Woo Hoo! Getting a house!
It's a bank owned place in Kent, Washington, close enough to work that I can keep my awesome highly technical blue-collar job but far enough out to have a decent sized yard. It's sitting on a half acre with fruittrees and a big, fully fenced yard that's made to order for an urban permaculture system. I have so many things I want to do, like adding solar, rain catch, and a shed that's close to the house with a rocket mass heater that will be ducted to the intake of the central heating. That way the place gets the benefit of the rocket mass heater without risking an insurance problem if the place burns down. I want a couple big compost tumblers and compost nearly everything. I compost here at the condo of course but I can't wait to do it on a much larger scale. There's a hedge that I want to replace with blueberries or some other food producing shrub, but I'll keep it trimmed neatly since it's in the front yard but gradually I want the place to have a more wild look even in front. There's a plum tree that's struggling out front (too dry), so I want to divert some gray water to it and add a Hugleikur berm for good measure. There's even a bike trail nearby that will give me an almost straight shot to work. It's a bit far for a conventional bike commute but with my super dooper 2800 watt electric bicycle I put together, it should be a breeze. And on days where the weather isn't too bad I can ride my 60mph/80mpg scooter (and commute almost 3 days on a gallon of gas). I plan to transition away from using a dryer but in the winter (when it rains all the time) I'll have a heat exchanger to recover some of that heat and direct it into the house, perhaps through the central heating ducts. I plan to dumpster dive a cracked charge air cooler from one of the large diesel engines I work on and re-purpose it to be a heat exchanger for the dryer.
Shortly after I get settled in, I'll want to hire a permaculture designer to help me hash out the basic design (so I don't make too many time consuming mistakes). I love Permaculture but I haven't taken a PDC yet (but I'm not above hiring an expert rather than struggling with it myself and making mistakes). I'm also going to want a roommate who's into this sort of thing. I have two rooms I plan to rent out but my Dad has already snapped one up. He's getting too old to take care of his place so he's moving in with me. We've always got along great. Finding a roommate for that 3rd room, who can tolerate the eco lifestyle I want, won't be easy. It might take months to select the right person but I'm not under financial pressure so I can take my time.
I plan to do food the same way Paul did in the Greenlake house. Meaning everyone buys the groceries they want (I think I'll throw toilette paper and cleaning supplies into that category) And at the end of the month, it's a 3 way split. Both my Dad and I are leaning toward vegan and we want to make more progress in that area, but we're also both inclined to stray when we're out of the house with friends or at a restaurant. One of the biggest problems in a roommate situation is that people can be tempted to steal food but if the food is everyone's anyway, there's nothing to steal.
Another problem with a roommate situation is filth. Basically different people have different levels of filth that they can tolerate. The one with the lowest tolerance tends to clean a lot, then the others tend to slack off and then finally the one who cleans starts feeling taken advantage of and then stops cleaning. That's when the place turns into a total disaster. To avoid all that I plan to have a schedule (probably using excel in a wall mounted tablet PC). Each week certain areas will be cleaned and the kitchen will be cleaned even more often. When I or one of the roomates does the job they initial it. Each of those jobs is assigned a monetary value. At the end of the month the total for all the cleaning that was done is added up and split 3 ways. Then the amount of the scheduled cleaning that I or the roommates do as individuals is applied to the total, increasing it if they slacked off or decreasing it if they applied some elbow grease. That way if someone does more than their share or less, they won't feel guilty or taken advantage of since they will pay more or less to equalize the issue. If each of the three roomates do an equal amount of cleaning, then no money chances hands. But if I have to be constantly cleaning up after the roommates, it's not a problem since I'll be paid. The less time I have to spend on that though, the better. I'd rather spend that time changing the place from a conventional american house to something more closely resembling a suburban homestead.
So if you're like me and would like to get some ground space for a garden but you don't want to leave the city and the high paying jobs you can get here, then you might be interested in renting that extra room.
Also if anyone knows a good Suburban Permaculture designer in this area, that would be awesome too. Any other suggestions, input or discussion that this exciting new project would be welcome as well.