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Starting From Scratch

Posts: 60
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Hey guys!

I think I've finally convinced my husband to get on board with moving to the country! We want to build our own geodesic home, http://www.domehome.com/plans/TIMBERLINE_PLAN_3.pdf
and we're going to have solar power, but I was wondering if you guys could help me generate some ideas about green living...

Water? Grey Water? Insulation?
How are these things accomplished? We don't even have land yet, this is all still hypothetical, but I need these suggestions/ideas so that I can compile a list of things to put together for contractors!

Thanks in advance!

Any and every idea is welcome!
Posts: 7926
Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
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Geodesic domes are very interesting structures with many benefits, but they also have their drawbacks.  In my opinion, they are not very sustainable for a number of reasons.  First, they are very expensive to build to code.  Windows, doors are not 'off-the-shelf' items you can buy at Home Depot.  Electrical and plumbing will be a nightmare to install.  Partitioning rooms becomes extremely expensive, and insulation will probably be at least twice the cost of a conventional 'box-house'.  Since everything is built in triangles, standard square and rectangular materials will need to be custom cut, with a tremendous amount of scrap material generated.  About a third of all materials you buy will end up on the scrap heap when all is said and done.  Since you will be using solar energy, your PV panels may need to be set up off of the building, unless you are willing to spend 3-4X the labor to make them "fit" a dome.

If you want to go with a "Bucky" Fuller structure, I suggest finding a contractor who has built several of them...or better yet, one who specializes in them.  Most contractors are accustomed to building box houses, and doing something out of the ordinary will cost you double the labor per sqft to get it finished.  You probably don't want to be the ones to pay for their education (and they WILL make mistakes in that learning curve, some of which will not be appearant until long after they are done and gone).

Search Wikipedia for Bucky Fuller, and Geodesic domes rather than relying only on those trying to sell plans.
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I would highly suggest do some reading before buying land. Getting the right piece of land with the right location can have a massive positive effect on your home. There are a few great books out there that give a great overview on natural building and what to look for in a lot. The art of Natural Building and The Hand Scupted House I found very helpful in deciding on a lot
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just wanted to suggest that you remain open about the style of home for now and focus on the land.  The layout of the property you ultimately choose may have alot to do with the style of home you pick.  for example, lots of relief can be used to sink part or all of home into hillside. Maybe think more about water supply, local towns and demographics, future neighbors(this can be HUGE), Industry, Markets for farm items, transportation routes and any traffic problems. Pick out your home sites on each piece of property you view and check compass directions. Actually spend time walking the land first. Find good solar exposures, exceptional views, prevailing winds, water runoff and collection possibilities, soil type and notice any noises or smells. Observe vegetation  as this tells you much about the land.Think about buffer zones around homesite and access to any desired utilities plus check county codes concerning CAFO's(confined animal feeding operations), nusiance animals etc.   I believe that the right home to build will become clear when you find the right land. That way you can design it into the landscape.One last note: I got settled in on a nice little homestead and an "animal rescue", read "Animal Hoarder",moved in right at the property line.  Because there were no county codes in force to protect against this, I ended up with 60+ dogs and their piled up feces and incessant noise as my constant companions. Needless to say, I had to start over somewhere else. Lost alot of money and sweat equity just to get away from that hell. Research,research,research! Protect yourself and your future investment! Happy Hunting!
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