Categories: Hillbilly Homes

A guest cottage & schoolroom

Here's an interesting design of a guest cottage and schoolroom for a homeowner in Botswana. Let us know what you think of the design?

Dear Jonno
After seeing your designs for many years, I would now like to ask you to assist me.

We live in Pandamatenga in north-eastern Botswana, a very remote farming area in the middle of a large mopane woodland. This means we often have contractors staying with us for an extended period.

We have a three-bedroom house and currently use one of the bedrooms as an office-cum-spare room. But as we are expecting our second child in August/September, we urgently need a guest room separate from the house.

In addition, due to our remote location, we shall have to homeschool our children for the first few years of their schooling.

With all this in mind, we want to build a 12m x 5m cottage with a spare room, a bathroom (shower and toilet), a school room, which could double up as another guest room if necessary, and a small office.

The office and school room could share a bathroom. We would also love to have an extra outside shower for guests.

We would prefer a flat, Chromadek roof with the beams exposed inside for a rustic effect, and a small covered veranda no more than 1,5m in width. Concrete finishes inside would be ideal.

We have chosen a spot under some mopane trees for the cottage.

We look forward to hearing from you.


Dear Hollie
Thanks for the very descriptive requirement for your new cottage. The layout I’ve given you will be functional for now as well as in the future.

The flat roof you requested would have to have at least a 5° rainwater disposal pitch. It can be a single or dual pitch; a dual pitch lends itself to tie-beam rafters to which a level ceiling can be added, while still leaving the rafters exposed internally.

Having that gap would require a thermal non-conductor, with air vents at either end of the gables.

Stopping rats and mice and any other pests from getting into the flat roof gap is quite preventable. I’ll detail how in my working drawings.

When strong wind moves over a low-pitched roof, it acts like an aerofoil, similar to the wing of an aircraft.

Thus, the roof will require secure tying down over the walls below. Lifting the pitch to about 20°, indicated by the dotted line, requires only minimal additional timber and steel-sheet cladding, and would also provide better thermal control.

Adding the wall thicknesses to your measurements of a 12m x 5m building, increases the dimensions of the building to a 12,7m x 5,4m footprint, which is not very large.

Please give me a call to discuss any further options.

Kind regards

Published by
Caxton Magazines

Recent Posts

  • South Africa

Agri industries record far better growth than SA economy

The growth of the primary agriculture sector in South Africa is far outstripping the economic growth of the country as…

2 days ago
  • Featured Home Image
  • Letter from the editor

Climate change: let farmers lead the way

As details about South Africa’s economic mess becomes clearer, and government fails to respond with any clear plan to navigate…

2 days ago
  • By Invitation
  • Featured Home Image

Grain hedging: lessons from the farmers who get it right

Since South African agriculture converted from control boards to the free market system in the 1990s, farmers have had to…

3 days ago
  • South Africa

New African swine fever outbreak in Gauteng

Gauteng’s Department of Economic Development, Agriculture and Environment is scrambling to contain yet another outbreak of African swine fever (ASF).

3 days ago
  • Empowerment
  • Featured Home Image

Joburg chef partners with local farmers

Jack Coetzee, chef of Johannesburg-based Urbanologi restaurant and a believer in sustainable living, sources all his ingredients from within a…

4 days ago
  • Caxton
  • South Africa
  • Use only text

Empowering small-scale women farmers in SA

The Women Farmers Programme, piloted in 2018 by the Vodacom Foundation in partnership with UN Women and South African Women…

4 days ago