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recommendations for builder/architect for wofati/straw bale/natural building?

 
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My partner and I are going through a few options for what we want to build this year. One option is to have an official, inspected "underground" house on our South/SE hillside with a double pitched roof, gable end facing south, patio/greenhouse on north side as in Mike Oehler's book, with exposed N side being straw bale. Since we won't be doing it with timber, we will need an architect familiar with this type of design, or at least with bermed houses. We are in southern Wisconsin but an architect could be anywhere, we just want someone with experience. For a builder we are willing to pay travel expenses. Any recommendations? I'm having a heck of a time finding someone around our area that is familiar with underground building or natural building who is willing to build this year.  

The other option is to do a full on straw bale house. For that we could use a more conventional builder for the frame and do most of the research/labor ourselves.

-Courtney
 
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What do you think of this design


 
Courtney Jarman
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Nice passive solar design, I like the back hallway idea! Makes sense for traffic. Is that for a bermed home? What I personally have in mind is smaller with the plumbing very simple, kitchen and bath straddle one wall.
 
S Bengi
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Yes the above could be for a bermed house. Just flip the house around so that all the glass is on the north side facing uphill into the 'greenhouse".
The kitchen and bathroom could be re-arranged so that they share one wet wall.

Below is the original Mike Design, it's missing a bathroom but the root cellar could be the bathroom
 
S Bengi
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This is my favorite house design. It's only 24ft by 36 feet. Just a 2 room by 3 room grid.
Some changes would have to happen, like no door on the short side of the building.

 
S Bengi
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Here is a modified version that I have been pondering.
Bermed-House.png
[Thumbnail for Bermed-House.png]
 
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Courtney

The only people I think of who do code approved berm houses are richer than gawd and live in Montanna...  What construction type do you require? You mention the "back" wall as straw bale, but what about the roof and other walls? If you go with  modern materials, it could well be that this is fairly easy. You contract to build a deep "basement" with a structural roof designed for whatever thousands of # soil you want over it. The "basement" would need water control designed in to deal with groundwater. The waterproof roof is the only non-standard (besides the straw bale) part so far and even that has been built many places recently. You can look to the "green roofs" designs - many of those have been built in newer high publicity buildings in large cities. Track those down and see what failed, and who designed what and you have a lead on current design for the surface water issues. The layout and site design stuff for woffati type earth sheltered is being tested by Paul at his W-Labs. Why not contact Jocylyn an work out a visit and see how that kind of thing feels up close and personal? That could make parts of your ideas real to you in the most authentic way possible. And they may know of other builders or designers.


S-Bengi

To me the last picture looks problematic because of the two narrow halls. I'm pretty sure they wouldn't be nice visually and it would surprise me if there were not functional problems; I'm talking life flow here, movement and use. Kitchens on one wall can work well, but looking at this one I hear it crying for an island... <G>

Oh, and put the center BR on the left wall and enlarge the other one... <GGG>


Thanks for leading with your chin. Great ideas. <g>


Cheers,
Rufus
 
S Bengi
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One way to describe what you are doing to your building/architect is to say that you want to:
1) cut a 50ft by 60ft level area into your mountainside and build a regular 25ft by 50ft house in the middle.
2) Next you want to have a green roof (prior greenroof build)
3) You also want to back fill and berm the side (prior basement builds)
4) Next you want a Pergolas over this entire nortside patio. (you can put clear polycarbonate roof later)
5) You want the long south and north wall to be all weak non-structural glass, (strong load bearing columns)
5b) Actually you want the north wall to be bales of hay vs glass.
6) you want a ramp exiting the northside patio to the hillside
7) You want the Pergolas columns to be concrete because they might be buried in really high raised beds
8) Lets run with that ramp idea and terrace/backfill the whole northside patio?
 
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