Building a laundry/bath house with old tyres, eco bricks and mud/cement – part one; planning

We need a real kitchen…at the moment our kitchen is cobbled together from bits of unused furniture (my bench space is an old massage table) and a sink unit I was given. My partner’s brother was given an old modular kitchen (from the 70’s, so it will have some interesting colour combinations) which he is storing for us, but we can’t put it in the humpy until we have a floor to put it on, which involves moving the current bathroom out.
The current bathroom has a floor made from an metal old window shade (one of those industrial metal grid things) with sheets of aluminium screwed onto it and lino over the top. This all has to come out (as well as the bath) and a new tire and ply floor go in. This means that we need a new bathroom away from the humpy while we build.

This is the current floor, you can see the metal frame around the lino. Not pretty, but it works.

The bathroom floor (please ignore the dirty shower curtain) 

The plan is to build a laundry/bath house up the slope from the vegetable growing area so that all that lovely (nutrient rich) water can use gravity to find it’s way back to the Hugelkultur vegetable beds, instead of being carried out in buckets which is how I do it at the moment. Eventually there will be a shower in the house also (for those cold winter nights), but until then we will have the bath house. I want to have a go at building with old tyres and my eco bricks, because we have plenty of them around and because they create a negative carbon footprint when reused for building.

My plan so far is very simple;

 As usual my madness is being fueled by Youtube and internet research;
The plan is to use a small excavator (hired for the occasion) to dig the foundation out (amongst other things), put the strip footing (tires and mud) and the four corner poles in. Then we will put up the pole frame and the roof. After that comes the corrugated iron outer walls, the floor and the bath put in (complete with outlet to drain to the vegetable garden). The first layer of eco bricks will go in around then too, but we will have to keep chipping away at the inner walls as eco bricks become available (we only make one or two per week). Getting water into the laundry for washing is easy; we will tap into the pipe running from the header tank up the hill to the humpy, and let gravity do it’s thing. Getting water for the shower is another story as the fall is not great enough to gravity feed water to an overhead shower. That is a problem for part two.

Next comes getting the shower operational and putting up a new clothes line. Look out for part two.


A floor made from old tyres

My eldest daughter is home from university, having finished her degree. She will be living at home until she graduates (July), meaning that we now need more room. When she left for uni three years ago I erroneously  assumed that meant she had left home so I converted her bedroom into a craft/storage room. Having failed to comprehend the vast array of time off uni students have; I then had to relegate her to the fold out lounge for semester breaks, study weeks and holidays. Now she is home for a six month stretch and in need of a space of her own. It was decided to build a floor on the inside dirt patch that we always planned to cement (but didn’t) and move the lounge area there so she could have a room with a window next to her sister.

Having looked around for the cheapest option we decided on ‘yellow tongue‘ flooring over a suspended frame of some kind. Some research revealed that foundations and piers are often made from old tyres, so it was off to the massive pile of old tyres left at the front of our property by a previous owner. We have been using these tyres for many purposes over the years and we hope to clear the pile by 2020 or so by making them useful.

After an expensive trip to Bunnings, we were ready to build…..

The yellow tongue ready to be painted.

We painted one side with a water proofing paint containing tar.

The second coat made them much darker.

The site of the future lounge room.

We leveled off the floor and began to lay tyres out.

The old dog looked on; confused, as we built.

We found a place in the creek where gravel washes into a basin and collected a trailer full.

The tyres were filled with gravelly soil mixed with cement and left to set. 

Black plastic was laid down and the yellow tongue screwed down.

This turned out to be a bit too bouncy for a lounge room floor; so the panels were taken off and we all stood scratching our heads and looking for a solution for a while.

Eventually we got some 4′ X 1′ timber from my parents scrap pile (sorry ‘might be useful one day’ pile) and screwed it down to form a base for the panels.

Everyone had a go at the drill.

The panels were then screwed down over the black plastic liner (painted side down).

The floor was then painted with floor oil (which includes a varnish)

And the holes where filled with spak filler.

We now have a new lounge room floor and will be lining the ceiling and putting up wiring for lights tomorrow. My daughter has room for a bedroom of her own and we have used thirty three tyres from the pile. It looks great and feels good to walk on too. I am thinking of renaming our house ‘the rubbish house’ because we use so much rubbish in the building of it.

What do you think of our new floor??