Development of the Guest Farm - The Farmhouse
When we first saw the interior of farmhouse it was in a pretty messy state, a combination of zero maintenance on the original house and the very unfinished state of the new part did not make for pleasant viewing.
We decided initially that we would clean up the original house to make it habitable and then renovate and complete the new extension.

The primary task was to get a builder with whom we could work.

This actually proved easier than anticipated, there was only one person whom everyone we consulted recommended; and so Johan Nel became part of our lives for the next few years!

We explained what we wanted to do with the framework that was there, and for the first time of many there was a noticeable silence while he steadily lit his pipe and frowned; it appeared we were a bit too enthusiastic in our restructuring plans.

 

It did not take too long to achieve the compromise that would satisfy all, and the final approval was given – again not for the last time – by an extinguished pipe, a twinkle in the eye and a confirmatory comment “Dit sal werk” (It will work).

Once we heard that phrase we knew it was approved and would happen.

By this time the notion of running an accommodation establishment of some sort had percolated into our thinking. It was not by any manner of means the initial purpose, but seemed like a good idea (still does actually).

So we designed the new building as 3 separate units for BnB and the remaining room, which was an extension of the old farmhouse, sharing a common wall, would be a lounge and TV room, primarily for us but open to guests if required.

And happen it did, some of the internal partially built walls were removed and the some gaps filled. Ceilings were planned and plumbing positioned. Then came the realization that the extension had not been built to the exacting standards that Johan used.

Walls were not straight and corners not square!

BEFORE

AFTER
We had to prevail then that collapsing the whole lot and starting again was NOT an option. Eventually, again with some minor redesigns on our side it did work, and the units were completed on time.

BEFORE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AFTER

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   
The front verandah, inextricably linked through the old Cape Ash tree, became a focus area that made a huge difference to the finished units.
The next obvious phase was then to renovate the original farmhouse
This had been built by the previous owner as a temporary home while the extension would be constructed for permanent use. When Johan took a longer look at the building and our plans to change the interior, it rapidly became apparent that it would NOT work. The construction was indeed only temporary and it all had to go.

Demolition left just the common wall between the old and new parts, and even this had to be buttressed, no question he was right.

Well that at least gave us an opportunity to come up with a design that “sal werk”.

The construction of course took some months and there were certainly times when we wondered if it would ever be finished - as we suspect all people in similar circumstances feel.

The final design of the farmhouse had a combination of echoes of the old place, features we had always wanted and ideas that just sprang up.
Tempered of course by the twinkling eye and contemplative pipe of Johan until all were convinced that “dit sal werk”.

We looked for as natural a feel as possible, drawing on wood and stone for inspiration in the colours and most fittings and floors .
The kitchen cupboards, for example, are made from Syringa, an invasive alien tree – a suitable end and very much in   keeping with our beliefs on conservation and the environment.
The fittings, kitchenette units, wardrobes and screens were made locally from a renewable source of Saligna.
But the unfailing enthusiasm and presence of Johan kept us all going even when some of our ideas were to say the least, unusual –wooden-floored mezzanine rather than standard second storey for instance but it created immense open space and high, cool ceilings - a definite requirement in the Barberton environment.
Johan didn’t believe what we were doing but the built in dog kennel, which has inevitably become known as Battersea Dogs Home is very popular and seldom unoccupied 

 

There were many other instances of our vague ideas needing translation into practical functioning features, and we will always be grateful to Johan for his assistance.

When we first took occupation there were a number of buildings other than the main house and its attached, unfinished shell.

A small cottage had been occupied sporadically and was in a reasonable condition … however, some adjustment had to be made -

 the plumbing required a total rehash, the roof and walls needed painting and the floors needed tiling
However….. once started it became clear that revamping the entire kitchen, indoor and outdoor living areas, to fit in with the style in the main house, was the best course.
This was very successfully carried out and we now have a home for family members.
The farm shed/workshop had obviously see much better days and was dilapidated to put it mildly, renovation took some time especially as a violent storm one night removed the roofing that we had only put in place 2 days earlier…… But it is today our office and Anne’s workroom where she prepares most of her products.

 

On entry through the original farm gate one was immediately confronted with a large (40m x 20m) concrete slab.

The previous occupant had obviously wanted to erect some form of building there, but it was not evident  what.

We decided that a small store room and open area for undercover parking of our vehicles was the solution. We glibly planned to use gum poles and some form of plastic roofing and innocently asked our builder – Johan – what would be best. It became quickly evident that our ideas would not work, and nothing less than steel poles, girders and roofing were what we would be using.
As ever he was right, and under his guidance and some hands on work when my welding proved inadequate (a common occurrence) we ended up with an edifice that, should we ever be threatened with earthquake, tornado or tsunami will certainly protect us and all our belongings!
Copyright © Aloe Ridge Guest Farm 2012