Your profile says that you're in Lake Geneva Switzerland, and I know that while Masonry is common in the cities, a lot of places are still built with a significant amount of wood, especially on upper stories.
From what I can look up online, it seems that Geneva averages 60%+ humidity most of the year. This is important because of the relationship between relative temperature and humidity. If there is a significant change in temperature from the outside-in or vice versa, you are likely to have condensed water on the glazing of the greenhouse. In a dryer climate, it's much less of an issue.
If you have a house that has a significant amount of wood in the south facing exterior wall, I would strongly suggest you deal with a local architect or building scientist on how to detail the attachment, of the greehouse. They might tell you that it's not a good idea, or will require a significant amount of additional ventilation to do without endangering your house to mold and rot issues in the future.
If you do have a house with a southfacing wall that is primarily/only masonry, you shouldn't have any major issues. You should still want to pay close attention to either side of the wall during the first few season, and that will allow you to see if anything develops before it is a health hazard. Make sure that furniture isn't touching that wall so you have a clear view of the entire surface when you're checking.
I'm not qualified to tell you whether or not that's a good idea. I've never built a rocket mass or masonry heater.
What I do feel qualified to tell you, is that when liquid based radiant heat is installed in houses, the water is pumped by a circulator pump, on fairly short loops to keep the temperature even, so it won't wreck the flooring above it, and keeps the room relatively well heated.
Another challenge you'll have to figure out is keeping relatively low temperature water (120 - 180 degrees F ).
I suppose if you pump it fast enough around the water jacket that might not be an issue, but it's something you should be aware of.
If you want to check out the commercial products you'll have to either buy or imitate in some manner, check out Uponor, I've designed projects using their radiant ply before, though to the DIYer gypcrete is probably going to be much cheaper.
The project sounds cool, if you go through with it please document it.
I just saw this question and it got me thinking that I'd seen these calculations before.
Unfortunately it's complicated and I can't give you a number that will work for everyone, but the attached white paper goes through the math, and has an example for a home in Southern Germany.
Everything's in metric unfortunately.
The concept behind the math is that essentially, what matters is the temperature of the air you're trying to heat/cool, the temperature of the earth where to tube is passing through, the thermal conductivity of the tube itself, the size of the pipe, and how long it stays in the tube before coming into your house.
I've never done the math, but you can probably come up with a good approximation by comparing his +/- 138' of 5" diameter pipe, buried 2-5 feet below ground, to pre-condition the air for Southern Germany. If you are in a milder climate you can probably use less, if you're in a more extreme climate you will probably have to use more.
I work in an office every day and commute an hour and a half half to work, so cooking time and ease of preparing the meals is really important to me. Over time I've come up with these simple meals that I put together that all cook while I'm at work. Remember that the slow cooker is your friend.
The cheapest and simplest thing I make as far as main course is a roast chicken all in the slow cooker. All I do take a chicken that I bought at the store, spice it, and put it in the slow cooker while I'm at work. I set a timer on the slow cooker so that it only cooks 6 hours. When I come home it's still warm and it's pretty much ready to eat. Interesting thing about slow cooking a chicken is that the chicken meat becomes really fragile and you can make a really good pulled chicken out of it. This means after I had my drumsticks that first night and I shred the rest of the meat, which is really easy, so I can put it into the containers I'll be using for the next 2 or 3 days for lunch. The morning of work I'll take one of the containers out and pour a sauce on it whether that's a homemade or storebought BBQ sauce, honey mustard, red ranch, or even a homemade salsa. I then put some greens on the side to convince myself I'm eating enough of them. I eat this generally at room temperature, so after I take it out of the fridge it stays out on my desk until I'm ready to eat it for lunch.
If you've got a little bit more time you can use the pulled chicken to make chicken salads and those are absolutely fantastic cold. I personally adore curried chicken salads (i copykat the whole foods one) and could eat that for lunch almost every day of the week.
The same technique can be applied to a pork shoulder which I can use to make pulled pork after slow cooking. However I don't personally like cold pork as much as chicken.
The best part about all of this to me is that I don't have to worry about overcooking it; I don't have to worry about cooking it at all because it's happening while I'm at work. And taking what's coming out of the slow cooker and making something every day, that's actually pretty easy.
I'm going to rattle off a few other main dishes I make for lunch at work though I won't explain them: Steak salds, cold tomato soup, half a baguette and cheese, just about any appetizer you'll find at a nice party, sandwiches with cold cuts (keep mayo or other sauces separate until you are ready to eat so you don't have a soggy mess), and pasta with pesto (it's not too bad reheated in a microwave).
I had the opportunity to ask Greg Judy about miniature cattle at PV1.
He told me that if you could sell them to consumers as beef, they would be good on a working farm. But he remarked that selling them was tough, as people have their own ideas about the sizes cuts of meat should be.
Well 2 million really isn't a lot of money. 2 million is enough money for 1 person to live well in a large city for about 20 years ($100,000 x 20 years.) 1 person to live reasomably well in the country 40 years ($50,000 x 40 years.) And from there you can rationalize 2 people for 20 years 3 for 13ish...
When you consider how many people could be involved in the Wheaton empire if Paul got major traction (permies as a common household subject in 10% of homes in the U.S.) 5-20 people could easily be involved.
Lets say 10 people became dependents of Paul's empire, including himself, that would mean the empire had enough money to run for about 4 years without additional income.
I would definitely prioritize using the money in projects which had prospects to generate a significant income within 4 years, obviously this time line would be dependent on a serious asessment of dependents the empire would acquire.
I'd start off by talking to all the Chefs you could get a hold of and asking what they wanted but had a hard time finding. Focusing on higher value, lower work products like meats. If you had a tibetan restaurant that was looking for yak, you could work towards getting a herd of yaks, etc.
I guess I'd say to follow Sepp's example, and do what no one else does in your area, if you can find a market. The money would be used for paying employees and rapid buildup towards what could finance the empire. The simple fact of how widely it would be publicised would be enough to infect many brains.
I can't say I've personally worked on a similar project, but I work at an architecture firm in the Bay Area (though I am not currently an architect) so I'm somewhat familiar with the legally required process.
The code relevant to solar panels is only about 15 pages, and is Section 690.
If you don't live in California, your local jurisdiction will tell you the applicable electrical code, generally it's on the county or city building department website.
The process you generally go through to legally get something like this done is get a permit for the work at the local city or county building department, wait for them to review it, and issue you the permit. After which the work can be legally completed, and a final inspection takes place where everything is checked out to make sure it's up to code.
A contractor would generally be the one going through that process, and knowing all the local requirements and codes will make their job much quicker. If you're going to do it, expect it to take 2-4 times as long, assuming you have no previous building department experience.
You've got a fantastic opportunity, but here are a few hurdles you need to be aware of.
First off you need to find out exactly what your permit process will entail. You have enough acreage you're probably far enough out to not need approval through planning, but I don't know. The permit will probably cost you a few hundred dollars, not counting the couple hours you lose dealing with the local government. Inform yourself of everything before going through with it! A phone call can probably get most of your questions answered, but a visit to the local building department will probably serve you better. Most of the people in building departments are fairly nice if you're sociable. Make sure to note if they tell you that you need something signed/stamped. If you need an architect's stamp, getting the documents together will probably be a 1-5k , assuming you don't have building/site plans ready for them to print up and stamp.
Secondly, I'm not an electrician, but my understanding is that for DIY projects, the best, least risky option, would be to talk to the electrician who's going to do the work for you, and run the wiring for him/her. That will save you quite a few billed hours, depending on the scope of the project. But to satisfy legal requirements you want a licensed electrician to actually hook everything up. My understanding is that to connect anything to the electrical grid directly, you need a licensed electrician. Your jurisdiction might let you completely DIY the project under an owner builder type arrangement, but I have no experience with those codes. It is more likely they will allow you to DIY everything but the final hookup to the house and electrical grid. No matter who completes it, it will have to be built up to the California Electrical Code standards, or better depending on local codes, An inspector will come by to check. (Unless you're in one of the few areas of the state where codes aren't followed.)
If you can't get a refer container, just hiring a spray foam contractor to come in and spray all the walls would get you a functionally similar result. You would have to cut the insulation yourself for a functional joint at the doors, but you would end up with an insulation 2-4 times less thermally conductive than straw, that wouldn't have trouble with excess humidity. If done right it would also be effectively air tight, so you might have to design for at least a little air flow, so that you don't get an accumulation of Ethylene gas and the air doesn't turn stale.
I agree with most of what you said and it sounds like a really interesting idea, unfortunately I don't know enough about IBCs freezing. Would it be possible to only fill them up 3/4s of the way with water, and then as it freezes and expands it pushes up? You would need to leave a hole on the top so the air pressure doesn't deform the IBC but I can't understand why that wouldn't work.
If you keep the IBC on a pallet You could probably screw casters onto the bottom of it. It would probably be good to reinforce the bottom of the pallet too. You would have to do research and make sure to get adequately strong casters, but it would allow you to move it with ease if it was on a relatively level surface. On slopes, good luck.
Just thought I'd chime in and tell you what a good 5 year program in architecture should teach you, having completed one about two years ago.
First off the most important thing is probably the design mindset you learn. It takes years of trying and trying and trying and being critiqued by people who have already done similar things and know the ins and outs everything you're proposing within a few minutes of you tacking up your drawings. It means you start developing depth of thought and trying to work simultaneously in a dozen different planes to come to a solution. Most people who haven't worked in design don't understand the number of iterations it can take before an appropriate compromise is attained. And that changes completely when you start factoring in clients ,who have their own goals (some of them which can be very frustrating). Hopefully the education has a lot of client interaction, but that's fairly rare, mostly it's just architects tearing apart your work for "review".
Secondly, structural sciences are emphasized. Most colleges have anywhere from 3-5 structures and physics classes so you get an understanding of the maths, forces, and can handle small work without calling an engineer. Generally your studio is covering the structural systems that your structures class is, that way you get both sides, the designing and the calculating, before having to redesign for structure, which changes the spaces and often means you have to go back to calculations again. It can sometimes feel like an endless loop when you're doing custom structural work, which most larger structures have at least a little in some form or another.
A couple additional thing you start gaining appreciation for is "precedent" so that when you embark on a unique endeavor, you aren't redesigning the wheel with new structural details, mechanical systems, arrangements of spaces, etc... I think this particular fixation is what makes architecture as a field a bit more insular, but it's risk aversion, so that on every project the initial capital outlay isn't astronomical, or the architect who's stamping the work doesn't feel like they were thrown out of a plane and there might be a parachute to catch somewhere before hitting the ground. The educational institution should also make sure you get a good appreciation for modelmaking and at the very least get some hands on training. That's not necessarily going to be building a house, but putting together a small full scale section of a wall might be a project you'd expect. And lastly, most institutions don't cover conventional construction details and rules of thumb anywhere near enough, but they're definitely good to know and extremely helpful when you're working with conventional systems.
So if you don't want to follow through with an architectural education, but want the benefits, break these main themes apart and figure out how they could apply to what you want to do. See if you can get some mentorship from a natural builder because it can help, just remember that everyone has their own biases, mentors, people who post on forums, and people who sell building supplies.
I think the best guides to understand the basics of conventional grid tied systems are the $20-30 books you generally find at the big box hardware stores. They 'll generally approach the subject graphically and after explaining the basics they go into diy projects.
If you need any more information then generally youtube is your best bet for seeing how things work. And if there are any diy projects youtube will probably still be a great stop to review before installing your systems.
If what you want isn't conventional, getting someone with experience can make things much easier. I unfortunately don't know alternative resources to point you at if you want to go down that route other than Art Ludwig's Oasis with Graywater.
There's also a raft aquaponics system, which if you combined it with fish that could either breathe from the air outside the water (off the top of my head I can only think of siamese fighting fish though I know there are quite a few more) or have very low aeration requrements such that they can be taken care of with a few competing plants in the water.
Now, raft aquaponics do not lend themselves to the growing of any plant that suffers "wet feet", so you would primarily be growing greens and very young plants.
So I need to start off by stating that I have never owned or raised cows. But I can say that Greg Judy's talk on cows and mob grazing was awesome.
He did talk about culling the cows but even more importantly the bulls who were least fly resistant. His reasoning was that a good bull spreads his good genetics to all of the next generation, on the other hand a good cow will only provide those good genetics to her calves.
Now what Greg Judy described was that the fly resistant cows were very oily, and since flies don't like to land in oil, they left them alone. So using a long lasting, non-toxic oil you could spray or rub on seems to be your best shot.
Assuming you want to transition from needing to use products, I would caution you to document exactly which cows and bulls are the most fly resistant (get some solid fly counts over 4-5 days of your whole herd) before application, and to let the oil lapse (if it doesn't lapse you might want to hose them to take it off) at least once a year so you can judge how your herd is doing with its fly resistance.
I'm curious, if the shack is to be a place people can sleep, where does the bed go? I'm assuming that if it's a love shack, there will at the very least be a full size bed involved , two people on a twin width isn't that much fun.
If it's on the floor, will a bench next to it make it awkward to use either one? As in, I can't really get to the end of the bench without walking over the bed... From the pictures it looks to be 5-6 feet wide, the bench seems to occupy 2' in the renderings, leaving 3'-4' of floor space.
I have no idea how much a full pebble RMH weighs but driveway crushed rock generally weighs around 100-140lbs per cubic foot, will it need additional reinforcement?
While I can't give a personal experience of on vs off contour hugel beds, I can say that in the book Sepp Holzer's Permaculture he specifically advises against putting hugel beds on contour. His reasoning is that the first Hugel bed you put in will get all the water, and may eventually slide downhill, while the ones below it will not get as much water as they could handle. In wet climates, or climates that get a lot of rain in a short time period, this makes sense to me, especially since the way he does hugel beds is forcing earth to pile up with a very steep angle of repose, in contrast to a swale's generally more gentle slope.
Now if I've understood Paul's philosophy right, you should have funky wacky hugels that don't follow any particular contour, because that gets you a wide variety of microclimates. The hugel beds can then be inhabited by plants that love and thrive in those specific microclimates, meaning you can get a greater overall diversity of plants in, and maybe even plants that you wouldn't be able to grow in that place under different situations.
I would personally try things several different ways to understand which was best in my place. I can't speak to other people experiences, but I'd want to find out on my own by doing some test hugels in different places, and then going from there.
Now about capturing water and rejecting cold. I believe it's possible to do, when you look at the system, but I don't know if it's possible to do in one specific location. Let me explain. If you build a hugel that is shaped like an "~" You'll have one section which catches water and cold, and another that drains it. One of the many cool things about water is that it will soak beyond the area where it is (think wetting one side of a paper towel, how quickly it reaches the other side). So if you planted in the center of section that drains water, you'll have water nearby that it can suck up, but it won't be directly in a cold pocket.
Most of this is conjecture on my part, but I think it's possible, and I wish I had the space to try it.
I completely agree that we should be thinking about how to recycle concrete. Unfortunately I don't have an answer on how suitable crushed concrete is to grow in.
My personal opinion, which is not based on a study or experimentation, is that you want to keep the concrete in as large of chunks as possible. The more surface area, the more the pieces of concrete can erode, which releases its aggregates into the soil. Now, Iron supposedly increases in bioavailablity as the soil becomes more acidic (http://www.ext.colostate.edu/mg/gardennotes/222.html) so you could make a case that it's going to be a more alkaline soil because of the concrete, on the other hand, with ph stratification and the building of soil, I think it very likely that you will form acidic spots in a crushed concrete bed if you're building soil.
Now if instead of annuals, or low perennial shrubs, trees were planted there, and all you were looking to eat from the trees was fruit, I think it's better since I remember reading in one of my books that fruit trees generally store pollutants in the wood, trying to keep the fruit as non-toxic as possible.
Long answer is: "as long as you don't attempt to force acid loving plants in a place where immediate runoff from these rocks come, you shouldn't have any problems. You should ask, just to be sure, how they're gathered but you shouldn't really have any trouble with them otherwise."
If Perma has to rent the land, I'd say to run beef cattle on it to slaughter and sell.
If it's a mostly grass lot, a little money can be spent to get some GOOD movable electric fencing, and Perma might be able to rotational graze around twenty cows depending on the quality of the forage and land.
She'd have to work to make sure water's available and to move the fencing every day.
If the heat of summer is extreme around those parts it might be necessary to supplement the areas the cows will soon be moving to with a bit of water in the late afternoon.
Perma wouldn't be making crazy profit, probably almost none the first year with the costs to buy the herd (assuming she didn't want to stock, raise, and slaughter all of them), but is it worth the time to improve the land?
Okay i'm not trying to be negative, but I see these two problems and would like to know if there are solutions in anyone's toolkit to them.
In Podcast 189 - Getting Land, Paul Wheaton mentioned that he doesn't believe anything but a WOFATI might be applicable to his level 10,000 half of the property, but if you can't even bring in plastic or oil products of any kind, what modifications to the WOFATI concept have been evolved to replace the two polyethylene sheets and myriad of plastic components that go in houses now a days?
Polyethylene is generally a petroleum product and even the bioplastic alternatives are still plastics. PET bottles which have been acknowledged as leaching endocrine disrupting chemicals in people's bottled water are made of Polyethylene Terephthalate and while i don't believe the sheeting you would use to waterproof the "roof" of a WOFATI is made of PET, my lack of knowledge of the chemical composition and possible health effects would make me wary when you're trying to attain such a high "purity" in the system you're designing.
Low tech architecture is a major interest of mine, but now a days you would have to custom manufacture so many "standard" items of houses if you wanted to avoid plastics altoghether. The most vital places we use plastics now a days in buildings, beyond plumbing, is in the sealing of the house. And while the WOFATI concept neatly sidesteps most of the moisture and vapor barrier issues, doors and windows now a days use plastic components to guarantee that there isn't an air gap that opens up as the humidity and temperature changes wrack wood that is exposed to exterior conditions. (you can't use aluminum windows because of plastic components, and having lived in a house with steel windows, my faith in them is fairly low)
Now if you believe the possible half inch air gaps wouldn't be too much of a problem for someone living in a WOFATI in the case of a record low temperature (the missoula record low I believe is -33 degrees Farenheit or -36 degrees C) when they can't use any electric or combustion based heating systems to help deal with air infiltration, this second point is moot.
I also acknowledge that if you say we just won't let anyone live there in the worst part of the winter, then the WOFATI would most likely be able to meet or exceed any health practitioner's expectations of both reasonable air quality and temperature for living conditions.
Now since I know i'm being overly pessimistic with my example i'll acknowledge that the microclimate you would seek to foster for a WOFATI would not be a cold trap and therefore you probably wouldn't actually reach the -33 deg. F in the worst case scenario (that anyone who legally designs a building has to size heating equipment to) but you would probably have at the very least -23 degree weather outside your doors and windows, which while they probably wouldn't be warping all of half an inch, they would most likely not be flush enough to prevent a noticeable drop in temperature. Even Mike Oehler had a stove in his earth integrated house.
So I was at a bookstore this morning, and found a book that seemed to call to me. Toxic Free by Debra Dadd. While i'm only about a quarter of the way through the book, I have become horrified with how many things we consider harmless that we are exposed to every day that do in fact harm us.
So i thought we could start a thread on all the really innocuous hazards to our health that are all around us.
In the just first few pages the biggest shock to me was that most bedsheets contain Formaldehyde. I didn't believe it, so i did a lot of searching on the internet, and i gave up hoping that it wasn't true when i heart for the upteenth time to buy drapes to use as bedsheets. Needless to say i'm sleeping on the floor tonight.
For details, I remember The Hand Sculpted House having a section on foundations that incorporated alternatives to common concrete. Unfortunately I don't have access to my book right now, it's packed away in a box, and maybe someone else can chime in on the relevant points if they have the book.
As an architecture student, I can comfortably tell you that concrete is the only standard code compliant foundation material you can use without an engineer's specifications to bring to city hall now a days.
All too true, in fact the same professor says they're currently testing a viable polymer that mixes like and could replace concrete. Unfortunately I wasn't able to get much more out of him other than the fact that it's for the "green" markets.
Okay, I just spoke to an old professor of mine who works with precast concrete manufacturers and has had several masters students make theses on the toxicity of concrete, long term effects of different admixtures and components, and another one which isn't coming to me right now.
What he told me was that heavy metals in concrete, become inert. The only tiny debate in the industry was whether or not effects like acid rain could leach the heavy metals from it.
One of his masters students has just finished a thesis where she interviewed several people running studies on leaching at different PHs and the study concluded that as long as the heavy metals are in the concrete they are inert and can't be leached from it.
I imagine there are several caveats to the inertness of the metal, they have to be in a concrete matrix to be inert. Therefore, when you saw or smash concrete, that dust you release, might very well have heavy metal particles suspended mid air unless they are somehow still attached to the concrete. It should be noted that the quantity of heavy metals is still very small, but they will most likely be there.
What does this mean? Concrete is very stable and breaks down extremely slowly, care need only be taken when breaking concrete so that the particle size is as large as possible (i.e. smashing it with a sledgehammer will create less minuscule particles than going at it with a concrete saw.)
On the native americans there are very strong indications that they did do a lot of terrain maintenance and agriculture.
Near many old californian oak trees there are crushed shells that have been brought 500+ miles from the ocean that certain experts believe the native americans brought for the specific purpose of augmenting the soil with what the oak trees needed.
I have heard from the same sources that the native american tribes in california also practiced controlled burning to manage the grasses in such a way that the natural fires didn't get out of control and to help nourish those same oak trees.