Eco-thrifty renovation, eco-thrifty gardening and eco-thrifty living are not formulaic. Although we can offer design principles, guidelines, and methods the application of E-T is always through the eyes of the individual. E-T, like permaculture, is a way of seeing. Mostly it is a way of seeing possibilities. It involves a vision to see something beautiful or practical emerge from something that someone else has thrown away. For example…

… last Thursday Jiqiao and I set about converting a pile of reclaimed lumber

… and some partially rotted trusses…

… into a usable shed.

Of the six trusses that had been left on our property when we bought it a year and a half ago, we were able to use three as trusses but the other three we stripped to use as purlins…

… and for the nail plates.

Peeling off the nail plates and pounding them flat for reuse takes time, but saves money and saves the manufacturing wastes of making new nail plates. It is a perfect example of eco-thrifty vision.

But just because something is built of salvaged materials does not mean it should not be meant to last. Of particular concern for the durability of any wooden structure is moisture. Wooden structures need a good hat…

… and good boots. While roofs can be fairly straightforward, foundations offer some challenges regarding ground contact and water wicking upward through materials including concrete and the end grain of wood (think xylem and phloem). The eco-thrifty solution I applied to this potential problem is a modification of a technique I used to use on my farm.

Choosing a concrete block for the foundation, I used the hole in the middle of it as a mortise that will hold a tenon in the bottom of the post in place. For the tenon, I used two pieces of H3.2 off-cuts of treated decking timber. When working with small pieces of wood it is helpful to pre-drill holes for nails otherwise the wood is likely to split when driving a nail through it.

I nailed the H 3.2 treated “foot” onto the bottom of the H 1 4×2 in two steps: first through the “plate” (pictured) and then through the smaller tenon (not picture).

And then the three pieces of wood are set in place.
By the end of the day we turned a pile of rubbish…

… into a weather-resistent shed in which we can put the rest of the rubbish. (If it fits.)

I slid the long sections of the three trusses we stripped into the top of the shed…

… and did some sheet metal origami to keep out wind-driven rain.
For a days work and the cost of a handful of roofing screws we have a shed that measures 4 meters by 1.4 meters. Easy on the Earth and easy on the wallet.
Peace, Estwing

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