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Welcome Michael Guerra author of Compact Living  RSS feed

 
Adrien Lapointe
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Posts: 3430
Location: Kingston, Canada (USDA zone 5a)
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Source: permanentpublications.co.uk

This week Michael Guerra will be joining us to answer our questions about compact living.

There are 4 copies of his book Compact Living up for grabs.

Michael himself will be popping into the forum over the next few days answering questions and joining in discussions.

From now through this Friday, any posts in this forum, ie the green bulding forum, could be selected to win.

To win, you must use a name that follows our naming policy and you must have your email set up in Paul's daily-ish email..

The winner will be notified by email and must respond within 24 hours.

Posts in this thread won't count, but please feel free to say hi to Michael and make him feel at home!
 
Sherakee O'Riley
Posts: 17
Location: Aiken SC 29801
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Welcome Micheal!
Your video is wonderful, great use of the "BLUES".

It's been a big part of my long time plan for my farm to build an underground home. I've saved back I beans, C channel and a great number of large windows, well for that an an enormous greenhouse, but I've always been proactively interested in compact living. I would like to know what your advise would be about developing a compact living situation in an underground housing situation, and I'll be all ears.
Thanks so much and we're SO glad to have you!
 
Sherakee O'Riley
Posts: 17
Location: Aiken SC 29801
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hahaha "I Beams" not beans... buu I do have a large variety of heritage legumes. hahaha
 
Jay C. White Cloud
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Hi Micheal,

Look forward to reading your commentary.

Regards,

jay
 
Jane Ferguson
Posts: 7
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Hi Michael, I live in British Columbia and Im renovating an old small cabin in the woods.
I'd love to read your book on compact living in a small cabin. Where do I start? Nothing
here now is eco friendly. Thanks. Jane
 
Nathan Pickard
Posts: 20
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Hey Michael. I am excited to get a chance to read your book. I have started an urban farm and purchased the property next door which included a 1600 square foot metal building. I would like to turn that into 3-5 compact living apartments for those who want to work on the farm etc and possibly a multi-use space for the neighborhood community in front.
 
Raymond James
Posts: 1
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Welcome Michael! Your book and thread have impeccable timing. Moving from a 1,000 sq. ft. townhome into a 600 sq. ft. home on a quarter acre. Looking forward to applying all kinds of permaculture design principles as well as those found in your book! Where is a good place to start?

Cheers,
Ray
 
Michael Guerra
Author
Posts: 3
Location: London, England
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Raymond,
My family of 5 lived in a 380sqft apartment (with a 750sqft productive garden) for nearly 13 years (+6 years before children) and it seemed that the key for us was love, respect and utter discipline over stuff. So if you are moving into a smaller space the key is in ensuring that you only take what you need, and that you plan how want to access your stuff in that space. Use permaculture principles in the way you understand the multipurposeness of everything. My wife and I have been sleeping on a folding futon sofa/bed for more than 20 years (not the same futon - we compost them every 8-10 years!). Your storage space needs to suit the accessibility of your stuff, seasonal clothing could be deep-stored etc. For modern houses there is often too little crop storage, so build a north-facing larder. But most importantly make a plan, like you would for a garden, divide the plan into projects that take a morning or so, and keep to plan (until the plan needs changing!). Hope that helps.

Nathan,
Metal buildings need to be insulated first, with an air-gap so that condensation doesn't rust the building. It is best to use the metal skin as a rain-screen, and make an internal framework with a breathable external skin. It would be good to leave an 18-24" gap between metal skin and internal building so that you can get between to maintain it. Fit removal insect screens around the gap to stop critters from living in between, while allowing air to move moisture up to an extraction chimney. Of course you will need to penetrate the metal skin for daylight and the deep internal window ledges will provide a place to sit. Do not underestimate the power of condensation to destroy a metal-skinned building! 1600sqft should be enough for 3-5 small families, providing you build communal spaces for laundry, cooking (especially if you want to include a wood-fired oven). Furniture could be built in, fold-away beds, storage etc. Don't let you workers sleep under a metal roof, it's deafening when it rains!

Jane,
A cabin in the woods benfits from the reduction in exposure from extreme weather, providing that you haven't chopped down all the trees to form a clearing. Most cabins were built from local materials (timber), but the design was key. You could build with a dirt floor but in areas of high-rainfall (such as BC) you would be wise to build with a raised floor, building off corner poles that sit on small concrete pads (oil drums that are sunk into holes that leave the top 4-6" showing work well). Put a square of lead sheet under the pole and then design the cabin with beams with good insulation and a rain-proof but breathable external skin. Unless you are building in a massive style (e.g log cabin) you will need to put in a couple of diagonal struts to reinforce the structure. Of course you could always build a tree house - there are some seriously cool designs out there.

Sherakee,
There are a number of different underground styles structurally. You could 'mine' a structure (like the limestone houses in Turkey or around the opal mines in Australia), you could build a cellar under an existing structure (which depending on the original building's foundation will require the use of I-beams) or build an earth-bermed structure either into a hill-side or like an Earhship. Earth is heavy and usually is porous and so will hold water. Earth can be resistant against thermal extremes, it has significant thermal mass, but it should not be confused with an insulator. Strawbale houses will always be better insulated than earth-mass houses. In every case where you want to build underground you must understand that earth is very dense and you will need to design to keep water out and so design a means to remove condensation (warm moisture in the structure condensing on a wall in contact with the soil it is holding back). To design any underground structure you will need employ an engineer and work to your local building codes. Not all I-beams are created equal, so it is important to utilise beams that are sufficiently deep in section to support the load over the distance you need. Underground building is a complex subject, and there a number of good books out there, but at the end of the day, in order to keep safe you will need to make sure you use an engineer. Guitar player is my eldest son - his bedroom is just above my small office - I love that!

 
Lm McWilliams
Posts: 49
Location: USDA Zone 5
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Setting up a home for 'Compact Living' reminds me of living on a yacht.
The multiple uses for the same space and the storage and furniture units
are absolutely ingenious.

Many of these concepts and designs are useful in less compact homes, too,
to help us to organize our stuff and our lives. This book is a valuable resource!


 
Michael Guerra
Author
Posts: 3
Location: London, England
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Dear All,

This book was written as a reaction to what I could see around me and the way land use was accelerating away from sustainability. Most of the human population is now urbanised, so if permaculture was to have any far-reaching relevance it had to address the issue of the urban environment and the land taken up for consumptive living and personal transport. I was originally born in Connecticut (my father was a teacher at Yale) and we came to Britain in 1963 (my father got a job at Wellcome) and we lived the typical middle-class big house, big lawn, two-car existence (for those of you who remember it was like 'Peyton Place'!). It wasn't until we had had the classic family disintegration when I was 10 that I had started to doubt the benefit of the universal desire of middle-class urbanisation. I was sent off to boarding school where I lived in a society of my peers and where our studies became our 'homes', and where we would customise these 6'x6' cells into something decorated and habitable. University followed with a similar experience. When we were first married we had to live compactly as money was tight, and then we discovered permaculture and our small garden became our little Eden. I am an design engineer by trade, and so have a logical ethic; and permaculture is exceptionally logical reasonable and wonderful. When our beautiful sons arrived it seemed illogical to move to a bigger house (despite horrible pressure from family and friends to conform to their ideals of normality). Instead we re-arranged our house (actually tiny flat) into a place where every room is multifunctional, and we exercise the discipline of 'new thing in, old thing out'. Even if we fell into limitless wealth we wouldn't move (though I would see a good deal more live music!) or even buy a car (I haven't driven in 25 years). I consult with architects on designing Building Integrated Food Production, so I see the very real difficulties in bringing food production into built structures, whether it is from a structural point of view, heat and gaseous exchange, humidity control, light quality for growing, cropping systems and maintenance etc. There is a huge pressure in the UK at least to build new houses, especially around London where I live, and what is being built is energy consumptive, covers prime growing land with concrete and bitumen, increase pressures on local water and sewerage, and in the end everyone living on these faceless estates (I think it is called 'tract-housing' in North America) uses their car to drive to an out-of-town supermarket for food that has come thousands of miles. There is a very dangerous increase in carbon extraction in North America, which some say is to reduce energy costs to vouchsafe an energy future; of course this the big lie, it just means we will run out of the stuff faster, heat the planet faster and so accelerate the time at which we will need to kick the oil habit. A huge component of that is the consumptive economy that depends on making stuff and throwing it away, so designing a life that requires less and can live more compactly is an important first step to weening ourselves off stuff and leave more land to support ourselves off, sustainably. Permaculture is key to that mindset that can help us see beyond the current stupidity, without making war on everyone. Soapbox over; I'm going outside now to pick some greengages.

Love, Mike
 
Adrien Lapointe
steward
Posts: 3430
Location: Kingston, Canada (USDA zone 5a)
208
chicken dog food preservation forest garden fungi tiny house toxin-ectomy trees woodworking
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So I ran the winner picker app in the forum software and we've got two winners who were on the daily-ish email

Michelle Johnson
and
Konstantin Kirsch

Congratulations Michelle and Konstantin!

I sent you an email to ask for the email address of the person that first referred you to Permies.com. That person (if qualified) will also get a copy of the book.
 
A timing clock, fuse wire, high explosives and a tiny ad:
This is an example of the new permies.com Thread Boost feature
https://permies.com/wiki/61482/Thread-Boost-feature
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