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What type of House?  RSS feed

 
Jason Vath
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Location: Hardiness Zone 5
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Hi

Just recently had my house burn down & lost nearly everything, luckily nobody got hurt!
I'm in Northwestern Pennsylvania. My question is:

If I were to build a house, what type would be advisable for my area?
I definitely want something earth-based and totally energy sufficient.

Any suggestions?

Thanks
 
Miles Flansburg
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Jason, so sorry to hear about your loss!

Did you have insurance?

What types of covenents or restrictions do you have in your area? Are you able to build what ever you like?
 
Jason Vath
Posts: 158
Location: Hardiness Zone 5
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Yes, thankfully insurance is covering a lot of the damage.

As to what restrictions, I have no idea. I need to learn about that.

Here's the thing, the house was actually my parent's (I just temporarily moved in right before it burnt down). They are buying another house and allowing me to build a place on the existing land.
I was thinking maybe just building a wofati or something small / "invisible". It would appear as simply a farming building / storage at most.
However, I know nothing of this planning process so, any info would be helpful.

I have simple needs, it's just me so, a small place that doesn't even look like a house would likely make me happy.
I rarely spend time indoors anyways, I'm always out gardening, harvesting materials, scything etc. Just need a place to go to at night and is extremely efficient in energy needs.


 
Christopher Borton
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Location: Whitehall, MT
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Hi Jason, I'm sorry to hear about your house. If up are looking to build a small energy efficient house is it hard to beat straw bale or cordwood construction. Living where you do it is all about keeping the heat that you generate inside the building. Insulation is a major factor. I like to look at the animals around the area and see how they live. Mice, squirrels, even dear will use the cellulosic membranes of grass, fibers, hair, etc. which is layered to create air pockets. It keeps the heat in. So you need something that is well insulated to keep your internal heat inside during the heating months and to keep your energy bills down, if you are paying for electricity/oil/gas. Your nieghboring creatures don't surrounded themselvesb with rocks and pebbles, so the thermal mass of cob or earthbags will not work well for your application. Just some initial thoughts Chris
 
Jason Vath
Posts: 158
Location: Hardiness Zone 5
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Excellent advice Chris, that's the type of info I need to know.
I was actually considering earthbag or cob as possibilities, now I can pretty much rule those out.
So, Strawbale or Cordwood construction sounds best for my location - Northwestern Pennsylvania.

I've been liking cordwood more and more lately, first time I saw examples I thought it was ugly but, it's really been growing on me.
Wow, now I'm super curious! So, I assume cordwood should be seasoned prior to construction?
I'd love to learn everything I can, any good reference suggestions?

I hope to somehow come up with enough money to come out to the Ecological Living Summit.
That event sounds like an absolute must!
In the meantime, I'm going to be studying what I can.

Thanks for pointing me in the right direction!

Jason
 
Jason Vath
Posts: 158
Location: Hardiness Zone 5
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I forgotten to mention the most important issues I face.

The property on which I hope to build has High-tension power lines very close by (within ~250 ft).
I understand that living near those can pose health issues, Leukemia for example.

I was thinking that perhaps an underground building such as a wafati or something similar in which a massive amount of earth was utilized, would help shield off/negate the effects of electro pollution.
So now I'm thinking that an above ground building might not be a healthy option?
Besides with a rocket mass heater, does it really matter all that much what construction method is utilized?
I recently saw a video here on Permies explaining how a rocket mass heater did a decent job in a canvas Tipi in sub-freezing weather!!!

5 rocket mass heater Variations
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=glOyd-0gHjU

 
Bill Bradbury
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Location: Richmond, Utah
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Christopher Borton wrote:Hi Jason, I'm sorry to hear about your house. If up are looking to build a small energy efficient house is it hard to beat straw bale or cordwood construction. Living where you do it is all about keeping the heat that you generate inside the building. Insulation is a major factor. I like to look at the animals around the area and see how they live. Mice, squirrels, even dear will use the cellulosic membranes of grass, fibers, hair, etc. which is layered to create air pockets. It keeps the heat in. So you need something that is well insulated to keep your internal heat inside during the heating months and to keep your energy bills down, if you are paying for electricity/oil/gas. Your nieghboring creatures don't surrounded themselvesb with rocks and pebbles, so the thermal mass of cob or earthbags will not work well for your application. Just some initial thoughts Chris


Hi Chris,
I have lived in an uninsulated adobe home in zone 5-6 for over 20 years and find the above statement lacking, but not untrue. Real earthen architecture takes into account air gaps and insulative abilities while moderating thermal fluctuations for ultimate comfort. We have found that all emf is severely attenuated by the large amount of earth surrounding us, so much that sometimes we must go outside for cell phone calls. I couldn't recommend earthen architecture more highly.
 
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Video of all the PDC and ATC (~177 hours) - HD instant view
https://permies.com/wiki/65386/paul-wheaton/digital-market/Video-PDC-ATC-hours-HD
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