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New here! North GA Mountian earth home building ideas?  RSS feed

 
sarah herren
Posts: 4
Location: Atlanta, GA - Ellijay, GA
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Hello!
So I'm fairly new to the idea of building a natural small home. And have been reading TONS on this web page, researching natural home building and such.

My husband and I own a small parcel of land in the north ga mountains that we would love to put a primitive, simple, natural dwelling on. We do not want to live there permanently. We live in Atlanta and try to go up as often as we can. But we want to use our land and have a shelter to camp at, or live temporarily if need be. We love being out doors and camping.
The land is on pretty steep mountain side, has an old unused (overgrown and steep) drive way to the top where there is a small flattened are that we can build on.

The idea is to at least be able to bring the 4 wheeler to the top, rather then spending a lot of $$ repairing the driveway (for now).
We are thinking of building into the side of the mountain like an earth sheltered home. having a natural roof and one side opened up to the outside where we can have an outdoor kitchen & fire pit. Love earth sheltered homes! We do obviously want it to be warm and water proof. But do not plan on adding electricity currently.

My concerns are:
1) Costs. we don't have tons of $$ to build / buy much of anything. We own our home in ATL and the upkeep on that is hard enough! :O)

2) logistics. Several logistical things need to be kept in mind. Getting TO the land (up the driveway) without being able to bring in heavy equipment / materials.

3) Time. This will be an ongoing project... We don't get up there nearly as often as we like, but we really want to get some kind of shelter in place ASAP. This needs to be something that we can step away from for several weeks and not worry about washing away until the next time we are up to continue working on it.

4) Building concerns. local codes? I don't know if they would even apply here. And of course the wet & humid weather of GA. How can I keep my earth home from leaking, getting moldy, washing away? What about ventilation?


I LOVE cob / straw bail homes and seem affordable and fairly easy DIY house building project. But do those hold up here?? So my next thought is the earth bag or earthship (old tires??) type homes. And does it make sense if I want to build into the land? What do I use for the walls around the earth that doesn't cost an arm & leg and is fairly easy to build? Whats the best way to water proof?

I have so many questions, concerns and ideas! Am I in over my head Does anyone know if there is an established community of natural home builders here in Atlanta area that has meeting/ classes / workshops? (please no Yuppy expensive luxury rammed earth ideas)

I'd love to hear some of your thoughts! And if anyone lives locally in North GA and has built something, I'd love to hear what you have done, how you did it, how it has held up.

Thanks guys!
 
John Polk
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Posts: 8019
Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
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Welcome to permies.

I am not the one to give advice on earthen homes, but there are plenty of folks here with experience in that realm.

Hopefully, somebody else will chime in here with some good advice.
I do know that rainfall/humidity in that region needs to be addressed -
- what works in the arid American Southwest will not work well in the SE.

My suggestion is to build more than just a bare bones cabin. Leave room for expansion!
You may begin enjoying it so much that you begin spending more and more of your time there.
You may eventually regret having to return to ATL and city life. LOL

I don't know about building codes in the county where you live, but many rural counties have much more relaxed codes if something is being built as a hunting/vacation cabin, rather than a permanent dwelling. It pays to investigate this with the county in question. It often also has a bearing on property taxes...a vacation cabin is usually not taxed as high as a permanent dwelling...and, don't fix the driveway until after the tax man inspects it...if he has to hike a hundred yards up a muddy driveway, its value will drop drastically in his mind !

Good luck finding some local knowledge regarding your project.



 
Miles Flansburg
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Location: Zones 2-4 Wyoming and 4-5 Colorado
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bee books forest garden fungi greening the desert hugelkultur
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Howdy Sarah, welcome to permies!
How about something like this , maybe slightly bigger?

 
sarah herren
Posts: 4
Location: Atlanta, GA - Ellijay, GA
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Miles Flansburg wrote:Howdy Sarah, welcome to permies!
How about something like this , maybe slightly bigger?




So cool! Love that, but yes bigger would be nice! but that is almost exactly what I had in mind, but normal size door and stand up space.
Thank you!
 
sarah herren
Posts: 4
Location: Atlanta, GA - Ellijay, GA
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John Polk wrote:Welcome to permies.

I am not the one to give advice on earthen homes, but there are plenty of folks here with experience in that realm.

Hopefully, somebody else will chime in here with some good advice.
I do know that rainfall/humidity in that region needs to be addressed -
- what works in the arid American Southwest will not work well in the SE.

My suggestion is to build more than just a bare bones cabin. Leave room for expansion!
You may begin enjoying it so much that you begin spending more and more of your time there.
You may eventually regret having to return to ATL and city life. LOL

I don't know about building codes in the county where you live, but many rural counties have much more relaxed codes if something is being built as a hunting/vacation cabin, rather than a permanent dwelling. It pays to investigate this with the county in question. It often also has a bearing on property taxes...a vacation cabin is usually not taxed as high as a permanent dwelling...and, don't fix the driveway until after the tax man inspects it...if he has to hike a hundred yards up a muddy driveway, its value will drop drastically in his mind !

Good luck finding some local knowledge regarding your project.





Thank you! I would love to get out of Atlanta completely, but you know, work and all... But maybe some day! We are lucky to have the land.
I'll have to research building codes, although I know absolutely NOTHING about that.
And Copy You on the Tax MAn. Very good point!!

Thanks again for some input.
 
John Polk
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Posts: 8019
Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
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It appears that both cob and earth sheltered homes can get code approval in GA...
...it has been done !

Here are some links that may be of interest:

EARTH HOMES:
!
http://magazine.gsu.edu/article/new-earth/
http://www.northgeorgiamountainrealty.com/homes/227269/

COB:

http://onlineathens.com/stories/110908/liv_352964740.shtml#.Vk5YM_ltnIU
http://www.manta.com/c/mxfwp5p/this-cob-house

And, right here on permies.com (old thread): http://www.permies.com/forums/posts/list/3989#33838
 
Braun Kuchcinski
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This is what I want to build

Oklahoma Man Cave

 
travis robinson
Posts: 4
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This guy may be more familiarized with the codes http://www.georgiaadobe.com/
 
Jeff Higdon
Posts: 48
Location: Idaho
tiny house transportation wofati
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What is the soil like where you want to build? Is it the Georgia clay, sand, ?

A pole structure goes up the quickest and cheapest, especially if you have the trees. Billboard tarps can be picked up free or cheap from sign companies. There ought to be plenty available in Atlanta. The billboards come in 10x30 and 14x48. You can quickly cover your building site when you are done with one, not to mention using it as a building material.

You have a lot of rainfall there, so drainage is important. If you go underground, I'd put in a french drain. One advantage of underground is that perhaps a tax man might not be able to find it.

What type of trees do you have? Are there any 9" to 12" in diameter, especially a hardwood like oak or sweet gum? Sweet gum twist terribly when sawed into boards, but they make excellent post when left whole. When I lived in Louisiana the temporary bridges they built when repairing the original ones used untreated sweet gum as post

Underground is my favorite building structure. I've toured the Earthships in New Mexico and I'm friends with mike oehler and have toured his houses here in North Idaho. I love the endurance and performance of Earthships, but the amount of labor and expense to build one is out of my league. Oehler's structures (and Paul Wheaton's WOFATI'S) are much more accessible for a poor person, and the supplies to build one could be skidded up a mountain trail by a four wheeler. If you walk Mike Oehler's property, it is steep! The kids rode in the back of the truck to the top and I thought they were going to slide out. He has several structures on the steep mountainside that he packed everything in by hand.

He has plans for a 10x10 survival shelter he built that is in his DVDs and workbook, and I believe he has it in the Hippies Survival Guide to Y2K. One of the neatest structures I took pictures of was a little shelter that was built in a 3 day workshop. A couple with a small child lived in it for over a year. I've got pictures on my blog of it and some of his other houses.
 
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