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Ana Funderburk
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Being a frequent visitor to the site, I wanted to get my project to an 'almost finished' stage before posting.  Leading up to this project, my partner and I had spent seven years remodeling an 1870 home in Upstate, NY and ran into financial trouble.  We decided to sell for a small profit (under 50k) and buy a 130 sq ft older travel trailer and relocate with our four kids to the Eastern Washington mountains.  We had very little options for land and winter was approaching fast so we made a desperate move to purchase a ten acre lot that had been logged and appeared to have the right requirements for our plans

The winters were brutal reaching temps to -20 for weeks.  We were driving a half hour to a spring and filling up jugs of water to bring back and use for bathing and cooking.  The tanks had frozen even with insulation and heat tape.  Needless to say, the six of us, three dogs and two cats were quite uncomfortable squeezed into the small space and had a lot of issues with condensation.  The first spring came along and we were getting tight on savings and decided a well was badly needed.  Using dowsing rods, I found a spot that ended up giving us a high static level so we could use a hand pump.  Shortly after the well was in, wind storms took out several of the few large trees we had left and narrowly missed the trailer. 

It was at that point I made an emotional decision to throw out the plans I had spent drawing for years and grabbed a shovel to build an underground hobbit style home using some cedar that the logging company left behind.  I gave each family member (including my then 3 year old) a shovel and we spent months digging out the area for the home.  Using a draw knife, we peeled fir and cedar for the log framing and I used a chainsaw to notch and fit the ends.  We slowly worked/saved and bought the shell material and roofing which consisted of my earthy blend of concrete and lime, rigid insulation, epdm, roof sheathing, some craigslist and some custom cut glass.  We were able to get free scrap wood from a nearby lumberyard for decorative projects (ceiling, cabinets, etc). 

After three years, we have the 385 sq ft home almost finished.  In addition to our project, we have a small farm, pole barn style greenhouse that will not stay sheathed due to wind, a log pavilion to make use of left over logging debris and a small tool shed/workshop that we are adding a room on to for our older sons.  Hopefully we will be able to earn enough to get the projects completed by spring. 

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Exterior
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Inglenook
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kids room door
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kitchen
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garden
 
Deb Rebel
garden master
Posts: 1689
Location: Zone 6b
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Greenhouse sheathing won't stay on, try a windbreak at chest height several feet out into the prevailing wind direction. You probably have enough junkwood saplings and trimmings to be able to weave one...
https://permies.com/t/47946/junkpole-fence-freaky-cheap-chicken

I live and work with an average sustained wind of 25mph with frequent gusts to 40mph. Building something in that wind can be a challenge, and it is forever there to rip up what you make. And 60-80 is not unheard of, and I have had to be out in that. The windbreak helps with winter temps and holding against the outside temperatures as well. I can gain 15-20 degrees difference with a good windbreak. (most of our winter winds are NNW to NNE so an arc on that side helps, my windbreaks are one calf panel (50") high. I have another bit facing S to W as that is our rare winter ugly weather, plus our summer sustained. They do help)  My greenhouse that is skinned, I use concrete blocks that are stackable but not useable for building (they were scavenged with permission from a site where a building burned, so they are weighty but not trusted for structural anymore) and have a triple layer of them at the bottom to hold the plastic sheeting down along the sides. If an end blows out the top skin is staying as long as I get there soon to fix it.

If you are going to use sheet goods for skinning, pay the extra and buy UV resistant stuff meant for skinning greenhouses. It is worth the extra. Also if you are at altitude or have blazing summers, get shadecloth to put over the greenhouse for the warmer months. 30% is a good working percentage, and will extend the life of your skin. Also if your skin goes over anything metal that is dark, put something white or even padding made of a few layers of white fabric (I sacrifice old sheets to this). The sun will heat up the metal and fry your skin and it will fail there first, at the worst time.

Your house is amazing. Truly. Thank you for sharing it!
 
Mike Jay
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Location: Northern WI (zone 4)
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Your house is beautiful!!!  Not to be nosy, but do you have more pictures?  From the ones you shared already it looks much bigger than 385 square feet.  Great job!
 
Ana Funderburk
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Thank you for the tips on the greenhouse Deb.  We are saving for the UV resistant panels and will add cloth for the intense sun.  I like your idea for weighting down the plastic with blocks.  Right now we can only afford the plastic we are using for lids on cold frames to cover things that don't like the cold nights (it can be 100 during the day and 40s at night).  I've accumulated piles of rocks that could be used for the same purpose. 
A neighbor is clearing out a section of his lot and offered us the saplings and cedars.  They would work great for a windbreak.  Appreciate the advice!
 
Peter VanDerWal
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Location: Southern Arizona
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That...is...AWSOME!!!

You are the official winner of my first Thumbs up!

For the greenhouse, you might trying looking on Craig's List for people giving away old windows and glass doors.  Old sliding patio doors are really handy, especially double glazed ones.  They come prepackaged in an aluminum frame that if you're careful can be bolted right to the framework of your greenhouse.
 
Ana Funderburk
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Thanks Mike!  I am glad to hear the house is looking bigger than it is.  There were a few things about the design that gave an illusion of more space and helped with the flow of traffic.  The first was positioning the octagonal bump outs at the corners of the main room.  Both areas lead to small sleeping areas and were too narrow to access without the bump outs.  The second was to add a 34" tall by 12' wide cold frame with insulated windows to the area behind the kitchen.  The house is dug 6' into the hill and I pitched the roof out 7' for water run off.  Midway of closing it in, I decided that the main room looked too small and dark so using the space to start seeds and keep plants in the winter seemed like it would be useful and also bring more light in. 

The rooms measure:  Main (kitchen, eating area) is 10 X 12, counter top bump out with stools is 4 X 10, main bed space is 7 X 7, boys bunk room is 7 X 7,  daughter's room is 4 X 7, step down 'inglenook' area is 6 X 10 and bathroom is 5 X 6.  There is a third bunk under the watershed roof for my youngest son that is only 34" tall (and I didn't count).  It is an extension of the cold frame behind the kitchen.  Currently, we are moving the boys to their own area OUTSIDE the main house and putting my daughter into their bunk room.  I'm having to modify the mattresses a bit.  Her room was designed to be my future closet and possibly a small washer/dryer combo. 

Sure!  I will send more pics including one of the back roof where the watershed comes down (now covered in moss).  It is the area beside the cold frame and over my son's bunk area.  Covering the roof in moss is proving to be a challenge though. 

bedroom.jpg
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main sleeping area
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main sleeping area
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boys bunk area (three bunks total)
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daughter's sitting area and windows
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daughter's sleeping area and closet space
 
Ana Funderburk
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Here are the additional pictures. 
bathroom.jpg
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bathroom vanity
shower1.jpg
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shower
inglenook3.jpg
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skylights over cold frame and kitchen (from inglenook area)
breakfast-room.jpg
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dining area bump out
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moss on roof
 
Ana Funderburk
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Fireplace, misc and winter pics.
chimney.jpg
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stone chimney
woodstove.jpg
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woodstove area with drying rack behind stove
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winter
counter-top.jpg
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counter top shaped with chainsaw
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sconce 'dressed' up with scraps from lathe and flashing
 
Ana Funderburk
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Thank you Peter!  And yes, we scout craigslist daily for windows and doors we can reuse on projects.  It's few and far between though. 
 
Tom Barber
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Location: Alabama
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[quote=Ana Funderburk



Remarkable and stunningly beautiful.
 
Miles Flansburg
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Very nice Ana ! You get strong winds with all of those big trees around you?

If you are near any sort of larger city you might also contact businesses that replace windows. I have collected a lot of glass that those folks just take to the dump.
 
Ana Funderburk
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Tom Barber wrote:[quote=Ana Funderburk



Remarkable and stunningly beautiful.

Thank you Tom!
 
Ana Funderburk
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Miles Flansburg wrote:Very nice Ana ! You get strong winds with all of those big trees around you?

If you are near any sort of larger city you might also contact businesses that replace windows. I have collected a lot of glass that those folks just take to the dump.


Yes, the view on top was nice so we built where there seems to be a pretty constant wind.  Storms two years ago did a lot of damage in the area. 

You know, that is a great idea for getting more glass and will be in the city this week.  Thanks for the suggestion!
 
Caz Nicole
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Location: Inland Northwest/Eastern Washington
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Your house is idyllic! So beautiful and I'm so in awe of it. I dream of being able to build my own home one day but finding the land has been the big problem as of late. I am in Spokane at the moment and the issues with water rights in Spokane county are horrible. Are you up north further? I considered Stevens County but I don't know anyone and would feel too isolated as it's just me, my dogs and cats. My folks live north of Sandpoint so have been looking in Northern Idaho too. Kudos on an amazing home!
 
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