well i will by necessity have to avoid almost all codes and permitting. i am poor. Codes and permitting like taxes and speeding tickets have the greatest adverse effect on people in my economic class. i will be completely off grid with no septic. ill compost my contributions. As for grey water i'm not worried about that. i am very low use on water. i will do rain collection and i do so now. i use maybe a gallon for a shower and maybe 2 for dishes. when i have my kids that goes up for a little while but as i work 40 plus i just don't use much. my house will be small 16 x 20. and i emphasize absolutely no utilities. my main concern is being left alone with little expense compounded on my already stressful life. im very libertarian and don't believe all the government regulation is necessary or viable. Its a ludicrous stressor arbitrarily placed on us for the illusion of safety and better living.
Thank you for your reply it is helpful to know where people are more inclined towards these ideas. those areas will be the best place to start.
Is NH in and of itself more libertarian than VT? I don't mind a 3 or 4 hour commute to get my kids. i currently travel 20 hours 1 way.
finding a place to rent up there is a possibility but a slim one. getting a job, paying rent saving and all the other bills that come with living in a conventional situation really add up.
I am moving from tennessee. My kids live in Maine and I want to be closer to them. So I need to know what is the bad of living off grid no septic no public utilities, Politically speaking, In Vermont or new Hampshire or maine? Are there counties that are not subject to the international building code? What are the taxes like in those states. My place will be small. The land I'll be looking for would be about 5 acres.
In tn in the county I'm in they only inspect grid tied electric And septic. My taxes are about $150 a year. I stay away from most people and don't advertise what I'm doing and so I'm left alone. Could I have hope of having that same expectation if I live in one of those states?
Some things to consider.
1. White leds, there is a company that makes led bulbs with an edison base. This means less AC and more DC. This reduces your power needs.
2. Use less power. Build with that in mind. Reduce your dependancy on electricity. Use DC appliances and cut out the inverter. Install more windows. Build smaller. Get rid of the tv.
3. Buy the cheap batteries. I have 3 years on mine. Ive been neglectful. Too many things to do and i forget to check them. Most of us do. So will you.
4. Plan well. Be patient. Learn how to care for your batteries. They are like children.
the elements of a proper foundation are neccessary for the protection of the building. to effectively do this there needs to be in place ,
1. Drainage. Drain the first few inches of soil as well as drain water that will effect the base of the foundation (the footer or peer). drainage also need to incorporate a plan for removing water that is shed from the roof. Drainage would also include moisture under the floor taken to the sump or day lighted outside the subsurface drain. so effectively 4 drains or 4 areas to drain.
2. the actual foundation. my home is a post and beam with straw bale infill. my foundation is both a rubble foundation with a bond beam that supports the straw bales and peers on the inside of the house supporting the structure of the house. I used concrete for the peers. this is what i knew how to do. im not sure what alternatives there are for concrete peers that incorporates both the downward pressure of the posts and roof and also the upward pressure of wind or updraft. think tornadoes. the peers are 2 feet deep, frost here is 18 inches this is to code. I only used sonatube above the excavated ground level. i used metal post bases to attach the peer to the posts. the peer also rises to the finished floor level. i narrowed the last 2 inches of the peer down to 6 inch. the straw bale foundation is a 2 foot deep 18 inch wide rubble trench with a 4 inch french drain under the rubble that drains to daylight about 20 feet way well below the base of my foundation grade. the edges are lined with silt screen and filled with gravel. on the top of the foundation is a concrete bond beam 4 inch think and on top of this beam is 2 2x4 pressure treated wood strips that the bales sit on. these are there to separate the concrete from the bales. I now know there are alternatives to concrete however im not sure how to implement them. the top of the concrete bond beam sits at my finished floor grade and is 4 inches above the outside grade.
3. The roof. my roof has 3 foot over hanging eaves. this worked very well as i had exposed bales for over a year and had no water on the even though i get 60 inches a year here. with gutters draining off and tying into the sub surface level french drain. the subsurface drain is just under the outer edge of the house eaves and just under the gravel walkway i have around the house. this drain daylights also 20 feet away from the house. and finally the subfloor drain drains into the foundation drain. to do this i tapered the subfloor under my sub gravel so it drains to the back of my house.
This may not be perfect however i use current engineering standards to mix my concrete and to sized my peers. i also made sure i met frost standards for my area and new the local soil standards.
On the topic on simple water pumps. There are many on demand 12volt dc water pumps on the market. I have a 30 psi shureflow that i use to give water pressure to my fixtures. they are low energy passive pumps they only use power when they are triggered by low pressure.
Im not sure where to post this. Im sure someone can figure that out.
I have been reading quite a few posts here and find myself quite horrified with the lack of good foundations on many builds of which people hope the buildings will last for some time.
I understand that not every build is the same. The main differences being soil condition, ground water, building materials and cost.
However is there some possability of a thorough discussion that could lead to some viable foundation models that could be adapted for specific needs. Its just terrifying seeing some of the stuff you guys have come up with.
So some personal observations.
1. My bales were exposed outside with only 3 ft eaves for over 12 months. They took no damage. They did not get wet either.
2. The only part about them being exposed is the let the wind through. It was chilly.
3. Lime is not ruined if it freezes. All one would have to do is remix it when it warmed back up. Consider the lime cycle and what it takes for lime to move through each phase of the cycle. If it is not exposed to co2 and heat so as to calcify then it is usable for years if left as wet putty. it takes a very long time to move from hydrated lime into calcium or chalk. And freezing is not a part of the process. Thats why lime is a superior material in this aplication.
4 it would do wonders for your house to put at least 1 coat of plaster on the walls. The first coat will take quite some time to dry out and will crack a lot. The next coat will dry much faster and wont crack or will very little.
I am going to attempt to talk you out of it. Yurts work fine as small temporary shelters. When the attempt is made to adapt them into large permanent strucrures such as you want to do problems and cost arise. To compare two structures with the same living area. The cost will increase significantly in a well constructed yurt compared to a well constructed rectangle house. A yurt the size you describe is harder to heat and difucult to finish. it is more diffucult to detail proper insulation and windows tend to be non standard. Expect to pay a butt load if you want this house to last your lifetime. A friend of mine was hen pecked into building one and he hates it. Its not finished and they have spent way too much money on it. They make great tents but shitty houses.
To start I am currently involved with my friend building and creating an off grid home in southern Tennessee. I have have experience in construction and telecom. What we have accomplished so far is to build a strawbale house. we have begun to cultivate our orchard and garden. I am not lacking in any skills for this sort of lifestyle. I have the skills to plan and build a home very inexpensively. I have gained considerable experience with an off grid home and many of the details needed to create a functional home. My 720 square foot house has cost me $3500 in materials as i did all the labor. I currently live in the home. My estimated costs for completion will be another $3000-$4000.
My problem. I am divorcing. My ex has family in southern Maine and has moved back there with our children. It is beginning to appear that if I want quality contact with my children I will have to spend a lot of time in Maine. I have no support or resources in Maine. My family is from Colorado. My problem is that if I moved to Maine now I would be effectively homeless.
I am looking for help finding a place to live that would be suitable for me and 2 young children when I have them. Without resources in Maine or the surrounding area I cannot effectively plan or prepare for living in Maine and providing my children the kind of experiences I want them to have.
Any Ideas would be helpful. Thank you.
A degree in structural engineering would be more helpful than architecture. One problem iv'e experienced is lack of knowledge in the area of engineering in natural building. Very few structural engineers seem to know what to do with cob or straw walls or any other designs than modern construction methods. Architecture is a dead art these days and most people wont consult an architect however there is a significant need for permaculture engineers. And if not a full degree at least some background in structural engineering would help.
My personal opinion on squatting is that there is no moral delinquency in it. If I had a property I owned and was not using and found someone living on it I would not kick them out. If they were taking care of it and not leaving trash everywhere I would let them stay and probably have a lease created for them.
one of the keys to squatting is to be chummy with the neighbors. they are the ones that will call the police. Don't go bragging to people that you are squatting. research the laws relating to your rights and the property owners rights in this matter. And don't waste your money building anything you cant take with you.
I say squat. If you do it right you wont have any problems legally. Just make sure people around you believe you own it. Meet the neighbors and say its yours. Don't invest a lot of money into it. I would use the property as a tax free rent and mortgage free way of saving butt loads of cash. If you are single you should buy an rv, camper or other movable structure. And your infrastructure should be movable as well. The odds are you may be able to in a very short time save enough cash to actually buy what you want. as for the building department I say f them. I live i a coded county and building without a permit. I am however building within code as much as possible only for the sake of proper engineering on my structure. One final thought is that your home may not even qualify as a residential structure anyway and would only qualify as a shed or outbuilding. Be on the down low about what you do and do it.
you will want a minimum of 20 feet of clearance around your house, free of trees and other combustibles, as space allows. the roots will damage your foundation and waste all your hard work. If you want you could build a tree house. I would move the house or cut the tree.
get a flat bed rent or borrow. A trailer that will fit under the container and dont worry about towing with your jeep a short distance wont hurt it. If you can take the container apart that might be the best way to do it. If your path is straight enough they might be able to back the container in for you. most of the way. Attaching wheels to the container i think would be easier than rolling it on pipes.
have you also considerd alternative water heating that doesnt use wood burning to accomplish the task?
IE: compost pile, solar. hamster wheel? Im kidding about the solar. thso options have proven themselves to work very well and have significant less cost and headache to deal with.
straw is typically used in a cob floor and leave it long. leave the floor 1/2 to 1 inch lower than you want it finished and then use sand and clay only to finish the top coat of cob flooring. this way you have no straw poking out of the floor.
as paul in his daily block pointed out, heating water with fire is dangerous. The more automation you put in the more dangerous it is. Unless you have some real experience in things like boiler systems and fail safe devises and plumbing, I would say don't even try. An alternative is to put in a system that heats the water while you wait and then transfers the water into a usage tank that you can monitor the temperature and mix it with cold water for the sake of your skin. you could use a solar heater that heats your water during the day then transfer it into a very well insulated storage tank for use in the morning. There are designs for those systems and they are much safer to use than wood heated systems. Think steam and explosions.
while your interest in earthen flooring, over an existing wood sub-floor is interesting, all of your concerns are moot until you have addressed the engineering for reinforcing the floor. You should have someone who knows about that to look at it if you cannot with an objective eye. The engineering is paramount as you could find yourself in a pickle pretty quick with too much weight. One thing to consider is the thickness of the earth floor as it pertains to stability against cracking. This will translate into weight and proper engineering. It could all go horribly wrong if this is not addressed primarily. All your other questions are contingent on the cost of reinforcing your floor. please get that done first. A cast iron tubs weight (300 lbs) is not comparable to tonnage of earth you need for an earthen floor.
I am looking for local permies in the area of Sequatchie Tn. just west of Chattanooga. Hoping for a chance to be a part of a local community of like minded people. I live on dancing fern mountain and am currently building my house and will begin homesteading as soon as I am moved in. If you live in the area please post a response. I would like to get to know you.
For any of the people who has been designing and working with these creatures. What have you been doing to design a stove with the intention of coding in mind? As a product that is superior in design to most any wood burning heaters, has any effort been made or currently being made by anyone to design a code approved stove? It seems like the next logical step is to have a code approved option for many alternative building features, ie: cob and straw and many other non approved yet sound building designs. I understand the reason for building codes (safety) and also understand the problems with building restrictions in a residential setting(expensive). As the poor are often left with debt as there only solution to finding housing, that is there own, the building code are restrictive to cheap building design and construction. It sems that the goal would be a UL approved design for a rocket stove.
I am currently building now and have the same issue to contend with. What I have is a change of about 6' from my west to east walls. What I have done is to dig it all out. The reason is it will simplify the build as well as I wont have steps all up in my hizzy. If you dig out the floor to grade you will need to build a gravity wall on your west wall, the high side. If you look up gravity wall it will explain to you exactly why and how you need to do this, and you should find a good calculator to determine the proper engineering for it. One other step I took to simplify the design and build is to do post and beam rather than footers and stem walls. This requires significantly less concrete. I put in a crushed stone trench with a grade beam that has a french drain at the bottom to hold the straw bales. This trench does not support any of the actual structure of the home so it only supports about 120 lbs per linear foot rather than several tons. As well my posts piers will have excellent frost protection as they are all just inside my straw walls. I highly recommend you dig out the site to one grade, and do put in a gravity wall.
I am a fan of composting toilets of any type that compost human waste. However I have been considering the problem of waste disposal in large urban settings. How can it be done in a healthy fashion when we have to consider the bio-hazard of dealing with strangers waste. As i see it the flush toilet a part of the zeitgeist of the modern american culture of east of use. And if in a system of composting waste, in a sanitary manner, how do you deal with the lazy person or the unable who just wants to flush it all away? And as well how do you insure your neighbor who live 20 feet away from you is composting it properly in a backyard or what about apartments? This is all easier when your neighbor is five acres away and behind a bunch of trees and if they crew up a pile somehow it wont affect you. Any thoughts?
After reading this post i cannot help but comment. I am building a house. I am building a straw bale house which is not my first choice as i wanted an earthship. However the land i own does not have a suitable southern slope for an earthship and the tools and the money i have are insufficient for making a southern slope. As well as that issue The project has run over time and i will need to go back to work soon to save more dollars to finish it.
These are not rants rather they are expectations. Going into this I knew a few things.
1 it would be hard
2 it would be time consuming
3 it would try my patients and that of my wife and friends.
4 the plan would have to change at some point due to unforeseen challenges.
All of these thing happened and will happen until I finish.
The thing about this fad of permaculture is that people often expect the same results and lifestyle that conventional building and living provide. What i mean is that when someone says they want solar for their home they expect it to replace the grid at the same time as meeting the current lifestyle. This is not possible without a significant budget or some foolish government subsidy.
permaculture is antithetical to the culural norms of overused, over sized and over complicated. As well farming is hard work. raising chickens and goats and a garden to replace walmart is a full time job. permaculture is not for the faint of heart rather for those who desire something completely different. It is either or. And it is fully what you do or not at all. It is a part of your home economy, how and where you shop, who you spend time with, how you think about any given idea.
What i mean by all of this is always start small. Always. If you want a 2000 square foot earthship it hope your independently wealthy as it is going to take a lot of money to build. Exponentially more than say a 700 square foot house. This is just the law of home building. No matter what it is you build.
Don't give up on your hope for a better life just restart better.
A suggestion if you've gotten in too deep is back off for a time reconsider your options and restart small. In the end i have seen many if not all who have built a small house find that they are completely satisfied with a small house.
My current budget for my 720 square foot starw bale kingdom is 6000 dollars, yes only 6k and this much because i will be using nifty things call microlams and dimensional lumber. I will use verylittle concrete only what i mix by hand. no backhoe or other heavy machinery. No hired labor just picks and shovels and my back and a friend or 2. no grid ties. no nonsense. And I started small.
I hope things work out for you. just relax and start over with a better plan and a more informed perspective.
I will be building my first off grid permie house this year. Hay bale and what not. We will be using a composting system. One of the things i will be building into my toilet system is a urine diverter. What this will be essentially is a devise that moves into place with a lever, catches the pee as needed and moves out the way when other things have to happen. The point of this is obviously to keep the 2 separate and i understand it wont be 100 percent effective however it will be the most convenient way for the ladies to handle their business.