ETR Q&A: Part 3

This Q&A series originates from a list of questions I received by email from a Frenchman traveling and learning in New Zealand. Feel free to look back at previous Q&A posts if you are interested. Answers continue below.

-I haven’t seen such a clever idea for a sun cooker! What is the material of the shell (mirrors? Aluminium sheets?)? Would it be possible to have a draft of the cooker?
This solar cooker is made from sheet aluminium on a galvanized steel framework. I bought it in Ladakh, India, in 2006, but I believe it was manufactured in Thailand or Vietnam. 
The internet is awash with solar cooker designs, instructions and opinions. Oh, and by the way, I do remember seeing one for sale in France called Le Grille Solair for 299 Euros. (This one cost me about 50 euros, or 100 NZD.) 
-Have you got a workshop in your house? Where did you supply all the tools you needed?
When renovating, it’s best to take your tools with you. I have a number of tool boxes that I can carry to where I need them. 
The most important tool carrier is the one on my bum. I like to have a hammer, tape measure, chisel, pliers, screw drivers, nail punch, and a variety to nails and screws within reach at all times. 
Most of the tools came second hand from the local auction and pawn shops. A very few power tools I bought new because they had a 2 year warranty and I knew I would be using them a lot. Some power tools are amazingly inexpensive. I hate to say it, but they can be seen as essentially ‘disposable’.
-How much did it cost for your whole renovation? What is your living area (you can include the Deck outside if ou want)?
Good question. We have not tallied everything yet. However, it is probably in the range of $30,000 NZD. This includes a top of the line new roof ($5,000), solar hot water ($4,400), insulation ($3,000), all new plumbing ($3,000), wood-fired cook stove ($2,000), and all new wiring ($2,000). Aside from the exterior French doors ($1,300), all other items were under $1,000, but they quickly add up. 
Indoor living area is 110 square metres. The deck is just 2.2 square metres, but the brick patio is about 12 square metres. 
To be continued:
-What would be your 3 main advices to renovate a house without spending too much money?
-What would be your 3 main advices for a low maintenance-productive garden (fruits trees, chicken moaner, mulch)?
-What were your main mistakes/issues during the renovation?
-How long did it take to renovate the house? (2010 to 2012?)?
Peace, Estwing

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