Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Handmade Walls Built With Love

Ben project-managing while Dan, Dave and David work on corners.
Something remarkable has happened at our site- and in our lives this last month.

It's been a month of wonders. 

Jem posing for a media pic with Barry, Mark and crew.

If you could've seen the continuous flow of volunteers through the gates every day, felt the community spirit around the lunch table, tasted one of the many delicious goods baked or grown by helpers...

If you had felt the vibe on site, heard the laughter, seen the continuous mixing, ferrying and tamping, or watched the progress move steadily around the house;

I think you would say the same.

These handmade walls speak for themselves; they were raised with love.

Anwen and Mark working on a section of the kitchen wall.

I am at a loss as to how to describe the enormity of it all. 
It's hard to convey how much it's meant to our family to accept this generous gift from our community. 
But I'll have a go.. and show you a few photos! 

We embarked on the wall building of our 'miracle home' with some trepidation. We were building with a fairly unknown material, relying on volunteer labour and we knew it could take upwards of 4 to 6 weeks. 

How would we ever maintain the stamina needed to complete it? Would we get enough helpers? How would we feed them all? 

We need not have worried. 
Voluteers Georgie and Dan.

 The wall building or 'hemping' process started on 1st May and finished on 31st May. Ben and Mark Ward worked hard on it every day, Monday to Friday, 8am to 4pm. 

Some days there was 6 other volunteers, some days there was 14. We never knew exactly who would turn up and when. But there was help every day, and there was food cooked for them every day! 

Teamwork lifting the formwork together.

Ben and Jemimah celebrate the completion of the walls with Anne and Mark!

It was a busy, hectic time. Ben worked to his physical and mental capacity, keeping on top and ahead of the job. I managed the kids on my own, and went out most days to document the exciting process.

We were bone-tired but we were grateful for all the community help around us. 

We couldn't have done it without the amazing support of Canowindra's local community.

We were particularly grateful for Mark and Anne Ward, who  organised the recruiting, managing  and feeding of about 70 different volunteers.  

Helen and Chris at work on a wall.

Dave and Carol at work on their corner.

 It was such a team effort that every room has memories of that days group of volunteers and the effort they poured in. 

The kindness and the time they gifted us with has become something permanent which is going to surround us and keep us warm. Literally.

I love how every section of the wall has something special pressed into it.

At work around the mixer, ferrying buckets to the formwork.

So Why Hemp? 

We decided to use 'Hempcrete', (Industrial Hemp stalk chips mixed with sand, water and lime binder), on the advice of our award winning building designer Dick Clarke. 

Barb and Anne working on a wall

We were looking for a cost effective building product which would provide good indoor air quality, and a year-round ambient environment for our children with their compromised lung health. 

The hemp mix is poured into formwork and gently pressed to form a monolithic structure. It is the cladding. insulation and plasterboard all in one. After curing it sets hard and the exterior is sealed with a lime-based render. The interior can be clear- sealed, or rendered. It has very good insulation properties.

Using hempcrete has also meant we could use volunteer help, saving us about $30,000 in labour costs.

On the final day of wall 'hemping' we celebrated the completion of the walls with a glass of champagne all round!
It felt good, but strangely sad, to be finished. 
It had taken 23 days to complete the 120 metre perimeter. Some say it's a record of sorts?

The crew on the last day of wall hemping, in front of the last completed section! 

Marion, Janet and Anne at the morning tea. 

Later in the week we held a morning tea to say thank you to the 70 or so volunteers who had lent a hand at some stage over the four and a half weeks. 

In typical fashion it was a delicious spread, and gorgeous sunny weather. 

About 30 of the volunteers at the 'thank you' morning tea in front of the house.

With the walls completed, and windows now in, we are marching towards lock-up stage. 
Then we will begin the internal fit out. 
We are hoping to move in late summer.  
The Read family, Anwen, Jemimah, Gideon, Ben, Mahalah
at the volunteers morning tea.

In the meantime the fundraising continues with the charitable trust 'Raising For The Read Triplets Inc' working hard on the launch of their new website, and recently receiving a generous $25,000 end-of-financial-year donation from the Robertson Foundation. 

What can we say but 'thank you very much' once again to everyone involved in this remarkable modern day barn-raising. We've come a long way and we've really appreciated your help.

See below if you are interested in donating to the kids charitable trust, which aims to provide for Anwen, Mahalah and Gideon.

With much gratitude;
Jemimah Read.

Name: 'Read Triplets DGR Account'
BSB: 082 774 
Acc No: 402 853 874 
Email the treasurer Eugene (epmarais@gmail.com) to receive a tax-deductible receipt.