We live in a small conventional house and would like to build a greenhouse onto the back. I would like to use earthbags and also incorporate a rocket mass heater for the winter - for both the greenhouse and emergency heating for the remainder of the house.
Does anyone have any experience with this type of thing, especially with building codes. We are just in the planning stages. Our house tends to flood a bit when it rains hard, so the first project is probably a French drain around the house that flows into a cistern. But the greenhouse is dear to my heart.
There is already a concrete patio in the back. I would like the greenhouse to extend at least from the right edge of the house (in the picture) to the inside edge of the smaller window. Here is a picture. Any input appreciated.
But which way is north in your picture? and by "the right side of the house" do you mean the right side (not in the frame) or what we're seeing on the left side of the picture? This looks like the back yard.
It's basically never a good idea to put a greenhouse on the north side of a house in the northern hemisphere. If you need to put it there to hide it from the road, then it's gonna have to be free standing, or you're going to have to get fancy with some kind of mirror setup.
I'm thinking probably better to start with just the mass, rather than the rocket mass heater, for a year or two, as that will already store heat from the day and moderate temperature at night.
I'm not an expert on this, but at least some of this is some commonsense things you may have missed seeing, so just want to cover those bases.
If you want a greenhouse on the street side of the house, there are many elegant ones built on fancy houses, I'm sure if it's pretty enough probably no one's going to say it violates code.
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The back of the house, which you see in the picture, faces west, so the left side of the picture, as you see it here, is north. I tend to get right and left mixed up :-(
There is only a 2 foot strip of land on the south side, so we can't do anything there that takes up a lot of space. I do think it's probably best to take it a little slow, which means this probably won't get started until next spring. The drainage system and cistern have to come first (the "official" recommendation is a drainage system with a sump pump, but that seems like a waste - and a failure if the power goes out).
We still have to find out how the local building code is going to affect this, too. It's a low-income, small-town "suburban" area like you will see in lots of small towns across the Midwest.
Hope to be able to post some drawings in a week or two.
What I am really concerned about is how to integrate an earthbag structure with the rest of the house. Thinking about trying to convince my husband to replace the old siding with some type of stucco....
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