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earth bag, off grid advice and reassurance?  RSS feed

 
Erin Froehlich
Posts: 4
Location: Ada, Michigan
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Hello Permies Community!

I already posted this in the earth bag building forum, but since this forum appears to be much more active, I thought it might be better here.

I happened across this site looking for information on earthbag building and was happy to find it. My family and I are seriously looking into a sustainable, low cost/high happiness lifestyle, but I have to admit, I'm a little scared by the uncertainty attached with such an endeavor. Right now, I'm just trying to figure out how much money we'll need to get started. Even that is not easy! There is information about this and about that, but there's no simple step-by-step guide that I can find.

Are any of you living an off-the-grid life in a earthbag home you made? How did you get there? How much did it cost you and how long did it take? What does your typical day look like?

I'm really unhappy working the office job I have right now. I know what I want is not the typical, ordinary life society suggests "successful' people live, and that reward requires risk and bravery, but also, I'm really worried I'm being unrealistic and my efforts will fail. It would be wonderful to hear from someone who proves it can really be done!
 
Su Ba
pollinator
Posts: 980
Location: Big Island, Hawaii (2300' elevation, 60" avg. annual rainfall, temp range 55-80 degrees F)
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books forest garden rabbit solar tiny house woodworking
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Hi Erin! We got to where we are by taking many small steps over a period of 10 years. We did not give up off farm income until the farm was self supporting plus we had a small nest egg to live off of until the farm was generating enough income. We are at the stage now, ready to cut the job umbilical cord. Yes, it will be scary when the job disappears, but i'm certain we will survive. That took time. Over that ten years we slowly changed our lifestyle and expectations. We gradually adapted to a whole different way of living. But we did start out rather than just wait for the perfect moment, rather than keep dreaming without doing. We had some failures along the way, but we just regrouped and marched forward again..

Our house is wood frame but its a bit funky. Not your normal looking house. It fits well with our climate. We've been living in it and building it for ten years. We anticipate being finished in one more year, unless of course we decide to modify it. During the whole building process we keep modifying the house, making it better and more fun the live in. Otherwise we would have been done years ago.

We live off grid which actually was cheaper than hooking into the grid here. Hooking into the grid would have cost us close to $30,000, for real! The solar system cost less than $20,000 although we had to replace the battery bank one year later because we killed the batteries due to inexperience. But still it has been a lot cheaper than being on the grid.

I don't believe there is any step-by-step guide, no one size fits all. Everyone's situation and desires are different. We found that our goals and expectations changed frequently along the way. What we've ended up with is giving us a good life but a different one than we at first dreamed about. So staying flexible and adapting was an asset.

...Su Ba
www.kaufarmer.blogspot.com
 
John Elliott
pollinator
Posts: 2392
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You have what you need to get started.

From the principle "necessity is the mother of invention", we get the corollary "we have enough to get started; other things will fall into place".

When I was in my traveling-in-lesser-developed-countries phase, I marveled at the houses in various stages of construction. A foundation with a couple of walls here, another further along with a roof, but no windows or doors, another one with a family already moved in, but it still needed some plastering and landscaping. Seems the U.S. is one of the few places with houses built on a production line schedule; in other places people get started with some goal in mind and just keep working toward it. One of the advantages of this approach is that you get more comfortable as you move along. Getting the windows and doors put in as fall approaches sure makes it more comfortable to continue work during the winter!

I don't have an earth-bag, I have a HUD home. It was still in pretty good shape when I got it, considering what tweekers and other vandals can do to a vacant house. However the siding was rotten and falling off and I'm now in the latter phases of re-roofing, but I'm getting there. My typical day is (1) check the weather to see what kind of work I can do today and (2) go do some task on the house/garden/computer/car/shed/pool that needs to get done. Any day I can cross a big item off the list is a good day.
 
Leila Rich
steward
Posts: 3999
Location: Wellington, New Zealand. Temperate, coastal, sandy, windy,
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Welcome to permies Erin
I've added this thread to a few forums so you can get all your replies in one place.
Cool, eh?
 
Erin Froehlich
Posts: 4
Location: Ada, Michigan
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Sue: Yeah, I think you've got a point about being flexible. To be honest, I have some ideas of what my ideal life would look like, but I can't really know if I'm there until I'm on the inside living it. Mostly, I just know what I don't want - stress, an office job, to misspend valuable time and energy, and to live an ordinary life. I don't feel like I can wait 10 years to get address those things, but I can accept a 10 year journey away from them. Just so long as progress is being made. I really wish there was some step-by-step guide - or guideS - to self sufficiency! "Given you build this kind of house and find land in this price range and have this many people working to make it happen and devote this much time to it each week, this is approximately how much money things will costs, and this is approximately how much time each step in the process." Wouldn't that be fantastic?! I feel like a lot more people would have the courage to leave the system if something like that existed.

John: "Any day I can cross a big item off the list is a good day." That's a great attitude to have and one I need to work on in myself. Often, I have so many things I want to do, I get overwhelmed deciding which is the best or most important, and I end up accomplishing nothing. I'm your typical air sign, preferring to plan and come up with ideas rather than actually acting, but sometimes you really do just need to get started and accept that mistakes might happen.


Leila: Very cool! Thanks, Leila.
 
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