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Brian Mejia

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since Sep 20, 2012
Forest Grove, Oregon
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Recent posts by Brian Mejia

Greetings fellow permies!

I am graduating from college in a couple of weeks, and will start to push my recently started natural building business hard. I started Earth in Palm natural building a couple of months ago and already have multiple jobs lined up for a client! I just wanted to ask for advice from other natural builders on how to get going: establishing a good base of customers, getting my company's name out there, acquiring a network for materials and resources, and any other tips relating to things I may have not even thought of. I'm located in the Portland Oregon area.

Thanks! Peace.

5 years ago
Greetings friends!

I recently moved into a new house and it has 3 garden beds in the backyard! I'm fairly new to the practice of gardening and I was wondering what advice you all might have in terms of getting it going ASAP! The thing is, I'm moving out in May and will have to leave whatever is in the garden with it, so I was wondering what I could possibly plant into an outdoor garden bed (or start in the garage in a tray) that would yield by April/May. I was thinking leafy greens (kale, lettuce, spinach, chard) and perhaps carrots or beets. I only say these because I looked through a seed catalog and saw some varieties that would all fruit 30-60 days after being planted. Since it is cold I was thinking I'd put bubble wrap or a simple tarp over it, and heat it up with hot compost I will be making from kitchen scraps, leaf mulch and existing compost. I'm also starting a work bin (mainly for fishing bait, but I'd like to add some to the garden beds.

The beds are roughly 8x3 or so, the soil is pretty silty/clay-y, and I'm located in Forest Grove, OR, just west of Portland.

Any advice? Also, I'm on a pretty tight budget, so the cheaper the better!

Hey there!

I'm a San Antonian! I'm here just a month or so out of the year. The rest of the time I'm living in Portland,OR. Looking to find a permaculature scene in San Antonio!

6 years ago
Hi all!
I'm a student of sustainable design (Bachelors) finishing up my last year of school. I'm going through a bit of a dilemma right now. Though I feel it will be beneficial to obtain a degree, I feel at this point it is simply for credibility. What I want to do is retrofit existing home properties to become as self sustaining as possible (adding better insulation-straw for example, adding on to houses to increase thermal mass etc., also implementing gardens), and eventually build homes from the ground up. Currently I feel schooling is not an adequate means to meet those ends, sure it's somewhat helpful but it's not necessary. But I feel at this point it would be unwise to leave school, since I'm so close to finishing, I feel that I need to get something out of this investment. But that's not why I'm posting here.
I've looked into what I need to do to become an independent natural builder, with the ability to build/retrofit houses legally. I've looked at getting a license as a professional building designer. I would need a degree of some sort for that, and that would allow me to build homes (only free standing single family homes, limited to two stories) and agricultural buildings. But as I thought on it more, sure I would love to do that, but is that morally justifiable from a eco-conscious perspective? We have so many homes built already, more that there are people to fill them in some places. Wouldn't it be better to fix what is already existing? Retrofit homes to be natural homes (strip out drywall, fiberglass insulation, carpets, shingles etc. and install natural materials). Why build another foundation and home frame, when the one that is already there perfectly fine and permitted and all? So my questions at this point are, one: does anyone know what is legal as far as retrofitting existing homes to be a strawbale or cob home? and two: what kind of licenses (if any) would be required to do something like that?

6 years ago
Build an outdoor restroom!
Of course I suppose this depends on the region you're in. I'm in South Texas, works just splendid for me.
But yes, I agree, ventilation should be the priority (that's why I just build mine outside, with three walls and vents just below the eves.
Perhaps lime plaster walls would suffice?
6 years ago
I'm not going to try and build entire houses right out of college. I'm either going to entrepreneur my way into remodeling, like replacing sheet-rock or dry-wall with plaster, perhaps build patios, home gardens, sheds and tiny houses first, starting small in other words. Then when I feel confident enough, or when I get enough experience building home with guidance or working next to others building homes, I'll shoot for starting my own home design/build service. So I still need to gain lots experience. I don't want to produce something that will collapse on anyone obviously, I just don't want to waste my time studying and paying for test just to get a piece of paper, then not put much of what I studied to practice.

Also, for clarification, I don't want to build very large houses either, fairly modest. Just FYI

General contractor, hmmm, didn't think of that, I'll look into that. Thanks.
6 years ago
Since I was a child (I'm currently 22) I've dreamed of being an architect. When I enrolled in college I took an environmental science class, and it revolutionized my world view. I decided there was no way I could just learn about how human actions are devastating the biosphere so I decided to deeply intertwine an environmental consciousness with my architecture aspirations. I'm about to obtain my B.A. in Sustainable Design, for which I have studied ecology, permaculture design, natural building, eco-building design and for my senior project, I am building a Tiny Home. Anyway, I still really want to design and build homes, but the mainstream architecture mindset doesn't align with my morals with regard to how I believe homes should be designed and built. Therefore, I've been looking for alternatives. I've come across professional building and residential designer (no architecture degree needed, just need to pass a certification exam). However, the problem with that is I still need to study mainstream architecture concepts, methods and ideologies, which would just be a waste of time and money, I feel. I want to really focus on natural building methods (things like cob, straw-bale, lime plasters, roundwood framing, home energy production, self-sustaining, reduced foot-print etc.), none of which is really used at all in modern architecture. Ultimately, my goal is to own a building firm where I would work with clients on their personal home design, implement it, all while focusing on natural building methods.

So my question is: How can I legally design and build houses with no professional license or certification (preferably not needing stamps of approval)?

Muchas gracias
6 years ago
Anyone with building experience have advice of roofing materials? I'm firmly against tar shingles, and will be looking to collect water off the roof. What material is best in terms of minimal toxins added to the water?

Thanks in advance!
6 years ago
Greetings everyone,

My name is Brian. I am a student in the Portland, Oregon area. School is great, I'm learning a lot of great stuff and expanding my network, but I don't think I want to go on past my B.A. I'm getting my B.A. in Sustainable Design, and I've taken classes in Permaculture (I'll actually get certified in it), Natural Building, Ecology, Eco-Design among others, and I have become passionate about Natural Building and sustainability in general. I was thinking of going on to architecture school, but that would add another 3-4 years of schooling. School is not the problem, I love learning, but it's just so darn expensive. I'm already going to be in roughly 25 thousand in debt after my B.A. so I just want to ask a question along with some advice.

How would I go about having a career in natural building? Ideally, best case scenario, I would love to travel the country, even the world, working on various natural building projects (schools, preferably homes and perhaps even educating folks on natural building techniques). Architecture is more along the lines of larger scale buildings and projects. Also, I'm a very hands on person, and the idea of working in an office, at a firm a lot of the time kinda doesn't appeal to me. But I still love to design and build. Would you recommend going to grad school for architecture or would you think that my sustainable design degree would be enough credentials to get started? I know that partaking in various natural building workshops can boost my credentials but those can be quite expensive.

While on the subject of money, I can't help but worry about my financial situation. How do natural builders make their money, and enough of it to travel, pay bills with some left over for whatever? I know I shouldn't do anything solely for money but these days, it unfortunately makes or breaks you. Money is kinda making this decision very hard. House, utilities, car, gas, cell phone, travel and other necessities, jeez I can't even imaging paying all of that myself. Sorry if this is a bit overwhelming but I'm just a bit worried about the future.

Thanks for your time I look forward to hearing your thoughts.
8 years ago