The next ten years: the extended family

The next major renovation was carried out in 2006 to allow Virginia’s elderly parents, Wif and John, to join the household. This was an energy efficient extension with a living room, study, bedroom and en-suite bathroom..

·       The extension used a timber frame with Hebel panels for the external walls and the floor, with a double-glazed window to south. The remaining windows are single glazed with insulated blinds. The roof and wall spaces were insulated with R3 glass fibre insulation. The extension was designed to be wheelchair accessible.

·       In addition, the old kitchen wall was demolished, and a new kitchen was constructed between the original house and what became known as the Paris End (so-called by Virginia’s mother who saw her tidy, art-filled apartment as a haven of sophistication compared to the chaos of “the Bombay End” through the connecting door).  This new kitchen provides a central hub for food preparation and shared family meals.

·       The kitchen included a cool cupboard drawing air from one of the three underground cellars. These include a wine cellar under the kitchen and cheese-maturation space in the basement room under the new bedroom A 10,000 litre water tank collecting rainwater from the extension roof stabilises the temperature in the bedroom above, as well as storing water for the garden and for firefighting, if required. There is a fire pump and hoses long enough to reach around the house and  out-buildings to the park boundary.

·       A 3.1 kW grid-connected solar power system was installed at this time, with a gas–boosted solar hot water system to provide hot water to the whole house.

·       A 25,000 litre above ground water tank was installed at the bottom of the block to collect the rainwater from the main house and the water overflow from basement tank. 

·       the Everhot stove was retained and its water jacket was connected to the copper tank of the original electric hot water system to run a loop for a hydronic radiator for airing and drying clothes. This supplements the heating of the kitchen in winter when the stove is running. (It is a feature of the new kitchen and is fondly referred to as “Darren’s Dalek”, Darren being the plumber who thought of stripping off the outer shell to expose the copper tank).

·       The Zone 1 veggie garden was rebuilt, including a new greywater system (called Root Zone, the invention of Rory Fort, an innovator and green plumber) that collects the waste water from the upstairs showers and washing machine and provides filtered grey water to drip lines in the Zone 1 garden, effectively drought-proofing this garden.

·       The indoor spaces are supplemented by large decks, shaded in the summer by the two mature Pin Oak trees. These effectively form separate outdoor rooms that have  dining and seating areas, together with a BBQ and a wood fired pizza oven constructed over a firewood store, surrounded by a herb garden.

Early stages of construction of the Paris End extension around 2006

Early stages of construction of the Paris End extension around 2006