Saturday, 3 December 2011

Pipe down!

The Earth has moved, and then moved back again, leaving us with drainage, pipes and water tanks.

Could we possibly have a larger truck, please?
Over a three day period our Plumber, Mich, worked with a digger driver to install our drainage and water systems.  During this time our property was visited by an impressive amount of vehicles including trucks, diggers of two different sizes and finally a crane, complete with flashing pilot vehicle.  When our concrete water tanks were finally lifted into place I remember watching all this impressive hardware and marvelling that it must be costing someone a fortune – until I remembered that it was me!

Flashing lights and everything.  Oo - it'll cost ya!
 But I’m getting ahead of myself.  First of all, a trench was dug out from our bathroom to our next paddock, which will eventually be used to connect our revolutionary biolytic sewerage system (see Worms of Endearment) – due to be installed next Monday (!)

Pipe dream-team: Mich sights, and Colin digs
 Then more trenches were dug around the house, which serve a dual purpose.  Firstly, they hold the pipes which will finally give our roof water something to flow into (the mud created at the bottom of our unconnected gutter down-pipes always vexed me greatly), and carry this precious liquid to our water tanks. The trenches also hold nova–flow coil, collecting our excess ground water and channelling it to a soak pit, which will also accommodate any over-flow from our water tanks.  Regulations additionally specify that the soak pit needs a line of coil feeding into our stream, in the unlikely event that it also needs an overflow.

The pipes and nova-flow coil ready to be installed
 Finally, an enormous pit was dug, looking for all the world as if we were having a swimming pool installed.  This was to accommodate our water tanks which would be sunk 800mm into the ground, just above the current level of our water table.  All of this excavating was done with Pope and Gray’s usual precision (these men are artists with their enormous diggers, as I’ve mentioned elsewhere) and Mich’s careful laser sighting, ensuring that the water pipes have the correct descending gradient and that the tanks will be completely level.

Not a swimming pool, this pit will hold our tanks
 Despite this, a near disaster was averted when I made up for my ‘hole in the roof’ transgression in the last post.  After the second tank had been lowered into place and the enormous crane was preparing to drive off, I noticed that the tank was actually sitting about 10 degrees out of true.  Asking Mich if this was an ‘optical illusion’, he got the crane back in record time and the problem was resolved.  Apparently the fact that the tanks themselves don’t have completely straight sides had contributed to the alarming lean.

The first tank is lifted into place
 Although all this work left the ground around our house looking like a First World War battlefield, once everything was correctly in place the diggers replaced and leveled the soil. With the wonderfully hot and dry weather we’ve had this week; it’s hard to believe that the pits and trenches ever existed.  We find ourselves now looking forward to some rain so that we can start filling our water tanks!

Dawn breaks over our newly installed tanks, and replaced ground
 A very satisfying few days work, but now we need to have our kitchen installed and bathroom tiled before Mich can finally connect our water to taps.  If this doesn’t all magically come together before he leaves December 16, we will continue our ‘longest-ever camping experience’ for another couple of months – but in our new house rather than a shipping container.  The ‘crate’ will be returning to Royal Wolf in the middle of this month (they generously extended our tenancy by several days) and we will suddenly have living space for the first time in nine months.  We can only hope we’ll have connected power and water as well, but it won’t be the end of the world, if not.  After all, we’re used to it!


  1. These wonderful men and their wonderful machines!! Not the flying type, but ground level. I hope the rains come as wanted, all goes well, container home is empty and you are in for the Christmas Celebrations, they will be generous, happy and fulfilling. For you this must be such an experience, for us readers, also, we wait for the next page to be turned over and another chapter in your life unfolding. Many thanks for sharing with us all, your days, your lives and your new home. Did the pipes go in with a drum roll? Sounds of bagpipes or a huge sigh of relief as all fitted together?? Cheers from Jean

  2. After yesterday, I wonder... how earthquake proof is the system? Could a tank be ruptured?

  3. Thanks Jean, comments like yours have made keeping this blog an enjoyable experience for us too. The pipes went in to the rumble of large, noisy and expensive machinery. It has just begun to rain as I write this, so the very first of our drinking water may be flowing into the tanks now!

    Good question, Jamas - let's hope we never have to find out! I trust there wasn't any damage at your place, yesterday?

  4. Al, here we have a chippie to heat the water as well as solar panels.We have a tempering valve under the house to regulate the temperature of hot water coming into the sink,tub,basin etc. Do you have one, is it any special type?? Ours last barely 5 years, maybe the local water has something to do with that.Would you please let me know if there are any newer models you might have researched?Yes, comments make a blog so worthwhile, for good or any other news we post.Editing pics, writing words all takes time, but very rewarding, specially when we get replies like yours.Ta so much. We had such a little tremble here, a few dishes rattled. I do hope nothing major anywhere else.Cheers from Jean.

  5. “I remember watching all this impressive hardware and marvelling that it must be costing someone a fortune – until I remembered that it was me!” – Haha! I hope Mitch and the pipe-dream team did a good job here. Is the eco-home finished? I hope it is so that you can finally move out of your “converted shipping container”. Levi @

  6. You could've created a swimming pool too. Hehe! Anyway, it's nice to see all those pipes and tanks being installed properly. It's been years now and I hope you had regular maintenance for these pipes. Moreover, I wish you haven't had any problems with the installed pipes. :)

    James Warren @ CapitalCarePlumbing

  7. Mich is such an excellent plumber to get all this work done in just 3 days. You house did look like a battlefield then, but you know those mess were necessary. I would be more than willing to have my house undergo such a mess if it means I will have a properly working water system for the rest of my life.
    Monica @ Village Plumbing & Home Services