House of Straw

Image Source: www

Image Source:  www

Us RUDE Guys do not live in an eco-designed house.  It is an early 1970s glorified tent!  It has some features that are sort of ‘green’ like roofing insulation and energy efficient globes in our light fittings.  Some rooms have curtains that are lined, and we have outside awnings on the windows.

We do however strive to reduce our carbon footprint in other ways.  We reduce, reuse and repair.  We rarely travel preferring stay at home mending and making do.  We are wary of expensive products that are labelled/certified ‘green’, refusing to be green washed by The Man.

What we do admire is others who owner-build with sustainability in mind.  And we would not rule out buying an already built eco-house on a small parcel of land in some sleepy seaside town.  Time will tell when RUDE Boy retires later in 2018.

On the topic of sustainable housing, National Sustainable House Day 2017 is fast approaching.  We just had to share with you Peter and Natasha Miles’ straw bale house in Merrimu, Victoria just up the highway from where we live.

A few years back, we spent an informative hour with this lovely couple .  Us RUDE Guys went to their property to collect some items they had generously listed on Freecycle.  They invited us into their home after we expressed a great interest in their building method.  At the time RUDE Girl had just completed a carpentry course and my eyes were wide open to future possibilities.

We would highly recommend that if you are looking to visit a sustainable house on September 17th take a drive to Merrimu and visit the Mills.  We know for a fact that they will make you feel most welcome.  Refer newspaper cutting below.

Oh, and what did they generously offer on Freecycle that we collected from them.  A digital camera that we used until were handed up mobile phones with cameras.  A computer hard drive that is still operating in RUDE Boy”s desk top computer.  And a lovely electric throw rug that was used many a time, and one such time was when RUDE Girl was very ill and suffering from shock.


Straw Bale House Merrimu Aug 2017

Straw Bale House ~ Merrimu.  Image Source:

Jacqui & Gene’s Healing Haven


RUDE’s friends Jacqui and Gene, just like Jack and Jill went up the hill.  But instead of collecting a pail of water, Jacqui and Gene renovated a house on a hill at Red Hill.  As for falling down, well some walls fell down!

This week’s guest blogger is Jacqui.  She shares with us, her and her husband Gene’s renovation story, that involved a huge commitment to reusing and recycling.

This is their ‘Healing Haven’ story as told by Jacqui

Less than a year ago, shortly after finding my way onto Facebook, I discovered the Rude Record Blog. I had no idea that there were fellow T.I.P. Boutique (tip shop), and Roadside Scavengers out there.

I’d had discovered two fellow travellers…..RUDE Girl and RUDE Boy.  These two had a frugal philosophy which they described as Scavenger Style.  A political statement against textile waste, a throw away society and planned obsolescence.  These two radical Eco Warriors were passionate recyclers, who maintained a very thrifty and modest lifestyle by making do, restoring and mending.

At the time I’d discovered Rude Record, Gene and I had just finish a long journey.  A journey out of the wilderness of serious illness and the resultant poverty.  At the end of our journey we’d found a wealth of good health and self sufficiency.

I’d like to share part of our story because I have found these RUDE Guys so inspirational in the light of our journey.

We needed a house.  We had big dreams and a small budget.  What we found was a dirty neglected slum with “good bones”.  It nestled in a rain forest with the village atmosphere we were looking for.  We rolled up our sleeves and set to work.


Before renovation


Because it was so very, very dirty and neglected, we couldn’t move in at once.  It was a solid cedar cottage with hardwood floors and concrete stumps.  This is what I meant by “good bones”.  I needed to use our small budget to pay tradesmen to sand and re-polish the filthy floors.  I needed a painter to come in and spray paint the entire interior.  Gene was still pretty frail and had very low immunity.  He needed protecting with loving care.

Before the painters and sanders could set to, I had work to do.

I gutted the crumbling kitchen and threw it into a skip strategically placed below the crumbling front porch.  I threw every bit of dextrose within the walls of that disgusting interior.  I looked into the bathroom.  Sadly l decided that we’d have to live with that until I could get to work and clean it.



Kitchen before renovation

My first journey into secondhand and make do, was to find some big doors. A tiny window needed to be a big sliding door to give access to the back garden.  I located a door through a builder for almost nothing.  I thought people would want to grab something so cheap and available.  But no, this sad reject became a big, light filled exit into our large, green, overgrown back garden.


I thought Gene who was still recuperating, could remove the window and cut the remaining wall down to the floor.  He put in a frame to make a nice space for my big door.  I hefted every bit of that wall and the crumbling window into the skip. We slid in the “new” sliding doors.  How delighted my lovely man was to find himself back in the land of “Yes I can!”.  He’d gotten used to being an invalid.  We were healing a house, and ourselves.

Back to our rented house and in with the sanders, polishers, and painters.

The floors, walls, and ceilings gleaming clean, finally we were able to move in.  We “camped” in our new home.  We proceeded to rebuilt our home around us.  Cooking with a microwave and camp stove we built the kitchen and I scrubbed that bathroom. Yuk!

We found an auction house which sold everything from floor coverings to electrical appliances.  We went, we raised our hands to bid, we discover gold. Stuff at knock down prices.  An oven, cook top, range hood, even a toilet and a kitchen sink.  We decided IKEA could provide new kitchen cupboards.

We’d get up each morning and set to work.  I’d haggle and negotiated with plumbers and electricians, to do those things that my very talented man was not allowed to do.

We built.  Hefted things into place.  Painted.  Pulled down small unnecessary walls.  We put in new doorways. We closed off others.  We made a doorway into the small extension.  We closed off the original doorway into this same extension.  We used the door from the old doorway and put it into the new doorway.  We filled the old doorway with a cupboard.  This cupboard then became the pantry in our new kitchen.  Look at the photos.  See if you can pick the new pantry and the new doorway.  I did all the cleaning up, heavy lifting and painting.  And Gene applied his expertise.



Kitchen after renovation

So, we continued along these lines.  We moved on to the bathroom.  We have very little money by now.  But, I wanted a hygienic, light, bright bathroom….hmm.  We pulled down the wall between the toilet and bathroom.  Zero cost.  We pulled up the dirty vinyl, off the hardwood floor.  Gene disconnected the toilet.  I took it all, and threw it into that skip.  Zero cost.  Remember that toilet from the auction rooms?  My lovely, now best friend, plumber, he installed that.


Out with the dirty, rusty hand basin and into the skip.  In with a gifted secondhand vanity unit I’d painted.  Zero cost.  I looked at the old stained bath.  What to do?  I got the professionals in to re-enamel it!  I finished the whole lot off by painting the old wall tiles with a specially developed painting system designed for exactly this purpose. Cost around $50. That’s very expensive paint!  Those tiles were still perfect 7 years later.  My beautiful new bathroom gleaming and on a shoestring budget!


Finally, outside those sliding door in the kitchen.  Remember those?  I won’t give a blow by blow description of the delightful back porch, my now,  fit and healthy man built. I’ll let the pictures do the talking.  Take a look at the walls.  They are built from the decking off that crumbling front veranda.  I de-nailed them.  I scrubbed them.  I painted them.  The before and after pictures tell a tale of the lovely back porch that Gene built!


There was a lot more that went into the rebuilding of this delightful home of ours. This is just an outline sketch of two years work.  Remaking, reclaiming, roadside scavenging, and visits to tip shops.  Gifted stuff that other people rejected, and buying secondhand.  A story of a journey where we found a wealth of good health and self sufficiency.


Thank you Jacqui and Gene for sharing all your hard work that made this house your cozy haven at Red Hill.  It is testimony to your resilience, in the face of adversity, that shines through in your story.

Beat the Man and find wealth in good health, self sufficiency and like-minded friendships!



Left to right:  Gene, RUDE Girl, Jacqui & RUDE Boy