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Help with my design

 
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I am curious what everyone thinks of this design. I tried to incorporate passive solar design as much as possible. Larger south facing windows with almost every room having a south and north window for effective cross breeze. I also have a south facing passive solar water heater with almost every room requiring water near the heater. I am planning on having windows on the lofts and below in the kid’s play room/ home schooling area. I thought it would be a good idea to not give them separate room and have them just have their own area to sleep. The loft would be separated by a low wall. I am also having trouble deciding on what size to make the round rooms. I do not want to feel as if I am walking into a cave, but I do not want too much extra unused space. If there is anyone who has built a round house with an open floor plan could you tell me what size it is and how it feels? Enough living area for a family of 4? Large enough kitchen for someone who makes every meal completely from scratch? Etc. Thank you!!
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pollinator
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Hi Michelle,

A few questions to help anyone provide feedback/suggestions.

1) What construction method are you planning to use for this building? Any details that have been decided on would help... walls, foundation, insulation, roof, etc...

2) Who is building this? Experience, tools, headcount, abilities...

3) Who will be living in this, and what are their requirements? Anyone work from home, require equipment to do so, etc? Space-consuming hobbies? Do you have a garden, hobby farm, full on homestead?

4) Where are you located? What's the terrain? The climate? On grid, off grid?



I love the look and feel of round buildings, but cringe at the extra exterior walls created by what are effectively 3 discrete structures interconnected. A definite upside would be the privacy provided by that aspect of the design.

A couple observations/suggestions:
-That master bathroom really undoes the care with which you've placed the other water-related systems...
-Closely related to questions 3/4; where is the entryway closet? No tools, gumboots, rainjackets to store?

I would suggest looking at canadiandirtbags.com, they completed a triple-circle earthbag house, and there's some good info to be gleaned.
 
Michelle Lasher
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Sorry for the lack of detail, I wrote out a much longer post but accidentally closed the page TWICE before posting and could not get myself to type it all a third time.

1. We are planning on building with soil where we live in East Texas. Probably going to add some lime to harden the soil a bit. It will be built directly on the ground with a tamped earth floor and will have a metal roof. Not exactly sure about insulation. Hubby seems to think insulation is not necessary in our climate.

2. My husband and I are building. Some friends may help but we are not going to depend on that. Zero earthbag building experience, but plenty of experience with other tools we would need to make it possible. We can work with wood, pipes, electricity, no problem.

3. It will be my husband, myself, and our two kids. The only requirement I can think of that is out of the typical requirements of kitchen, bedrooms, etc. is an area for homeschooling my kids. I think we will have a shed/ workshop but it will be separate from the house and will be made with metal siding since we want it large with a high roof. We are planning on having a garden and some chickens.

4. We are in East Texas, two hours east of Dallas. Terrain is mostly flat, lots of trees except where land has been cleared, which is actually most of this area. We would like the be connected to the grid but have our house set up to be able to be completely off grid in a SHTF scenario or even just power outages.

What would be your solution to not having the interconnected structures?

I agree that the master bathroom is a problem in my design, but when I try to put it anywhere else I have a problem with window placement since I need all rooms to have a south facing wall. Figuring that out is my biggest challenge right now. I suppose I did not add a entryway closet, we don't have one where we live now and I would actually like to, so good point. I am not sure how I would add it into a round design though.

I did look at that website and it had some great pictures. I cant find anywhere where it talks about the dimensions that each room is though.

Thank you so much for your time Dillon and I hope this helps
 
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I would place a larger pantry on the north side of the building. Speaking from experience, even with a root cellar 20 feet from our front door, its hard to grab things if its blowing snow or raining.

If you earth berm the north side you would get a lot more thermal mass, keeping the house warm in winter and cooler in summer.

Keep in mind that hot air rises, so place a window up top in each room to let out the hot air in summer.
 
Dillon Nichols
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Hi Michelle, that helps a lot. Of course now I think of some other questions.

Got a prevailing wind in your area? Which way? Any other common directions to keep in mind?


1) The way to avoid interconnected structures is... have less, larger structures! According to earthbagbuilding.com the max diameter of a buttress-free round earthbag structure is 33ft. Run the math and you see that provides 855sq ft, basically the same as a 26ft+20ft circle combined. With substantial floorplan tinkering you could then eliminate one piece of the current plan...

However, I'm concerned this might be an idea that looks great on paper to me, as someone who hasn't built any earthbag buildings at all... and perhaps in practice a 33ft unit is a lot harder to build than a 26ft. If the notion catches your fancy best check in with someone experienced...

You could still do interior walls with earthbags to preserve the lovely sound-blocking aspect., and add mass.


2) Can you put the collector for your solar hot water on the roof? Then hw storage can go on the north, heavily insulated? That would allow you to shuffle water-needing-stuff to be closer to that, which would be more central than the current spot. Rotate the master-bed unit to have the bed on the south, then swap bathroom and closet. Move the kitchen to the north side; use the island as the primary workspace so you still get to look out the south windows.

A bonus: similar rotation in the kids unit, for the same reason, would allow for the taller open space to be on the south, providing a massive area for tall windows.

You could take this a step further in conjunction with the below stuff, and enclose that northern space that is already mostly surrounded by earthbags anyhow; dividing it into 2 bathrooms, laundry, and utility room would be good as you'd likely need buttressing in that sort of straight-ish line. This give you the choice of more space in the side domes, or shrinking them to compensate... and *really* condenses the plumbing system.

Speaking of utility room, where is this going, otherwise? Or is it not needed? Electric water heater for backup? Furnace? AC? Water filtration? Electric panel? Perhaps this stuff could be in a small room/closet accessed via the relocated laundry room?

If you don't need the utility room, that would be a great place for some storage. Looking at the average house, this seems to be what nearly nobody plans adequate space for. Lots of things can go in a roomy shed/workshop, but some stuff is just better in the house.

I'd try and squeeze a pantry in, and moving the laundry to the north would allow that space to become a pantry. Pantries are like entryways, very handy and often left out!

3) I see a few ways to add additional spaces without changing the design much:
A: Additional arced walls intercepting the existing walls, enclosing an additional space like you've done for the laundry storage.
B: Adjust the curve of one or more circles to a spiral; a section where the inner and outer walls overlap a few feet apart seems fairly ideal for an entryway with a closet. Really just needs to be wide enough for a closet with a wide hallway passing it.
C: Add an additional wall paralleling the outer wall, with short walls connecting it back to the main building. Again, good for an entryway. See the greenhouse portion of this plan: http://www.naturalbuildingblog.com/torus-design/

In both cases the entryway could easily have a second door, to close in extreme temperatures, airlock style.


4) Looks like your climate has more issues with being too hot than too cold...

Perhaps look into stack/venturi/chimney effect ventilation? Shaping the house to funnel desirable winds inside? Comes back to the prevailing winds questions above.

White, heavily insulated roof?

If you put windows up high on the north, you could berm most of the north wall. Maybe east/west too.

Big roof overhang to keep sun off the windows in the summer, and let it in in winter. Some deciduous trees in front/beside the house for the same reason.


Attempted to add some of my suggestions to your plan, didn't do any of the rotation stuff. Hope it makes sense.
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Hello,
I think interconnected small circle floorplans make the most sense in eb domes.
If you're roofing, then you have more flexibility. study room design and look over at balewatch.com or earthbag floorplans, print a few out, discuss with your family, evolve for your situation and then come back. If you are gonna bag all your walls, then consider having a bunch of that thermal mass buffered from exterior walls. Y'all want roof insulation, btw.
Need more info about your family, lifestyle, etc to truly help designing too. Building is a commitment, spend lots of time on designing. Its important. Might wanna check out "pattern language" from the library, for a breakdown on design. Give your kitchen more attention. Also, if you can find some materials first, you can easily build to suit. A practice building, like a useful material storage shed/shady break spot would be wise. Construction requires labor, no matter the method, but EB is hard rewarding work, don't under estimate it.
You have decent soil on site?
Distance to rice hulls?Children's age? Budget & timeframe? Consider how you would build the roof. And something more conventional would blend and sell better out there.
& personally, I favor domes if they make sense.
If you want a sense of round room size, scratch different diameters in the dirt, mark it well so that its visible. Lay out cardboard, whatever for built ins and furniture. Discuss and evolve. As long as you don't crowd the floor plan and have a decent height, the completed round room Will feel a bit bigger than your exercise. Or check out the inside of a grain bin. or monolithic if you pass by fw.
 
Michelle Lasher
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Yes we do, the prevailing wind is from the south. That is why I want windows on the south side of ever building since our summers are very hot I can have a good cross breeze.

1. My husband said structurally he feels better having separate circles instead of trying to tackle huge structures for our first building experience.

2. I will post a picture of my new layout in a bit when I am done. I did move all water sources to the north very similar to the new design you posted, but left it so that I can still have that north window which is a very important feature.

I plan on trying to incorporate a few more of your ideas when I have a bit of time. I have got until November 2016 to finish my planning. Never too early to start though. Thank you for your help


 
Michelle Lasher
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Christopher Steen wrote:Hello,
I think interconnected small circle floorplans make the most sense in eb domes.
If you're roofing, then you have more flexibility. study room design and look over at balewatch.com or earthbag floorplans, print a few out, discuss with your family, evolve for your situation and then come back. If you are gonna bag all your walls, then consider having a bunch of that thermal mass buffered from exterior walls. Y'all want roof insulation, btw.
Need more info about your family, lifestyle, etc to truly help designing too. Building is a commitment, spend lots of time on designing. Its important. Might wanna check out "pattern language" from the library, for a breakdown on design. Give your kitchen more attention. Also, if you can find some materials first, you can easily build to suit. A practice building, like a useful material storage shed/shady break spot would be wise. Construction requires labor, no matter the method, but EB is hard rewarding work, don't under estimate it.
You have decent soil on site?
Distance to rice hulls?Children's age? Budget & timeframe? Consider how you would build the roof. And something more conventional would blend and sell better out there.
& personally, I favor domes if they make sense.
If you want a sense of round room size, scratch different diameters in the dirt, mark it well so that its visible. Lay out cardboard, whatever for built ins and furniture. Discuss and evolve. As long as you don't crowd the floor plan and have a decent height, the completed round room Will feel a bit bigger than your exercise. Or check out the inside of a grain bin. or monolithic if you pass by fw.



What do you mean by give my kitchen more attention? We were thinking of building a small granny flat first and living in it while we build our bigger home so we can get some practice in and then my mother in law will have a place to live when she retires. our soil has quite a bit of clay in it. I don't know exact percentages and haven't tested it myself but from what I've read our soil is perfect for this kind of building. We will dig a pond and build the house with that dirt. Our children are 3 and newborn but we wont be building for almost 2 years. Our MAX budget is $20,000. So I would prefer our 'budget' to be 10-15k. Unfortunately I think we get a bit too much rain for domes, otherwise we would be doing that. We also have VERY hot summers and will need roof overhangs to keep from overheating the house. That's a good idea to draw it out in the dirt. Its hard to find good pictures of the inside of roundhouses online. I will have to do that. Thank you.
 
Michelle Lasher
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Here is what I have now. Its a work in progress. Solar water heater will be on the roof not where it is in the photo. I am trying to decide if the master bathroom is even necessary. The bathroom is probably the most costly room other than the kitchen and it does mess up trying to have all water pipes in one area of the home.
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Location: Raleigh, NC (7b)
hugelkultur forest garden urban
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I don't have specific advice on the design, but it might be useful for you to troubleshoot by "building" a 1:1 scale model. On a flat surface somewhere, lay out some rope or other material to represent the walls. Walk around in the space and act out certain activities to see if the space functions well for you. This could help you figure out if you need the second bathroom, or if you need to make doorways wider, or more or less space, etc.

Also, I thought I'd add that you might think about safety measures for the pond. Drowning is a major cause of death for young children (I have a 1 year old so I've been pondering this myself).
 
Christopher Steen
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Straight walls have value in a round place.
Consider expansion for the kids bedrooms.
More exterior walls equals more cost and more thermal drain.
5 doors in your main room is almost 20', nearly a third of your walls...
Really, I just see thinking in complete circles as a design hindrance; I would consider pushing them closer together as in overlapping, arching out bigger doorways, connecting spaces. Then you won't have awkward and hardly usable acute triangles front and back.
Look at this if you like discrete round walls: http://www.balewatch.com/630.html
See how it opens up the space. The roof can be more straight forward, and easily allows additions. Incorporate your roof in the design. Construction details and passive solar heating/cooling is best addressed now.
Make the Mec room bigger, especially if combining storage in there.
The closet behind the master bed is a great way to address that; I've admired one that was 5'talltall partition.
Two bathrooms are nice, doubtful they are big enough to receive required spacing per code if you are doing a tub.
I like your new room diameters more if you are looking to moderate your size.
Efficient work triangle for kitchen...
It could be pulled off, but i reckon that Stairs in the middle of an 18' diameter room would kill the space.
I second Dillon's points.
Common grain bin sizes are 18 & 21 & 24. Notmuch eave, but worth throwing out since those outdated small sizes surround you.
 
Dillon Nichols
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Following on from Christopher's suggestions, which I agree with:

1) If you want to stick with complete circles for ease of build and structural integrity, but also want to make things more open or spacious, what about keeping either the central circle, or both outer circles; build the complete circle/circles first, then continue with the modified circle portions after. This should let you build confidence on the earlier portions, and have a solid structure to build out from on the later parts.

2) I definitely agree that the central stairs in the kids room seem worrisome. Would suggest a curved set along a wall, with shelving below, if roof allows. I always liked ladder-accessed lofts... but some don't agree!

3) If you don't know if you want the master bath, consider what aspects to leave in to easily add it later on.

4) That is kind of a lot of doors in the main circle. You could add an entryway area by moving the either of the bedroom circles away from the main circle, and putting the front door in a connecting wall; this would open into a little atrium, allowing for a front closet; then shift doors around to end up with 1-2 less doorways into the central circle.

5) Love the master closet revision.
 
pollinator
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The center dome is 24ft and the two bedroom domes are only 18ft
 
No prison can hold Chairface Chippendale. And on a totally different topic ... my stuff:
Heat your home with the twigs that naturally fall of the trees in your yard
http://woodheat.net
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