Every day we get one step closer to the house of our dreams, and one step further away from our preconceived notions of what that dream house was years back, before living here, like this, and observing this land, and our way of living with it (the land that is).
What started out as a clear plan to build a frank Lloyd Write inspired Hemicycle (the Jacob two, shown centre image), out of rammed earth into car tires, has now become a challenge in repurposing materials and using what we have locally: poles, a shipping container, local wood and access to a small mill, clay and earth, sand, some other industrial type waste materials…. and about 10 million designs on how to incorporate them all, into a modest, insulated, natural, owner built off grid home!!! After lining in a trailer which is not unlike the jacob house in scale we realized we want some cozy hidey holes, and intimate space.. not a long rectangle, and after Dyl did his Earthship Internship we realized that without a team of 50 dedicated tire pounders for weeks on end, we would come undone trying to ram earth ourselves.
We are leaning heavily towards pole frame now but have a keen interest in quonset homes (Q-hut). If you know us, you know we adore sleek post modern lines, and love the challenge of creating usable and sexy spaces. We are scrounger extraordinars, and in fact hauled about 5 tones of industrial salvaged material here with us (oh and almost lost them upon delivery you may remember). We want to build our home for less than $30 / sq ft. But the more free materials we can use the better.
We love the warmth of straw bale and I have dreamed of living in a straw home since my first workshop back in 1995. We also love timber framing and it certainly runs deep in Dyl’s blood. We have really enjoyed playing with pole construction with all of our out buildings. I love earthen clays, and hand sculpting, incorporating glass and other garbage bits into beautiful walls.
Our solar energy here for the most part is stored for us by the forest, and comes to us via wood. The inefficient method in which it is burned and wasted however is not at all appealing to us. We love rocket stoves for heat, and wood gasifiers for electricity. We will design our electrical needs down even further, maybe even scrap the fridge all together, and plan to use DC LED lighting, and have a solar water heater for the summer months, as well as a small PV array for summer energy…. but then comes the winter, where it’s cloudy and mild, propane is a nice option for water heating and cooking… so long as you can afford to buy it or are able to access it in the future.
Greywater is a must in my mind, and incorporating a green house space off the home is really important, this is something the earthship folks do really well. We have a composting toilet in hand just waiting for it’s new home, and we are building a particle sand filter to add to our lovely living mountain water.
A couple weeks back we had for the first time a full design on paper that we both really loved. It fit all of our needs, and wants, and it incorporated 2 additional shipping containers. As it turns out they are not as easy to come by out here, and the delivery costs fell out of the budget range. So back to the drawing board we went… but this time with the most solid blueprints we have had to date. I love that the plans keep all the water on one wall, it features simplified and minimal electrical runs, it house the compost containment in a protected insulated outdoor space, the design keeps all of the systems in one space, with short runs to appliances. Our plan also incorporated the 20 ft sea can we currently own as an earth bearmed root celler, and swanky architectural detail.
Time is ticking and none of us want to spend another winter in this tin can, luckily we have our cozy home away from home, and we often have yurtings to break away from the trailer life!
I haven’t posted for a while because I wanted to keep the call to interns up for some time (and thanks to everyone who applied, we are beginning the interview process now for our April on interns and are looking forward to welcoming our first intern of the season in one short month! yay we are so very excited to kick off this busy expansive growing and building season!
We are all happy and healthy and loving this turn in the feel of the sun (ever since ground hog day) the sun seems warmer and brighter and the days feel closer than ever to spring.