Building an innovative wendy house

We explore how a Johannesburg man went about sourcing and selecting recycled materials to sustain the wooden home he built
Gaetano Gesualdo, a 65-year-old Italian expatriate tool and die maker, has been residing in South Africa for about 20 years. He has several years of experience in creating and building practical items. We take a look at his latest creation – a wooden structure consisting of a room, a bathroom and a kitchen which was built using “scrap” material.
Gesualdo started building his “wendy house” which has two separate entrances, using pallet wood late in 2013.
“It began with my decision to find a suitable shed to store my tools in. I priced around and after establishing that it would cost me from R30, 000 to R75, 000 ($2110.05to $ 5275.12) for the wendy house I wanted I decided to build one myself.”
Gesualdo says there was no rush to complete the project, which evolved from the initial intention of being a tool shed, to currently housing a worker on the property he owns in Nigel. Nigel is a small former gold mining town in the Gauteng Province situated on the edge of the greater Johannesburg area, known as the East Rand.
The exterior
Gesulado collected pallets until he had sufficient to begin constructing the wendy house.
“I used approximately 6,000 pieces of pallet wood. I used a plane to smooth down each plank after they were individually removed from their pallets using a crowbar.”
After all the planks had been smoothed out, which took about a month, they were stacked up and stored in
Gesualdo’s yard.
“My son, a worker and myself started by removing 30cm of sand around the area which we decided to build the foundation on. We dug up an area 10 metres in length and 5metres in width. The concrete was poured in and left to dry.”
A total of 30 bags of cement, 15m2 of sand and 10m2 stone was mixed to create the basis for the wooden structure to be built on. Thereafter three layers of bricks (about 200) were laid on the concrete base.
Gesulado says more than 50 pieces of 40×100 pine wood were used as the frame of the wooden home.
“These were placed vertically across. The pallets were secured horizontally using screws to nail individual pieces of pallet against the vertical pine pieces. There was space left for the window frames. The complete wooden house has four windows in the front section and two on each of the sides.”
Gesualdo says an estimated 450 nails were used to secure all planks, to complete the wooden structure. The door frames and doors were constructed using a generous amount of the pallet wood planks.
The roof trusses were built and secured with metal gussets. “Four roof trusses were placed on both the right and left side of the wooden structure. A total of eight were placed inside. This was done to secure the home, so that it will not collapse,” Gesulado comments.
Roof space had been left open to attach a clear corrugated roof sheet on a small section of the roof. “This is the skylight for my wendy house. This idea allows more light to penetrate through, so it is not dark inside.”
The corrugated sheet was attached with a corrugated fastener- a special type of nail used on such materials.
The interior
Gesualdo used 15m2 ceramic tiles in the interior of the wendy house. “I searched for a tile supplier of redundant tiles. The tiles I chose were not tainted or damaged in any way, they were quality tiles. The supplier had one box in stock. I inquired which tiles only consisted of a box, made a reasonable offer and got two different styles of tiles.”
The bathroom consists of a shower and toilet. “Being an innovative person, I recycled an old dirt-bin and
used this as the toilet’s cistern. It was perfect as it is a 25 litre capacity bin. I drilled a hole through on the right hand side of the bin and connected a pipe.”
Gesulado also built an outside lavatory, using a cooler box as the cistern and had that connected the same as the inside toilet cistern. “I called in a plumber and an electrician to do the electrical
and plumbing work required.”
Kitchen units were built using solid wood purchased at a hardware store. Gesualdo maintains that his “hand-built” wooden home will last for several years without weathering affects. “There were five coats of wood varnish mixed with thinners painted on. It was diluted with thinners so the liquid would seep
through the wood, providing a solid layer of protection.”
It took Gesulado seven months to complete the wendy house.
Uses of Wendy Houses
• Tool sheds: It can be used to store mechanical, electrical and other tools.
• Dog kennels: These houses are a perfect choice to home your pets.
• Play houses: You can have your kids play with their dolls, relax or just have fun in a wendy house.
• Staff quarters: They are suitable for temporary or permanent staff accommodation, especially for moderately-sized businesses.
• Guard huts or offices: If you have a guard in your home, you can accommodate them in this house.
This is a lower cost accommodation solution for your guard. However, some people choose to have workstations in their gardens. This provides a place where you can concentrate on work, away from
interruptions.