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Bill Bradbury
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Location: Richmond, Utah
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Hello Permies, does anyone have experience with the Eco Nest building system?
I have been contacted about building an eco-subdivision utilizing the EcoNest designs. I have no experience with them and I can't seem to find anyone who does.
The designs are extremely beautiful and rooted in vernacular Japanese architecture which is one of my favorites, so I am really excited to get away from the grime and grossness of restoration work and build from scratch.
The lots are 3-7 acres a piece, so there will also be lots of landscape/infrastructure to install as well. We typically permaculture the land at the same time as restoring the home, but if anyone has tips on how to incorporate the entire 60 acre parcel while maintaining the individual lot integrity and making it appealing to the western aesthetic, please help.
Thanks
 
Jay C. White Cloud
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Hi Bill,

I like them as a builder for folks in there area that may not have or want to be doing any of the work themselves (or very little.) As a design/builder and Historical Restoration Artisan of vernacular folk forms of the Americas, Middle East and Asia, I would suggest to anyone with building experience to just do the work yourself...

You know that they are going to have a "metric price" of there projects...be it square meter, or foot...and I wager you could beat that price if you just did the work yourself as the GC. I am finishing a Japanese Minka style house now that I have been working on for almost 11 years, while doing other "barn to home" projects. We employ all the same building modalities as Econest (as do many more Natural/Traditional design build firms these days.)

Econest key features...over all...is:

Timber frame primary super structure.

Wall truss (what some call Larsen truss after a friend/mentor John Larsen) but we just call them wall trusses as does John himself...They are so great a concept (and not really original just a "rethink" of older methods) that I can't believe they aren't used everywhere. They support the architectural concept of "disentanglement," and facilitate everything from HVAC and insulation to wiring and plumbing to a point that wiring jobs, as an example, can be have installation time cut by 75%. We build ours like the timber frames with mortise and tenon joinery while the lesser of the lot just are 2x2 with a 1/4" gusset.

Straw bale or light clay straw infill systems.

So, all in all, I say do it yourself or team up with others in your area and copy the concept that is Asian architecture....

Regards,

j
 
Bill Bradbury
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Posts: 684
Location: Richmond, Utah
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Thank you Jay for answering my question, as a fellow building restoration contractor, you have seen first hand the beauty and durability of the buildings that have been left in our care by our ancestors. We don't have to re-invent the building process, we must only adapt these ancestral techniques to suit our modern lifestyles. The main thing for me is to provide for a time beyond my own.
I work in eco-historic restorations where we restore homes that are 150 years old to be serviceable for at least another 150, so why not build to last 1000 years?
The 1000 year house does not have any plastic, rubber or concrete for these have too short of lifespans. There is no spray foam, no Tyvek, no OSB, no HRV nor rubber gasketed windows.
In your designs are you utilizing below frost concrete footings to support the posts or a more traditional lime/stone found? How do you get a building approved that uses no concrete?
I have restored many homes that are built on stone foundations, laid on a rubble trench, so I feel very confident this system could go 1000 years in our climate, but how to convince the myopic code enforcer.
This is where the EcoNest affiliate program could be helpful, but if you have ideas for getting around this potentially cumbersome affiliation, I'm all ears.
 
Jay C. White Cloud
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Hey Bill,

Your last post could have been written by me...Great to read someone else preaching the gospel of our elders wisdom in architecture (et al.) If you have a LinkedIn account we should link there, as I write professionally for several of the forums, and moderate one for LinkedIn, it would be worth your time. My background is partially listed here in my profile and on LinkedIn as well (or you can just Google me) I would love to do a big project with you in the future...or just consult if I could ever be of service.

On the topic at hand...

The fact that we no longer design/build architecture that last (or should last) several hundred (or thousand) years is a testimonial to our modern throwaway society that the IR (industrial revolution) gave us. Now the "modern royalty" of the Walton (owners of Walmart) just love this behavior as do most GC, Painting contractors, Roofers, etc (and the industries behind them.) By 23 years of age, having ended my apprenticeship with Old Order Amish Barnwrights, I had a deep understanding of "traditional" building modalities. The honor, respect and wisdom of these forms was very obvious. We currently have 3 Japanese Minka farm houses for sale on one of our web sites...the youngest is 150 years old and the oldest is over 400. These have plenty of life left in them, and are a clear indicator that building naturally is the only way to really do it...for both fiscal reasons, and sustainability...

In your designs are you utilizing below frost concrete footings to support the posts or a more traditional lime/stone found?


I loath OPC for 99.9% of the work that it is used for today...I use stone, lime, and perhaps the "relearned" brilliance of geopolymers.

How do you get a building approved that uses no concrete?


I use my clout with written language, knowledge of "good practice" in design and building, my very keen P.E., and sometimes just plane old confrontation...Works about 90% or more, of the time.

I have restored many homes that are built on stone foundations, laid on a rubble trench, so I feel very confident this system could go 1000 years in our climate, but how to convince the myopic code enforcer.


You just answered your own question on that one...If there is clear historic precedent for a modality, that alone can sway many if articulate and demonstrative about the method. Frank Loyd Wright built many (most?) of his architecture on "gravel trench" methods, having seen the wisdom of this in Asia and the Middle East. Code officials are often just not that savvy and must be lead to water so they may drink...Most do drink while others just won't...and those we must work around. Like straw bale architecture I will list as "dense core heavy cellulose insulated architecture," and gravel trench and stone as "tectonically stabilized masonry footings." It is often all in the "language" we present our cases to Code folks...and how well we are equipped to be educators on the subject...

I would be glad to help you facilitate your own approach to your projects...just let me know.

Regards,

j
 
Kate Nudd
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Bill,Hello
I have helped build on an econest house and appreciated the experience.
Where I helped out,the folks went on to build a very large store as well...bringing over Japanese timberframers to lead a course for the framework.
This is situated in southern Alberta and you can connect with them through the website www.harvesthaven.com
I'm sure Mark would share his thoughts and experiences with you.
All the best.
Kate
 
Bill Bradbury
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Posts: 684
Location: Richmond, Utah
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Thanks Kate, their informative/photo filled website answered all of my questions! It was great to see the build in detail.
I really like the look of these buildings, but have decided against the EcoNest designs because they utilize cement blocks or ICF's for the foundation. I have dealt with these before and I am not impressed. They are too brittle and will not be around in a 1000 years. I have lived for 20 years in a 120 year old adobe home built on a rubble trench with stacked stones(unfaced, random rubble style) for a foundation, the stones are set with clay. The outside is rendered with lime plaster. The only problem is the clay needs repointing and I really don't want to crawl around in the <2' space under the floors with a bucket of mud. I don't believe this has ever been done.
If this "free" foundation system works this well, why use something that is expensive and not durable?
 
Jay C. White Cloud
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Bill I could not agree more with your decision to avoid ICF. I have seen more issues with them as of late than I thought I would and even the developer questions some of there application and usage. I also had to share a second apple for sharing the wisdom of a traditional foundations...I have seen many around the globe, built of nothing but mud and stone...well over 1000 years old...Too may spend too much time reinventing wheels when it comes to architecture...and...really don't come up with anything that is "actually" better...just "marketable" and "industrialized."
 
Bill Bradbury
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Posts: 684
Location: Richmond, Utah
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Thanks Jay, not just for this, but for the voice of reason and wisdom that you bring to this site.
We are taught/brainwashed into never looking back at where we have been, but always looking forward to a distant horizon where the problems that this worldview manifests no longer exist. I now try and always evaluate our ancestral heritage with an unbiased eye, then I don't have to re-invent the wheel, only to adapt it to my current situation.
In my restoration work I have seen what works and what doesn't. What works is in harmony with the cycles of nature.

 
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