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Rojer Wisner
Posts: 44
Location: CA - planning for NM, USA
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The goal of this post is for me to have viable, more natural solutions to consider for a given scenario.
It is not for you to tell me exactly what you would build, but rather for you to suggest what materials or techniques would best serve my needs.
Hopefully, you will offer some explanation as to why you favor one solution more so than another.
Also, it is not my intent to adhere strictly to the various permaculture mantras if other means allow for a sufficiently close approximation in the primary context of trying building more naturally, more sustain-ably.
See my comments about the shell of the home well below.

Having read several threads here on permies.com, including many from J.C.White Cloud, I find that I am now severely challenged with respect to the home designs that I have been working on. (Obviously, I am new around these parts).

I had wanted to design my home and then find the land to place it on.
However, thinking of the culture I am starting to embrace (sheepishly), I see that there are too many symbiotic relationships that I ought to keep at the forefront of my designs.
And yet - I want what I want.

I would like a home north of Mora, New Mexico.
It would be about 8,000 ft. or so in altitude, being south east of Taos, in the mountains south of the Angel Fire ski resort area.
I've been told that this high desert mountainous valley sits on an aquifer.
There seems to be a lot of hunting with several signs of hunters antics in the local area.
There is (or was) lots of wild life, especially many humongous prairie dogs in the area.
I want a home that won't easily be comprised by a stray bullet or three, at least at the more popular calibers.
It is also an arid and cold place.
But I’d like a year-round food supply, eventually.

My current vision is a four story hexagonal tower with one below-grade floor, the ground level, an upstairs room with secured, but unencumbered roof access and the roof itself a living space.
There should be an insulted closet for solar batteries.
I'll also need a septic tank, separate black and grey water plumbing and a couple of cisterns.
I'd like to build most of this myself with professional help where I need it, such as a structural engineer to sign off on my implementation of his design requirements or electricians to complete their parts as required.
I have plans and intentions on materials and the building’s style; I have the majority of the design worked out.

But are my designs the best solutions, how incomplete or short-sighted am I being?

So my challenges are probably many more than I am currently aware of and some plans I know will require some form of a work-around or significant compromise.

Although I know a little about the geographical area that I'd like the land to be, the exact spot has yet to be purchased - and the locality's terrain varies greatly.
I don't know how deep the soil is generally in that area, but I'd be buying in or near heavily wooded areas.
Well, the area seemed at least moderately dense similar to where I lived in Rheinland-Pfalz (sp?), Germany, near Erbeskopf.
I am also told that this is an area where my kind are not welcome and to expect that my stuff will be stolen.
Potentially, I could be sabotaged or attacked.
The sentiments expressed to me about the neighbors may be outdated, but not confirmed (yet).
So it's a bad neighborhood in my vision of a paradise - I may or may not reconsider it as being my current favorite.

Those are some of the reasons that I wanted to build my house based on the systems needed regardless of location and also to apply certain modularity to the build.
If I can get a basement completed during one build season and live well within it for the winter and then be able to start on the first floor the next season and so on, I could get the house completed within about five years perhaps.

Regardless if I do decide to plow through the potential issues of several disgruntled neighbors and purchase there anyway - my future home would still need to meet some additional criteria anyway, however, some considerations much sooner than others.

Things I wanted to consider for this thought experiment (in an effort to bring to fruition some form of a build, eventually, somewhere) are security considerations and easily repeatable and repairable low tech solutions.
I would need to secure the perimeter from the get-go.
And then create secure zones where I would store materials and tools.
Perhaps I would need to camp-out on the property to accommodate a quick turnaround time.
If I live on site in a camper I could spend most of my day implementing solutions.

Once sufficient security measures are in place, then I can begin on the infrastructure.
Among some of the first items to install would be a well-sized septic tank and adjoining accommodations and prepare an elevated location to install a cistern or two.
I'd need some temporary plumbing as well.
Then I'd need to get digging holes, primarily for the basement and its foundations.
One thought was to use Durisol insulted structural blocks on very hefty footers.
I'd like to use TeraTiles or some other durable earthy materials for the floor, for this will end up being the root cellar and a quarter of it will be laundry and perhaps a butchering area.
If feasible, I'd like a sort of dumb-waiter for large game and space to butcher the meat.
But it will need to be a warm, secure, and dry living quarters for nearly a year, perhaps more.

The first floor, hopefully at grade level, will have the inhospitable front door on the north face of the Hex-House.
Fully solar aware, using passive design and solar mass, which doubles as a rocket mass heater in the winter.
The north-eastern side of the room sports the stairs up, near the entrance way, and the downstairs, closer to the southern wall.
The south-western wall presents the kitchen area, but the southern half of the hex is a great room.
The north-western quarter is the bathroom and "sweat lodge" or south-western sauna.
The wall separating the kitchen and the bathroom is the rocket masonry heater on the kitchen side and a rocket mass heater with bench on the bathroom side.
Naturally there will need to be a very hefty wall in the basement to handle all that mass.
It could be filled with rammed earth encased in non-insulated Durisol block with rebar enforcement all on an extra-heavy-duty footer.
The great room of the first floor should have a Murphy bed, couch and chairs and the dining area table.
The ceiling height should be 9’ for the first floor.

For the stairs to the second floor, I'd like to use 22, 62 inch long, 10 inch wide, half-logs for the stairs built into the walls on either side.
The stairs are 50" wide with a 7" rise and 10" run for 22 steps, floor-to-floor.
The first five steps are on one wall face with a small landing making a 60 degree turn along the other wall.

The second floor should have a worthy door, like that of the front door.
It is the master bedroom, with a smaller bathroom in the north-western corner and a small open office area in the north-eastern corner (behind one of the stairwell walls also on the north-eastern side).
The ceiling height for the second floor could be 8’ high rather than 9’, making temperature control easier.
The roof access stairs are primarily on the north-western wall, but start from the south-western wall of the bedroom.
The bed is on the eastern side of the stairwell facing the 9am sun.
There should be a southern-side balcony to help shade the first floor during summer.
I think solar panels could hang from the balconies' walls and perhaps adjust vertically, if not a little horizontally.

The roof must be formidable in every way.
I'd like to have lots of planters of some sort, perhaps a water feature, another southern-side balcony to shade the bedroom in summer, and a shed for solar batteries to stay temperature controlled and well ventilated.
The outer walls are castle-like and undulate between 5' & 7' high and about 48" wide each.

If practicable, I would like to have heated floors except in the basement, which should be Keller Cool.

Aside from my desire to adhere to permaculture recommendations, I believe that the above-grade portion of the shell should be a stone-faced structural concrete, insulated sandwich wall. In other words, the above-grade shell consists of slip-formed walls with 6" - 9" of insulation in the center of the three northern walls.
I’d use less or no insulation on the three southern facing walls.

One reason for these massive walls is that a wall fully 24" thick with two rock faces is fairly bullet resistant, it's a modular build method, and quite likely, I myself could build it.
Albeit, lugging materials would be an increasingly difficult task as I transition to each floor higher.

The floors and ceilings will defiantly have to meet some well-designed engineering specifications, I would imagine.
I think that I should be able to use all the inside walls to help support the horizontal surfaces.
I'd also like to utilize some additional space between the ceilings and floors as storage in the crawl space.
That added space might be advantageous for creating the requisite strength each floor will need.

What other things should I consider and reconsider in order to accomplish these goals?
What should I do about the basement if I run in to bedrock?
Relocate or re-engineer?

The septic system has a whole host of considerations alone.
Should I ensure solar-assist to keep that tank hot?
This will be as DIY as I can muster and the cost needs to be as low as would be feasible and still be a project of lasting quality.
Volunteers or interns at some bargain cost like room and board and some chump change would be very well received indeed, especially if they come from way far away (strictly for future security reasons).

Please for the love of anything whatsoever do not suggest straw-bale.
Even with proprietary big name spray-on truck bed liner, there's a BB gun capable of penetrating it.

Thank you in advance for your most constructive suggestions only (questions welcomed, even silly ones).
 
Kris Johnson
Posts: 81
Location: Pahrump NV
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http://gigacrete.com/ballisticrete/
 
Rojer Wisner
Posts: 44
Location: CA - planning for NM, USA
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Interesting start.

In researching the response I found this: http://www.calguns.net/calgunforum/showthread.php?t=809943
The linked thread discusses many less expensive alternatives to this otherwise interesting bullet resistant ceramic plaster.
 
Rojer Wisner
Posts: 44
Location: CA - planning for NM, USA
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I will attempt to post a few drawings to provide a better picture as to the current goal....
Screen-Shot-2015-10-21-at-6.31.30-PM.png
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Screen-Shot-2015-10-21-at-6.32.09-PM.png
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Screen-Shot-2015-10-21-at-6.32.30-PM.png
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Rojer Wisner
Posts: 44
Location: CA - planning for NM, USA
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A couple more. Explanations to follow....
Screen-Shot-2015-10-21-at-6.32.56-PM.png
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Screen-Shot-2015-10-21-at-6.33.22-PM.png
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Rojer Wisner
Posts: 44
Location: CA - planning for NM, USA
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Starting with the floor plans listed as the 6.32.09 PM.png, that is the below-grade basement.
This is followed by the first and second floors and the roof.
these are proceeded by an odd looking 3D model of the place.

Here I am using Sweet Home 3D for about the first time.
I'm not exactly sure how I got the roof disjointed from the the other floors, but I know it has to do with me changing the preferences for either the Rooms or the Walls.
I want the basement and bedroom to have 8 foot ceilings and the great room to have a 9 foot ceiling.
The software comes with a minimal amount of model parts, only one type of fireplace, two different furniture schemes, two types of sinks, etc.
I have added a few of these to help give a sense of scale, for without them you are left guessing way too much.

Originally, I wasn't considering a basement, given the likelihood of running in to bedrock before I got deep enough.
But perhaps some of the dirt can be used to build up the grade to make the first floor fit in better with the landscape.
I could potentially do without the second floor as well - but that's not what I really want.

I'd like to field a few questions - if any yet exist.
 
Rojer Wisner
Posts: 44
Location: CA - planning for NM, USA
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Bummer. Not everyone accepts purple moosages. I intended on sending the following:

Hi Jay C.
It is I, Rojer.
You mentioned that you would be interested in glancing at my house planes for a fuzzy-eyed critique.

I created such a post.
You may not be as daunted by the lengthy intro as many folks will be - it will suffer the TL/DR effect, no doubt.
But I did add some drawings to help focus the discussion, should others bother to get so far as that.

Anyway, if you have the inclination to waste a bit of time educating me on some DIY options - I would be most grateful.

Thanks for the consideration.
(P.S. Sorry for abbreviating your first name within my post, no offense was intended.)
 
Rojer Wisner
Posts: 44
Location: CA - planning for NM, USA
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These are a couple of views of the staircases. There will likely be adjustments made - but it should help to solidify my confusing words in the OP.
Screen-Shot-2015-09-09-at-7.16.34-PM.png
[Thumbnail for Screen-Shot-2015-09-09-at-7.16.34-PM.png]
Screen-Shot-2015-09-09-at-7.21.47-PM.png
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Rojer Wisner
Posts: 44
Location: CA - planning for NM, USA
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@Kris Johnson - I finally got to see the video (I block flashplayer at work and probably ought to here at home too).

I find it difficult to believe that I would be able to build 3 - 4 stories high with cob, but with the right framing perhaps it is possible.
However, how well will the stuff stand up to a chainsaw, or fast moving pickup truck?
It certainly is a great material for a good number of homes, but perhaps not sufficient for my home.

If the Line-X spray on products weren't so proprietary and expensive (not to mention less-than-permaculture aspects) I bet cob would hold up far better to those bullet tests.

Thanks for the post.
 
Kris Johnson
Posts: 81
Location: Pahrump NV
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I find it difficult to believe that I would be able to build 3 - 4 stories high with cob





Yemen.jpg
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Thomas Wright
Posts: 21
Location: Florida and Colorado
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If you're worried about trucks running into your home, you could build a moat around it with a drawbridge.
 
Rojer Wisner
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Location: CA - planning for NM, USA
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Excellent example. Thank you.
I completely forgot that the Great Wall of China is also, at least in part if not entirely, made of cob.

So - What exactly would the prescription be for creating the basement?
Would I still be creating some other material foundation and then replacing a great deal of the dirt just dug out?

Pardon my ignorance, but so far most of the cob buildings I've seen are above grade.
I haven't a clue what the best practices would be - for things like drainage and buttresses.

Considering that there will be significant amounts of snow occasionally, especially if tons of wet el nino air reach that far east, how do I mitigate infiltration of any form of water?

Or - are you suggesting that an all above-grade building would be better?

And, thanks for the suggestions.

I have read up quite a bit on slip-form and other concrete projects.
And perhaps, I could use more than one build material.
However, the "chemistry" of how these materials would interact is completely over my head.

Thomas J. Epel published info on a house that is sticks, stones, and straw.
It's a very nice looking place.

So you may be right - cob could play a role in my "final" design (quotes because I'm using the word ironically, as I imagine that the house will never be final).
 
Rojer Wisner
Posts: 44
Location: CA - planning for NM, USA
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@Thomas Wright, I wasn't intentionally going for the Doom's Day Castile as seen on NatGeo look.

But - it is a constructive suggestion.
It won't be easy ruling it out now that you've mentioned it.

(-;
 
Rojer Wisner
Posts: 44
Location: CA - planning for NM, USA
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Here's one - outrageous - alteration.

Probably using just the north and the south corners as tower posts to hold up a platform containing two water cisterns.
Using the southern half for a solar heated hot water tank and the northern half well insulated - except in the winter - to get nice and cold tank of water.
Up at 40' - 45' would provide a reasonably good gravity made water pressure.

I don't think it would be a major engineering feat, but it could be prohibitively expensive.


EDITED: for better grammar.
Screen-Shot-2015-09-11-at-8.21.03-PM.png
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Terry Ruth
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We get flying 2x4's, or they could be large timbers even worse, from tornado's here so does hurricane alley and people have got a false sense of security in basements surrounded by large view or walk out windows. We need to build with more mass in these regions but people come back with wood since they are not educated or that is what is most readily available in home depot. We are talking to our clients about basements and I am currently designing a zero entry slab on grade as our first spec home. Living underground, dealing with dirt and moisture surround walls and a floor does not make sense. We repair them all the time. I can't imagine surrounding them with standing water but to each their own. I that case one should be a very experienced Architect and PE with a good data base of history to design to.

The best way for your design to work with a basement is OPC concrete/spread footings with walls that have a curb at least 2" on both side of you Durisol walls( believe you will find in their installation specs), that is going to cost some $$ but it will be strong!. You want to check with them as to how many stories can go on what block above that. After 3 stories you are now past using code as a guide and will definitely need a PE since the dead weight of structures gets huge. Also, you'll need to be close to bed rock to take that weight. High silt or clay will not work in that case you'll need pile drivers to bedrock. If you hit bedrock digging it would not be the first time that happened you have the high cost of a geologist/escalating or relocating. It is not as easy as drawing pictures I can tell you from all that you have posted so far you PE expense it going to be large.

This site can give an idea what soils are present and where bedrock is: http://websoilsurvey.sc.egov.usda.gov/App/HomePage.htm click on start WSS and run a report of the location.

I would not draw too many conclusions from those tall COB pics, some edges look eroded/tilted and we have no idea what the issues have been nor do we have maintenance or inspection reports. I sure hope they are in a low seismic and wind zone.

So I suggest you either get with an Engineer that understands structural loading to help you develop a preliminary design, or there is nothing wrong I can see with using Durisol other than corners as long as you look at their installation procedures and follow them. Your ceiling and roof rafter spans are huge and will probably need a break or interior load bearing walls, more if pouring them. Once you finalize a preliminary design with some decent lay-outs to include a floor plan of each floor as you have, some details of critical joints and water and vapor control then people with be able to help with those details. If you have no idea what your are doing as you suggested and it appears, I'd suggest getting with an Architect that does. Find a local that is licensed, and be careful about trades "internet building advisers or consultants" acting as such. Ask for a resume of builds and clients that you can call or see to verify. The software you are using may work if it can create CAD details. You may want to check room specifications to see if that gap is from not having a ceiling or floor below or above a room turned on.

You be hard pressed to find any experience with Durisol out here if that is what you have decided on, get with Durisol they have built a ton.

However, the "chemistry" of how these materials would interact is completely over my head.


Don't feel bad it's over most peoples head and the biggest cause of building erosion and health issues. In the US there is a push to educate Architect's better before issuing degrees & licenses.
 
Rojer Wisner
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Location: CA - planning for NM, USA
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@Terry Portier

I have lived in two different locations in Ohio, both places had small basement windows and the basements we had really didn't suffer too much degradation over the years.
As far as the tornadoes went - I used to sit on the apex of the roof and watch them until they got too close - then would jump and roll - and head towards the basement after opening a few windows.

Regarding CAD, neither of the two software results shown can do CAD exports - but I do have Cheetah3D and Blender - I know them a little bit and could export dxf - I think.
There is an Architectural Designer, Rachel Preston Prinz, in the Albuquerque, NM area that I may endeavor to employ (or get recommendations from) once I get the generic design as completed as I want.
I'd like what I submit to be as all inclusive as possible and then accept compromises as needed.
Therefore, I will wait until I purchase the land before getting real professionals involved.
Before I buy, I will try to have a good grasp on the actual soil depth.

The amount of snow and rainfall has diminished in that location over the years - but weather patterns keep changing and I think I should plan for the worst and hope for the best.

Personally, I think that "a basement is OPC concrete/spread footings with walls that have a curb at least 2" on both side of you Durisol walls" is going to be plenty strong and a good bit more expensive and my gut feeling is that it is also the best solution for a basement - imo. What goes on above that has more room for adjustments.

The longest stretch on the floor/ceiling is only about 25' I think.
I have those structural walls around the stair cases and around the north-western quadrant on the first two floors.
I would think that peeled logs would work well to span the distance.

Thank you for your input.

 
Rojer Wisner
Posts: 44
Location: CA - planning for NM, USA
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@Terry P. Holy cow that seems like a powerful tool, especially if you know how to use it.
I imagine that it would also help to have an exact location.
I noticed that I could drill down too close and get potentially bad data, but I was rather obtuse between too large and too small an area.

I picked an area large enough to cover a range I would think is most likely to be my home, but it is a large area.
Consequently, I come up with tons of soil data:

Mora County Area, New Mexico (NM638)
Map Unit Symbol Map Unit Name Acres in AOI Percent of AOI
Bd Breece variant sandy loam, 3 to 8 percent slopes 33.0 2.0%
Bf Brycan loam, 3 to 8 percent slopes 66.8 4.0%
DV Dargol-Rocio-Vamer association, very steep 104.0 6.2%
EV Eutroboralfs-Rock outcrop-Vamer complex, extremely steep 308.8 18.3%
FH Firo-Hesperus association, hilly 30.6 1.8%
FR Firo-Rock outcrop complex, extremely steep 391.9 23.3%
Hb Hesperus sandy loam, 1 to 3 percent slopes 337.1 20.0%
Hc Hesperus sandy loam, 3 to 8 percent slopes 125.8 7.5%
Ho Holman complex, 3 to 5 percent slopes 58.9 3.5%
Mo Moreno loam, 8 to 15 percent slopes 43.2 2.6%
MR Moreno-Brycan association, sloping 53.9 3.2%
US Ustifluvents, frequently flooded 128.9 7.7%
Totals for Area of Interest 1,682.8 100.0%

And for just one of the local soil types I get a ton more worth of information:
Bf—Brycan loam, 3 to 8 percent slopes
Map Unit Setting
• National map unit symbol: dlxf
• Elevation: 7,200 to 8,500 feet
• Mean annual precipitation: 16 to 18 inches
• Mean annual air temperature: 43 to 45 degrees F
• Frost-free period: 85 to 100 days
• Farmland classification: Not prime farmland
Map Unit Composition
• Brycan and similar soils: 75 percent
• Estimates are based on observations, descriptions, and transects of the mapunit.
Description of Brycan
Setting
• Landform: Mountain valleys
• Landform position (two-dimensional): Toeslope
• Landform position (three-dimensional): Mountainbase
• Down-slope shape: Concave
• Across-slope shape: Linear
• Parent material: Alluvium derived from sandstone and shale
Typical profile
• H1 - 0 to 15 inches: loam
• H2 - 15 to 60 inches: sandy clay loam
Properties and qualities
• Slope: 3 to 8 percent
• Depth to restrictive feature: More than 80 inches
• Natural drainage class: Well drained
Runoff class: Medium
• Capacity of the most limiting layer to transmit water (Ksat): Moderately high to high (0.60 to 2.00 in/hr)
• Depth to water table: More than 80 inches
• Frequency of flooding: None
• Frequency of ponding: None
• Calcium carbonate, maximum in profile: 1 percent
• Salinity, maximum in profile: Nonsaline to very slightly saline (0.0 to 2.0 mmhos/cm)
• Available water storage in profile: High (about 10.2 inches)
Interpretive groups
• Land capability classification (irrigated): 4e
• Land capability classification (nonirrigated): 6c
• Hydrologic Soil Group: B
• Ecological site: Mountain Grassland (R048AY002NM)

Hopefully, I will come to better understand this tool, http://websoilsurvey.sc.egov.usda.gov/App/WebSoilSurvey.aspx and how to make bester use of it.
 
Terry Ruth
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Regarding CAD, neither of the two software results shown can do CAD exports - but I do have Cheetah3D and Blender - I know them a little bit and could export dxf - I think.


Not sure if you are aware but Sketch-up a free 3D software has better rendering than this and a library full or 3D and 2D cad details very DIY friendly tons of on-line tutorials...for a little $ you can upgrade to a 2D CAD to do drawing's. Also, Draftsite has free 2D software. Both will take DXF, DWG files...more tools to play with I use a very powerful pro version of Chief Architect with a steep learning curve and cost.

The amount of snow and rainfall has diminished in that location over the years - but weather patterns keep changing and I think I should plan for the worst and hope for the best.


You can find your environmental loads and insulation requirements here. Post them & if you'd like go to Durisol's site and see what r-values their blocks are...use the high insulation and concrete volume ones. Also post a pic of what Durisol wants as an outer vapor barrier above and below grade I'll help you through that. Also, I suggest chasing down those corner buttress to see if the'll custom build now before you get to far they will cause a blow outs if not locked and/or braced especially at the lower walls you want to pour it all at once same day same hose same truck. BTW: I have seen the blocks in a home built by a college' they work great! We'll offer a spec soon as I can get it past local codes.

https://energycode.pnl.gov/EnergyCodeReqs/

If you can get the envelope to lower HVAC loads you may get off grid but a place that size can cost a fortune to heat and perhaps cool. Even if you plan on wood or a mass heater it is good to use the envelope to buffer an store along with solar passive.

I'll check your seismic and wind zones, roof snow loads soon.

Personally, I think that "a basement is OPC concrete/spread footings with walls that have a curb at least 2" on both side of you Durisol walls" is going to be plenty strong and a good bit more expensive and my gut feeling is that it is also the best solution for a basement - imo. What goes on above that has more room for adjustments.


The longest stretch on the floor/ceiling is only about 25' I think. I have those structural walls around the stair cases and around the north-western quadrant on the first two floors. I would think that peeled logs would work well to span the distance.


Designing structure is not a matter of "opinion" although we see alot on the internet try to produce it that way. Not going to happen. It either takes the loads or it does not period and it takes a pro in most cases to figure that out. Ask your PE to look at wood too, Permanent Wood Foundations (PWFs) are code approved if designed and built right may be less expensive, dunno depends on loads and local resources.

1. Take a look at your floor plans and see if you have a continuous inner load bearing wall from the flat roof to the ground to break up the spans looks like around 40', 20 is pushing it for most species of wood in deflection. (LVLs or steel I-beams can handle it but they are going to be at least 1-1.5' deep and steel I's (W's) are not cheap. The inner footing usually does not have to be as large as the outers since it is taking tributary loads, so you'll want to account for that cost.

Notes: OPC can be reduced by using magnesium from Premier - I have sub-division restrictions I need to battle and ready mix companies want large orders to change what they do and know. You'll be buying alot of concrete with your current design and they may do it. Using basalt rebar (BFRP) or fiberglass as in s-glass cheaper along with s-glass fibers will produce a more natural mix free of rust jacking and other issues. You should be able to reduce the thicknesses. The mag will prevent or reduce thermal bridging and may require no additional vapor barriers and/or management systems if designed right. Get some consultation to bring to your pro from this company: Premier offers an admix have your pro consult with them for loading data.
http://fiberglassrebar.us/basalt-rebar/

A good rule of thumb I suggest is less is more when it comes to layers and dissimilar materials. Durisol or Faswall (another to check pricing) uses mag/clay/wood stick with those materials at all interfaces.

@Terry P. Holy cow that seems like a powerful tool, especially if you know how to use it. I imagine that it would also help to have an exact location.


Yes it is a good tool another is local well diggers soil test labs and Geo reports. I use it and the new 2015 FEMA flood plane map to find land. Some jurisdictions have on-line zoning portals to see what land use restrictions exist and CUPs (private or city issues with utilities, etc), building codes, covenants, lot lines, set backs, easements, road issues, legal descriptions, height restrictions, owners and title issues, etc....Always obtain a warranty deed...Be careful with QCDs.

The goal of this post is for me to have viable, more natural solutions to consider for a given scenario.
It is not for you to tell me exactly what you would build, but rather for you to suggest what materials or techniques would best serve my needs.


I hope so far I and permies.com have meet your design criteria Darn I could only hope I get an apple ...Just kidding!


Seriously, I'm sure the place will be awesome once completed.

 
Cristo Balete
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Rojer, just a couple of questions.

You are talking about only 100 frost-free days, which probably means less than that that you won't need heat. Heating is going to be an ongoing thing. And you want three floors above the ground, in the wind, which removes most of it from any kind of passive solar, which would use the constant temps of the earth to help moderate interior temps. So whatever source of gas or wood you'll need better be a big one, and you'll need plenty of insulation on all pipes and plumbing, special hurricane tie-downs in the construction.

It sounds like you are going to do this with permits, so that would mean if there are any neighboring dwellings they would be notified you are going to put up a building that is 3 stories above the ground. There would be a planning meeting where they would get to say whether they feel their privacy is invaded by that. If you aren't going to do it with permits, a 3 story building is a giant red flag that something illegal is going on, and it might not be a good idea to have it be so prominent.

It's good to have a basic idea of the kind of dwelling you want, but the location is really going to determine a lot of it if you are going to take practicality into consideration, and read the land you've got. Hopefully this isn't just about a nameless, faceless location for a building that you want. It will make life easier, and the building sturdier to resist a harsh environment if you blend the two. Living on the property for a year in a temporary dwelling, like a trailer, and watching how the wind moves, how the flash flood water goes, (and take those flash floods seriously there, you don't want to be in the path of even one of them) where the water is, and where the sun rises and sets becomes a huge part of Your Life, just as much as the building you sleep in.

And remember, you can pay for a house, but taxes are forever. The higher the square footage of a building, the higher the taxes, and they tend to go up each year. There will always be a payment of some kind to make each year.
 
Kris Johnson
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Location: Pahrump NV
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Wikipedia has this to say about the city Shibam, in the picture. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shibam.

And sorry it was made of mud brick not cob.


Kevin McCabe's cob castle gets into the three story range
One section of wall, at the highest point, 33 feet from the ground
here's an article https://www.transitionnetwork.org/blogs/rob-hopkins/2014-01/can-earth-building-scale-mainstream-2-kevin-mccabes-cob-citadel about it.


I personally would omit the basement as it creates more problems than benefits.


And if you eventually buy land that's in the 7000-8000 ft elevation range go with lots of insulation, I was thinking insulative rocks filled cavities, then put thermal mass on the inside of the house with appropriately placed and proportioned solar glazing. Don't know if stuff like pumice has ever been used for insulating wall cavity's or if it would difuse bullets but if it could it would be great, although maybe a bit expensive. What about just a plain old SUPER MASSIVE log cabin? Two foot thick wood walls?


Still confused as to the worry about flying bullets and trucks ramming into the house. Is the eventual property in hostile gangland territory?


Massive hugelkultur beds spaced apart leading up to the house seems like a great defensive solution plus you can grow food on them.


What about building a massive raised stone foundation with minimal access points like this Minus all the stairs. Then have a space built in he core. Minimal low entry/access points.


I think the key to home security is to start at the boarder of your property and work in. If someone makes it to the front door or window, you've failed.


If you really want DIY bullet resistance, I think the earth bermed recycled tires filled with rammed earth takes the cake.
from http://www.armedpolitesociety.com/index.php?topic=22590.0


There's more too..... Just cant think of it right now.



Oh! Have you read Mike Oehlers (I think that's how you spell his last name?) $50 and up underground home? He has some great ideas about conceilling the whole home underground, but its ALL underground. Still good ideas.


I'm starting to think stacked earth rammed reinforced tires may be the way to go. Material is cheap, labor is high but bullet and truck resistant. Going high with them hasn't been done yet, that I know of, but i properly designed, I don't see why it wouldn't work.


mayan-stone-foundation.jpg
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Kris Johnson
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Forget the pumice thing http://www.permies.com/t/26413/straw-bale-house/pumice-stone-insulation-material
 
Kris Johnson
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I like catalan/timbrel vault/cohesive construction roof systems. Definatley for the super skilled only. Next would be ferrocement roof, more geered to the DIYer and fairly everything proof. And when I speak of these methods I'm only speaking of them being in the shape of a dome/cone/ other arch shape. Flat=whack.
 
Rojer Wisner
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@Cristo Balete - In my original design I did not include a basement - but after I started thinking about the rocket mass heater benches and thinking that having one in the bathroom would be hot! But then, were does the washer & dryer go - if I had a basement I'd also have a root cellar. If I had a root cellar - it could pull triple duty.
The basement could be a root cellar, laundry room, butcher shop, and exercise room.

This is a neat area in the high desert mountains with lots of trees all around. My nearest neighbor might be half a mile away. Since this is New Mexico, the building code are more lax than most other places. That doesn't mean that they are free of codes, but there is some wiggle room with owner-built houses.

With the slip-form construction that I have been studying, I will likely have a full two feet thick wall - with as much as 9" of insulation sandwiched in the middle, which should provide sufficient insolation from the outside and sufficient mass on the inside to accommodate whatever amount of sun I care to get to it.

My ignorance may be too high on the subject, and why I am admitting to being so challenged in this field.
 
Rojer Wisner
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@Kris Johnson

I like the hugelkultur suggestion and considering the location I am certain that the raw materials for building them up fairly high are readily available.

The concerns regarding bullets is that not only are these the hunting grounds of the locals and quite rural - the locals (at least in the past) had been quite hostile towards gringos. I was told that Anglos are not welcome (again, from a resident who had left the area many years ago - things may have changed). He said it was the only place of many where he had lived and worked where he felt the need to always carry a gun. So - it would not surprise me that a couple of drunk buddies would want to welcome me to the neighborhood with a couple of rounds in my direction.

As far as the rammed earth filled tires go - that is major labor - I was out at one of the Earthship communities and purchased several materials from them. The videos where they show how to ram the tires nearly killed me just watching the intensity of the requisite work. I would never ever be able to get my house built mostly by myself. The rammed earth bags would be a good bit easier. and both are great suggestions for barricades.

Home security defiantly starts at the border - and there would be sufficient space for a warning zone, a painful zone, and the last stand zone. I wasn't going to go all out Dooms Day Prepper but I'll lean more in that direction if the neighborhood warrants it. The population density is sparse, but the folks are very low income. I am not sure yet if I am willing to encroach - but I am not a foreigner to the nation and just because I am foreign to a small community - that in and of itself won't stop me from moving to a beautiful, private, but not totally isolated paradise. They may end up liking me.

Edited: to correct spelling/wrong word errors.
 
Rojer Wisner
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@Kris Johnson

Also Kris - Flat roofs aren't a good choice in most location - true. However, there are quite a number of examples in New Mexico.
Although, they may be confined to the even more arid areas than this snow prone location, the quantity of snow has dwindled to dusting here and there and quick melt offs.
That doesn't mean the occasional 6' of snow couldn't happen again.
But - New Mexico has SUN - lots of it.

I am planning on living on the property before I build - perhaps a full year.
I will be paying close attention to the nature around me when I do.
I may end up being shot before I get started though.
But I will have died doing what I wanted to be doing - I guess.
 
Terry Ruth
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Kris: what I was thinking..

the walls must be routinely maintained by applying fresh layers of mud.


Pumice is NM bread nice aggregate for plaster....

Rojer, NM is in wind gust 3-sec gust zone: 90 MPH no issues most of the country the same:

Seismic: D0 If your're in it a little high more of concern than wind depending on terrain.

Stick with the design path you are on as stated in your OP it is a good one. Your roof snow loads are around 25 PSF at best with your design no prob!

I've driven through many parts of NM on the way to design jobs so I know what your up against, yes be careful. They are the KING Mother Hen of earth construction have earth codes in Albuquerque you can look at. I have talked to their inspectors and have tried to get our AHJs to adopt the earth building codes, work in progress.

SDC.JPG
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Wind-Design-Cat.JPG
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Rojer Wisner
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@Terry Portier

Hi Terry - I came across other posts of yours discussing alternative cements.
There certainly is a a great deal of chemistry with cement.
I understand that the Romans included fresh animal blood to their cement.
The program I saw tested a column of prepared cement using what was believed to be the recipe the Romans used for their marine grade concrete.
I am only mixing the terms cement and concrete because I don't recall the exact details - I have a reasonable understanding of the differences between them (aggregate, sand and other admixtures versus just the glue recipe).
So, I had posed the question as to what effect would bloodmeal have on OPC as an admixture.


Not sure if you are aware but Sketch-up a free 3D software has better rendering than this and a library full or 3D and 2D cad details very DIY friendly tons of on-line tutorials

Perhaps I need to revisit Sketch-up now that it has been in the new owners hands a good while.
When I used it last - I was getting all kinds of funky results.
And none of my models were manifold.
It was more trouble than it was worth - at the time.

My Primary computer is an OS-X 10.10.5 iMac.
I will check out your other software selections you suggest later this weekend.


Designing structure is not a matter of "opinion" although we see alot on the internet

Engineering a structure is not a matter of opinion - designing a living space on the other hand often is.
The two must coincide for a happy home.

I am really only designing the concept - the look and feel of the end results, I don't plan on putting anyone out of work.
I do want to know how to make this design according to sound principles - but I also intend on handing it off to a professional to tweak as needed.
Here is where I learn how to minimize the amount of tweaking I will have to accept from a professional at some high cost for my ignorance.
I am hoping to over-engineer it on paper and hopefully in reality as well, paying for the cost with slow steady labor and a contractor or three+.
But it does have to work, be safe, and be comfortable.


have a continuous inner load bearing wall from the flat roof to the ground to break up the spans looks like around 40', 20 is pushing it for most species of wood in deflection.

One compromise might be to have the inner walls only 16' wide versus 20', but that doesn't really help with the vertical weight.
I was hoping to keep the inner space as open as possible.
I have seen vegas that seem to stretch quite the distance - I couldn't tell you if there were I-Beams hidden or not, I didn't know to look for such signs and they weren't obvious.

Anyway Terry, you have a great deal of useful information and I get the feeling I should be backing up this thread.
I do greatly appreciate your expert advice.
This design isn't for a nameless place or a pipe dream - I hope to start building within five years.
Depending on circumstances, it could be as early as three years.
I am fairly certain I will be in New Mexico - I may not end up being quite as close to Mora as I intend.
Taos, New Mexico isn't quite right for me so if the original location doesn't pan out, perhaps south east of Albuquerque might.
And that is a totally different landscape - but perhaps more fitting for this HexHouse.

I have three other designs I was working on - but then thought two rooms and a roof was more than enough - then - it grew to be what I've presented here.
And the community here at permies is definitely helping me to see a few good things I need to consider.


Thanks everyone - keep suggesting - as this validates what little I know.
 
Rojer Wisner
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@Kris Johnson

Kevin McCabe's cob castle gets into the three story range
One section of wall, at the highest point, 33 feet from the ground
here's an article https://www.transitionnetwork.org/blogs/rob-hopkins/2014-01/can-earth-building-scale-mainstream-2-kevin-mccabes-cob-citadel about it.


Way cool, great article.
I'll finish reading that one later........

My butt is killing me, I've been in a seat since 8am - over 12 hrs.
 
Rojer Wisner
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Aside from the very outer orange line sprayed - another 6" from the current one - this is the layout.
2015-09-21-at-19-02-18.jpg
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Rojer Wisner
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Foundation:

I forgot what the rules are, .5 as deep as a wall is high and twice as wide?
This shows a 4' wide x 4' deep foundation:
Screen-Shot-2015-10-25-at-12.34.13-PM.png
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Rojer Wisner
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How far away from the foundation does the septic tank need to be?

FYI: In the photograph a couple of posts above - north is at the bottom, east on the left - west on the right.
 
Rojer Wisner
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A 3D version of the 4'x'4 foundation.
Screen-Shot-2015-10-25-at-3.48.06-PM.png
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Kris Johnson
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I forgot what the rules are, .5 as deep as a wall is high and twice as wide



It depends on soil type and the eventual weight of the structure live and dead loads. For earthen constructions the "rule of thumb" for foundation size is:

As deep as the wall is wide and twice as wide as the wall it will be supporting. But not more than one story high. You'll have to figure out how much the finished building will weigh and the soil type.


How far away from the foundation does the septic tank need to be?



Not sure about the tank itself but I know the leach field has to be 100ft away from any water source.
 
Rojer Wisner
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Is there a quick easy way to to determine the weight of a building?
More than likely it includes the full weight and not just the weight of the wall itself.

I would imagine that I would need to know the weight of the rock, the rebar (fiberglass or other type of non-Ferris reinforcements), and the MgO concrete, as well as the weight of all the vigas, plumbing, and furniture too.

Is there a generic version for the formula using rock-faced-PIP concrete multi-storied walls encasing a given amount of area?

I'd bet nothing so simple as that could exist - even for the Navy's RadCon(sp?) math techniques.
 
Rojer Wisner
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This is a SketchUp file with an example plot of land (not mine - just an archetypical choice).

I have all kinds of issues with SketchUp - I really think it is quite difficult to get good results of fix anything when one screws up.
For instance - this house is 180 degrees off.
The north wall is currently on south side. I can't successfully spin it around.

I was trying to figure out how I would run Vigas to cover and carry the the load safely.
I can't nudge something without screwup something else.
I'd like to be able to use the arrow keys to move an object along the x-y pale.

I realize that Tinkercad isn't as powerfull and it doesn't save in any great file formats - but it is so much easier to get a model out.
I need help designing the ceiling/floors, the horizontal planes.
Filename: HexHouse_v_1.0-copy.skp
File size: 4 megabytes
 
Rojer Wisner
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This is the vigas designs from Tinkercad for the second and first floor from the south side.
I don't know if these would work or if it could be made to work well.

I want to keep the southern half of each floor as open as possible, and as natural as practicable.

Can anyone provide a few good suggestions as to how to make my horizontal planes?

The ceiling for the 2nd floor is also the roof's plane as well - so it will need to be hellaciously sturdy.
Currently, that doesn't look possible with just 10" poles.

However, I was planning on allowing for up to 3' in thickness (possible storage area, I'm hoping).
Screen-Shot-2015-11-15-at-11.30.48-AM.png
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Rojer Wisner
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OOPS!

That second floor isn't right.
It is missing the staircase for 2nd to roof access.
Back to the drawing board.



[edit was for deleting an extra word]
 
Bill Bradbury
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Hi Rojer,

I have worked extensively in northern New Mexico and I know Mora well. This is the best part of the area, especially at the foot of the Pedernal.

New Mexico has an adobe building code and multiple adobe manufacturers, so it is very easy to build naturally there. I would recommend that you travel there and tour some adobes(there are sooo many), talk to their owners and see what works for yourself.

As for basements, stone is best. Lithification processes make these basements stronger with age, even when mortared with clay as my 120 year old adobe in Northern Utah is. Breathable natural walls are the way to go; stay away from OPC and foam!

All Blessings,
Bill

 
Not so fast naughty spawn! I want you to know about
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https://permies.com/wiki/65386/paul-wheaton/digital-market/Video-PDC-ATC-hours-HD
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