather would allow it.
Then Audrey phoned to warn us that more was coming so Leigh rushed off to Bunnings again to buy two large roles of plastic and we covered all the concrete as fast as we could just as the rain started. Harriet was huddled in a cardboard box we had found for her in the shed. Her preference was to go home.
Despite the rain we got it finished and somewhere in all of this we even got to grab lunch. Not sure when, it is a bit of a blur. We laughed when Luis took off his shirt and wrung it out the door-space and that was AFTER he had taken off his rain-jacket. Yes, we were drenched.
Thanks to all for your efforts under challenging conditions.
Post Script – on Sunday, Leigh did some cleaning up, yes it was a little rough in places, but still a good solid, non slip path and strong enough to walk on even now and draining water away from the building, which was our objective.
Termite Mesh goes on – Tuesday 16th October 2018
Right on schedule, Shane from Termimesh arrived on Tuesday morning to install the termite barrier around the slab edge of the Super Shed. All over in two hours, so now we can prepare for the concrete pour on Saturday 20th October.
Preparation for Pouring Footpath – Sunday 14th October 2018
As usual we began at 8am and in Spring that is not as bad as Winter. Our objective was to prepare the ground around the Super Shed for a 1 metre wide path that our Structural Engineer said would strengthen the building and keep the rain from the foundations. The Southern Harvest people were very pleased about this path because it will make it easier for their customers to get into the shed to pick up their food boxes.
Leigh cleared away the orange safety barrier, stuck the Work Sequence for the day on the wall, gave a rousing speech (No) and we were away!
There was much removal of dirt for this path – approximately 30 metres long by 1.2 metres wide and 100mm deep. The dirt was sorted into clean for the pile near Dept of Broccoli and the rest to a rubble pile much further away.
I don’t know how they do it but a number of our volunteers can dig and talk at the same time, rather than dig and pant.
Must be fit.
Morning tea time with Sarah and Audrey arriving with Luis. The sponge cake made by Sarah did not last long, even Harriet had a little. Audrey set out the morning tea, then cleaned up and set out her lunch for later. Once again, thank you Sarah and Audrey for your fine home made food.
Luis drove off for the timber to be used by the Form-work Carpenter, Daniel, arriving at 12pm. The digging and moving of dirt continued. Leigh got out a jack-hammer and removed a concrete overfill on the slab edge so that the termite mesh would fit better when installed. Sorry about the noise and dust.
Here is a question, when does soil become dirt and can it once again be soil?
After an enjoyable lunch we returned to the outdoors to find Daniel had progressed very quickly with the form-work so we filled it with a plastic lining, stapled it to the inside of the form-work and then brought out the steel reinforcing mesh to fit into the form-work around the shed. We used scrap steel from the previous concrete work for small corners of the path.
Luis removed the slab edge cover to make the work of the termite mesh fitter a little easier. We left the mesh in place but untied so the fitter could remove it if needed.
Then we packed up, reinstalled the barrier and went home.
Thank you to all again.
If the Termite mesh is installed this week then next Saturday we will be pouring.
If you would like to be involved in this great project then please text Leigh Duxson on 0407283195.
Pouring Footings & Finishing Pipeline – Saturday 22nd Sept 2018
We arrived on site with little time before the Mini-Mix was due but much to do. We found the slab was so thick in places that it was difficult to hammer drill holes for the pins, which were to hold the footings to the slab. Kevin pulled out his super hammer drill and gradually got through, but that still left Peter and Harley trying to add parts on the other end of the pins inside the footing holes whilst the rest of the crew were moving concrete from the mini-mixer to those same holes.
When the mini-mix driver saw we only had two wheelbarrows and were obviously just a bunch of amateurs he told us that he had a full day of deliveries and we would pay extra if he had to stay any longer than half an hour. But he had not seen us work before.
Luis and Paul moved those wheelbarrows liked greased lightening, with Leigh guiding the concrete into the holes and scraping the barrows, Kevin using his half working electric concrete vibrator to settle the concrete evenly into the holes and Harley and Peter staying just ahead of us with the installation of the parts in the footing holes. We were finished in 25 minutes and used every bit of concrete that came out of the mini-mixer.
The mini-mix driver said, “You blokes would put a lot of professional concreters to shame, you handled it so well.” He knows how to keep customers.
I asked Kevin why so many of his tools were only half working? “You lend them to your friends” he said.
Then Audrey arrived from Bunnings with the remaining pipework parts and a sealed box for the beverages, cutlery and crockery she has been setting up in the shed. Audrey had been taking photos during the concreting and continued till we finished our other work.
The pressure was off now that the pour was over, so we had morning tea, then Harley, Paul and Luis went on with finishing the water tank pipework, while Kevin trowelled the footings and cleaned up around the site and Leigh cleaned inside the shed, re-erected the safety barrier, closed the shed and it was time to go home.
Thanks again to everyone for a good job well done.
We still need a concreter for the next step which is constructing paths around the building.
If you can help, please text Leigh on 0407283195.
Footings, Rainwater and Electricity – weekend of 8-9th September 2018
It was a tough but rewarding weekend. We dug the footings around and under the concrete floor slab of the Super Shed, installed most of the rainwater system for a tank to be installed on the South side of the Big Shed and investigated where electrical power was sourced and where it might run to.
Danny began early by machine digging two trenches; all finished in 15 minutes. Amazing! It was made easier by the recent rain, beautiful soil and a competent digger operator, of course.
This trench was used to bring fresh water from the Big Shed to the edge of the pizza oven shelter and for feeding rainwater from the Super Shed to the Big Shed.
Next, we began digging the footings, starting on the West side. Easy! The ground was soft, the auger churned out the soil; digging under the slab edge by hand was slower but still it was easy enough. Phil, Harley and I did a lot of this by hand and with the auger.
Meanwhile Kevin started the concrete cutting, hard, noisy and messy work but fortunately there was no reinforcing on the slab. Then Sarah and Audrey arrived with a lovely morning tea (scones, jam and cream) and a lunch provided for later and Sarah continued taking photos.
Then it started getting harder.
The concrete cutter failed, the path on the north side was full of reinforcing, the ground on the east side of the shed and under the concrete paths was dry and rock hard. So out came 5 jack hammers and an angle grinder and away we went, slower, harder, noisier and lots of hand digging and crowbar work but we progressed.
Jodie, who had been working with CCF, volunteered to help out with digging the footings, then rode home on her bicycle, as you do after carrying and setting timber poles and digging footings. By the end of the day we had moved a lot of earth, broken up the concrete and moved it all to separate piles for reuse by Canberra City Farm. We also discovered that under the floor slab had been a rabbit warren. All in a day’s work.
Work continued Sunday with more hand digging around the edges, then Luis arrived with the road-base for the trench in his trailer, morning tea and a boxed lunch, pizza this time; once again from Audrey.
Harley arrived at morning tea and started work on the irrigation pipe-work and soon after Peter arrived, worked on a footing and then some of the trenching to the water tank. Harley cut and glued the piping, placed the multiple bends and joiners to connect with the temporary downpipes from the Super Shed gutters. Meanwhile Luis unloaded and moved the road-base into the trench, enclosed the water main and then the rain water piping in road-base and then we proceeded to backfill the trench.
Then our Electrician Scotty arrived to investigate how the wiring system was connected and where it came from etc. He discovered a lot in a short time which will be invaluable for later in the project.
One more footing to go, a rest and then we can pour the concrete. Thank you all for your wonderful efforts.
CONCRETER NEEDED FOR OUR NEXT JOB – please text Leigh Duxson 0407283195
Baseline Documentation – Thursday 30th August 2018
Today we set up a camera on a tripod in the shed and rotated it in all directions taking photos to make a “virtual room” of our shed. Then we did the same for a thermal camera. It was minus 4 degrees C outside and we heated the room with as much heat as could manage for 1 hour (4.8kW) before taking the thermal images. Harley has stitched the high resolution images together and a link to them is shown below. We will do this at each stage to show the improvements in thermal performance.
Take the Virtual Tour of the Super Shed
https://roundme.com/tour/304083/view/977383/ Photo Image
https://roundme.com/tour/304191/edit/978041/ Thermal Image
The lack of a mechanical clamp for the thermal camera meant it could not be incremented as accurately as the photographic camera so did not stitch as well. We may be able to improve this arrangement for the next test.
We won an ACT Government – Community Zero Emissions Grant
Monday 27th August 2018
I am delighted to say that our application for a Community Zero Emissions Grant was accepted and the presentation for all successful applicants was held at the Low Energy Super Shed.
Here are some photos from the event. About 30 people attended, including the media, Woden SEE-Change and Canberra City Farm members, Caroline Le Couteur and of course Minister Shane Rattenbury presented the grants.
Not only did the Minister get a tour of the Super Shed and an outline of our plans, he was able to enjoy the post-announcement snack of delicious scones, jam and cream with tea or coffee. Scones made by Georgina and jam cooked in her kitchen from the CCF Shiraz grapes. The compliments on the food kept coming. “Best scones I have ever tasted” was one.
Now that we have the grant we will be able to concentrate on the project rather than the fund raising. What a relief!
Lighting – Wednesday 30th May 2018
For lighting we decided to install 6 new LED double battens and two external floodlights for the customers to Southern Harvest Food Box Network (which uses the shed as a base). It is so much brighter and easier to find things.
Planning has also begun on the installation of the footings, northern double-glazed windows & doors. A submission has been made for an ACT Government Zero Emissions grant, which would be very valuable for this project. So, watch this space for more progress or make contact to help or make a donation.
Fixing Doors and Windows – Monday 21st May 2018
Then the rush was on to find reuse materials for the doors and windows to finally enclose the Super Shed before the start of Winter; after all, we wanted Canberra City Farmers warm during their break times. We found some solar angle displays on ply board in our store, which worked very well on the doors and as luck would have it, the Green Shed had copious quantities of Perspex we were able to use for the windows. Then a new door lock and a combination key box on the outside.
So the shed is no longer a cold draughty place, it is starting to feel more comfortable and secure.
From windy shed to still shed. We made it by the start of Winter.
Finishing the Roof – Sunday 22nd April 2018
Work is progressing well on the Super Shed. Here is Kevin, the Passive House certified Carpenter fixing the final under-roof insulation pieces and roof panels in place while Leigh and Peter hand up the materials and add the remaining mini-orb wall pieces to cover the exposed LVL timber on the walls. All in a half day’s work. The roof is now working well with very reduced heat loss and no water leaks.
Raising the Roof – 21st April 2018
This was our first day of construction and we had a very keen workforce of volunteers including a volunteer lunch provider. What better way of keeping everyone going.
Off came the metal roof and guttering, out came the roof lifting equipment (props), up went one side of the roof, then the opposite side, then large timbers called LVL’s were inserted and locked together. Then we started locking the studs to the floor, the top of the studs to the top rail,the top rail to the LVL’s and used straps up over the LVL’s to hold them in place, then the LVL’s to the roof framing. Next, Kevin began fitting the roof insulation and refitting the metal roof with support from the DIY’ers, and we also began fixing mini-orb from inside the shed to the outside of the LVL’s, but ran out of time. Quite an effort for one day but enjoyable and the weather was perfect.
Turning the humble backyard shed into a Passive House
The volunteers at Woden SEE-Change love a challenge. Our latest is to turn a tumble down shed on the Canberra City Farm (CCF) site on Dairy Flat Road, ACT into an inviting, energy efficient educational space for CCF volunteers, schools, community groups and all visitors to use and learn from.
The current space is a leaky, double metal garage which we are going to convert into a clean, comfortable Passive House (or Passivhaus) demonstration building and CCF tearoom. Passivhaus buildings consume virtually no energy for heating or cooling, while still providing 100% fresh air at a comfortable temperature.
There are currently no buildings open to the public in the ACT that demonstrate Passivhaus principles. The Super Shed will be the first. Much can be learned from Passivhaus design principles to live a lower carbon life even if personal situations do not allow you to build or renovate your home to Passivhaus standard.
We will hold open days and talks at the Super Shed for groups, students and associations to educate and activate the community to improve comfort in their homes while reducing energy consumption, CO2 emissions and energy costs.
So far we have a small but dedicated team that includes a PassivHaus consultant, engineers and builders as well as willing workers. We have spent hundreds of volunteer hours to lock in our design, budget and building plan. Various businesses and households have donated building items. We will be continuing to promote this project and seek support through offers of free labour and expert advice, cash and material donations and community grants.
To keep in touch with the project and our fund raising efforts or to ask more questions and put your name down to help, please contact Leigh on 0407 283 195 or
Further Super Shed info is at www.see-change.org.au
Visit the Canberra City Farm at www.ccfarm.org.au
Further info about Passive Houses is at https://passivehouseaustralia.org/