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Complete Beginner to Building  RSS feed

 
Michael Reardon
Posts: 2
Location: Hebron, CT
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Hi all,

I've recently decided to purchase land with a friend in Central/South America. He is a bit more well versed in the nuances of permaculture, but I'd love to begin to collect knowledge regarding building structures, specifically eco structures, as we'd like to eventually build our own structures on the property. I know that this is probably a very difficult question to answer, but where exactly should I begin in my research? And what are the first steps I should take to ensure that I will be able to properly build such structures in the future? This is all pretty new to me, and I suppose I'm just looking for some advice as to the first baby steps I can take before taking such a giant leap into building a structure to live in. Any advice/comment would be greatly appreciated. I'm so happy to have stumbled upon such a large community of people interested in permactulture and preserving our beautiful earth

-Mike
 
John Elliott
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Welcome to Permies, Michael!

Start with what's interesting.

It could be how to frame with lumber, or how to lay a foundation, or what makes good roofing materials, there is a lot to learn and it will be easier if you just dive in to what interests you at the moment. The first thing you read will raise questions and lead you to the next, and so on, and after a while, you won't be so much of a beginner. You must have friends that are involved with their own building projects; offer to help them out. Learn by doing and ask lots of questions. If your first steps are following in the footsteps of what other people are doing, they won't be difficult steps at all.
 
Sean Rauch
Posts: 136
Location: Winnipeg, Manitoba
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John hit on a really good point here. Go build with someone else, if you have a lot of time and don't need money then volunteer on eco building projects, if you're like most of us and do need money then focus on getting a job in a building trade like carpentry. Being a laborer/apprentice is an awesome opportunity to get paid to learn. Finally google is your friend you can learn about a myriad of construction practices online. Lots of times people get stuck in ruts where they know one or two types of building and it is the end all be all of construction. This definitely applies to the mainstream building practices but applies to all kinds of people as well. So if you can gain knowledge of the basics then build onto them as you go you'll be much further ahead.
 
Jay C. White Cloud
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Hello Michael, welcome to Permies!!!

I like much of what John E. was advising, as this is a great way to get started, not get overwhelmed, and have fun at the same time. Sean has also pointed out a very important point of not getting stuck in a rut, and following just one mode, or approach to building. What I will add is a little more expansive.

As an educator of the Building Arts, and a group and team developer, I have some insights that are a little more focused. Within group development there is a five step processes that has applicability to learning as well. They are > FORMING, STORMING, NORMING, PERFORMING, and ADJOURNMENT. (These may differ depending on whom you follow within the cultural development sciences.) How this applies you learning the building arts is very similar steps. Understanding this structural system to your learning, can facilitate a more fluid, dynamic, and efficient means of internalizing information you need.

You currently are in the FORMING stage, and should have fun as John E. has suggested. As you move into the STORMING stage, you will be faced with the challenges that Sean pointed out like not getting stuck in a rut. I probably come in as being most effective at helping folks like you during the NORMING phase. Here is where you will solidify your bearing and style of architecture in a more detailed and learned manner.

From a logistical aspect I would suggest focusing on only "natural and traditional" building modalities, and not bog yourself down with many of the mainstream and industrial concepts as these are very often in conflict with "natural building." I also suggest this as you are going to be building, from what I have gleaned thus far, in the Central and South American region, that you look at projects in that location to volunteer at if possible, or other areas that have similar or applicable styles. This region has rich and diverse indigenous architectural vernacular practices, and probably the best place to start looking at the foundations of what you may want to build.

We are excited to be here with you along your journey, and look forward to all your questions. Also if you could expand your profile information to your location and where exactly you will be building would help us help you.

Welcome again to Permise,

j
 
Sean Rauch
Posts: 136
Location: Winnipeg, Manitoba
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There are also eco communities in South America that are entirely focused on Permaculture where people become members of a community build your own home etc. Its kind of a communal living arrangement. My wife did some of her yoga training at one in Brazil. This might be more inline with what you're thinking.
 
Michael Reardon
Posts: 2
Location: Hebron, CT
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First of all, thanks everybody for being so welcoming and giving so much useful advice. This seems to be a really awesome community and will help me a ton. Hopefully one day I can be a help to you all as well. As for working as an apprentice, that doesn't seem to be feasible right now as I am a college student. However, I do have friends and neighbors who are a bit better with their hands than I, and I am reaching out to them so see if I can give any assistance on future projects. I would love to volunteer either at home or when I begin my travels. I live fairly close to you, John White Cloud! And, I used to actually attend the University of Vermont in Burlington. One last question I forgot to ask in my first post is which structure(s) are considered easiest to build, or are best suited for beginners? I was told that a cob hut is on the easier side, but I may have been misinformed.
 
Angelika Maier
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Location: cool climate, Blue Mountains, Australia
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WWOOFING, willing workers on organic farms. You can get a whole lot of experience sometimes in building too. You need practical experience.
 
Sean Rauch
Posts: 136
Location: Winnipeg, Manitoba
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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tent

easiest thing I ever built.

Easy and home aren't really parallel concepts.
 
S Bengi
Posts: 1359
Location: Massachusetts, Zone:6/7, AHS:4, Rainfall:48in even distribution
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A bamboo structure, seems like one of the best option.
A structure made of cement is another awesome way to go.
 
Jay C. White Cloud
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Bamboo has become very popular in recent years, and is the armature for many contemporary designs, as well as the vernacular.

Concrete, if based particularly on a portland cement, I could not recommend in good conscious. It's carbon footprint alone renders it an unsavory material, which does not address the poor quality of living it typically presents with. Haiti suffered great loss do to the "realities" of portland concrete, and clearly demonstrates it is not the most enduring materials many of big industry claim it to be. Our own countries infrastructure, is crumbling under the weight of it, mainly because little of it is of the quality it should be, and can often present for decades as being, "in good order," as it silently degrades within. I have worked with the likes of natural concretes like "tabby" and the like, as well as, proprietary blends such as "geopolymers," which have shown good promise in certain applications. None of these, in the grander picture, show the endurance and time tested longevity of vernacular and natural architecture. Even in the natural concretes of lime and pozzolan additives there are still limitations of access, cost, and proper skill sets to use in good order.
 
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https://permies.com/wiki/65386/paul-wheaton/digital-market/Video-PDC-ATC-hours-HD
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