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Has anyone ever gotten a building permit for a PSP house?

 
Kathleen Sanderson
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Location: Near Klamath Falls, Oregon
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I know it's probably been discussed before....

My plans have suffered a severe change, due to the economy -- nobody who has been interested in buying my grandmother's house has been able to get a bank loan, so Mom (the executor of the estate) is accepting an owner-carry offer, which means I won't get the money I was expecting to move back east near my daughters and buy a piece of land and build a cabin.  So.  We have to do *something* or DD and I will end up homeless and living out of the back of the pickup like we did a few years ago when my marriage of 28 years broke up.  Only this time it would be in the winter. 

Mom and I are going to look at old travel trailers today (cheap, in the $2,000 or less range, so we aren't expecting much but a roof over our heads).  The plan is to put the trailer on their place, which is about sixty miles from us here, and stay there through the winter.  In the spring I'll need to have saved up enough for a well and some building materials. 

I think I've found a couple of acres of land that I can afford to make payments on (I HATE that -- but talked to Mom, and a priority out of any cash we do get from the sale of this place will go to paying off the land ASAP.  That way we'll all have someplace paid for to go if the economy does what I think it's going to, and they lose their place!); it's only a few miles from my mother and step-father's place.  There are a few trees on it, but looking at the lot with Google Earth, I can't tell if they are scrubby juniper trees or tall pines.  Either way, there wouldn't be enough for a log cabin, but there might be enough for a PSP cabin.  I have enough friends in that area (some of them with heavy equipment!) that I could get help with the heavy parts of the construction.

Our county (Klamath) has permitted a number of straw-bale houses, and at least one cob house (as an experimental construction project).  So I'm hopeful that they'll permit a PSP house for me -- I could do cob, but am not sure the soil there is as suitable for cob as the soil on this lot would have been. 

Anyone have any tips for putting plans through with a request for a permit?  I'll be doing a composting toilet (sawdust toilet, but they don't need to know that!); a solar electric system (very small, initially -- hope to be able to grow it as needed) although I think power lines go right by the lot; graywater system (this is semi-desert -- need the water for growing stuff); and a rocket mass heater for cooking as well as heat (and for hot water).  So it will be pretty 'alternative'.  Got to come up with details that will make the building office willing to look seriously at my plans!

Thank you!

Kathleen
 
Dale Hodgins
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Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
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  Hi Kathleen. You use an abbreviation I'm not familiar with in describing the type of building you intend to build.

  If you do end up spending the winter in an RV you may want to check out a thread which I will produce in the next couple of days. I've lived in relative comfort at job sites and in unheated vehicles for many years. It's not about heat. Ventilation is by far the most important factor. I'll post it in the frugality section as this has been a matter of frugality for me not of necessity. Since we're supposed to have an exceptionally bad winter , I'm going to move into a motorhome. This will be pure luxury compared to some of what I've done . I'll come up with a way of storing heat in some sort of thermal mass and will post that as well. This will be the first time in 12 years that I have heat consistently throughout Canadian winters. So, many of the worries you may have are unfounded if you plan correctly.
 
Kathleen Sanderson
Posts: 985
Location: Near Klamath Falls, Oregon
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Well, I'm still not sure that we'll be spending the winter in a travel trailer, because we didn't like the counter offer the buyer made, and turned it down.  So I don't know if they are still going to buy the place or not.  But, we did buy a travel trailer today!!!  It's a 28' 5th wheel, with a good heater in it.  It's old but in pretty decent shape (filthy dirty, though -- the guys in the family had been using it for a hunting camp trailer).  It should work well for my daughter and I, as the bathroom is across the trailer and has enough room for me to get in there to help her when necessary (she doesn't bathe herself).  And there's a couch I can take out -- no storage under it -- to make a place for my treadle sewing machine and a storage cabinet. 

So, I will watch for your thread and will be glad of any tips on living in one of those things in the winter!

Kathleen

ETA:  I almost forgot -- PSP stands for post-shore-polyethylene.  It's mike oehler's underground house building method.  Have you seen his book, The $50 and Up Underground House Book? 
 
Dale Hodgins
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     The floor can be a real killer in these units. If you plan to leave this unit in one place all winter gather a bunch of straw bales together to build a skirting. Or if bales are too expensive you could simply fill lots of big leaf bags with dried leaves.

   If the trailer will be driven around, see if you can obtain some old carpet underlay from someone who installs it. They throw out old stuff all the time. Get enough to do two or three layers over your floor.

    One important note for anyone reading this. Using a propane stove as a means of heating a trailer in winter is dangerous and leads to excessive condensation. Don't do it. I'm building a very simple thermal mass storage unit and will show you how to do that.

   None of what I will suggest in the other post is pretty but it all works. None of it is expensive or difficult to do. I am so toasty warm in my Van that I often sleep naked. But I know other guys who live in the same situation and show up at Starbucks at 5:30 AM to thaw their frozen bones. It's all about good planning.

    Let me know a little bit more about your situation and possibly your daughter's condition. If anything is confidential or possibly embarrassing you can do it as a private message. If you're not shy then we will do it here as it may be instructive to someone else who finds themselves out in the cold this winter. If it's okay with you I'll title the posting as follows-- staying warm while living in a tin can/keeping Kathleen warm this winter . It could be a very useful project especially for you and your daughter.

   One man who works for me occasionally has lived on the streets for many years. He has really good camping equipment and claims to be good to 30 below zero. He may be stretching it a little but the point is you don't need to be cold.  Inuit hunters are perfectly comfortable in their temporary igloos which are still built when they travel. It's all about being prepared and knowing what to do.
 
Kathleen Sanderson
Posts: 985
Location: Near Klamath Falls, Oregon
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Dale, I'll get a new thread started, because you are right, this is a topic that could help other people.

And thank you.

Kathleen
 
Neal McSpadden
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Actually, IIRC there is a section in the designer's manual going over a quick and dirty building technique using a bulldozer to compact & level a hill, put rafters on the banks that are built up, put on a roof, and call it a day.
 
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