Jonni And Cecilia's Timber Framed Mud Brick Home

Started by glenn-k, February 26, 2006, 08:11:26 PM

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Beds from branch's and paper from poop who'd a thunk ;D  You Aussie's sure do some , eh weird , things  ;D No offence eh mates! :) Or would that be Shellia's ??   Or can mates be used like we Americans use "guys" sort of unisexed term.

I like to see the stick/ limb  bed  :) Not to sure I wanta get a snail mail letter from ya though ;D




Thew mudbrick are gorgeous...What are their dimensions...They look about the perfect size to handle....


Judy - the door itself isn't copper (that's made of spotted gum), it's just the two panels either side of the front door that I patinated. It has given it a slightly rough texture, and if it was in an exposed area I probably would have had to protect it with a wax of some sort, but as it's under the wide eaves the weather doesn't affect it (well, not so far!)

PEG - The Aussies do use the word mate in that same way, but being English myself, I tend to use 'bloke' or 'folk' more than mate (unless I'm being sarcastic).

Benevolence - Mudbricks are 10"deep x 5" high x 13" long. They weigh roughly between 17 and 21kg, which makes them manageable, but no lightweight to handle when you have several hundred of them to be shifted from one spot to another.

Bear in mind that Jonni and I are no spring chickens - my 66th birthday this year.

Amanda - Sorry you don't want me to send you a snail mail. If you change your mind, just give me your address and it'll be on its way.




Well I am not young anymore either...32 in a few weeks...It is a long steep downward slope from here on out I reckon

As for the blocks...I want to make them as large as possible...Less work... even if each block is heavier for me to lift...I was thinking 10 inches deep 12 inches high...and either 18 or 24 inches long

As long as each block is not more than 100-120 pounds I should be okay

I wonder if there is a scale or a method used to calculate the weight....

Surely Glenn or Peg will know...They know everything else :P


Solid rock is 165 lbs per cu. ft avg.  Soil compressed can be 100 lbs or more per cu. ft.  Looks like you want some healthy ones.  You may not be able to press blocks that big with the ram.


well thank you for the info...I will have to make some blocks and wait a few days and cut into some with the chop saw I guess to have a look


Cement gains most of its strength in the first 7 days - a bit more up to 28 days then slowly is supposed to gain a bit more over its life, of course the hardest thing in the soil cement will be the aggregate.  It will be interesting to see how the ram works on it.


I nearly fell off my chair when I saw how big you wanted to make your mud bricks!

I would like to alert you to the fact that there are only about two courses of bricks that are at 'ideal height' to work with (from my experience).

If you are planning high walls - like some of ours, the bricks don't just have to be stuck on the wall as you build - they have to be GOT UP THERE! We didn't have anything fancy like one of those nice little conveyor belt thingies. We had to lift them one by one, onto each height of the scaffolding tower.

I'm certainly glad they weren't any heavier.

You sound like a real muscle man.............. but if other people are going to be helping you, they may not be so keen if they have to heave around larger, heavier bricks. Cutting the halves and quarter bricks would also be a bit of a pain.

With larger bricks you'll have to work out very carefully the lengths of your walls or you're going to have an awful lot of brick cutting to do. Not one of my favourite jobs I have to say, although I did most of ours as I was more patient to take it slower than Jonni, and therefore managed to get them cut where I wanted, instead of them falling in a mess because I'd hit them too hard. Our bricks have a fair amount of small stones in them so they couldn't be sawn.

Best of luck - I'll be interested to know what you decide.


I am not a muscle man....Just a little bit of a runt...under 6 feet tall...185 pounds....But lifting 120 pounds is easy for me...

Kinds of forced to do it as a kid lifting transmissions and rear axles in my dads auto salvage...and then working in the woods later lifting logs...(like an idiot)

Maybe it is smarter to use smaller bricks...I just thought that if it took the same amount of time to make the blocks with the press machine....I could do twice the wall in the same amount of time....

So making 200 blocks a day would go twice as far.... I am sure I am missing something awfully important.... I will proceed with caution and let a block sit for a week and cut it open with the chop saw to test for strength and all of that.

the minimum I would want the blocks to be is 12x 12 x 18

With a chop saw cutting the blocks is easy.....And I would always alter the building design length if it meant less block cutting...

With 18 inch long blocks....I should get the needed width of 12 feet for the internal greenhouse structure I am looking for....The inside shed of the greenhouse is going to be 12 x 24...8 blocks wide and 16 blocks long...Staggering the joint by tier there should be no cutting except for windows and or doors......But for that I had a plan also....I was going to make a run of blocks 12x12x 12 so I could turn insert a shorter block every second row and not need to cut any blocks for door openings and window openings...

Might not be a good plan....It is what seemed logical to me...

But I have been told this is a hair brained scheme...One of my neighbors told me it was not possible to build my own greenhouse with somne block machine contraption....

First batch of Tomatoes grown in it need to be delivered to them with a card....

Courtesy of the greenhouse that could not be built or some such ;D

For me in life there is not many better feelings than doing what other people say you cannot do....It is very, very rewarding.

No worries Celia I have no intentions of trying to take the title away from you and your husband....Your block work is the best I have seen...The house is absolutely breathtaking....So many neat features...Everything is where it was meant to me....It is just perfect down to all the corners in it...

All of us here have really high standards to live upto....If we hope to follow your example

I would like to know about rendering and painting the block walls and mud bricks though....I think my wife would like a earthy sandstone brown for the greenhouse...She thinks it will look great with green windows and ivy growing on the outside of it.


It was PEG, not Amanda who didn't wan't snail mail.

But he may have been thinking about real snails.  ;)

I think I can wait for a picture here.


Well now Benevolence - this statement was a bit of a worry to me.........

"The house is absolutely breathtaking....So many neat features...Everything is where it was meant to me....It is just perfect down to all the corners in it..."

We are really going for the 'rough' look, so the word 'perfect' makes me think we've missed our way somewhat. Whenever Jonni complains that something doesn't fit perfectly I hasten to remind him that if we'd wanted 'perfect' we never would have chosen to build with 'puddled' mudbricks and would have chosen the neater shaped ones.

As for the render - we were going to put on a traditional cow poo plus river silt mix, and although we had the neatest little herd of Aberdeen Angus lined up for the cow poo, the river silt was a problem, so we ended up with a cement render with an elasticiser mixed in with it. That gave us a dark grey wall, which we left to dry for a month before applying the colour coat - an earth pigment (real thick stuff) which we could choose in quite a range of earthy colours.

I'd caution against growing ivy on any mudbrick wall as it really gets its roots into both brick and mortar, and is inclined to crack the walls.

The only thing I consider to be pretty inoffensive is a little tiny blue flowered creeper called by the names of toadflax, or Kenilworth ivy. No deep suckers, and easy to pull away where you don't want it. It will find any little chink and grow through it to the inside and then hang down the walls - I just love it!

Sorry Amanda - maybe you'd like snail mail on wombat poo paper? PEG doesn't know what he's missing.



QuoteIt was PEG, not Amanda who didn't wan't snail mail.

But he may have been thinking about real snails.  ;)

I was thinkin about paper made outta wombat &hit/poo ;D
And I may not know what I'm missing but I'll take my chances on that ;)

G'day mates  :)



I'll bet if you had some of that Wombat Poo Paper,  you'd take up smoking just so you could roll your smokes out of it, PEG. :)



The house is perfect...Perfect because it is functional, thoughtful and beautiful...Everywhere you look you see excellent craftsmanship and a lot of hard work...

People pay millions to have some architect try to re-create the same effect...your house has this oozing out of it in spades.

As for the ivy....well I thought that if  the brick were stabilized with cement and let to harden they would be imperveous to cracking from the ivy....I am aware that they are clingy and take a pretty good hold onto bricks


Rick built the hearth for the wood stove from what passes for adobe here in AZ these days.  Besides being ugly  :P they were heavy-lifting just a few not a problem, building something large scale with just one or 2 people doable only if time is no issue.
These were stabilized adobe and boy were they crumbly, moreso than the "earth"blocks I made from leftover mud and straw. Plus the earth/straw bricks are light.



Well I got the plans for the cinva ram press today and I am going to sit down after supper and read the information...I talked with the person that sold me the plans and they assured me that there was detailed exact information on mixtures textures avoid crumbling messes.....

So I am hoping for the best....I get to start welding later this week on it...I have scrounged up the 3/8 steel plate and a couple pieces of rail road iron to set it on....

I really don't mind the heavy lifting if it means that I get what I want....Too often in life we are like that dude from myth that was forced to push the boulder up the hill only to have it roll back down the hill for him to roll back up the same hill over and over for eternity....I think it was sisyphus

At any rate When there is a finish line you can(I can) rationalise the hard work the achy muscles....I motivate myself with things like....Only 1400 more of these and you are finished..... :) It does work....You get going and it is 1000 and then 500....It gets done....

Hoping to hire a local kid in the neighborhood....Someone 15 or 16 who has a good strong back...and will work cheap...hehe...I used to be that kid in the neighborhood....

Going to figure out how many blocks I need for the walls, the greenhouse and then for the landscaping of the banks of the creek....And try to break it down to so many days of making the blocks....If I make 200 a day for 10 days or whatever....And by then the first of the blocks will be ready for use....Hopefully

I need to make sure all this heavy lifting and manual labour is done here by may....After that here down by Savanah Georgia....It is so hot that you cannot think or Breathe

when it is stupid hot and humid here I plan to be in the House with the central air on sanding, and removing trim....etc....Inside work....


Cecilia, your home is so unique - the wonderful woodwork & all the other beautiful touches - I am sure you & Jonni are thoroughly enjoying the place, now.


I refuse to show my wife pictures of the duckpond and cabin...

It is so gorgeous with so many unique one of a kind features... I do not now or ever want my wife thinking that anything I do will ever be of that stature

Seriously it is breathtaking...Something so wonderful about the blend of wood and brick...Tasteful splashes of color....I bet it is very relaxing and comfortable


Hi Sassy and Benevolence

You are very kind saying all those good things about our house.

People find it hard to believe that Jonni had never built anything except a chest of drawers and a shed in the paddock for his horses before tackling the house.

I have to say it's been the highlight of my life and yes, the house feels wonderful to live in. For the first time since being in Australia (since 1956) I feel as if I'm in the place I belong - and am even contemplating becoming an Australian citizen!!

At the moment we're working on a repeat of the higgledy piggledy bookcases which we have downstairs, but this time they're upstairs. The bookcase part should be finished in the next few days and the cupboards too, except they won't have doors yet.

The weather here is very hot - about 38C every day, but downstairs stays cool.

The architraves and skirtings upstairs are now all finished - it's amazing how different they make the room look.

More photos will come once I've oiled the new bookcase and walls upstairs.

I'll also take a photo of the beautiful eucalypt tree that the fallen branch is providing us with the timber for our new bed. I keep looking up at the trees and seeing promising looking branches - but they're unfortunately still attached to the tree!



If you had your own sawmill, Cecilia, you would lust after every tree you see, not for it's natural beauty, but for how many boards you could make out of it.

Always great to hear from you and looking forward to the photos. :)



I disagree with that statement... Trees are the lifeblood of the earth...They provide for us sustain us clean up after us.. shelter us...

I know they need to be cut down and used for human beings to maintain their lifestyle of paper and cardboard...

I loathe cutting down trees... I have always done what I can to prevent people from chopping them down...

As a nation a lot of progress has been made in re-forestation....But a lot more progress needs to be made to ensure that there is always old forest growth nationwide....

For all the progress made in the rain forests and in Europe...It is still lacking if we are going to preserve and maintain the forests of the planet


You may not do it, but you will still think about it. :)  Besides -- who knows -- you may have a good policy of planting several trees for every one you cut down.  You could be your own little mini Sierra Club.


This topic morphed into a discussion on trees, nature and the life/death cycle. I have moved it to HERE.


Sorry John

My wife always complains I am way too stream of consciousness in real life and I guess that parlays into this medium...Sorry for hijacking the thread...You were nice and called it a morphing... ;)


Cecilia, I saw this and thought of you and your wombat poo paper. :)