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Wofati...what if you goof up???

 
Sam Green
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So the idea of the wofati house seems great, cheap, no heat needed, no worrying about southern access for passive solar, etc. My only concern and this may be just as a total newb with them, but it seems to be based alot on getting the design right with no mistakes. In most houses you have a margin for error, put in more insulation, a second or bigger heater, etc. My concern and question is what do you do if the design isnt just quite right, can you add a rocket mass heater, etc(i know that technically no longer makes it a wofati). It just seems that its the kind of house you should have built a few of them first for other people before building your own to live in.
 
Jay C. White Cloud
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It just seems that its the kind of house you should have built a few of them first for other people before building your own to live in.


Hmmm...I am not sure that "experimenting" with others money, time, and living space is appropriate either...

Yes, this design has to be well thought out...yet no more so than any architecture really does...and I would suggest that "regular architecture" also has to be well design...and it is not a matter of just "adding and subtracting" elements...

Is there a specific question to this post? As I seem to sense more "statement" than query?

Regards,

j
 
Peter Ellis
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Location: Central New Jersey
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This question applies to every kind of building, really. Considering how early it is in the process of working out wofati design in practical application, I would think that there has to be a mindset that recognizes these are experimental structures still in the shakedown phase. All of them are test platforms, workng out the kinks and the details of the design parameters.
 
michael Egan
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Location: central illinois
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Sam, if i understand your post you think that underground/earth bermed structures are harder to fix than above ground/non earth bermed structures. i agree. I met mike oehler in 1981 or 2 at a summer gathering outside Rapid City S.D. He was one of many people peddling their books, crafts, etc. at the AIM (American Indian Movement) sponsored week. I remember pickup trucks running on alcohol, lots of solar workshops and books, good music including Jackson Browne and Bonnie Rait. Oehler was barefoot and wild even compared with the rest of us who were living on the fringes. He also came across as honest, unassuming, very self-confident and he challenged people to get out and "do it". However, his structure was almost completely his own with little to no input from others and he did appear a bit defensive when people challenged him about how he built underground (back then he called his house an underground house). Nothing gets my attention and respect like someone who tries and shares with others, especially if they include the mistakes! I think the process of sharing information through websites like this one will accelerate our learning. Doing what he did, then writing a book on it and then defending it seemed like skipping important steps in the learning process which should include learning from others and talking about the failures as well as successes. So I am glad to see Oehler's work cited and incorporated into this group. Having said that I am hesitant to build underground in central Illinois mostly because of the heavy clay and termites on our land. I do plan on building some out buildings and a bermed greenhouse using EPDM. I'll keep you all posted on my projects.

Don't forget the people who are working on underground/bermed structures on Paul's land are in Montana which is drier than where most of us live and has no termites.

 
Sam Green
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Hi Jay and others who replied, thanks. Maybe I wasnt as clear in my post, I got the impression that Jay thought I meant learning by building other peoples wofati by myself, what I was referring to is, its the kind of structure youd want to work as a helper on some other peoples ones first before building your own.

I also did have a question in my post "My concern and question is what do you do if the design isnt just quite right, can you add a rocket mass heater, etc", although yes my post is was also part statement, guess not putting in the question marks may have made it harder to see, basically my question restated is how easy is it to put in supplemental systems for heat, and/or retrofit one in if you discover after that you need one?

I think alot of people will do like in michaels post in that its probably wise to learn by building some outbuildings first and then do your main structure. The statement part of my original post is that im concerned that people will get all excited to get back to the land or whatever you want to call it, see wofati and if thats all they can afford as a house, build it, and its a great concept when it works right, I guess i can see alot of city raised "screenagers" as Geoff calls them building one and freezing or being wet all winter.

 
Sam Barber
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Location: Missoula Mt
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One of the things we have run into here at wheaton labs is not getting wofatis donee before the snow flies and the thermal mass has had time to charge for a year or so. Both of the "wofati's" here currently have RMH's in them for additional heat until the thermal mass gets charged. So I think the answer you are looking for is Yes and it depends. The depends part is meaning that there are ways to build a wofatish structure that will totally be a disaster for example if you don't build on a slope or you fail to put in the appropriate drainage ditches and you make the uphill patio wrong those mistakes would all be disastrous and you would have water coming into your house. So it all depends on the mistake.

-Sam
 
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