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Corwin's house renovation adventure

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So my brother came over to help again and that means we can push through and make much progress. We're trying to finish anything that does a lot of dust or debris so that we can move in asap, but it turns out he may stay for almost a month so I hope we can finish a lot more than just breaking stuff.


This week, we're finishing breaking the ceiling clay plaster and straw in the living room (super exhausting, have to keep on hitting the ceiling with a carpenter hammer for hours, until you can't feel your arm, and get all the dust in your face) and clearing out the remaining walls to then cover them with a layer of straw, to prepare them to receive a new layer of clay plaster.


Last week I also finished some of the isolation in the ceilings of the rooms, and we also finished the isolation of the new small roof we build recently. Hopefully we can keep this pace next week and the ones after that, so that in a month we can be back in the house and the family can enjoy the garden while I make the finitions in the house.


Breaking the ceiling's clay+straw plaster:



Clearing the walls in the bedroom (old plaster was damaged and repairs weren't going to hold well and crack etc.)





Putting the straw on the walls so the new clay sticks







Finished the isolation of the new roof, still need to cover the steel beam with wood and finish the surface of the ends/sides of it.


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Hey Corwin,


What's the reasoning for using straw and clay? I'm not familiar with that technique. Is it to keep it all authentic or are there others reasons? Why not use foam for isolation in stead or plaster the walls with stuc? Anyway, keep the pics coming. Really enjoying the thread so far :)

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It's really a matter of preserving the structure of the house without dooming it to collapse in a few years. The clay is super healthy for the air (absorbs toxins and humidity and releases humidity only when the air is too dry), I believe it's the best interior cover for having a nice air, no condensation on windows, etc. It works really well with wood (and the house has a wooden structure), not damaging the wood in any way, contrary to cement-based plasters and such. It's also very cheap (150€ for 1.4 tons) and easy to apply (not toxic so no protections to use, low drying speed so can take your time, easy to clean afterwards, etc.)


But most importantly is the flow of water through the walls: if I had just put standard plaster on the walls or plates of plaster or shitty isolation, the water would have gone into the walls, reaching the old clay+straw mix (since it's really absorbant), and would not have been able to go back out of the wall through the plaster, staying trapped between the exterior plaster and the interior plaster, and eventually causing the wall to crumble down when it got too humid. In all constructions there's a thing you got to respect and it's the order of the materials you use and their potency to absorb water: you have to make it so that the water can go in the wall and back out the other side, being sort of pulled by different degrees of absorbance from each material. If you trap a high-absorbance material between two low ones, it's fucked. It's how you get stuff like funghi that eat your wooden beams and such, which develops behind plaster plates, in the darkness and humidity, and you really don't want that sort of stuff to happen.


Anyway, those are most of the reasons. It's just how houses are made and repaired around here, and going against the age-old techniques means you may get something more modern but it could also collapse a few years down the line. Figured it'd be best following the advices of experts on this, since the house is a bit shit to begin with (crap wood for beams etc.) and super old (130+ years).


The previous owners had actually covered the ceiling of the kitchen with the wrong material, and when I broke it all to reveal the beams, we found a layer of mold between the old clay and the new plaster they put, illustrating exactly the phenomenon I was talking about (probably accelerated because it is the kitchen and has vapors of all kinds going up through the ceiling).


But yeah, the downside is that it takes ages to dry, and is also not good at holding stuff such as shelves etc. and that I had to learn all the tricks, which means I totally underestimated the time it would take to renovate it all (since I was making my estimations based on putting plaster plates a bit everywhere and calling it done.)

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