Wednesday, May 16, 2012

House Designs and Challenges

House Designs and Challenges. I have been thinking long and hard about what our ‘house’ should be like, how it should be designed etc. Some people really enjoy this type of thing, but for me it’s turning into a bloody nightmare. I have to take into account so many different things, which is very natural when your planning on building your own home. The thing is I have to take very simple things into account, things like, the materials, the sustainability of building materials, and also the little easily over looked fact that I have never built a house or any major structure!

Now, for some people this maybe considered a major stumbling block in our Project goals. Yes, it is true that this will cause some possible problems and most likely some very major challenges, but that is exactly the reason that we are doing what we are doing, we want to totally test ourselves so that we know from first hand practical experience what we are able to achieve.2-8thousexter

I have looked at different methods of building ranging from Earthships to Strawbales and just about everything in between. Every building method that I investigated all had their pro’s and con’s, but I wanted a method that was cost effective, easy to build by myself with limited experience and was sustainable. The building method that is finally settled on is called Post/Shoring/Polyethylene or PSP for short, it was created by a man called Mike Oehler back in the 1970’s.

The concept is very simple, but effective. I have included a photo opposite of a structure that he built using the PSP method. Mike Oehler has written several books and produced a number of DVD’s on his method of building, his main book on the subject is called: The Fifty Dollar and Up Underground House Book

The PSP building method is not the way that most people would probably choose to build, but I think for what I am seeking to achieve, the PSP method fits our criteria perfectly.

Starting small and working upwards

Because I have zero experience with house building, I am not planning on building a house sized structure straight from the outset. Now, this may sound a very weird way of building a house, but there is a method to my madness (well, so I like to think!).

I am planning to build basically one room at a time. This may sound abit weird, but there is an old saying that goes a little like this “if you can’t build a shed, then don’t even attempt a house”. Now, the first ‘room’ I plan to build will be about 10 foot * 10 foot or about a 100 square foot, yep it’s tiny! Some people would say that it’s not even big enough to swing a cat in, and they could well be right. Talking about swinging cats in tight spaces, have a look at this website all about tiny houses.

Have you ever wondered what you can fit into a 100 square foot of living space? Well, below is a floor plan that should give you some ideas.

The above floor plan is only 6 foot * 6 foot on two levels, where as the structure that I shall be building will have 10 foot * 10 foot of internal floor space. I will not be including a toilet in the first structure, because to be honest it will be a complete waste of vital space. The first structure will be very basic and be used only for eating, sleeping and sitting (when the weather is bad) so this should be more than enough space to achieve these goals.

Roofing a partially submerged structure

Because the structure is going to be only partially submerged, I didn’t know what type of roof to put on. Originally I was going to use a standard type shed roof and have it tiled, that way I could collect the water run off. As much as I liked the idea of having a lovely tiled roof, I just didn’t like the idea of having to payout money to have the roof insulated, also you can’t really achieve a good level of minimal visibility when you have roof tiles.

So the solution that I decided to adopt in the end was to keep the simple shed roof concept, as it is very easy to erect and then to turn it into a earthern roof. Having an earthern roof on a partially submerged structure will (I hope) achieve my objectives of good insulation and low visibility, also the big added bonus is that the roof will still be usuable as a growing area and also be relatively fireproof. The only downside I can foresee with having an Earthern roof is that I will not be able to harvest the rainwater, but this shouldn’t be a problem as I will be (hopefully) rewarded with food and grasses.