Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Race to Build a Sleepout #1

As I've said before I must be a glutton for punishment when it comes to the big jobs in the garden.
We just found out our niece from Japan wants to come and stay with us while she learns english in NZ but we're bursting at the seams in the house so rather than send her elsewhere we decided to build a sleepout to make room for her. She's only here for 6 months but the extra room will come in handy after she's gone.
The tricky part is that she's arriving on the 3rd of February which only gives us a few weeks to do it. So it's 'Action Stations' because I also know I've got a busy week the week before she arrives.

First of all I had to decide where to put it. Actually the only place I can really put it is right in the bottom of the gully which is a bit of a dead zone where nothing but weeds grow (it's also very wet in the winter with plenty of mosquitos in the summer – but I'll get to that). Everywhere else in the garden is valuable growing space. So first of all I had to clear the site of Punga trees – native Silver Ferns.
One important criteria was that I wanted to do this as cheaply as possible and also minimise any waste.
So, not that I wanted to make the job any bigger, but I decided to use the Punga trunks to build a Punga fence. I had the ideal spot in mind where it would create shelter from the wind and provide some privacy from a neighbouring property at the rear of the garden.
I started off by digging a trench about a foot and half deep, then after cutting the trunks up into lengths I stood them up in the trench and packed soil around the base to hold them in place. If I keep them well watered they'll probably continue growing.

Anyway, with the site cleared, it was time to get started on the foundations of the sleepout (although I'm thinking about it as more of a rustic cabin), which is going to be built on poles. So after mapping out the position of everything, I started digging the holes.

Then I got some H5 treated house piles and concreted them into the ground starting with the four corner posts, which is where I got up to today.

It's going to join onto the bridge with a little deck. I reckon it'll be pretty good once it's finished and best of all it'll be right near the garden. I just hope I can get it finished before our niece (Marié) arrives. 
Read about what I did next here.


  1. Wow!!! I love this section of your yard Dave, it looks very tropical. The bridge looks like something from a national park walking track or a Tarzan movie. Your yard must be huge. Looking forward to seeing the finished project

  2. Thanks Tony. The back part of our section was a bit of a wild jungle when we first moved here back in 1991 but I've been gradually taming it. It's a traditional Kiwi Quarter Acre, (which is 762sq.m in our case).
    They are hard to find nowadays around where I live because most people carve them up and build housing units on them.
    The bush is a playground for all kinds of birds.

  3. It sure is nice that you are going out of your way to accommodate your niece. And with time constraints! Wow! I give you credit. Looks good so far by the way. Hope you get it done before she arrives! I am deeply impressed.

  4. Thanks Antone. We just found out our niece was able to find a cheaper air ticket by coming a few days ... EARLIER... What...? more pressure?

    I'm not too worried yet but I'm sure I will be worrying as the time gets closer if I don't get things happening faster soon. But it's OK I've made progress since this post and will create a new post soon to show where I'm up to.
    Thankfully we're having some beautiful weather here.

  5. Hi Dave,

    How deep did you dig your piles? A guy at placemakers said 450mm will be plenty... doesn't sound like much???

  6. Hi Dale, I dug mine down about 500mm or more depending on the kind of soil. Our ground has a layer of about 200mm of topsoil with clay under that. I wanted to make sure it had a solid footing in the clay. I think you also need to consider how far out of the ground the piles are protruding. In my case, the centre piles were about 1.5m above the ground. I tried to dig those ones deeper at about 600mm so about a third of the pile was in the ground.

    Thanks for commenting. I hope this helps.