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Hobbit Home Progress.

 
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Hans Quistorff wrote:  If the tensile strength is not critical it saves a lot of cement.



This would give my building inspector an anurysm.

Yes, tensile and structural strength is important - i will be holding back / up 200,000 lbs of soil - but, i can just see his face if i suggested making intentional voids in the concrete 😁.
In our climate, they would fill with water, possibly freeze, then crack the concrete - bringing the whole structure down.
Thank you, still laughing at imagining his reaction to this warm climate solution.😁😁
 
Dave Lotte
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Beau Davidson wrote:click thumbs up / +1 to vote for:

dry stack moon gate: correctly stacking rock to have a wall with a 2-foot round hole



https://permies.com/t/85545/dry-stack-moon-gate



Now ya got me thinking of building one ( or two ) of these out front of the Hobbit Home as a sidewalk entrance - will a low wall all along the sidewalk ....
 
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Dave- You claim you are lag bolting the door hinge unit into a concrete wall?  Concrete is great in pure compression, not so great for any tensional or torsional forces.  I would suggest placing the bolts into a metal frame that has been encased in the concrete to distribute the forces more evenly. For this project, ensure that concrete cover is at least 2 inches cover over the reinforcing or metal frame.  Less can lead to spalling.
 
Dave Lotte
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Richard Henry wrote:Dave- you are lag bolting the door hinge unit into a concrete wall?  



That is the plan...
There are any number of options for this, which will be determined once it is actually in front of me...

A flat steel plat, in line with the door along the concrete wall, bolted to the wall.
A flat plate bolted to the END of the wall - but that is only 8 inches wide. ( last choice )
A square frame with a plate on the end of the wall - with side plates on each side - bolted through each side of the wall...
There should be a 2x8 that is fastened into the concrete - left over from the concrete pour...  i may be able to build a door frame out of those, and mount the hinges into the wood - maybe even ask the concrete guys too add a few more lags into it ?

Then of course, there is the options of how BIG to make the steel mounting plates ?  For a 7 foot door, i am leaning towards nothing less than 3 feet long - too spread the loading over a larger area, but then if i use the wooden door frame idea, it would use the entire height of the wall ...

Keeping the options open until i have a better idea of what i am dealing with... the whole steel plate thing may not even fit in between the s.i.p.s front wall panels and the concrete.  Also,  how do i make it look pretty INSIDE the house ?

There is alot to consider, but i will keep you updated as i go.
 
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There should be a 2x8 that is fastened into the concrete - left over from the concrete pour...  i may be able to build a door frame out of those, and mount the hinges into the wood - maybe even ask the concrete guys too add a few more lags into it ?


Better yet have the rebar extend through it. Also the bolts to hold the hinge with a backing plate.  Remove enough foam to fit over the 2x8 and slot the hinges into the metal.  Should be the most effective way to spline the panel to the cement as well.
 
Dave Lotte
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Hans Quistorff wrote:Better yet have the rebar extend through it.



Yup.
Usually, if i can picture a project in my head, i can build it...
I have a pretty good picture of how this thing will go together,  but i have also learned - during the construction of my 14 x 16 foot inuslated/wired shop -  as well as the 10 x 20 uninsulated storage shed, that it is good to have a plan, but not be so fixated on that plan that you will not change it.  The only thing i needed to hire out for those, was the aluminium soffit and vents.

Lots of options, i just have to wait for the darn walls to be poured before i can actually put hands on to it.
20230106_053550.jpg
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Dave Lotte
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With all the focus on the round door, there is one other ( or 9 other ) openings too consider...

The windows.

In the original plan, it called for the walls too be backfilled up too 8 inches from the bottom of the windows, then have a 7 foot diameter pipe placed against the wall... backfill and bury the house - and wherever the dirt naturally slopes - cut off the pipe. - ready made window well.
The 4 x 4 foot windows would be framed with a nice round hole.
Problem is, the pipe in question costs 9,000 $ for 10 feet, - 30,000 $ for all nine windows, and one company refused to sell it too me - did not want to take the chance i would tarnish there brand name, with this weird project.

So, the plan was changed to a double stacked regular window well - 7 feet deep or so from the top of the exterior - which means, if the window is 4 feet tall, the daylight will only have to go down 3 feet or so to enter the house.  Not including any mirrored surfaces to aid in light entrance, so it wont be totally dark in there.

I didn't really want to look at the neighbours walls anyways 😂

Ideas ? Thoughts ?  Go !
20230107_054122.jpg
[Thumbnail for 20230107_054122.jpg]
Screenshot_20230107-054223.jpg
window well earth sheltered hobbit house
Alternative-window-well-design.jpg
window well earth sheltered hobbit house
 
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Storms are tending in the direction of heavier rain/snow fall more often, so I'd suggest a few options:
1. I see the vertical drain to the perimeter drains, but I'd consider installing one or two horizontal drains to daylight, specifically to ensure you don't have to go out in the middle of a storm to clear the drain because your window well is turning into a swimming pool.
2. I'd put supports at the top of the grade level from the roof to the wall  of sloped dirt so that you can quickly and securely drop a panel over the top of the window well if the weather sounds extreme. You wouldn't necessarily choose to cover all of them in a storm, but only having 2 you  have to shovel the snow out of, rather than 9 might be worth the effort?

I believe we discussed this elsewhere - personally, I'm not interested in looking at metal window wells any more than the neighbor's wall. Where egress isn't an issue, I'd consider solar tubes for for natural light. Pearl Sutton had a design for using fiber optics for bringing light in through a wall so you don't perforate a well-sealed roof and Hubby would agree with that concept - he want's to move all pipe outlets off the roof when he re-does it, but we'll have to see what the codes say...

I would design the egress window wells as mini-patios with fairly steeply sloped area opposite the window using some sort of pocketed concrete system that can be planted into. It would be a moderately dark growing space, but well sheltered so I expect there are understory plants/bulbs that would be happy there. It sounds as if the window-well version would be about 6 feet deep?

Shame about the pipe costing too much - I do think that would have looked cool! Considering there is pipe like that which goes under roads, it shouldn't be a problem under a bit of dirt and it's not as if their name will be visible! If you go for some sort of solar tube idea for some of the light, maybe you could revisit the pipe approach for spots where the view will be pleasant.
 
Hans Quistorff
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Possibly stack the window well sections horizontally instead of vertically.   Two or three on the bottom and one or two over the top to achieve the same effect as the pipe.
 
Dave Lotte
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Jay Angler wrote:Storms are tending in the direction of heavier rain/snow fall more often, so I'd suggest a few options:
1. I see the vertical drain to the perimeter drains ....



Yes, each window is required by code to have a drain tied into the footing drain, also, the plan calls for waterproofing outside each window well.  I added that, to keep water out, and too keep the metal from rusting out ( hopefully)

Jay Angler wrote:
2. I'd put supports at the top of the grade level .....



Yes, at first, the building inspector told me that I could not have the window wells covered due to fire code or egress... until I mentioned my concern about having some children playing on the roof, and falling down a large 7 foot deep hole...  It is  now a requirement in the plans too have a cover on each well... so no snow, leaves or heavy rainfall will not go into them....

Jay Angler wrote: I'd consider solar tubes for for natural light....



I agree there, had a thought of installing the window wells as is, then lining with a mirrored surface or some such idea.... it would make it brighter... just the size and scale of the project is the question...

Jay Angler wrote:
Shame about the pipe costing too much - I do think that would have looked cool! If you go for some sort of solar tube idea for some of the light,.



yup, you and me both, it would have looked cool ! ... it is exactly the look i was going for, but for that cost - it is not in the plans.   As for the solar tubes, cost will also be a factor.  Heavy enough to hold the dirt back, but shiny on the inside.




 
Dave Lotte
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Hans Quistorff wrote:Possibly stack the window well sections horizontally instead of vertically.



not a bad idea, but if it is not specificly designed for that purpose, I can bet the building inspector will not approve it...

First and foremost, keep the guy who can kill your project happy.

I was thinking more along the lines of stacked 8x8 beams for the openings / retaining wall / wells ,  but then I can always go back when its done and to a test on one window well....
 
Dave Lotte
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Just had a crazy idea....

Challenge =  get more light into a 7 foot deep window well ( window is only 3 feet down ).

Solution ?

Purchased a roll of shiny silver car decal covering for another project, came across it in my travels,  unrolled it.  First thing that came to mind was the wind wells.
Line the inside of the window wells with reflective chrome covering made for cars.

Water proofing on the outside, window well cover on top, with spray glue....

Once i get a window well put in, i will have to give this a test...
Screenshot_20230131-055802.jpg
reflective chrome covering for window wells
 
Dave Lotte
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Concrete footings and walls are done !
20230502_104611.jpg
concrete footings
20230505_100331.jpg
concrete wall forms
Screenshot_20230502-175506.jpg
pouring concrete walls
20230506_145614.jpg
concrete walls all poured, forms taken off
 
Dave Lotte
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As for the round door, i made a quick trip to the hardware store, and picked up 4 12 inch lag bolts.
Then had the guys put them into the concrete wall beside the door, to anchor the 7 foot round door hinge.
20230504_072927.jpg
4 12inch lag bolts
20230504_160129.jpg
concrete form
20230504_160211.jpg
lag bolts in concrete wall form to anchor door
 
Dave Lotte
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Round window bucks went in nice, within .5 of an inch of each other
20230504_160205.jpg
round window buck in wall form
20230504_141546.jpg
round window buck in concret forms
20230506_092253.jpg
concrete walls with round window buck
 
Dave Lotte
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Yes, remembered to install a chimney buck for the rocket stove as well...
Screenshot_20230507-124109.jpg
chimney buck for rocket mass heater
 
Dave Lotte
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Sill plates and gaskets done !
20230511_135600.jpg
sill plates and gaskets done
 
Dave Lotte
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Steel I beams are in !
Onto the beam sill plates.
Screenshot_20230518-054430.jpg
steel i-beams are installed
 
Dave Lotte
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Sill plates are attached too the steel I beams.
Now too get the 8x8's delivered on site from storage.
20230521_174622-1.jpg
Sill plates are attached too the steel I beams
20230522_100047.jpg
hardware for attaching i-beams to sill plates
20230430_090411.jpg
beams
 
Dave Lotte
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Had an interesting conversation with a fellow the other day.
I mentioned how this is not exactly a "green building" and so far, the materials used have alot of embodied energy in them.

The surprise came, when he disagreed with me.
He then went on to point out that all regular houses are not built to last - you will have to replace or rebuild them sooner or later - compared to this building, which is a solid, simple structure - all materials are protected from the sun, and the freeze/thaw cycle which really degrades building surfaces - siding, roof...
Add to that the protection from wind storm damage, hail damage, tornadoes - the odds of having to replace parts and add more embodied energy to the structure are greatly reduced compared to a regular house.
He then continued on to point out that a regular house uses up to 40 % of its yearly energy on A/C.  So every summer that i live in this house - protected and cooled by the earthen roof - i am actually SAVING energy since i do not require A/C.
As a side note, he laughed and pointed out that i would never have to deal with severe storm damage, or dealing with insurance companies.
That last one is worth it all !! 😁😁
 
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Your fellow is spot on.
I dont know why many communities in North America dont overcome ego and prejudice and look closely at 'underground housing".
With good design whole communities could be created and hurricane damage would be an issue of the past.

As an Aussie looking in, I cannot come to grips with the methodology of homebuilding being repeated over and over.
I am surprised the steel beams are not prime painted already?
 
Dave Lotte
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John C Daley wrote:Your fellow is spot on.

I am surprised the steel beams are not prime painted already?



Yup.  Until i talked to this guy, i never realized how much our world is based on making money.  Houses being built this way just so they could wear out, be damaged ect.  And have to be fixed or rebuilt.

I had specified primed beams, but it must have gotten lost in translation somewhere.
It was not extra on the bill, so that is good.  Extra dollar a foot.
 
John C Daley
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A dollar well spent.
But tyhe bigger issue is loss of productivity.
With all the whistles and bells humans still forget basic things on jobs.
That one bit forgotten has a trail of effects;
- loss of extra income
- annoyance by you causes loss of faith
- lost time to paint it yourself
- lost time removing short term rust that appears
 
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Dave Lotte wrote:Had an interesting conversation with a fellow the other day.
I mentioned how this is not exactly a "green building" and so far, the materials used have alot of embodied energy in them.


I'd give a bit of weight to your first impression here. Perhaps you were not thinking about it exclusively in contemporary, technical terms of "greenness", but somewhat about the inspiration you used in thinking of it as a "Hobbit Home".

In the areas of North America I've lived in, almost every urban building has a concrete underground structure as part of it, and we are supposed to take refuge there in the event of a tornado warning. It might be viewed practically as the 'base' of the home with the stick frame structure on top of it as a fair weather extension. Some are pure utilitarian and some are domesticated to give light, warmth, etc. as part of a regular living situation. None of those ever gave me the impression of being more in contact with the Earth, any attempts to make it more 'liveable' felt superficial. Perhaps this was because of the blocky, mindlessly industrial architecture that informed the pouring of the concrete, I hope your more inspired design presents better.

I do recall as a child being in my great-grandparents' farmhouse cellar, which I recollect was stone and some exposed earth. It didn't exactly feel "homey" like I'd want to spend most of the day there, but it did spark a part of my mind the way a good horror movie does, awakening a latent curiosity to explore the situation, as opposed to the dull, dismal impression I get from conventional modern basements which don't seem to invite much activity outside of heavy drinking.

Apologies if this reflects negatively on your efforts, but since this is in the wofati forum and mentions Hobbits, it made me reflect much on these experiences. Having been in Allerton Abbey and spent a number of nights in Cooper Cabin, I have to say those buildings made me feel a connection to the earth in a way little else has. None of the creepiness of the old farmhouse cellar at least.

I think in creating a mythological story around the Hobbits, Tolkien has presented a hopeful archetype for people to move forward with a less antagonistic relationship to our planet. The wofati is a brilliant implementation of architecture that moves in that direction. It is only the question of the plastic barrier/umbrella that has kept me from making it my primary choice of building.

Hopefully not too much of a tangent, I have been intrigued by the native practice of earth lodges traditionally used in the area between my location (upper midwest) and the mountains around Wheaton Labs. Predominantly in the Dakota region, though the band they are often associated with, the Mandan, were ironically in the area of the Bitterroot valley at the time of Lewis & Clarks' journey. They could be seen as an early implementation of the wofati design, or perhaps more respectfully vice-versa.

A cylindrical base half sunken into the ground, built with large timbers (mostly cottonwood) coming together in a conical roof with wattle-and-daub fill making use of much clay, with earth moved to cover all but a smoke hole in the centre. They were able to acquire and use large timbers, but it sounds like they would deteriorate in a bit less than a decade. By my thinking, a community that comes together to help a family rebuild once a decade, allowing for reassessment of all the contextual considerations of a home's infrastructure or even location, is a good thing to do if genuinely concerned about the developing lives of the humans living there.
 
Dave Lotte
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Coydon Wallham wrote:

Dave Lotte wrote:Had an interesting conversation with a fellow the other day.
I mentioned how this is not exactly a "green building" and so far, the materials used have alot of embodied energy in them.


I think in creating a mythological story around the Hobbits, Tolkien has presented a hopeful archetype for people to move forward with a less antagonistic relationship to our planet. The wofati is a brilliant implementation of architecture that moves in that direction. It is only the question of the plastic barrier/umbrella that has kept me from making it my primary choice of building.


I have had many conversations, both fore and against the type of house i would like to build, and have researched various other types of construction - before settling on this type as the way to go.
Looking the various options, from wofati, straw bale, earthship ect.  I was forced to keep a number of limiting factors in mind, before even picking a type of construction
1.  Finding someone to draw up the plans, and engineer them.....  i had a heck of a time finding an architect who would let me do - what i wanted to do - without a major argument.  18 different architects to be precise.  If you can't get the plans drawn up, you can't build.
2.  Getting past the building inspector.   Once i did have the plans drawn up, i then had to apply for the permit to build.  Keeping in mind at all times, that if the inspector does not know anything about how you want to build  ( wofati - earthship )  there is a very good chance that all the money spent up to this point will be wasted when the permit is denied and you can't build.
3. Owner built.  With the Hobbit Home, it is well within "standard" building practices, but far enough outside a "regular" build that it is easy to find help, assistance or advice from some more experienced builders  - due to the curiosity affect, while keeping it simple enough, that i can do most ( if not all ) by myself.
The only thing that was holding up the project till now, was the large cost and amount of concrete involved.  I preferred to hire it out since 1 mistake could cost thousands and major delays.

As a side note, various people are telling me i will be "fighting with water" from now on.... taking a page from an alternative building book, i will be installing a water shed umbrella as a finished layer - too shed the rainfall away from the building, as far as possible so the one major worry - water - should not be a problem.  I also live in a gravel pit, so thats a plus.

Do a ton of research before committing and good luck with your project !
Screenshot_20230525-093802.jpg
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Dave Lotte
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65, 8x8 beams are now on site.
1,400 lbs per bundle.
Maxed out the cranes reach on this one.
20230605_160212.jpg
beams on building site
20230605_160106.jpg
bundles of beams on steel i-beam
 
Dave Lotte
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One bundle loosely in place, 6 bundles to go.
20230607_111322.jpg
beams loosely in place
 
Jay Angler
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Dave Lotte wrote:One bundle loosely in place, 6 bundles to go.

So are you just man-handling these in place? Or getting help from extra humans? Or getting help from simple tech?
 
John C Daley
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Dave dont listen to those who


As a side note, various people are telling me i will be "fighting with water" from now on....


They are the sort of attitudes that serve no purpose and just make the people feel good about predicting doom, IGNORE them.
With good design alone you will be ok and with technology you will still be ok!
 
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Jay Angler wrote:

Dave Lotte wrote:One bundle loosely in place, 6 bundles to go.

So are you just man-handling these in place? Or getting help from extra humans? Or getting help from simple tech?



Just me and a big stick ( simple tech ).

Leverage is a wonderfull thing. 😁
 
Jay Angler
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Dave Lotte wrote:Leverage is a wonderful thing. 😁

Was it Aristotle who said, "Give me a long enough stick and a place to stand, and I will move the world"? Not in English of course! Levers are frequently my friend. Any old rock becomes a fulcrum.

Said out of respect and caring - please be careful - we want you safe and with nothing broken.
 
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This is a very cool idea, I wish you success and I want to see the end result. it is very interesting.
 
Dave Lotte
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Jay Angler wrote: Said out of respect and caring - please be careful - we want you safe and with nothing broken.



Don't need to remind me...

The other day, i was moving a 16 ' 2x6, tripped over something, and sat down HARD on the concrete footing.  Luckily, no lasting pain, although it did ache for the rest of the day.
 
Dave Lotte
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Johnny Washingtony wrote:This is a very cool idea, I wish you success and I want to see the end result. it is very interesting.



Thanks.  There is a list of people interested, 3 inquiries if i can build one for them.... 😁
 
Dave Lotte
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John C Daley wrote: just make the people feel good about predicting doom, IGNORE them.



Yup.  Been researching this thing for over 20 years, EVERYTHING about it makes sense.  Not going to listen to someone who has looked at it for a whole 5 minutes and states - it won't work.
And, i do have my fair share here.
 
Dave Lotte
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And .... the fun continues...
20230609_121017.jpg
wooden beams on top of i-beam
 
Dave Lotte
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Almost there ...
20230615_165947.jpg
wooden beams placed over i-beam
 
Hans Quistorff
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I like the curved elevation to help form the umbrella to shed moisture when covered with dirt.
 
Dave Lotte
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Hans Quistorff wrote:I like the curved elevation to help form the umbrella to shed moisture when covered with dirt.



Thanks.  If the architect had not been rushing me to get onto the next project, i would have changed the roofline so it was all sloped.
There are ways around the flat spots though.
 
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