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Just so that I'm clear, I'm not talking about replacing ALL windows with plastic, just most of them. You'd still use regular windows to get good views, just like you do with opaque walls.

Maybe this solution isn't for all applications, but perhaps in some places it makes more sense than glass or a wall. Stick it in your toolbox and use when appropriate.
 
Posts: 1113
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Glenn Kangiser wrote:There is a crystal clear vinyl that is much better and I have had some of it up for about 6 years



The shrink film (e.g., Tedlar) is what I used for making my 'super windows' which are a pane of glass on the outside on each side and then multiple layers of the shrink film between them about 1/4" to 1/2" apart. This provides a window that is clear and insulates well. My shrink film windows are over 15 years old, maybe 18 years now. I think it was 1992 or so I made them. The film has held up great, it is still stretched and clear. Being between the panes of glass it is protected. I very carefully sealed the framing to keep out insects and dust. I built the frames out of wood.
 
pollinator
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Location: Central California
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Most security - glass or plastic - doors or steel, only keeps the honest people out. 
 
Walter Jeffries
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Glenn Kangiser wrote:
Most security - glass or plastic - doors or steel, only keeps the honest people out. 



That's why you should have dogs.
Big dogs.
Lots of big dogs.
Visitors wait at the gate.
 
Glenn Kangiser
pollinator
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Glenn Kangiser wrote:




Better watch it Glenn if they figure out how to drive it youll be in real trouble then 
 
Glenn Kangiser
pollinator
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Two years ago, during the fire Telegraph Fire, there was a road block and I couldn't leave the underground cabin, Cyric...... Suzy had to drive the others into town for emergency Dog Biscuits.... only the Jeep though......




I won't let her drive the Bush Hog.... she gets too crazy.   
 
Cyric Mayweather
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Glenn Kangiser wrote:
Two years ago, during the fire Telegraph Fire, there was a road block and I couldn't leave the underground cabin, Cyric...... Suzy had to drive the others into town for emergency Dog Biscuits.... only the Jeep though......




I won't let her drive the Bush Hog.... she gets too crazy.   



Hehe
Glenn is that a women driver joke. (ducks and runs out the door)
 
Christopher de Vidal
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cdevidal wrote:
Just so that I'm clear, I'm not talking about replacing ALL windows with plastic, just most of them. You'd still use regular windows to get good views, just like you do with opaque walls.

Maybe this solution isn't for all applications, but perhaps in some places it makes more sense than glass or a wall. Stick it in your toolbox and use when appropriate.



Aha! It's been done before. In an eBook which mentions Oehler's houses, the very next chapter "DIRT CHEAP PASSIVE HEATING AND COOLING IDEAS" mentions plastic film windows:

Windows for these inexpensive homes can be done also.  Years ago, I worked with a company called Prime Energy and we did storm window systems.  We made acrylic storm windows using Velcro as a fastening system.  But we also used a 16 mil vinyl.  It’s crystal clear.  If you stretch it tight, you virtually can’t tell that it’s not glass.  This has been 17 years ago that I was doing that and we’re still using some of those as storm windows so this stuff is really good.  It comes on a roll.  You could do a double pane window with a 1x4 or a 1x3 frame of wood.  Stretch two of these sheets of 16 mil vinyl over that and staple it in.  Tape on some foam taping with weather stripping taping so it will fit tightly into the frame and the frame could be built exactly to accommodate that.  Again, this is an inexpensive way to have a very thermally efficient system.  Actually, it would be more thermally efficient than glass because glass conducts heat and cold.  Plastic does not.  So you would have a dead air space here, not a vacuum space but a dead air space.

 
Christopher de Vidal
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I'll believe the reason these windows work was hinted at before: They're very clear. Probably the clearer you go, the more UV-resistant (less for UVs to absorb).

So this may be a suitable replacement for large, fixed panes of glass in some places. Keep it in your toolbox.
 
                            
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Location: Oklahoma
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Maybe going off topic a little ,but here goes . i recently bought an underground house on 10 acres in south central Oklahoma . Problem is this house of 2500sf faces east. I have excavated a 50 x 16 area on the south side for an earth bermed greenhouse and have bought the insulation to insulate the top and about 10 feet past the perimeter of the structure. This will also insulate the 8 or so feet between the house and greenhouse . I'm debating on either making a hot air collector and running this to the one 4x4 skylight or running a pipe from the earth bermed green house inside (i see humidity problems). I think I'm going to have to pump a tremendous amount of btu's in the summer for  annual heat storage. My main objective is to eliminate or drastically reduce my heating and cooling costs. Any thoughts or advice would be greatly appreciated.
 
Posts: 1502
Location: Chihuahua Desert
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Any idea which plastic to use and where to get it (exact name)?  I have some big acrylic windows that I am not happy with, and I would love to try and make some plastic film windows.

Any details would be greatly appreciated.
 
Posts: 38
Location: Malmö, Sweden
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Just a quick comment on rust. Iron needs water and oxygen to rust. The problem is that when you for example try to paint over a rust stain you often seal in water (which also contains oxygen gas) which then makes it seem like rust behaves like a bacterial infection- spreading. Also, as soon as you get a scrape in the paint covering the iron of any structure, the metal is compomised. This is of course not true in a vacuum but in normal atmospheric conditions. Remember, air carries water vapor and water carries oxygen gas.

This is what happened all over earth after about 2 billion years after formation. Prokaryotes released oxygen (by splitting CO2 or other organic compounds) but it didn't amass in the atmosphere until it had reacted with all the metals in the crust with which it could react. After that though, oxygen levels rose relatively quickly.

Oxygen is, as you probably know, a highly reactive gas and actually considered poisonous by objective scientific standards.

Now other metals fare better against oxygen. Aluminium and titanium for example bind oxygen atoms to them which makes the material resistant to further attacks. I suppose you could think of it like "If you can't beat 'em, join 'em" This makes for an outside cover of AlO2, TiO2 etc.

I thank my chemistry professor for this knowledge and hope I helped
 
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Location: Missouri/Iowa border
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When making your own multi-pane windows, it's not difficult to keep the moisture out if you incorporate silica gel into the design to regulate condensation. It's not perfect but it does work.
 
Posts: 87
Location: Croatia
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I've red the topic, as well as Oehler's book, as well as "wofati" topic, and many more stuff. Yes, I plan to build something like this.

I didn't notice, what do you do with all this earth? Ok, part of it goes on top of the house, but it is not possible to use all. So, spreading over the garden? Leaving a hill next to a house? Why a house would not be that hill?

I was thinking, instead of digging a hole deep as a house plus earth roof, I could dig i.e. half of this depth. Build a house like it is fully below the surface, and then use all earth to cover it. Would get something between Hobit's house and Oehler's house?

I have in mind of wind blowing over that hill and cooling a house more than it would do if house is below surface, but trees and shrubs could prevent that.

Another one, here and there were considered adding thermal insulation, all around the house or only on part of it, and so. Insulation is usually expensive. I don't know how it is over there, but here in Croatia sheep owners trow away sheep wool. They can not sell it, or can for extremely low price. So, using sheep wool could be a cheep improvement of thermal inertia of the house? I.e. insulating roof only? This could be done after all work is done, just cover upper wood planks with wool (from below) and another layer of wood planks to hold it there.
 
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Oh, I'm crying at the thought that sheep's wool is being thrown away anywhere in the world. I would take it ALL in a hot second! That's such a shame.
 
pollinator
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You can buy wool that has been commercially prepared for use as insulation -- I think that hand-cleaning that amount of wool would be a tremendous amount of work!  (It would *have* to be cleaned, as it stinks when it comes off the sheep, and some is contaminated with straw and seeds or manure.)  I could see big felt mats being used as insulation, though, like the material used by the Mongolians for their gers.

Kathleen
 
Walter Jeffries
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Wool burns very well and decomposes when exposed to moisture long term so it must be kept dry. There are also insects that eat it. Personal tests. Personally I would not use it in a permanent structure like an earth sheltered home.

On a related note, insulation is more of a light weight frame house issue. With a lot of thermal mass in the house insulation becomes less important. Earth sheltering the house and using a little bit of water and rot resistant insulation for a thermal break is very effective.

Cheers

-Walter
Sugar Mountain Farm
Pastured Pigs, Sheep & Kids
in the mountains of Vermont
Read about our on-farm butcher shop project:
http://SugarMtnFarm.com/butchershop
http://SugarMtnFarm.com/csa
 
Kathleen Sanderson
pollinator
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Walter, wool actually doesn't burn well -- there are some fire departments that use wool turnouts because it's so fire-resistant (the turnouts have been treated with something, of course).  Also, when I was doing living history reenacting at the Daniel Webster birthplace in New Hampshire, the lady in charge told us we could only wear wool clothing, as anything else was a serious fire danger when working around open flames.  She showed us how to determine the fiber content of part-wool fabrics, so we could be sure our clothes were 100% wool. 

Kathleen
 
Walter Jeffries
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The wool burned very well in my tests. I have sheep and use their wool after cleaning and before cleaning for my tests since I had wondered about it as insulation. This is pure wool. The recommendation is to treat it to make it more fire resistant. Without that treatment it is a fire hazard.
 
                
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My husband and are looking at building an underground house on our farm in eastern WA.  We have a very large family  and I was wondering if anyone knew how to get the floor plan of the 5000 square foot underground house built in Idaho showcased in Mike Oehler's book?



 
Kathleen Sanderson
pollinator
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esh farm wrote:
My husband and are looking at building an underground house on our farm in eastern WA.  We have a very large family  and I was wondering if anyone knew how to get the floor plan of the 5000 square foot underground house built in Idaho showcased in Mike Oehler's book?



5,000 s. f.?  Are you sure about the size?  (Now I'll have to go look at the book!  I don't remember seeing one that big in there!)

Kathleen
 
                              
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As I recall there was one huge house in the book.. it was somewhat circular in front or so it seemed from the pics..

After being called away from the homestead for some time for family matters, I am back at the homestead and in a few days i will be pouring the first footings! The excavation is FINALLY done, along with more than ample drainage, so now the build can start.. with luck I will be closed in this year and enjoying a comfy new home this winter..
 
Milan Broz
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Location: Croatia
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Ridgetop house?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=19zzIvVhQls
 
                              
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Here is that 5000 sq ft house: http://www.undergroundhousing.com/structures4.html
 
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Is there anyone who has designed a wofati eco-house or one of Mike Oehler's houses in such a way that it meets building codes? If so, I would like some contact info. Would it even be possible? Thanks!
 
                              
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Building codes differ based upon location. Most should not only be ignored, but avoided given that they are used not for safety as they claim, but to protect licensed trades.

That said, my own house ala Mike Oehler's method, will not violate codes as I am building in an area without codes and code enforcement thugs. I would argue that anyone wanting to build a safe affordable house should put this criterion at the top of their list.

 
                      
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Storm V Spooner wrote:
Building codes differ based upon location. Most should not only be ignored, but avoided given that they are used not for safety as they claim, but to protect licensed trades.



It's still worthwhile to consider the merits of some building codes. Fire breaks are constructed between floors and drywall is used for a reason in modern stick houses. I'm not saying that building codes aren't often excessive and cumbersome, I'm just saying they have probably saved a lot of lives over the years.
 
                              
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Consider smart building  practices of course, but codes themselves only accidentally cross paths with smart building practices occasionally. 
 
                      
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I think that is a very good way to put it. My thought is that building codes exist almost totally for conventional construction, and for people who probably require a bit of adult supervision anyway! As long as the electrical, gas, water and sewer are installed in a safe and functional manner code doesn't matter much. I have no code enforcement where I reside, so consequently I do everything 110% and educate myself before I undertake a new project.

I have a great example of non-code plumbing, I'll try and grab a photo. I found it under the floor when I renovated the bathroom: The bottom of the bath tub trap had apparently been lost and someone (probably my great grand Father) wired a coffee can in place with bailing wire and sealed it with roofing tar. It worked for a long time, and was functional when I removed it. That's also when I discovered the sub-floor is solid 1 1/4 x 8 rough-sawn oak, and the joists are solid logs flattened on one face.
 
Jo York
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I appreciate your responses and assistance. I wrote to my local building code enforcement office and put the issue to them directly, to see what they will say. I gave them the google books link to Mike's Underground House book. I told them I want to build a fallout shelter. Ultimately it will also be a root cellar and Mike Oehler's greenhouse system. I have been told by government officials who are in charge pf our county's emergency management duties that they aren't going to protect any citizens if there is a radiated fallout incident, and that we should plan to take care of ourselves. The guy said they won't provide any shelters because there won't be enough for everyone. He said we will be told to shelter in place. All radiological monitoring equipment has been liquidated and no one in our county is being trained to help the average citizen with radiological disasters. So putting it to another arm of this same system that I would like to build something to protect my family, and could they give me some guidance, if nothing else it will give me evidence for some sort of complaint process if they offer me nothing but obstacles. Hey, it's a start for some advocacy at the very least. I need a mundane job in a populated area to survive, and as it is I can barely afford gas to work and back. Plus I already own property there. So building in a remote area is not an option for me, as is the case for many people who raise numerous children who need to attend school and college, all with limited resources. And I definitely don't have the money to defend myself against any lawsuits or pay the fines and legal fees that might arise from complaints about what I try to accomplish that might violate laws, codes, etc. I'm not prepared to give anyone a right to create problems for me by reporting something they find unusual to some official who then may have  a legal right to add a bunch of bills to my already very tight budget.
 
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It is best to do everything safely. Getting the inspector on your side is much easier than giving the inspector a hard time or complaining. There are ways around everything. If you want to build a house to live in, they most likely will require you to hire a builder, electric contractor, plumber, plans, permits - permits - permits...and the list goes on. You may be able to get around things by getting a permit to build a shed, barn, garage or something, then a year later, get a permit to do a remodel to put water in the shed. then put in for electric connection (or start with electric and then get water). Then get a permit for a sewer connection... and keep up until you put in for a remodel to turn a shed into a shed with a living quarters...

Start small and keep add on rooms in mind for the future..

I agree with whomever said to buy a place in the county without zoning requirements... I have built inside the city limits and jumped through the hoops and it was a hassle..  I bought land in the county and there are no zoning laws in this county so i can build away and do anything that is allowed by state and federal law without inspectors approval ...MUCH easier.
 
                              
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It is NEVER a good idea to work with the government inspector. He or rarely she, is wholly ignorant of what is safe, and only wants to prevent you from building a safe, workable,affordable home. There is never any good which comes from working with such slave masters.

Permits are never anything more than fees paid to bureaucrats for approval. Avoid them always. You can always do better using reason and evidence, than relying upon permits and mindless, hateful bureaucrats.

Yes, when possible build outside of the scope of the nanny state.. always outside of the thugs. But never give into to them, as it is always better to beg forgiveness than ask for permission, both from a pragmatic as well as a philosophical perspective. 

Remember who pays the inspectors: Those who collect fines...

 
Jo York
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OK, so I'm supposed to be working in accordance with the 2009 International Building codes. I can't figure out in there, how small a place would have to be for it to not have to comply with codes. Would it be 10 feet by 10 feet, and could I just connect them together eventually, and build more than one, and in this way, not violate codes, but not exactly build according to them either?
 
pollinator
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PermieFan wrote:
OK, so I'm supposed to be working in accordance with the 2009 International Building codes. I can't figure out in there, how small a place would have to be for it to not have to comply with codes. Would it be 10 feet by 10 feet, and could I just connect them together eventually, and build more than one, and in this way, not violate codes, but not exactly build according to them either?



Depends where you are. Here (BC Canada) you can build a 100 sqft building with no permit, but it is still required to meet code. They are not going to check, but if it falls down and injures someone.... then someone will check. There is a difference between no permit and not to code.
 
                              
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Location: Colorado, Zone 5, Cold Semi-arid
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PermieFan wrote:
OK, so I'm supposed to be working in accordance with the 2009 International Building codes. I can't figure out in there, how small a place would have to be for it to not have to comply with codes. Would it be 10 feet by 10 feet, and could I just connect them together eventually, and build more than one, and in this way, not violate codes, but not exactly build according to them either?



The IBC isn't likely to specify a minimum size for a "house", since this can and will change from location to location.  They generally don't make such decisions, but provide a framework of best practices for construction.

In the US, your local Jurisdiction Having Authority decides what minimum standards they will enforce.  This could be the Regional Building Authority, or the County Building and Planning Department, or some other body.   Check with them to see what you need to do.  Try the phone book, or a google search of "building codes <your zip code>", or check your State Government website.

Also, adding new additions to existing structures can often change the base requirement.  For instance, if the County will allow a 100 sq.ft. structure without permits, enlarging that structure latter may exclude it from that exemption, meaning you might be required to apply for permits for the new construction and have to allow the existing 100 sq.ft to be brought up to code.

Best to find out for sure what you need to do, do it, and go from there.

Basically, if a government agency said to use the 2009 IBC, that agency should be able to answer your questions, or refer you to the responsible agency.

 
Jo York
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OK, so does anyone know someone they could recommend who could design a fallout shelter/root cellar/greenhouse that would be fashioned along the lines of a wofati eco-house and use Mike Oehler's ideas, plus it could be approved by a Montana registered structural engineer? Or would you be able to recommend a Montana registered structural engineer who could sign off on a design that was up to 2009 International Building Codes and therefore could be approved by the building inspectors, the Health Department and the Office of Planning and Grants in Missoula County in Montana? OK, thanks much! I appreciate it!
 
Jo York
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FYI:

The first email below is from my county building inspector’s office in response to an inquiry regarding building an underground fallout shelter/ greenhouse / root cellar in my back yard:

Hi.  Regarding your e-mail about fallout shelters, there is nothing in the building codes addressing fallout shelters.  The "storm shelters" you refer to are for protection from tornados and hurricanes. 

You definitely could build a fallout shelter and permits are required.  The design would have to be certified by a Montana registered, structural engineer.  You will also need to address waste disposal with the Health Department and you might also have to obtain the approval from the Office of Planning and Grants.

The email below is from the Office and Planning and Grants, answering the same inquiry stated above:

Hello,
Any structures built need to meet the zoning regulations if the site is zoned. In most districts the side and rear setbacks are 3 ft. from the property line for an accessory building. We would qualify such building as an accessory building and use in a residential area. With your address we would be able to tell you if these apply. There would also be a maximum height depending on the district.  When you apply for a building permit, you would also apply for the zoning compliance permit, it gets reviewed at the same time. The application is at the building department in County Public works. If you need confirmation about your zoning district, you can send us your address and we will check that.

The email below is from the Health Dept. about the waste disposal issues, I said I would be using it only for a few weeks during a disaster, otherwise I wouldn’t be living in it, just using it as a greenhouse and root cellar.
If the structure underground does not have  a water supply, then it does not need a septic  or sewer system.  I suggest you plan on using water containers for drinking water and a bucket toilet and storage containers for waste if you ever have to spend time protecting yourself from radiation. 
 
                              
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Location: Colorado, Zone 5, Cold Semi-arid
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PermieFan,

That seems like good news, like they're willing to work with you.  Might as well give them the address to get the specific approval, then find a state approved engineer to draw up some plans based on your own drawings.  A local architect may be able to help.
 
Doody calls. I would really rather that it didn't. Comfort me wise and sterile tiny ad:
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