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Sustainable/affordable small shelter  RSS feed

 
Kate Michaud
Posts: 77
Location: Ontario, Canada
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I'm downright frustrated!

Over 7 Billion people on the planet, and I can't find ONE builder who isn't asking me to subsidize their annual holiday to Vegas, or the Caribbean!
All I need is a shell with a roof on it, I can finish the rest on my own.

What happened to People Care? Earth Care? Reuse, recycle and Make Due?

K
 
Seva Tokarev
Posts: 79
Location: Minnesota, zone 4, loamy sand
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Don't be so frustrated: there are only 13 million people in Ontario, and very few of them are builders!

:-D (taking you best medicine; I like it!)

I am not at all a builder, but in a (painful) process of raising a shelter of sorts...
Your post made me curios; could you please provide more details about your project?

How big a shelter are your planning? What do you think is the reasonable compensation for it?
 
Kate Michaud
Posts: 77
Location: Ontario, Canada
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Hi Seva, thanks for your reply.

My property has timber, stone, clay, sand, and recyclable outbuildings for tin, windows, doors;
basically ALL the materials to build a 14' X 14' small, one room shelter, with compost toilet and no electrical.
An RMH would be an easy do for heating.

It could be stack wall
it could be round timber crutch frame
it could be straw bale
finished with daub, lime render, lime create

All very Environmentally friendly, except for ""flipping"" labor!
EVERYONE I have spoken to says time/labor would be too expensive (how freaking much are they charging per hour!!!).
I'm of the generation that threw their backs into it, we learned and loved it. A GOOD day's work was something to be proud of, not counted in $$$$$$$$$$$$$$.

I figured since there is no actual material costs, I could pay just labor, but now I realize that "Builders/Contractors" are in it for the BIG money, and someone like me is just too small to seriously speak with.
They've all been rather patronizing that irks me all the more.

I think it's time to look for a carpenter, someone with a true beating heart inside their chest.

I put the question to you; How much would you want as fair compensation for building the shell of a such a shelter as described above, using any one of the types of construction that you felt the most comfortable with.
You'd be housed and fed, red wine and Feta cheese with every meal if you wanted, and of course there would be assistance/help/helper on a daily basis.

So you tell me; How much..........

K



 
Dale Hodgins
gardener
Posts: 6795
Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
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I charge $40 an hour or $350 a day. That's what it costs to have my modest life here. Some people hire me and some don't. Often, those who don't, end up hiring some buffoon who works cheap but buggers up everything. Some guys who are really good will charge less. It's uncommon, but it could happen.

I never get invested in my customers needs. If there's no money, we must part ways. As skilled people retire, I may be able to charge more. I want to earn whatever the market will bear.

I like to pre qualify on the phone. If customers mention poverty or some other calamity as a reason for me to charge less, I don't waste my time or theirs. I never drive more than 10 miles for a look, unless they agree to get at least 2 hours of work done. That costs $90 or about $65 US. Most who go for this, get me to do more.
 
Kate Michaud
Posts: 77
Location: Ontario, Canada
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Well Dale, seeing as there was a 30% jump, last year alone, of Seniors having to declare bankruptcy, I guess you'll be serving only the very well to do, who can afford to live in BC.
The rest of use haven't such luxury of choice.
 
Seva Tokarev
Posts: 79
Location: Minnesota, zone 4, loamy sand
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http://www.building-cost.net/ calculator quoted me $600 for "Foundation, Piers, Flatwork" and $1800 for "Rough Carpentry" for labor for 200 square feet building (that's your 14x14) in upper Michigan.

A friend of mine (a pro builder who really wanted to help me -- but without me taking advantage of him) quoted me $1900 for 12x10 shed (labor + materials; does not include foundation.)
I ended up building a (much worse, I should think) shed myself, spending some hundred working hours (between me and my wife) and about $500 on materials (I think I was a bit wasteful and learning in the process.) That's near Minneapolis.

For $1000-ish, I think one can get an all-inclusive weekly trip to Caribbean; but that's how much the guy had to be paid in order to avoid subsidizing me.
 
Kate Michaud
Posts: 77
Location: Ontario, Canada
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Then what I had budgeted for labor alone ($5,000.00) seeing as all the rough materials are already here, and that I would do all the interior finishing, looks not to be unreasonable.

(message to previous commentator) So Dale, could you build me a shell in a little more than three weeks (125 hrs at $40.00 per hr, 40 hr week over 3.125 weeks)??
No fancy anything, rough hewn is fine by me, it needs to be structurally sound, capacity for warmth, and dry.

Might it be, that because I am female, these "Builders" think I can't drive a nail, frame a window, lay a floor, own a cordless drill, (or fire my flintlock black powder musket), and so they drive the price through the roof??
Anyways, I shall search on,... and take all the more pleasure in savoring the challenge!

I will overcome!!

PS; Seva; should I keep you posted with what happens?

K
 
William Bronson
Posts: 1492
Location: Cincinnati, Ohio,Price Hill 45205
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I work with my hands as a handy man in the U.S., I aim for 500$ for a day's work, but I split that with the boss.
The rawer the matirial, the greater the skill required to make something of it.
$5000.00 would buy a nice, conventional,Amish built shed/barn of decent size, delivered, in my neck of the woods.
I can buy a stack of used chinaware,or or one new dish for about a dollar.
If I want a hand thrown mug, look out! $10-20 bucks, maybe more? Charge less than that and a potter might starve due to clay costs and firing fees.
Could they dig their own clay and build a rocket stove kiln? Yep, and then they would need to charge for the time that these things take.

If you want skilled labor for less, you must learn to do it yourself. If you are unable or unwilling, you will pay.this is why I learned to bake and cook, I like good food and I am poor/ cheap! Now I eat out reluctantly. In fact, I am baking pizza tomorrow, for my own birthday party, and I consider tspending time that way a delicious luxury .
You may not have time to "learn to cook" . Hopefully that is because you are making a crapload of money doing something else.
I suggest you hire a laborer for things you can't do, or can't do alone. When it comes to natural building I think you can do as good a job as most conventional builders would. Best of luck!
 
Kate Michaud
Posts: 77
Location: Ontario, Canada
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Alert! Be forewarned, I am venting!

Solution found!

I have labored here for near 18 years, worked as hard as the men, and along side them as well. Slogged jobs they thought beneath them, raised my child, milked, mucked, cleared and burned, and broke my body in the process.
Old before my time, I can not only cook it, I can knife it, shoot it and skin it. I have tanned it and made clothing from it. I have had to stretch $s my entire life. I have worked clay and fired it, I have dug it out and worked it by hand. I have worked stone, daub, and wood. I have assisted in building, laid floors of all kinds, I have dry walled/taped/muded and plastered. I have been midwife to horses, goats, and been henchmen for others. I have buried many a good stock animal, and brought others back from a frozen death. I am no stranger to joy or sorrow, hard labor or sacrifice.

I home brew, I make my own cheese, eat only what I grow or raise. I walk my talk. I know the "value" of a dollar, I know the value of living close to the land, and they are not the same. I am not cheap or stingy, I am what some would call money poor. I chose to love the land and not the dollar. The dollar is not a living thing, but a mere concept given a value. There is much $ can't buy, integrity being one of them. It, in and of itself, cannot quench your thirst or fill your belly. And when the All Mighty Dollar crumbles and falls, when its value has evaporated, what will the money lovers do?

It breaks my heart to see the suffering and poverty of so many for the flippant sake and imaginary value of the dollar. I will kick and protest at that dollar till the day I die.

I will have my dormer, in the loft of my barn, an unused and forgotten space till now. It took all of this to see it, so I thank you all, the solution I can afford now found. I will have a warm dry place for my visitors, that I, with some help in areas where I am not so gifted, would have fashioned.

Cheers! K
 
Jay C. White Cloud
Posts: 2413
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Hey Kate...I am glad you are venting!!! Vent a way!

There may not be many of us...especially here in the North American market...but traditional "Housewrights" do still exist, and our bottom line is not just our bottom line...I promise. I teach these many "guild arts" as much as I try to practice them...I also try to role model and teach the same ethos I was given by my family, family members, and the Amish Barnwrights that gave me the foundations of many of my skill sets. I will try my best to address some of your key points and/or perhaps share some of my perspectives...as I see them and was taught.

First, and this is not a very popular view today, but I no longer (nor need to) defend it...as it is what I was taught and now I firmly believe it...Never hire anybody that wants to charge you "time and materials" or by an hourly rate, unless they are really doing some type of very arbitrary or esoteric consulting or nebulous work...Most (virtually everything) can be broken down into a set pricing matrix, from removing a kidney to building a timber frame...As I was taught...so do I repeat...professionals and craft people work by a set price matrix for almost everything they can do...If someone needs an hourly fee...find someone else if you can...Bottom line...its a set price or move on...

I figured since there is no actual material costs, I could pay just labor, but now I realize that "Builders/Contractors" are in it for the BIG money, and someone like me is just too small to seriously speak with. They've all been rather patronizing that irks me all the more.


You may be too small...or...too unrealistic...I don't know? I can't tell at this point...You are absolutely worth the time to speak to or correspond with...If someone is patronizing of condescending then they are not professionals or Artisan within there skill sets...In my view...

I put the question to you; How much would you want as fair compensation for building the shell of a such a shelter as described above, using any one of the types of construction that you felt the most comfortable with. You'd be housed and fed, red wine and Feta cheese with every meal if you wanted, and of course there would be assistance/help/helper on a daily basis.


I will do my best, and these are based on national and international understood averages of pricing matrix (part of what I consult on for project managers) as I currently know them...Prices may very, but it gets you in the ball park of what they should come very close to...materials included for most areas, but not all...

For your "stacked wall" it will depend on material, and design/wall height, but you are looking at a linear meter price of about $300 to $660.

Average timber frame in the (crutch??) "Cruck Frame" format of Europe is a more detailed design modality of timber framing and will start at $300 per square meter and go up depending on material access and type. (i.e hardwood vs softwood...size of timbers...live edge/in the round vs milled etc) This may or may not include material costs in that price...

SB is very variable but just staking bale is cheap...not more than $50 per linear meter...

Cob, daub, is very labor intensive and quite expensive....Lime/clay plasters and renders start at $50 per meter square and go up...

If you want more, or to break things down further...give more detail, and I will do the best I can for you...


Then what I had budgeted for labor alone ($5,000.00) seeing as all the rough materials are already here, and that I would do all the interior finishing, looks not to be unreasonable.


Hmmm....I can't tell if it is...or isn't unreasonable...as I don't really see a "size" or "exact materials" to calibrate from...Sorry, can't help on that one...$5000 may be great or not even in the ballpark...

Might it be, that because I am female, these "Builders" think I can't drive a nail, frame a window, lay a floor, own a cordless drill, (or fire my flintlock black powder musket), and so they drive the price through the roof??


In a word...YES!! I saw it growing up with how my mother was treated (an artist in multiple mediums including carpentry.) So yes, there is still...very much...a degree of chauvinism that exists...

From you posts, it looks like you now have a solution...and that is good. We are all here behind you should you care to "vent more" or ask more questions...

Regards,

j
 
Kate Michaud
Posts: 77
Location: Ontario, Canada
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Thanks J for the info.

I am of the opinion that someone charging many $ for their work better hoof it. I know a contractor, an older fellow, he charges $50.00 per hour, gives a quote before the job is started and usually stays within that. He is polite, respectful, fast/efficient and cleans up at the end of the day. He'll go beyond more often than not to ensure a job well done. But what I "was" looking for is not in his field. I respect this fellow as being a decent human being, who isn't led by the nose of the Almighty Dollar.

The measurements you missed were 14' x 14', single level.

I have an MA, and in my field of endeavor had a starting worth $40.00 per hour some 25 years ago. So how much would that be today? I have many skills, with some of very fine execution and craft. So I'm not at all ignorant of what is involved in "CraftsMANship", I'm just not that arrogant.

Well, the time is late, and I must chore in the barn.

Night All!

K
 
Dale Hodgins
gardener
Posts: 6795
Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
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This isn't a place to vent. Do that down in Meaningless Drivel.
..................
 There are professionals who use a pricing matrix and there are those who charge by the hour, or by the day.
 I very seldom hire anyone by any other means other than by the hour, since I want to be able to dispose of difficult cases easily.
.............
Here's what I wrote before Jay's comment.
.............
I think your budgeted amount for framing is probably about right. I could certainly build a good frame for a building that size,  in that amount of time, even if I were to cut and dress the trees myself.
...........
 Working with raw materials such as you have,  is nothing like working with squared materials from the lumberyard.

I wouldn't approach conventional builders concerning something like this. Instead,  I would look for someone who has spent a lot of time in the bush. Perhaps someone who built their own log cabin from scratch.

 So,  my suggestion is that you are approaching the wrong people or that if you contact the right people your approach is not working for some reason. 
 
Jay C. White Cloud
Posts: 2413
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This isn't a place to vent. Do that down in Meaningless Drivel.


Duly noted...and Dale is correct...I wasn't paying attention...and thought this was in "Meaningless Drivel." Apologies Dale for that...

My property has timber, stone, clay, sand, and recyclable outbuildings for tin, windows, doors;
basically ALL the materials to build a 14' X 14' small, one room shelter, with compost toilet and no electrical.
An RMH would be an easy do for heating.


I did miss that...sorry. I would see that as something in the $3000 to $5000 range for a simple timber frame with loft perhaps?

Good luck, and I hope you find someone...
 
Seva Tokarev
Posts: 79
Location: Minnesota, zone 4, loamy sand
3
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Kate Michaud wrote:
I will overcome!!

PS; Seva; should I keep you posted with what happens?


No doubt you will overcome! There seems to be quite a few people - not just me - interested to see your progress.
 
Jill Older
Posts: 7
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Kate,
I am trying to work out if I can come back up and help. I will trade off my building skills for your critter skills. I will try to put together an old fashioned building "party" if I can make it up in the next few weeks.

 
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