Gerald Smith

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since Jul 04, 2016
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Recent posts by Gerald Smith

The takeaway here is that the highway fabric is tough, but NOT waterproof while the sheets are waterproof, but NOT tough unless you buy 10 or even 20 mil or higher that's used for pond and landfill construction. The trick is to find proper plastic sheets that aren't going to cost you an arm or kidney to have shipped depending on the size of your house.

Have you (or anyone) found a local cost effective supplier of the polypropylene sheets/blankets? I've found some good pricing just hunting online, but freight (trucking) is going to be too expensive for where I live in relation to the seller!
1 month ago
I just got a quote for $30,000 for a cement foundation for a home. I'd like to know if anyone has seen or experimented with alternate foundation materials that would be dramatically less expensive than traditional cement?
2 months ago

Cindy Haskin wrote:In the last photo above, showing the rounded front, are those 2 whiter beams single trees that have been bent to fit? How do they do that? Love this look, and all the raw timber! Looks very sturdy, and there are multi levels!!?? Wow, Just Wow. Do we know what sort of ground it began on? Flat, steep hill!? Is that a dozer going up the left side? Are those people in that same shot, standing to the right and on the top layer? There is growth on that uppermost soil covering. It must have been planted after piling.

So many questions, so few answers!! I tried to study to be an architect many many moons ago, then life got in the way. I still have an appreciation for architecture and the beauty in the materials used. (heavy sigh)



Yes, there are a lot of questions and I would love to find someone that has the answers, but to date I've hit walls. It would be wonderful to find the owners who built this home originally. It sounds like they must have had leaks according to Oehler since they refused to build the roof correctly. Nonetheless, this is really amazing work and it would be so nice to learn from it.
3 months ago

John C Daley wrote:I have built with many, but what do you have in mind to use them on?



Considering using them in an earth berm construction for perhaps vertical (if I can get them long enough) and horizontal purposes. I'm considering wrapping them in plastic to reduce their leeching toxic material into the living space and ground. I have so many at my disposal that it's a hard resource to ignore.
3 months ago
I have access to a large number of railroad ties and am curious about two things:
  • What is their vertical load bearing capacity?
  • What is their horizontal load bearing capacity?
  • How safe are treated railroad ties for humans when covered with polyethylene (plastic)?
  • Has anyone had experience building with railroad ties? Any tips or gotchas?


  • 3 months ago
    I find Mike Oehler's work to be very interesting. Here is a thread I've started in my search for more information as well:
    https://permies.com/t/141388/Square-Foot-Underground-Home#1108970

    I believe there is a lot of potential, but I'm trying to figure out some more of the construction minutia. It would be nice if there were an "heir" to his efforts that could share more of the details from both the construction and history of these houses over time.
    3 months ago
    Learned that this was indeed a 5,000 square foot home with 8 bedrooms. Here are some more photos of this home, but have not yet figured out who's home it is. I would love to know the history of this home, especially since the roof was poorly (wrongly) engineered to be flat and it was predicted to have leaks:











    3 months ago
    Yes, I would like to be able to till the ground and even mow without hitting rocks.

    They are sporadic and there are too many to locate them with certainty.

    I'm hoping that I can somehow manually "destroy" the stones, perhaps by some tricky mechanical method or perhaps a chemical method (other than super powerful explosives).
    4 months ago
    I have a farm in an area that has some large (mostly sandstone) "stones" (boulders that are 5 to 10 feet in diameter) in an area of the field that I need to turn into a farmable area. These are mostly under the ground and some of them are entirely under the ground and I only found them after starting to dig. This area is within about 1000 feet from a highway so dynamite isn't an option. Are there any creative methods for breaking up and removing boulders?
    4 months ago
    This is very interesting and some good observation. I thought I saw that this home was mentioned on HGTV "The Subterraneans" but maybe it was referring to one of the other builds since it seems he runs things together a bit sometimes inadvertently. I really hoped we could get more details about this particular house (build) to know some things for sure.

    It would be really interesting (and neat) if was less greenhouse and more covered space.
    4 months ago