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 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 from a fabulous group of volunteers this building is changing for the better and there is much excited anticipation at CCF as new uses for the building begin to emerge. We will continue to make the shed available to any group at CCF or SEE-Change who want to use it during and after the construction process, except for the days when reconstruction is occurring.
Then and Now
Our design group has decided that converting the roof is our next task. We want to make it airtight and tie it to the walls to create a complete airtight structure. But before that, we need to strengthen the trusses because we will later be adding a lot of weight to the roof. When the new trusses arrive on site we will be close to doing the construction, so watch this space for the announcement which will probably be late April.
If you would like to become involved in building work, catering, photography or writing a blog for the Super Shed Project then please text Leigh Duxson on 0407283195.
Read about the most recent developments directly below….
Panoramic Photograph – Sunday 17th March 2019
Harley and Leigh went to the shed on Sunday morning where Harley set up his tripod and camera whilst Leigh cleared the tables and chairs and other gear out of the room. Then Harley began taking photographs of the room incrementally until every spot in the room had been photographed including the ceiling and floor. It was all over in 10 minutes.
Then he went home and using some special software, stitched all the images into one virtual image. Then he digitally removed the tripod from the image. Wow! Now you can see every part of the room as often as you like. Show it to your friends.
This was not taken as the temperature difference was not large enough between inside and outside for a good image to be produced. We will leave that for a cold Winter’s morning.
Air-tightness Test – Sunday 3rd March 2019
Ten guests, three Woden SEE Change people plus Ben and his two children attended the blower door test. Ben is the certified Passive House person who ran the test for us. Everyone was keen to witness the test and have a guess at the air tightness result. Many questions were asked about the test and home energy conservation in general so a one hour test turned into over two hours of test and discussion before we were through. The thirst for knowledge was huge.
Guesses for the air-tightness of the Super Shed ranged from Paul, o.9 air changes/hr up to Charlie, 12 and 11 other guesses in between.
The results are in, thanks to Ben’s wonderful work:- 8.6 air changes per hour! Is that good? Well, no, not for a passive house but it is still better than most fully constructed houses in Canberra, which range from 10 to 15 air changes per hour and our building is only half finished.
We have not yet taped the walls to each other to stop air leaks, there is no taping between walls and roof and the roof is about to be fully rebuilt, so next time will be an even better result.
Will it then be too tight with stale air? No, because we will be installing a heat recovery ventilation system with 100% preconditioned fresh air.
Why were some of the guesses so wrong? Because if you can’t see light through the wall, floor or roof and you can’t feel a draught you may think there is no air movement, but air can find many pathways, including through insulation. Try this experiment. Find some polyester insulation and blow through one side with your hand on the other side. Your hand will feel the warmth of your breath because the air is leaking through. Polyester is the material we are temporarily using for the gaps between wall and roof, so it was bound to leak, but at least we have kept the bugs out.
When doing the test we found that we did not need to move much air to get a 50 Pascal difference between inside and out (the standard measurement pressure) so the fan was throttled down to reduce air flow. Why? Because there were few air leaks but because the room volume was small they had a big effect on performance. So getting good performance in a tiny home would be even harder.
Thanks to all who came along to a very interesting test and asked such interesting questions, and thanks to all who helped to make this day work so well.
Eastern Gable Sealing – Friday 1st March 2019
Charlie returned from his holidays a little earlier than expected (car troubles), contacted Leigh and asked if there was any more to do before the blower door test. Well, perhaps he should not have asked because there was of course; sealing the eastern gable (ie the triangular top bit).
They started late after Danny helped by using his ute to move a large piece of ply needed for the day. Thank you Danny.
The routine was a repeat of the work done on the eastern gable but still took a long time and included using a stapler this time to secure the membrane. They were tired by the end of the day.
Thank you again for the work done, just in time for the blower door test.
On Saturday Leigh added polyester insulation to the air gap between wall and the roof insulation, just as Peter had done on the eastern wall.
No more gaps visible anywhere. We are ready.
Western Gable Sealing – Thursday 28th February 2019
There were still a lot of air leaks through the gaps in the metal on the top part of the wall (the gable), so Peter, Sarah and Leigh thought it was worth tackling before the blower test on Sunday.
We stripped the metal cladding, cut some ply to suit, nailed it in place, taped all the joins, rolled out the membrane, added some more on top, then battened it to hold the membrane in place. Sarah also did some more taping of the window and door reveals and added some more tape to the membrane used inside the shed. It sounds complicated but is easy, even for rank amateurs like us.
We did well and just have a little stapling left to do, because we forgot to get a stapler (sigh). Thank you all for a great day’s work.
Wall Sealing – Saturday 23rd February 2019
We started at 7am after a cool 12 degree night but inside was 18 degrees and very comfortable, a great improvement over this time last year.
The goal for the day was to seal all the air gaps we could find using membrane, tape, foam and Polyurethane so we were ready for the blower door test.
Harley got started on the foaming of all air gaps around windows and doors. Some needed to be completely filled with foam and others just needed topping up. The only problem was to get the correct flow rate and the mixing of the foam. As Leigh had discovered last time, this was not easy. This time Leigh was working on foam trimming, trying a motorised trimmer but finding a sharp knife was better.
Meanwhile Brian was stretched out on the ground on the east side of the shed trying to apply multiple layers of Polyurethane to the large gap between the concrete and the ply, where the garage door had been. We ran out of Polyurethane very quickly and Leigh had to shoot out to buy some more.
Peter was busy trimming the foam around the windows, folding down the tape and sticking it to the reveals. He also taped over the metal brackets on the fixed window. Suddenly the windows looked much more complete and attractive. Harley did the same to the door frame too.
Then Audrey arrived with Deb our new volunteer caterer. They set up for morning tea and we were introduced and out came a lovely almond meal orange cake which we all loved with our various beverages. Our lunch went in the fridge for later. Deb did the washing and came back later after lunch to clean up after we had finished. Thank you Deb, we also loved the quiche, fresh fruit and of course we had more of the orange cake.
Next Brian stripped back the membrane on the north wall and used the flashing tape to seal the gaps between the reveals and the ply, and at the reveal joints too.
Peter and Leigh continued in the afternoon, trimming the foam and folding down the tape on the inside and then adding more tape to the reveal/ply joins on the outside and reapplying the membrane and battens.
Then Peter brought out the scrap membrane to start sealing the large inside cavities at the top of the north and south walls. This became a work of art with the same material applied to all cavities and thoroughly taped in place around the many obstacles to make it fully air tight.
After this they packed up, divided the remaining orange cake and went home. Well, you have to have some rewards for all this hard work.
Thank you all for your effort on a beautiful late summer’s day.
Continuing East & South Walls – Friday 8th & Saturday 9th February 2019
Good Morning all! Introductions & chat. Now let’s get started. Off came the temporary plywood door, out came the tools and we were away!
Leigh, using his trusty reciprocating saw, cut out the South window opening in the plywood. Luis erected his saw bench and with Peter’s assistance cut the battens to be used for holding the membranes in place. Then Peter, Luis and Leigh erected the breathable membrane over the entire South wall, temporarily stapling it in place. Luis screwed the battens to the wall, folding the top edge of the membrane behind the battens and covering the top edge of the membrane with the top layer of MiniOrb to avoid any rain seeping behind. Then we rolled up the membrane flaps at each wall corner and temporarily wired them in place. We are actually getting quite good at this!
Next we cut the openings in the membrane for the window and door and Rob, the Carpenter started fitting the reveal for the door with Luis’ help, ensuring it was “level and square”. Meanwhile Peter stripped off the plywood panels on the East wall where, let’s face it, we had made a mistake in the orientation of a window and the studwork had to be rebuilt. Remember all those hundreds of nails we had banged in to the plywood? Yes, Peter patiently levered two plywood panels out, trying not to damage the plywood or nails, and cut back all the polyurethane from the bottom of the plywood and the bottom plate, but he did it. SIGH. Meanwhile Leigh went on with cutting out the plywood for the other East window.
Then it was time for morning tea. Thank you again Lucia, and for lunch later in the day. What was that herb in the spinach and fetta fritatta? Really tasty.
Luis then helped Rob with the installation of the door and Peter, who happens to be an expert on the chisel, cleaned out some mortise joints for the rebuilding of the formwork. Before long Rob had completed the formwork for the window and went back to the door which was proving a little difficult.
Luis then cut the ply to suit the new formwork and Peter nailed it in place after removing the old Polyurethane and after Luis had applied some new Poly. to the edge of the bottom plate.
Luis and Peter then taped all the gaps and joins on the wall while Leigh filled gaps around the power conduit entry point with Polyurethane and tape. Leigh also stripped back the fire alarm cable and fed it inside through a hole in the ply drilled by Luis (a job for later).
We could see a storm approaching and Rob showed us the BOM radar image, which did not look good, so we quickly applied the membrane to the eastern wall with staples and battens, wrapped and fixed the corner membrane flaps in place and we were finished. We packed up our tools quickly and were able to leave by locking our new uPVC door. SO EASY! No more temporary door panels.
Thank you all, I don’t think we have left much for tomorrow’s team to work on, but we will see.
Phil arrived with Harriet who settled in quickly. Soon after Brian arrived and started working on a reveal for the picture window and quickly proved he knew more than just his painting trade. “you will want this level and square I suppose”, he said. Before long Brian and Peter had the picture window in (a very heavy triple glazed window in timber frame) and the tape was fixed to the reveal on the outside. Meanwhile Phil was working on the small cedar “portrait window” frame, which went in level and square also and then he fitted the hinged window and taped the frame to the reveal outside as well. He then went on to tape around a number of the other windows even where access was tight under the membrane. All going well.
We now needed a means of attaching the bathroom window to the reveal and thought something similar to the brackets for the door would be ideal. Peter disappeared into the green shed next door and emerged with a box full of brackets. Who knows why they were there, but they were perfect, so thank you Canberra City Farm.
Audrey provided the delicious food for our morning tea and lunch and life was normal again after the return of our coffee plunger, sparkling clean. Thank you Audrey and CCF.
Leigh thought it was time to get out the spray gun and begin spraying foam in the gaps around the windows. He of course did not read the instructions because the print was small and anyway “it can’t be that hard”. Well, he assumed it would expand to twice the amount applied and it didn’t seem to be reacting very quickly so he might have added some more but eventually it expanded to about four times its original size. So he has a lot of foam trimming to do, but you learn as you build.
Thank you all, another very productive two days of construction and one big step closer to the finished product with all windows and doors now fitted and working. Hope you are still enjoying being involved in this interesting project which we believe many people will learn from.
Rebuilding East & South Walls – Friday 18th & Saturday 19th January 2019
Did you know that it gets hot in Canberra? Thursday, when moving building materials to the shed it was 41°C, followed by 41°C during construction on Friday and 33°C on Saturday with high humidity. Most normal people would be resting in their houses or swimming in the lake, river or pool but no, the construction team were hard at work.
Great cake for morning tea Audrey. One piece each, but we were all too polite about who should have the last piece so the ants moved in. At lunchtime we were more pre cautious, eating as much as we wanted of your food and then storing the small remainder in the fridge. Thanks again for your healthy and delicious food.
Then it was on with the eastern wall, starting with the removal of the garage door. It took three of us just 15 minutes to get the door off including the careful removal of the door springs. We then isolated the power to the shed, stripped the metal cladding, reconnected the power, removed the Perspex glazing, added polyurethane to the concrete/timber edge, nailed ply temporarily in place and it was time to go home at 2:30pm to avoid the worst of the heat. Harley had been working on the reveals but this came to a sudden halt when we cut off his power so he left a little earlier.
An early start again to avoid the worst of the heat. For the first time ever we had 11 people to help, and Gary a volunteer photographer arrived at morning tea, so tasks had to be found. We also had the company of two dogs this time, Harriet and Rusty.
Brian, a new volunteer, is a Painter; so he did a variety of tasks on the timber windows and guided Phil as a painting co-worker. We still have to decide on a final window colour but that is for later. Ren, another new volunteer was soon at work. Harley showed him how to tape a window ready for installation. Ren’s dog Rusty was also busy meeting Harriet (Oh, so you are old and deaf too), charming all the volunteers, nudging for pats and checking for stray food. Harriet just sat on the grass and occasionally barked at the 24 bee-keepers walking by.
Food for the day was provided by Lucia and disappeared quickly. Thanks Lucia, it kept us going.
Douglas, another new volunteer arrived at morning tea and moved into the Carpentry work with ease. Soon he and Peter had finished the studwork for a small window. Douglas then helped Kevin while Peter removed noggings from old window frames.
Harley and Paul built the bottom plate and some of the studwork in the garage door space, Phil was building a window from a timber transport frame by adding glazing silicon and beading, Leigh was talking with Gary the photographer and Kevin was working on the framing for the uPVC door and the wall framing everywhere. Ren, who had finished taping the window, moved on to using a foam gun to fill the gaps around the windows with expandable foam. This should make them very airtight for the future.
There was so much happening it was hard to keep up.
With all the studwork and reveals completed and checked for size it was time to begin fixing the plywood. Harley cut a series of trim panels to fill the spaces around the large ply boards to create a continuous surface for the later addition of a membrane. Then the nailing of plywood to the south wall began, fixing them permanently in location with polyurethane on the lower edge.
Nailing continued along the eastern wall and the end result was a big timber box much like the day before but more permanent and with a vast amount of extra work done inside. Hopefully we can organise a time soon to finish the installation of the door and windows.
Thank you all for a great job in hot weather and thank you Gary for your excellent photos.
Thermal Images of Eastern Wall – Thursday 17th January 2019
Before removing the garage door on the 18th, Leigh photographed the heat radiating into the shed. The external temperature at the time was about 32°C and the door was 63.5°C.
Then Leigh positioned plywood on the outside to shade the wall and window surface. After 15 minutes the door temperature had dropped to 41°C.
Installation of the Final Window – Northern Wall – 23 December 2018
Holidays for Christmas and New Year have started but not for Kevin. He was out at the Super Shed installing the triple glazed Aluminium window that had arrived a few days before. We now have all windows and the door for the northern wall installed and working, and the view to the north is so much better, and will be better still when the garden is built. Entry of Winter sunshine will also be much better than previous Winters.
Thanks again Kevin.
Rebuilding West Wall – Friday 7th and Saturday 8th December 2018
What a team! It is getting close to Christmas, but still, each volunteer put in some time and together we were able to complete the task.
This consisted of stripping off all the western wall cladding, repairing rot in timber on one corner and rebuilding the studwork (does that sound familiar?), making up a reveal for a window, rebuilding the damaged frame of the cedar window and rebuilding the studwork around the window.
We installed the reveal, then the window, added polyurethane along the base of the wall up to the bottom plate (this is a lot of polyurethane but it keeps the edge water and air proof) and also taped all air leak points along the bottom plate.
We added more polyurethane to the side of the bottom plate and the end studs of the wall and then placed ply on the wall and nailed the plywood to EVERYTHING behind it. Then we taped the plywood joins and taped the ply to the reveal, rolled out the membrane, stapling it in place and added battens as we did for the north wall.
Expandable foam was used between the reveal and window frame, the window taped to the reveal, the external basin reinstalled under the new window, internal insulation was reassembled and we had finished our two days of work in very warm weather.
Thanks to Charlie, Harley, Rob, Kevin, Paul and Phil for your effort, skill and persistence.
Thank you Audrey for organising the food, this time from a commercial caterer.
Merry Christmas, Happy New Year and enjoy your holidays.
Installing Insulation inside Northern Wall – Wednesday 28th November 2018
Charlie and Leigh spent a few hours cleaning up the shed after the weekend’s construction work and also added Polyester insulation between studs on the northern wall. They continued the following morning with some stapling of insulation on the western wall.
Rebuilding North Wall – Weekend of 24th & 25th November 2018
The transformation has now begun in earnest with the rebuilding of the north wall to include a triple glazed door and 3 windows (ultimately 4) both double and triple glazed units. You can see from the happy faces that it was a success.
The Work Sequence went up on the wall and we were away. Firstly Phil and Leigh started stripping the northern wall of metal cladding, trimming the metal just below the guttering, removing the windows and suddenly there was nothing left but the studwork. Meanwhile Kevin cut out the rot in the bottom plate of the wall, rebuilt the plate and studs, then set out the position of the doors and windows on the floor and began to cut the studs to suit.
Rob, a Carpenter, came to join us on Saturday which meant that we had two Carpenters for the first time, which was a great help. Harley cut long sheets of formply and Rob then chopped them to the correct sizes and with the help of Luis built the reveals to fit into the wall for the windows and door while Phil sanded the sharp edges of the formply.
Sarah arrived at this stage with her home-made scones and Anzac biscuits, so we had our luscious morning tea. Needless to say the food disappeared very quickly and Leigh and Phil really enjoyed their coffee. Then she continued photographing while we faked working.
Kevin continued to add more studs to strengthen the walls between window and door spaces, while Luis and Leigh added long lengths of plywood to the outside, using polyurethane to seal the plywood to the outer edges of the wall and the floor plate under Harley’s guidance. Harley then cut other pieces of plywood to fill in the gaps on the wall.
Then the nailing began, Rob with his fearsome Titanium hammer, was well ahead of Luis, Phil and Leigh and his nails were in a straight line with equal 100mm spacing, but Kevin and Luis were quite good too. Paul who had just arrived was up a ladder nailing at the top edge of the ply. What a noise!!
Then it was time to apply the tape to all the joins of the plywood to help stop water and air penetration. The tape is very sticky and the cutting knife sharp. Paul ran tape along the top of the ply while Phil and Leigh taped lower down the wall.
Luis by this stage had set up his saw to halve some timbers for use as battens to hold the membrane in place. But adding the membrane was for Sunday. Phil cleaned out the gap between the newly applied ply and the concrete which Luis then filled with polyurethane to keep the structure dry and air tight.
We then nailed temporary ply over the window and door spaces and packed up for the night.
Sunday morning was a fine day with a mild wind so we rolled out the membrane. Kevin stapled the bottom edge whilst Harley and Leigh stretched the material taut on the wall. We used minimal staples so that we could reuse the membrane later in the construction and we added the battens for extra support. Phil and Leigh cut out the spaces in the membrane for the windows and the door under Harley’s guidance and with Luis’ help we inserted the reveals and screwed them in place.
Meanwhile Kevin and Harley prepared the window and door frames by smoothing off rough edges and fitting tape and polyurethane for air and water sealing. Luis also did some taping.
Audrey provided the lunch of pizza which was enjoyable as usual and Phil’s mum made the chocolate and coconut biscuits for morning tea. Thank you to both.
Now it was time to insert the reveals, screw them in place and apply the tape from the frames to the reveals on the outside.
Once again a job well done and thank you to all who contributed. We achieved a lot in two days.
Installing Insulation inside Western Wall – Tuesday 20th November 2018
This one was supposed to be an easy task but not quite that easy. Have you ever tried to cut polyester? Leigh and a new volunteer, Charlie, who happens to be an Electrician, used Harley’s specially made workbench for clamping and cutting polyester batts. The saw is very sharp so we were very careful and had the job done by mid afternoon.
The shed is now a little quieter and the white of the insulation is a lot more attractive than the dirty tin colour of the metal cladding. Thanks for your help Charlie and for your bench and saw Harley.
Canberra City Farm Open Day – Sunday 11 November 2018
It was a lovely day for the CCF Open Day and we had about 1000 people as predicted. Leigh, Harley, Phil and Harriet were there to greet the Super Shed visitors, of which there were a steady stream. They came to see the demonstration window and wall section we had set up to show how we intended to improve the shed , or they came to admire what we had already done, they came to volunteer their help with our rebuilding project, to take our pamphlets on heat recovery ventilation systems or the article on solar vs passive house and/or to pat Harriet.
We had set up our brand new cardboard sign saying “Low Energy Super Shed” (thank you Lucia), with our website address or for those with a Q/R code app. on their phone, we also had our own Q/R code on display. Yes we have made it in the digital world and I did see some people using it. Still, you need not feel left out if you don’t have the app, just type, The Super Shed Project, into your browser and you will arrive here. Easy really.
A highlight for us was meeting a person from a local low energy technology firm who was asked about the possibility of donating a door to our project, and some days later, it happened, and it is a super insulated door. This was after an earlier donation from them of a special heat recovery system. Thank you, Daria and Alistair for making it all happen.
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/