at a glance
these are the main works that need to be carried out for terrealuma to be up and running, in the order we are going to tackle them. the camping area is now open!
* an access road
* a work centre with barn and workshops
* a reedbed sewage system
* a ram pump system for supplying water to gardens and water features
* a caretaker's house, earthen, built into the slope
there will be continuous work on the terraced gardens, orchards and crop fields
- camping and gathering space is open, with outdoor toilets and showers
and the work continues...
* rebuilding of large wooden house for gatherings and events
* completion of the amphitheatre-shaped communal space, including an eye-shaped building set into the bank, and a free-standing adobe building
* a few adobe huts for meditation in the woods
in more detail...
The work is already underway. Since the place has been left unattended for 4 years, it requires a lot of attention to bring it back to its former state before proceeding with bigger projects. This includes:
harvesting firewood for winter
constructing a simple shed to gather all available construction timber in one place.
mending the green house
assigning and preparing a new garden area
construction and installation of a new set of pumps to increase water supply uphill for gardening and design purposes
the usual grass cutting and also clearing of shrubs and undergrowth.
maintenance of 2 out of the 3 wells that we use on this property. This will be maintenance only now, awaiting more funds for proper refitting
acquiring new and mending old tools and machines.
constructing a wood gasifier to supply fuel to our wood shredder. This is a continuation of our quest for self-sufficiency and free energy. With ram pumps in operation already, this gasifier will be the most money saving improvement. With plenty of shrubs and trees to clear every year as maintenance this will ensure constant supply of wood chips for fuel, mulching and composting at very little cost.
The above is full time work for a couple of persons for a few months. With other duties constantly arising as the year progresses and weather being the pace-setter, it requires flexibility, constant availability and lots of self determination. The few small projects on this list, plus fuel and simple living expenses, will require at least £2,000 to complete providing that we do most of the work ourselves with help from friends and volunteers.
the work, visions and plans...
As the old Chinese proverb says, if you want to build a house, build a road first. Can't argue with that...
We have about 300m of road still to build to enable good access in all kinds of weather. This should be done first, to facilitate building works in the future. The road requires renting heavy machinery to further shape the land and later on to spread a few layers of various sized gravel. Estimated cost around £5,000
Back in 2010 the initial sketch for the road was shaped.
The wells that we inherited (three) from the previous owners are great but they will have to be deepened, and new broader rings will also have to be fitted as well as supply pipes laid in the ground. Some of them have been laid already, but the rest need to be done and will be likely to hit the 300m mark. At the same time it would be good to lay down some pipes to supply water from the rams uphill. This would replace the unreliable hose system that we have used so far. This project will require a digger, new rings and pipes and at least 1-2 weeks of work. The cost is likely to be around £3-4000.
We need to build a barn to increase storage capabilities before any other construction is attempted. This will be around £10,000 to fully finish so that it can also function as a processing centre for our food products, but all we initially require is a foundation with a concrete floor, wooden frame and a roof. The side walls, doors and finish can be done later. We already have 90% of the wood for this project according to the specs and design, but it will require hiring a crew of carpenters to erect.
the old barn had to be knocked down
A sewage plant is also a major investment for the future. We will opt for a root and soil system as this is the most ethical and cheapest to run once initial costs are covered. By law we are required to have sewage treatment and it has to be attested and certified. Including this, the project is likely to be around £5,000.
More preparatory work that needs to be done involves refitting our power supply point. This will require obtaining an external electrical box as well as an underground cable to supply the buildings. Eventually we will disconnect from the grid altogether but this seems impractical right now, ahead of all the major building projects. We will need external power for at least another 10 years. This is likely to land at £1,000.
With a road to supply building materials, enough storage space for them, a reliable water and power supply, and a sewage plant, we can now move on to the construction of accommodation and workshop space. This will include a few separate projects:
We will start off with the construction of a small caretaker's house uphill with its own media connections, and a small shed in the future. This will be one of the places in a space of its own with a beautiful view upfront and lots of air. This will require some preparatory ground work to level the spot and also to create enough depth to submerge this building partially into the slope. A small, 35m2 house will be submerged into the hill for better security and warmth. The roof will be grassed and the front of the house partially glassed. The back of the building will have to be done in reinforced concrete to withstand the pressure of the ground but the rest of the frame can be wooden and the front of the house can be done in mud and hemp adobe. With all the digging work, concrete and extra insulation for the sides and roof as well as all the connections this project is likely to hit £10,000 or even more.
When the time comes we can realize the rest of the vision that this place has, which includes one large communal building or a shed and one smaller house for accommodation. The vision that has appeared is of an eye-shaped communal building set into the ground with its grassed roof being an extension of the slope and the other building being simple hemp adobe. These two buildings will easily hit £12,000 and the communal building will take most of the costs with its concrete back, grassed roof and adobe front.
To complete the grand vision the land told, a few liveable huts should be built all around the property, we think around three. These would be private and very simple places for living off grid, meditation and cultivation.
To recap the whole vision of the infrastracture so far:
we have the caretaker's house on the top,
an old wooden house down below with a sizeable cellar/workshop already in place
a work center with a barn, mending workshops, garages, driveway and parking.
a camping site with amenities, communal building and a hut
and a few huts for guests around the property.
With this infrastructure we could host 20 people at one time in buildings alone.
Another important project that would improve our capabilities here is a workshop space opposite the barn. This would complete the whole central point of the property, or work centre. The workshops will provide space and garages for cars and machines and serve as a mending workshop as well. This would again be best done in the slope for protection and thermal benefits. Then we can have all year round operation without much fuel input in winter.
With a new place to live we now move our attention back to the old wooden house that we have on the property. This house needs to be taken apart and rebuilt with new materials and design. This would be best done on a wooden frame with hemp adobe or hemp cob walls, and some form of basement would be good, which means concrete again. We are not keen on this idea here and will be open to other options. The roof will have to be quite high to allow for a second storey and that may mean that an earthen, grassed roof is too difficult to execute. We will choose the best option when the time comes. The most important thing is that it will be a full sized house, hopefully completed in one year, that will provide a first accommodation base and communal space. The cost of this project will run quite high as the old wooden house needs to be taken apart and the foundation and old cellar dug out by digger. The timber for the frame and roof will need to be bought and a crew hired to assemble it. £20,000 is the likely cost of that without internal finishing.
Now to the camping site. Before major building is attempted there a few years are going to pass and since ground works for this site have been done a few years back, when the terrain was nicely shelved and grass sown, this space has now come into service as in 2019 we constructed an outdoor shower, toilet and a sitting-cooking area. We hope to add a yurt and tipi.