Something Old, Something New…

Forget borrowed and blue, melding the old with the new is what renovation is all about. And I would also argue that it is what sustainability, and much of permaculture for that matter, are all about. In other words, it is about carefully choosing what ‘modern’ technology to embrace while maintaining appropriate traditional materials and techniques. For instance, back on my farm in New Hampshire I had solar electric panels to power my 220 year-old farm house, but used antique hand tools including a scythe and hewing axe.
Trollbacken, Andover, NH. 2006.
One of the most sustainable properties in North America.
Here in Whanganui we are connected to the grid and I am using more power tools on this project. But we still meld the old with the new. Take GIB for example. Some of the plasterboard on our walls serves as bracing for the house. The major bracing elements must be built using Braceline GIB. (Yes, it is blue.)
Standard GIB (GS1) to the left, and Braceline GIB (BL1) to the right.
Other bracing elements require plywood. (Not borrowed.)
Plywood bracing panel with old sheet of GIB to cover it up.

We are happy to use new materials for these bracing elements, because the most sustainable house is the one that does not fall down. But in case of the Braceline GIB and the ply, non-bracing sheets abut bracing sheets, and/or go on top of them. Instead of buying new sheets of plasterboard for these, we are simply reusing many that were left laying around when we took possession of the structure. Note that these are light brown in the following shots.
Bracing sheet (left) meets non-bracing sheet (right) above the French doors.
In one case, we had leftover off-cuts of Aqualine Gib from the bathroom, so we used that as well. Note that Aqualine is treated with a fungicide and should not be used in gardens. Therefore, we wanted to use up the Aqualine off-cuts first, and then have any leftover standard GIB off-cuts for the gardens.

Aqualine GIB off-cuts fill in above the other French doors.
And, because this is a wonky reno project, an existing wall was designated to become a brace wall in the new plan. But we did not want to tear it out and then rebuild it – neither eco nor thrifty. (Note to builders: Luckily, there was sarking on both sides of this wall which, more than likely is much stronger than a GS1 brace wall.) So what we did was screw the existing GIB off in the bracing pattern as required by the building code.
Note the screw pattern on the white bit to the right.

Granted, at the moment we have 5 different colors of GIB on our walls: blue, green, grey, white and brown. But after our gib-stopper friend comes to this weekend and we get a coat of primer/sealer on them, they awkward joins will disappear.
But even having lined all of the walls, we still had more GIB leftover, in addition to the old villa window frames (cleared of all that pesky glass by helpful local enthusiasts.) And so we combined these old items in the skillful hands of Amy-the-intern to create a pair of amazing new paintings.
Thanks Amy! Now, what to do with the rest of these? Any suggestions?

Peace, (and we just passed our ‘post-line’ inspection. Yahoo!) – Estwing