Treehouse Village members and professionals from Tate Engineering wearing hardhats pose for a photo after a day of assembling the styrofoam forms for the insulated concrete form walls of their common house. A dog joined the photo op.

Work Party

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On Saturday, October 16, 2021, Treehouse Villagers in the local area were able to help with the physical build of our Common House. It was an experiment, testing the waters to see if unskilled labour could contribute to the construction in a meaningful way, and it seems to have been a success. 

When we got to the site, Murray Tate, VP Operations at Tate Engineering (our Construction Manager), gave us a safety briefing, introduced the teams of skilled folks who would be teaching us and overseeing our work, and gave a brief overview of what we would be doing. We are using ICF (Insulated Concrete Forms) for our buildings using a system called Quad-Lock®, which goes together very much like Legos®. Because even large pieces of Styrofoam™ are really quite light, we were all able to participate in assembling the insulation forms and inserting the ties to hold them together. The professionals added the rebar, which provides structural support within the concrete on each layer, and inspected our work before we added another layer. 

In one afternoon, we were able to put up four layers, which is as much as can be done without the use of stilts, ladders, or scaffolding. The first work party was so successful that we have continued each weekend since (and some weekdays, depending on what work was needed, the typically fickle Nova Scotian weather, and who was available) and have plans for ongoing work parties. Participation is no longer limited to local folks, as one member household made a trip from Victoria, BC to take part and visit with future neighbours. 

Feedback from participants has been very positive, ranging from a sense of satisfaction from contributing to our homes in a real hands-on way to joy in the literal community building experience (both physical and interpersonal). 

Photo credit Shirley Robb

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