Grant Doner

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since Oct 25, 2013
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Recent posts by Grant Doner

Love owning Minis!

Spike (white snout) & Arlo; 7 & 6 respectively.





Spike even likes accessorizing:



Only things they are scared of, come from the sky. Rain, snow, falling leaves, a strong wind...any of it and the only place you'll find them is in their barn.
We have two gelded mini-donkeys....best part is we live "in town" (Denver). My neighbors don't know what to think!

Our boys ("The Boys") do very well with other animals. We actually rescued them because they were being neglected by their owner (real POS of a woman) and being abused by a young mule. Arlo is the younger of the two and he is terribly knock-kneed as a result of being dominance mounted by the mule at a very young age. It took us a few years to get him social and we still have a long ways to go.

However, one of our biggest tools in the battle have been other animals. We live in a really weird part of Denver that has many Ag zoned properties mixed in with apartments/townhomes/condos. Literally, the people across the street keep two beef cows! Anyway, we've got goats, sheep, pigs, cows, horses, and a couple of other critters living within walking distance of our house...in town. The Boys keep many as friends. Their friends will come visit for a few hours and a few have even stayed for 'sleepovers'. The Boys are fiercely protective of their buddies, so long as their buddies are in the pasture. The Boys have many, many, many canine friends that visit daily, but their posture changes drastically if they have 'friends' visiting within the pasture.

Granted, our minis are sweet to a fault. They are just very accepting. But I'll echo the comment above about being careful to watch them around young, or very small animals. While 'playing', they will play like they're playing with another donkey. That generally involves kicking with their front legs. Arlo once knocked our bulldog's skull so hard that we heard it from the other end of the pasture. He was really sorry about it and slowly followed the bulldog as she stumbled over to us. He genuinely loved that dog (so did we), but he got excited playing and did some damage. Dog was fine until she got cancer, but that's another tale.

They are also keenly aware of domestic and not. The wife and I both volunteer at a wolf sanctuary. Once when she came home (it's a three hour drive), she stripped down on the back porch to avoid bringing any bugs in with our house critters. The Boys and I happened to be in the backyard at the time. Both of The Boys ambled over to her pile of clothes and gave it a sniff. Immediately they began to stomp the pile of clothes, then ran like hell. We see the same behavior when we come across coyote scat on walks; very obvious aggressive posturing and behavior. But around domesticated dogs, they are wonderful and mostly gentle.

These are my first donkeys and I never in my life thought I would own donkeys. So my experiences are strictly limited to my Boys. They are naturally protective, but will not hesitate to attack something they don't think belongs. When I sleep out back in a hammock (I do a lot of winter testing with my hiking gear), they always come check on me after they hear the coyotes go by on one of their adventures. They seem to know what they're supposed to look out for and what is to be ignored or embraced. Really neat animals and I'm tickled I've gotten to experience them.

I would have no hesitation about filling my pasture with sheep...with my Boys. They're just chill like that. YMMV.
9 years ago

Jay C. White Cloud wrote:...warn against structural cobb...especially in any area the is subjected to tectonic events.


I'm sure it's a can of worms, but why?

From what I've read, it seems that cob/cobb does much better during seismic events than most structures. This is the first I've heard of somebody warning against it specifically due to tectonics. Curious minds...
9 years ago
cob
Thanks for the additional links Terry!
I've got good reading for most of the morning now. Keep em coming folks!
9 years ago
cob

Jay C. White Cloud wrote:Take your time, ask lots of questions, compare notes, and proceed as you can...


For sure!
But I'm staying out of the RMH discussions. Who'd of thunk those things can get so heated?...get it, heated?

Sorry, I need more coffee.
9 years ago
cob

Bill Bradbury wrote:I keep seeing this guys work and working with his friends and colleagues, but I still haven't met him. His work is impressive as are the people he has worked with. Wayne Bingham
He specializes in straw bale, but with a frame cob is very similar.


I had not stumbled upon that site yet, thanks!
I really like seeing other peoples designs and stealing borrowing from them. And, I like straw bale homes. They were the first of the natural building techniques that caught my eye. That stupid dang hobbit house in Wales put me over the edge about 5 years ago. But the straw bales will always get my credit for setting the hook.

Hard to believe that I'm down to the last year of my five year plan. Had not really thought about it until rereading this post. I gotta get going!
9 years ago
cob

Jay C. White Cloud wrote:It strikes me that you are on a good path, know what you want (and don't want.) This, and your planning is priceless. Take your time, ask lots of questions, compare notes, and proceed as you can...


Slow is smooth, smooth is fast.

Terry Ruth wrote:Grant, an Architect is not required for residential in most states, only commercial. If there is not "COB" code path the jurisdiction you are in will allow or has adopted by code, then and only then do you need a PE(Structures Engineer) with a stamped drawing...


The codes in that county seem pretty standardized, but I certainly see nothing relating to any kind of natural building. They have adopted the 2006 IBC and seem to just follow that. Very few variances and exceptions, it seems.

Terry Ruth wrote:A general contractor familiar with COB, timbers if you can find one can be a great asset. They can pull a permit and all the mechanical and electrical can pull under it.


No argument here. However, there seem to be two issues at work. First, if I were a GC, there is no way in hell I'd take on this project. I've no desire to build fast; probably 2 years minimum to get the home itself built. Second, and this is nothing but hubris, I want the pride of doing the work all to myself. Well, there will obviously be friends and family involved, but you get what I'm saying. Having said that, my best friend of childhood years grew-up to be a GC down in Texas. He has done some natural building stuff, but is still a self-admitted novice to it. He wants to help with the build, and will be visiting the property somewhat regularly to give pontifications. Plus, I'm a Kansas boy too (I don't like admitting that). I've still got family in Wichita (Go Blue Aces!) and Salina; the Salina side owns a large construction and heavy equipment business. That crazy uncle will most certainly come visit the build. If for no other reason, than to give me hell.

So I think I've got the professional oversight taken care of, for the most part. Like many, we are trying to get this done on a minimalist budget. While I would have no problems at all living a primitive life, my wife takes GREAT exception to it. For this reason, the bulk of our capital is going to go to things like a septic system, solar and wind power, wiring, etc. I'm going for a convenient primitive kind of thing. If I can be the GC of my own project, then I can spend that money making the wife happy. Soooooooo worth it!

Even with all these excuses, your points remain valid. I will give it a little more deliberate thought.

Love the links Terry. Thanks! I needed something to do this morning instead of working. Rainy day here in Denver; very unmotivated.
9 years ago
cob
Thanks Jay! At the very least, I have a starting point. I feel better already!

As to the source of the design; yeah, I know. It doesn't exactly sit well with me that my basic design ideas are regarded as ignorant, but that is certainly more truth than fiction. I realized that pretty early on in the planning. I attended a handful of cob workshops here in Colorado, including one that was being built with the Engineer onsite. I have leaned heavily on several of the 'experts' with my design. As a result, much of my ignorance was addressed; not necessarily resolved, mind you. Interestingly enough, by incorporating exactly what you are talking about with a timber frame to hold the roof. Since the wife and I are fans of exposed timber anyway, it was a really easy sell. So, I feel that I am at least traveling the right path currently.

Sorry if I'm as thick as a cob wall, but are you suggesting having one of the established natural builders submit my plans on my behalf? I'm certainly not hard-headed enough to believe I know much of anything about the structural side of building. I know what I want in form and function, but readily admit my lack of engineering knowledge. I just don't want to give up aesthetic control of the building. My consultants have been great about saying things like, "We can make it 'look' this way, but function structurally 'this way". It has actually been immensely helpful in getting it to work the way I want it to work. SketchUp has been a Godsend for the design work; love that software!!! Course, this is all on paper and computer screens. I know the hard part will always be in getting the permission.

We are a year and change away from the target date of moving, so I've got time. Plan is to throw up a small straw bale cottage to live in until the permanent home is up and functioning. I will be living and working the property full-time and hope to have the home completed by the second full summer onsite; timber frame during the first winter, then cob like hell during the warm months. Course, the first shot has yet to be fired.
9 years ago
cob
I've been surfing around this site for a while now and wanted to be sure my first post said "Thank You" above all else. A wonderful community you have built here!

Now then, on to my (most likely) very newbish question: How does one go about finding an Engineer/Architect to sign-off on a cob home plan? Part of the issue is, we do not currently live in the state where we think we will be building. Makes the collection of local knowledge difficult, at best. I've had a couple of local (Colorado) "cob experts" review my basic plans, but that isn't exactly helpful in the sign-off fight.

We are looking at property in South Dakota (never would have thought) and I've already looked into the building codes for the counties under consideration. Looks like Meade County will probably win out, but I digress.

We will be building a cob/tire bale home, not a cottage. Square footage is coming in between 1,200 and 900 sqft, depending on the final outcome of negotiations with my wife. No chance of sneaking in under any radars, so legit it must be. I know my life will be 20x easier if I show up with signed plans, but I don't know how to get those plans signed. I could really use a little guidance on how to find cob-friendly, or at least cob-knowledgeable, professionals that can put their autograph on my paper.

Any help to be found?

Thank you in advance.
9 years ago
cob