In May 2018, a 100 acre rural property in Cushnie, Queensland Australia came up for sale. The property has a small (84 square metre) steel framed house on it and is located adjacent to the God’s Way Ltd Function Centre. Catherine Spence entered discussions with Jesus (AJ Miller) and the God’s Way Ltd Directors to see if the property would be of benefit to God’s Way Ltd future plans, then decided to purchase this property and gifted joint ownership of the property to God’s Way Ltd.
Of the two adjoining properties, the existing house on the 100 acre property will become a residence for caretaker(s) of the Function Centre while projects are being undertaken there, and may also be used for short term visitors. The caretaker in residence will be a God’s Way Ltd member/members or volunteer(s) who has an established desire to live in harmony with the God’s Way Ltd Constitution and a passion for God’s Way Ltd projects.
The tired condition of the new caretaker’s house and some of its functionality needs to be altered, so before it is to be used, God’s Way Ltd has taken the opportunity to make some structural and internal changes to the building. The same private individual who purchased and gifted half ownership and full use of the property to God’s Way Ltd has also very generously gifted the funds for the renovations to go ahead.
Background Information and Renovation Plans
The land which the Caretaker’s Residence is built on has a lot of potential benefits to God’s Way Ltd’s future plans and goals. For example, it is located in a creek line that is often flooded during the wet season and has a catchment dam that is full almost all year round. Having a reliable water supply will benefit many of the God’s Way Ltd projects. Since the property adjoins the Function Learning Centre, the water can be easily shared between both properties.
God’s Way Ltd also has the aim to be able to grow food for members, volunteers and members of the community and to demonstrate new and innovative techniques for food production in harmony with God’s Laws. At this stage, the directors intend that the Caretaker’s property could be used to do this.
So in many ways, the house on the property was not the major consideration when the Caretaker’s Residence was purchased.
While the house could be easily lived in:
- It lacked good natural cross-flow ventilation from the predominant cool breeze direction
- It lacked good amounts of internal storage space (built-in cupboards etc.)
- It could be improved with a more functional kitchen
- The built-in-robes in the bedrooms needed a little more depth to become more functional
- The floor coverings in the living areas were poorly laid and coming apart
- The bedrooms had carpet which collects all sorts of dirt requiring regular maintenance
- The hot-water system relied on mains power rather than free solar energy for heating
- The walls and ceiling were poorly insulated, making it uncomfortable in hot and cold times of the year
- The bathroom had a bath which would take up space and rarely or never be used
- The external cladding required ongoing painting maintenance
- It needed a functional office space for God’s Way Ltd operations
- Required low voltage lighting
- Required multiple interconnected smoke alarms to comply to recent law changes
- Required alterations to the electrical system to enable future solar supply
So, the main aim of the renovation is to create a house that is:
- Comfortable to live in all year round without the need for additional heating and cooling
- As maintenance free as possible inside and out
- Functional and comfortable for everyday living, including that it is easy to keep clean and tidy
- As independent as possible from outside utility suppliers, meaning that in time the house can easily become self-reliant for its water collection, power and hot-water
In addition, the Construction team aims to try some experimental finishes, that are not currently commonly used in construction and to trial some fittings, materials and designs that may be useful in future building works, including volunteer accommodation and the Function Centre itself.
Renovation Phase 1: Demolition
Often when people think of a renovation they envisage a person with sledgehammer in hand and a look of glee and anticipation in that persons eyes, anxious to start swinging that hammer. However there are a few things that need to done before that state of a renovation gets put into action.
Planning ahead is in harmony with God’s Laws and Principles of Economy. Planning helps us to consider the most economical methods and use of resources required for the renovation.
For example, as in the linked presentation, one part states that one of the Principals of Economy is “The equal value of resources (time, matter and energy)”.
To apply this principle to renovation and building, it is a far more efficient to spend the time planning what you want on paper first. Its possible then to consider all of the implications and logistics of the project, to catch potential problems early at this stage, and it also allows time to incorporate new ideas as they arise.
It is far easier to make any changes on paper, than to alter actual structures once built. It is also helpful, for example, during a demolition phase to note tasks which need to be completed, and to plan the best way to use the available resources of time and volunteer labour ahead of time. This includes deciding upon the logical order in which tasks should be be completed, what the best strategy and best work flow will be for these tasks and how to manage the various levels of skill, stamina and expertise amongst a volunteer work group. This kind of planning ensures that no worker is ever waiting around (wasting time) while other tasks are completed, and that tasks are completed thoroughly, economically and efficiently.
The planning stage of the building/renovating process, if completed in harmony with God’s Principles, always saves future time, matter and energy!
The first part of planning for this property was to identify what needed to be done in order to meet the purpose and function intended for the house.
There may be many versions of a plan as new ideas develop. Eventually there will be one that is the winner. Once this is decided, further plans can be drawn off this such as the electrical plan, plumbing plan, detailed kitchen and bathroom plans and any details that need closer attention. A list of items required to complete the project can also be created to provide an estimate of what the likely cost of the project will be.
Plans are an illustrative form of communication and get beyond what is in a creator’s mind or their words to explain the creation. Plans give direction to many people at once without everyone having to be constantly asking the creator of the project for details; therefore plans are an economical use of everyone’s time, matter and energy.
Jesus (AJ Miller) came up with a new floor plan (shown below) which makes better use of the available space, creating a more open feel. It includes an office space, two bedrooms, improved natural air-flow via new door and window placements, an innovative kitchen idea which will allow for easy modifications if they are needed in future (still to be finalised) and a floor surface covering that has not yet been tried on a timber floor.
In most buildings, walls play a major role in maintaining or creating structural integrity of a building. Most often it is the walls that create the structure that holds up the roof. For this reason the overall structural integrity of a dwelling and the role of walls must be carefully considered when planning a renovation.
When a house has already been built and a renovation is being planned, it is advisable to have a person qualified in building and construction to assess the construction method and materials used in building the structure, to determine which walls carry loads on them (these are called load bearing walls). Span tables are available for use in renovating timber constructions. These mathematical tables enable the carpenter to determine what size timbers are required to carry a particular load. If any braced walls are to be removed a structural engineer must be consulted.
There are many types of loads on the structure of a building not just the typical one of gravity.
- Compression (squashing)
- Tension (stretching)
- Shear (strain causing layers in the construction or construction materials to laterally shift in relation to each other)
- Racking (like a rectangle being pushed with force from one end becomes a parallelogram)
- Torsion (twisting)
- Live loads (variable changeable loads like people, furniture)
- Dead loads (the specific weight of the building materials chosen to construct the building)
- Expansion and contraction (building materials size and shape reacting to temperature changes)
- Environmental loads (wind, snow and hail, earthquakes, volcanic ash fallout)
- Concentrated loads (where the weight from above is loaded to one area; like a post, column or stump)
- Dispersed loads (where the weight from above is spread over various building members; like along floor joists)
- Load path (the path that loads take, from top to bottom, through structural building members all the way to the ground and distributed into the surrounding ground)
(This is not an exhaustive list of load considerations in construction, however it provides examples of having knowledge of these sort of often unseen forces in play).
So before commencing a renovation, it is essential for someone with professional knowledge assess the structure. This ensures the safety of the persons working on the project and for the future occupants of the dwelling.
The structural changes in this renovation were very minor and no structural wall opening was wider than any original openings. Using his knowledge of the relevant building codes, David Walsh (Cornelius), who is a qualified carpenter and joiner with over 30 years experience in building and construction, was able to simply assess the changes required for this renovation by examining the house’s structure and making calculations based on span tables. If our plans to make openings in load bearing walls had gone beyond what span tables offer, then a structural engineer would have been consulted. Engineers are used when the openings in load bearing walls are to be made larger or if some part of the building bracing or load path will be compromised with the renovation work.
God’s Way Ltd members and volunteers often come together on a project not only to help achieve an outcome quicker, but to see how individuals can improve on personal issues of love that may otherwise prevent them being loving contributors to any God’s Way Ltd team, that is, a team that shares a loving motivation towards each other and the end goal.
A team day also gives the individual who organises the event experience in organising and leading people. Leading in harmony with God’s Way means that the leader is always focussed on upholding Love and Truth Principles throughout the event as these are the highest priority in any God’s Way Ltd activity. When love is upheld in an environment, the successful achievement of the project or task becomes a natural result.
The demolition day offered an opportunity for such a day.
De-construction precedes construction. This is often expressed as going backwards before being able to go forwards. This is similar in some ways as in personal growth; healing the past is essential in order to move forward in life into new conditions and experiences.
The aim of the demolition day was to remove everything in the existing structure that wasn’t needed so that we can start with the renovation.
Planning, Planning, Planning
Yes, the Economy Principal applying to planning is mentioned again due to its importance.
As mentioned earlier, everyone’s time is of equal importance. So a loving team leader must be well organised in order to direct and manage people who are offering their time to a project. The same principal applies regardless if the time (labour) is paid or gifted to a project. Time is the valuable resource. Planning assists in the most economical utilisation of that resource.
In order to prepare and be able to effectively manage time and the volunteer workers on the day, the leader completed the following tasks:
- Provided a copy of the floor plan of the current house & a proposed plan of the house after renovations, so that volunteer workers could refer to each during the demolition works if needed, to help see what they were aiming for
- Created a list of tasks to be carried out in each room so it could be followed and referred back to by volunteer workers to see if they had completed the task before notifying the leader for it to be checked
- Provided instructions for removal of items in each room and itemized which were to be kept for recycling, re-use, or gifted, and those to be discarded, and where each item was to be taken to
- Decided what tasks were to be completed first so that people did not get in each other’s way
- Determined the tools needed to complete the tasks and then instructed volunteers where to find those tools
- Assessed if any services need to be disconnected to carry out work safely (eg: electrical, water etc)
- Worked out how to ensure toilet and drinking water facilities were still operational on the day
- Ensured a First-Aid kit was on location
- Sent out pre-event instructions on what to bring, address, time etc
- Prepared pre-start instructions ready to be given on the day
Of course unexpected things will always come up as the action progresses, but to have some sort of a plan in place will take the pressure off to deal with those sort of things as they come up. It is an act of love towards one’s self to not place pressure on yourself through lack of planning.
Before that sledgehammer gets into anyone’s hands, a pre-start meeting or sometimes known as a ‘toolbox meeting’ is held.
The meeting is held to familiarise people with the surroundings and inform them of any hazards or risks associated with the site. Any specific safety instructions are also given. Participants are encouraged to be aware of fellow workers when carrying out tasks so as to not endanger them.
The power and water for the house are disconnected to ensure safety during the demolition stage. Safety procedure dictates that one person is assigned responsibility for turning on and off those services. A second person to confirm that the power is off. All people are then to be advised when those services are to become active again.
The focus of the pre-start meeting is always on clear communication about how the day will be run.
The demolition can offer a learning experience for those not generally involved in construction.
Demolition done considerately can also be called de-construction. By carefully de-constructing things, volunteers have the opportunity to see how things are made. The general rule of de-construction is that the last thing that was installed will be the first thing that needs to be removed.
De-constructing in science is often a method that is used to see how things that God created were made, although of course, the quicker method would be to connect to God and get God’s answer on the subject. In this case, the de-construction enables us to discover how well a house was made by humans.
For this demolition project the sledgehammer was not offered! Instead we used smaller hand and battery tools. The de-construction rather than demolition method allowed many items that were removed to be recycled, reused or gifted away to someone that could benefit from them, and limited the amount of refuse placed in landfill.
Not only does the de-construction show how things were made, it also exposed the reason why there was quite a combination of cooling equipment installed such as: ceiling fans, 2 roof space ventilators and 2 air-conditioning units totalling 10 kilowatts for cooling the small house. This was because the walls and ceiling of the steel framed house, once exposed, showed that it had zero insulation!
This deconstruction phase has offered an opportunity to insulate the house, which will make it far more comfortable to live in, both in winter and summer. For example, one winter morning at 8am the temperature was measured inside the house and it was 4 degrees (the same as inside your fridge), outside it was 8 degrees!
Having a team of people who are all willing to follow directions, do any task asked of them, help each other, and have love as their highest priority, allows any task to become smooth and simple and to be completed efficiently and thoroughly. It also makes any task a joy to do. So even though it doesn’t feel like work a lot gets done.
A lot was achieved on the demolition day, with much thanks to the members and volunteers who contributed to it.
While there is still some more demolition work to do, the large chunk of Stage 1 of the renovations is complete.
God’s Way Visionary & Founding Member
Construction Branch Manager
Information Sharing Auditor & Editor