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Homestead in N.E. Georgia

Doug Gillespie


Joined: May 04, 2010
Posts: 77
Greetings!  My wife and I are working towards a homestead in northeast Georgia (in between Athens and Augusta) and I've just come across this forum, which looks like a fantastic resource!  We've got our land (15ac), we had the well drilled last year, and now we're noodling about our various options in building methods.  We've been playing with ideas for a while now, and our heads are sort of spinning, so I wanted to get some other opinions. 

As background, we'd like to be mortgage free - our goal is to pay the land off in the next couple of years, THEN move there, and then to build without incurring debt using the proceeds from the sale of our current home as the base.  We'd also like to do as much of the construction ourselves - we don't have extensive construction skills, but we're reasonably handy and willing to learn.   We'd like to build something unique to us, and has more character than the usual run-of-the-mill house.  We want something that is eco-friendly and capable of operating off grid when necessary.  That said, the house will be grid tied, and will have modern amenities such as A/C.

So far, we've come across several building techniques that intrigue us:

1) slip formed stone/concrete - labor intensive but relatively low tech and easy to understand, can be built gradually, granite scrap of suitable size is easily available in the area, concrete is not terribly eco-friendly, poor insulative value but good thermal mass, no concern about code approval, lots of excavation for foundations and or footers;

2) straw bale (non-structural) - great insulation value, relatively low cost (dependin on what the supporting structure is), possible code approval issues (but there are local precedents), great potential to use earthen plasters as finish, excellent looks;

3) light clay (non-structural) - same (pretty much) as straw bale, but with slightly more likelihood to have code problems, as it's less familiar;

4) timber frame - looks fantastic, strong, good quality large size lumber is hideously expensive, can (depending on details) require serious craftsman skills, no code approval problems, amenable to various interesting infill systems;

5) earthbag - almost certain code approval problems, labor intensive, low tech, marvelous curvy shapes and domes, excellent thermal mass, poor insulation, not suitable for gradual approach due to photo-degradation of the poly bags;

6) PSP (the Mike Oehler method) - would never get code approval, great energy/insulation/thermal mass advantages, potential problems with drainage in GA clay soil, super-cool hobbit house design options, lots of excavation;

7) pole framing - good for owner builders, no massive concrete foundation needed, potential concerns about toxicity of wood treatment, potential concerns about embedded wood decay, code problems unlikely, likely to be cost effective, very flexible in conforming to terrain.

At the moment, as much as we like the PSP concept, we've pretty much written it off as impractical due to the certain code issues.  The two main contenders right now, based on the conversations we've had lately, are probably slip-forming and pole-framing.  For each of these methods, we've also considered hybrids.  For instance, we've given serious thought to using slip-forming to build a knee-wall upon which a straw bale infill wood framed wall sits.  Similarly, a pole frame with straw-bale infill would be very interesting (and would let us actually hide the treated wood inside the bale walls, isolating it). 

In fact, this last option - pole framing, using treated utility poles, with straw bale infill and earthen plaster finish is my personal favorite candidate ... at least today.  I like the flexibility it gives to build on multiple levels, allowing the house to flow over the topography (our chosen building site is a small ridge).  I like the thought of encapsulating the pole frame in the bale walls to isolate the treated wood.  I like the fact that the construction tehniques are similar to PSP, and that if the poles were sunk extra deep, there would be an option to excavate a PSP "basement" level.  I like the ease of design and construction and the minimal use of concrete.  I like the fact that I could get the roof on first, then build the walls underneath it. 

Anyway, sorry for the long-winded post - what I'd like is to get the input and insights of folks with more experience on these options, and I wanted to set the stage as well as possible.

Thanks in advance for your thoughts on this!
Doug
Doug Gillespie


Joined: May 04, 2010
Posts: 77
Forgot to add one additional technique to the list of things we've been interesrted in -

Compressed earth block - looks labor intensive, makes good use of clay/sand soil (of which we have quite a lot to spare), uses some cement, slight concerns about durability in a wet climate, very cool manual block press available from India, good thermal mass/poor insulation quality, possible code approval concerns.

I think we may end up getting a CEB machine and using it to make bricks for places where bricks are appropriate even if it does not end up being the primary building material.

Thanks,
Doug
Neal McSpadden


Joined: May 04, 2009
Posts: 269
Welcome from Atlanta!

What about cob?  Or is that what you mean by light clay?

Also, from what I understand from Christina Ott, there is a section of the code that covers adobe/clay building.


Check out my Primal Prepper blog where I talk about permaculture, prepping, and the primal lifestyle... all the time!
Doug Gillespie


Joined: May 04, 2010
Posts: 77
tamo42 wrote:
Welcome from Atlanta!

What about cob?  Or is that what you mean by light clay?

Also, from what I understand from Christina Ott, there is a section of the code that covers adobe/clay building.


I kind of view cob and light clay as siblings, with the main differences being that light clay is usually (from what I've read) built with forms, used as an infill, and laid up much more quickly than the layering of cob.  We're going to be building a cob oven for the campsite we're improving on the land now (and have been using since we purchased it), so that will be our first experiment with cob.  We're also intending, if we end up going with strawbale, to use an earthen plaster finish (with a lime render for the top coat, probably), so we would be using something sort of  like cob there, too.  If we end up building on grade, we might also consider a poured adobe floor, so there's that angle as well.  As far as the full cob monty goes, that might be problematic, at least initially.  Since we live roughly 6 hours from where the land is, and will not be moving there for approximately 3.5 years, we need something that we can work on in installments - and I can just see us arriving on the site to find that our previous months' work has washed away ion a freak strorm.  We do seem to have that kind of luck sometimes. 

Doug
                                                  


Joined: May 28, 2010
Posts: 1
I am in a similar situation, planted in Athens, GA.  We do not have our land yet, but anticipate buying it next year.  I am interested to see which avenues in homebuilding that you pursue.  I also think it best to build piece by piece, instead of taking out a large mortgage and then paying 3X its value over time.

Perhaps there is a like-minded community who would contribute to a labor pool to help one another with our "home-raisings"over the next few years? 
Doug Gillespie


Joined: May 04, 2010
Posts: 77
lookingahead1975 wrote:
I am in a similar situation, planted in Athens, GA.  We do not have our land yet, but anticipate buying it next year.  I am interested to see which avenues in homebuilding that you pursue.  I also think it best to build piece by piece, instead of taking out a large mortgage and then paying 3X its value over time.

Perhaps there is a like-minded community who would contribute to a labor pool to help one another with our "home-raisings"over the next few years? 


That would certainly be cool, and who knows - we may have just started one. 

As for building in sections, I think you've hit the nail on the head.  One of our considerations in picking a building technique has to be the ease with which the eventual final product can be broken into stages/modules.  Ideally, we want to be mortgage free, and building in stages will help with that immensely.

Doug
Neal McSpadden


Joined: May 04, 2009
Posts: 269
I'd definitely throw in for a house raising in N Ga for any sort of alternative building.
                        


Joined: May 26, 2010
Posts: 278
Location: Iowa, border of regions 5 and 6
I've got two ideas.

First, build a place using IOS shipping containers.  They should meet standards, and can easily be arranged the way you want them.  You can do what they're doing in North Charleston, SC (read this at "BobVila.com" where they are using the new ceramic coatings that spray on and act like R-19 insulation.

Another option with the shipping containers is shown in this YouTube video.  This combines the shipping containers with straw bale exteriors.  I should note that if you use this technique, do NOT use concrete-based stucco!  You need to use plaster-based stucco in order to let the straw bales breath.  Concrete plaster will trap any moisture and cause the bales to rot.

A third option is to use one of the designs from Sheldon Designs.  He specializes in small cabins, cottages, and outbuildings, all designed so that I think they would fit in with your part of the country.  His designs can be built with SIP so they can go up very quickly.

A final note: I grew up in tornado country, so I cannot abide the thought of a house without a basement.  If you DO decide to use a crawlspace instead of a basement, make sure it's a sealed crawlspace.  Recent experiments have shown that vented crawlspaces are breading grounds for mold and rot.  Sealed crawlspaces don't have that problem.  (If you build on slab, that's a whole 'nuther set of issues.)

Jeff Steigerwald


Joined: Jul 08, 2010
Posts: 12
Hello,

I just registered and found this thread.  I have 7 acres of raw agriculture land with no buildings or restrictions on it in Dawson County, N. GA near Amicalola Falls.   I am going through the same mental exercise of trying to decide what to build.  I am expecting to be laid off later this year and will then have the time to pursue the homestead life full time. I would have to rank my top 3 favorite building methods as:

1. Earthbag Spiral House heavily bermed with mulch covered reciprocal roof.
2. Rammed Earth
3. Straw Bale

I keep coming back to earthbag as a preferred method due to the low cost and DIY factor.  I like the idea of being in the ground and surrounded by earth.  This is not only safe but extremely efficient.  I have almost ruled out all together building above ground.  I have read Oehler's book and found it full of fantastic ideas - the only part I did not like was building with wood, but I agree with him in principle on all of the advantages of his designs.

I would be willing to help others in the N. Georgia area on their homes if they are willing to reciprocate. 

Thanks,

Jeff
Doug Gillespie


Joined: May 04, 2010
Posts: 77
Muzhik wrote:
First, build a place using IOS shipping containers. 


As a matter of fact, we've done a lot of designing based on ISO containers.  I'm not sure I've bought into the ceramic paint, and from talking to the experts there's a lot more work and modification involved than initially appears.  Also, where we want the eventuall house to be, the terrain favors a method that can conform to the land, and containers are rather rigid in that regard.  Finally, I've talked to the building inspector in the area and he;s very skeptical about containers as living space - not totally closed minded, but I think it would be an uphill battle. 

All of that said, we are definitely considering a pair of containers for our first buildings - one at ground level (or a touch above, depending on how it's based) for storage and another set on top of that one and filled with water tanks (say something like the 330 gallon totes on pallets) as our "water tower".  We figure to solve the ugly factor by running chicken wire over the top and planting myrtle along the bases.  It'll cover anything I DON'T want it to cover - hopefully it'll grow just as fast in this application. 

Doug
Doug Gillespie


Joined: May 04, 2010
Posts: 77
lifa wrote:
I just registered and found this thread.  I have 7 acres of raw agriculture land with no buildings or restrictions on it in Dawson County, N. GA near Amicalola Falls.   I am going through the same mental exercise of trying to decide what to build. 


There seem to be a number of use in the N GA area ... this is promising.    We like the earthbag idea, and also Oehler's concepts, but the more we think about it, the more we're coming to believe that pole framing with a straw bale wrap and earthen plaster/lime plaster finish (or perhaps light clay) has the best combination of features, ease of construction, and flexibility.  We'll see what happens, though.  One interesting thing we've considered is building with pole framing, but going for a deeper embedment and/or cutting into a slope and essentially building a structure with an Oehler style PSP "basement" and normal pole framed upper stories.  It just might work.


Doug
Jeff Steigerwald


Joined: Jul 08, 2010
Posts: 12
Doug - the pole frame Straw Bail does sound fascinating.  Keep us up to date as to the progress of your project.

Jeff
                              


Joined: Jun 08, 2008
Posts: 79
I think its great you'er looking at alternative building materials and methods. But I want to remind you that the very first thing you need to think about, when making the decision on WHAT kind to go with, is the climate conditions you are going to be dealing with on a regular basis, year round.

Georgia, right? Is your land close to the coast? Dont you folks get major humidity and heat, especially in the summers? You might want to look at vernacular homes in the area-older places, farm houses that were built oh, before 1930 or even earlier. They worked out ways to deal with heat and humidity. Those fans that drew cooler evening air from under the house, up into the house, pushing hot air up and out threw a venting system in the roof. Windows planned for cross ventilation... you can learn alot from those old houses. Also, contact your state historical society-if they have any phamphets on vernacular architecture.

On building with stone... one good book is  Stonebuilder's Primer by Charles K. Long  His method combines slip form with traditional methods. Its got some really good points to make.

Another good book  Timber Framing for the Rest of Us-Rob Roy.  Makes timber framing a little more accessable to us amatures.  On your pole framing concerns-what about cedar for the ground poles? Or possibly osage orange? I'm not sure you could get long enough logs, but it would be a great wood to use as its really resistant to rot and bugs-even moreso than cedar or redwood. But its a pain to work with.  One type of cedar around here is invasive pest and its being cut down/pulled down all over the place. Check with your state forestry service, if it is, then you might be able to get logs for free.

Anyway, good luck with your homestead!
Leigh
                            


Joined: Dec 09, 2010
Posts: 2
I just found this forum and I'm curious how the planning is going?

My family and I live in a small cob house a few miles outside of Athens, Ga. My husband is building a cob studio as well. I can say that yes, you need to plan for humidity and mold even if you aren't close to the coast....the house we live in was built by a lot of different people over several years and has some issues with mold. My husband came into the tail end of construction and did some of the cobbing, all of the plasters and the earthen floor. We learned a lot about how not to build by taking on someone's project ( a chunk of this house was built by people not having a good knowledge of building and workshop people). Even with all of that, we are still in love with cob and still building with it for the studio. The studio is a timber frame with cob and an earthen floor. Either my husband or I would be glad to chat about what we've learned along the way. kateshanti@yahoo.com

There's also an amazing straw bale house a little south of here that's beautiful and was the first straw bale home built to code in Georgia. It was in Mother Earth News a few years back.

Best of luck with the building and glad to know there's a community of permaculture folks growing in Georgia.
Doug Gillespie


Joined: May 04, 2010
Posts: 77
amasmama wrote:
I just found this forum and I'm curious how the planning is going?

My family and I live in a small cob house a few miles outside of Athens, Ga. My husband is building a cob studio as well. I can say that yes, you need to plan for humidity and mold even if you aren't close to the coast....the house we live in was built by a lot of different people over several years and has some issues with mold. My husband came into the tail end of construction and did some of the cobbing, all of the plasters and the earthen floor. We learned a lot about how not to build by taking on someone's project ( a chunk of this house was built by people not having a good knowledge of building and workshop people). Even with all of that, we are still in love with cob and still building with it for the studio. The studio is a timber frame with cob and an earthen floor. Either my husband or I would be glad to chat about what we've learned along the way. kateshanti@yahoo.com

There's also an amazing straw bale house a little south of here that's beautiful and was the first straw bale home built to code in Georgia. It was in Mother Earth News a few years back.

Best of luck with the building and glad to know there's a community of permaculture folks growing in Georgia.



I just happened to get back to this thread (I had not received the usual email about a new post) - I'll definitely be in touch.  We'd love to chat about what can be done with cob in the area!  I've also thought of writing to the woman whose straw bale house was featured in MEN - need to get around to doing that.

Thanks!
Doug
                                


Joined: Feb 06, 2011
Posts: 2
Hello,

I am also in the N.E. Georgia area and looking to build an earth bag home.  My boyfriend and I are doing some research, but it would be really nice to get some hands on experience (love to help anyone currently building!) or see someone's process....any advice?

I'm really excited and would love to hear from anyone around the area as well who would like to team up or throw ideas around.  Thanks!
Doug Gillespie


Joined: May 04, 2010
Posts: 77
Very cool!  Krista and I are planning on going up to our land the weekend before President's Day, probably arriving in Washington, GA on Friday night, staying Saturday night, and heading back down to Florida on Sunday.  Unfortunately, we'll not be camping this trip - the engine is still not back in the Vanagon (our home on wheels) - we'll be staying in a motel instead.  That said, if anybody in the area wants to get together during that weekend, let me know via PM or email at elsyr at comcast dot net.  Have no fear - we're not planning any heavy work during the weekend - just marking locations for some things and perhaps relocating a few volunteer trees

Doug 
                            


Joined: Dec 09, 2010
Posts: 2
Doug....We'll be out of town the weekend before president's day otherwise we'd love to have you stop by and see our cob house or try to meet up at your land.

We are planning on putting up our greenhouse sometime soon and we'll be building an earthbag wall if anyone is interested in playing with earthbag building. Send me an email and I'll try to remember to post something here when we figure out more details about dates etc.

We are also having a cob oven building workshop in July if anyone wants more details.

So glad to hear there is an interest in natural building in our area!

Blessings,
Kate
Doug Gillespie


Joined: May 04, 2010
Posts: 77
Too bad we'll miss you then, but hopefully we'll be able to connect another time soon.  As soon as the van is put back together, our freedom to go up to the land will increase dramatically. 

Our current plan, for anyone interested, is to get a 40' ISO high cube container on the land ASAP as the first stage.  We've tried to think our way around it, but given the particulars of our situation (living far from our site, able to visit it infrequently), the first step HAS to be adequate (and semi-secure) storage.  Once that's done, step two will be an earthbag roundhouse (6' inner diameter) to act as a pump house and small storage, with another circle (more open, with arched openings) adjacent to serve as an outdoor kitchen.  One of the first things we plan for the kitchen, coincidentally, is a cob oven, along with a rocket stove

For the earthbag structures, we plan on trying the hyperadobe technique mentioned recently on earthbagbuilding.com (and the associated blog), which it looks like a real step forward to us, and reciprocal frame roofs.  Eventually, we intend to also build a water tower structure in the same vicinity, using concentric earthbag circles for the first (supporting) floor and 330 gallon containers to store the water on a woodframed second floor.  That's a ways off, of course.  If we can make good headway on the first shed this year, I'll be pretty pleased. 

This next trip will be all about figuring out (and marking) precisely where these things are to go, along with some tree planting.  Definitely keep us informed about the greenhouse - we'll certainly come up and provide another two pairs of hands and feet if possible!

Doug
                                


Joined: Feb 06, 2011
Posts: 2
Hello there!

ELSYR: We would like to meet up and assist you if that is possible that weekend before President's day. 
Just let us know if that is ok and we can exchange more info. about meeting.

Thanks!

AMASMAMA: We would be very interested in helping with your earthbag wall whenever you plan on building it and the cob oven building workshop in July.
Also please just let us know if that is OK with you and we can exchange more info. about meeting up in the future.

Thanks Again!

Take care.
-Adam & Kristen

                            


Joined: Feb 10, 2011
Posts: 33
elsyr wrote:
Forgot to add one additional technique to the list of things we've been interesrted in -

Compressed earth block - looks labor intensive, makes good use of clay/sand soil (of which we have quite a lot to spare), uses some cement, slight concerns about durability in a wet climate, very cool manual block press available from India, good thermal mass/poor insulation quality, possible code approval concerns.

I think we may end up getting a CEB machine and using it to make bricks for places where bricks are appropriate even if it does not end up being the primary building material.

Thanks,
Doug


There is an organization, Open Source Ecology (look for them on Google or on Youtube; I don’t have their url at the moment), that has a diy CEB press that is powered by the hydraulics of a farm tractor (they also have a diy farm tractor).  They supposedly have the plans for the machine on their website, but I have never been able to make heads or tails of it.  They also sell the machines for around $1000.

CEB is the alternative building technology that most resembles conventional technology, so it should be the easiest alternative to get building permits for.  It is basically an adobe brick that is stabilized with cement (something like 10% by volume is what I’ve read)

Depending on whom you ask you can use CEB without mortar.  I gather that if the blocks are big enough (something like 4” x 6” x 12”) their density makes them stable when packed in a wall- the blocks are actually stronger than any mortar joint so the mortar joints are places where the wall is most likely to fail.

You may or may not need a concrete bondbeam on the top of each wall- depending on whom you ask.

You will need strong footers to hold the mass of a CEB wall, and you will need a stem wall to keep the wall from wicking moisture up from the ground.  Depending on whom you ask you may need to cover the walls with a concrete sealant or a layer of stucco for moisture protection, although back in the 1970s a Florida company was established to sell CEB presses and several CEB buildings were constructed downstate so any problem with water can be dealt with.

CEB wouldn’t be any more labor intensive than any other alternative technology is likely to be.  And since the end result is more conventional than some of the other technologies you’d stand a better chance of getting insurance and a mortgage if you were to ever need it.

Please see my post in homesteading.
                                  


Joined: Feb 21, 2011
Posts: 1
Hello all! I'm so glad to have found this forum! I also live just outside of Athens, GA (in a tipi) and am very eager to begin learning and getting involved with permaculture and natural building. Please feel free to contact me about any future projects you might need help with! anndturner@gmail.com

Ann
Joe Woodall


Joined: Nov 25, 2010
Posts: 38
Dear Ms. Turner,

We will be glad add you to our Community Builders Volunteers List if you wish , for the Athens GA. Metro Area. Let us know by email ( & any other list readers too, who are interested, as we are starting a National Volunteers List as well  ) . Include a notification of your interest in being contacted by us for the Volunteer work program; include your Name, Address, Phone & Email too & any special construction skills or limitations you possess & we will notify you, of any local, future & "open to the public" projects , Georgia Adobe has available.
Best Wishes !
Jennifer, in Customer Care Online
Georgia Adobe Rammed Earth & Renewable Energy
231 Harris Lord Cemetery Rd.
Commerce, Georgia 30530
Volunteer@georgiaadobe.com
http://www.georgiaadobe.com
http://www.facebook.com/pages/Georgia-Adobe-Joe-Woodall/115808091907
HQ pH # 706-363-6453

Joe Woodall, Rogue Ecoitect
Georgia Adobe Rammed Earth Homes (TM)
706-363-6453
http://georgiaadobe.com
                                      


Joined: Mar 20, 2011
Posts: 1
My husband and I are making plans to buy land and build in North Georgia somewhere. We would love to help other people, and find out more about the things that work, (and don't work).

We have been reading about Straw Bale construction since the 90s, and are now very interested also in Earth Bag construction. We want to build something that isn't moldy and that ventilates well.

I'm very curious about underground houses. I like the idea of the security and insulative value of soil, basements stay cool.

Georgia poses some unique challenges due to the moisture and humidity. We have never lived in a house that didn't have mold, since coming to Georgia.  I haven't seen basements done sucessfully, and I've sure seen some basements and crawl spaces that flooded.

I know a lot about moisture and mold prevention and treatments, if anyone is interested.

Looking forward to getting to know you all better!

chalcedony
Linda





 












Doug Gillespie


Joined: May 04, 2010
Posts: 77
For anyone interested, we've actually made some progress this year, but nothing I'd class as really fun.  We now have a 40 foot shipping container on site for storage, we've had some extraneous trees cleared (which really makes it easier to feel the available spaces), and we've rethought our plans a bit.  Our construction plan is now to start with a water tower - hopefully of earthbags (containing 275 gallon totes for water storage) and hopefully this year.  When the weather cools down a bit, we should be able to get back to the fun bits.

Hope everybody's projects are moving along!

Doug
Doug Gillespie


Joined: May 04, 2010
Posts: 77
OK, so it's been a year, and I have not posted diddly regarding our progress on the homestead. Fortunately, we have been more diligent about making progress than we have about documenting it! We've connected with a wonderful architect (Howard Switzer) and permaculturist (Katey Culver) and are making some real headway on the design of the home. We also have finally made a start on the construction of the water tower. Unfortunately, we decided we would have to go with a fairly conventional construction method instead of our intended earthbags. We're just not there often enough, or for long enough at a time, to make earthbag construction practical. Once we move, the story will be different. At any rate, a pic of the beginnings of the water tower, and also of the design into which it will eventually grow are attached.

We're still very interested in connecting with folks in the NE GA area, so if you're in the neighborhood, let us know!

Doug


[Thumbnail for Visit - 06-12 0 0043.jpg]

[Thumbnail for 8x16 water tower v8 - oblique.jpg]

Al Graven


Joined: Oct 02, 2012
Posts: 1
Another Atlanta area person keeping an eye on this thread.

I have a feeling I'll learn a lot from this.
john giroux


Joined: Feb 17, 2011
Posts: 118
Location: Gainesville, GA
    
    3
I too will be watching the thread. Planning a cob playhouse for the kids to get my hands dirty with. I'm in Gainesville.
Kittie McCardle


Joined: Oct 10, 2012
Posts: 1
I'm in Augusta. I'm very new to all this BUT if i can be of service and learn form the more experienced I would love to.


Kittie
Doug Gillespie


Joined: May 04, 2010
Posts: 77
Just FYI - we'll be up at our land in NE Georgia Thanksgiving weekend working on the water tower. If anybody will happen to be in the vicinity and would like to drop by and meet, PM me.

Doug
Crystal Smith


Joined: Dec 19, 2012
Posts: 12
Location: Muskegon, MI
My husband and I are actually looking at land in GA right now to start our homestead.

So what I've gathered is that COB homes are permitted there? That's what I've been trying to look up. If you don't know, but know where I should look that would be appreciated too.

We're looking at land in Jackson County.

Thanks!
Silviu Gavriliuc


Joined: Jan 05, 2013
Posts: 1
Crystal,
I have 17ac in Hoschton Ga and very interested in COB buildind. Any advice on equipment needed?
Crystal Smith


Joined: Dec 19, 2012
Posts: 12
Location: Muskegon, MI
All I know is what my husband and I have looked up. We haven't physically done anything or gone to any workshops yet. I know once you get your design drawn up of what you want, it should be fairly easy from there. The main ingredients are clay, straw, and water. Check out this video, and others on youtube . My husband and I will be in NY for another year and a half but if you're still building, we'd be happy to come by and lend some helping hands! (only downfall is, we come with 4 dogs lol). The land we were looking at turned out the listed price was per acre, not for the whole property. So we're still looking. Best of luck to you!
Faith Rocchio


Joined: Jan 11, 2013
Posts: 1
I just found this site while researching for building my own cob home. I would love to come see/ learn more in person at any of the homes in Georgia! Thanks so much.
Keith Riddle


Joined: Jan 24, 2013
Posts: 5
Location: Chattanooga, TN
I'm in SE TN, just across the border of NE GA. I'll be lurking on this site, but holler at me if a strong back/weak mind would help anyone!
Cynthia Dang


Joined: Jan 26, 2013
Posts: 2
Location: Georgia
We are also in N.GA and are looking to build a rammed earth home in Forsyth county and have started looking for land to build on. We would be interested in helping others with construction if needed. We like the design of the castle earthship with certain modifications and no tires or cans. I want to do some walls out of bottles, so when the time comes to build I may need help drinking the contents of all the bottles.

I will be watching others on here as they build and may need guidance when it comes to permits and such in the area. Anyone know of a qualified architect and/or builder that knows about rammed earth in the area??


Mom of 2 looking to be self sufficient and off the grid!
Connie Frew


Joined: Feb 16, 2013
Posts: 2
What about building codes? My husband and I want to build a Thermal MAss house in North GA and had intended on doing a Dry Stack Concrete Block willed with sand, but he said that what he is reading the building codes that insulation with a specific R-factor is required.

Has anyone had a problem with getting a building permit or passing inspections with unconventional building materials or methods in GA?
Doug Gillespie


Joined: May 04, 2010
Posts: 77
Almost all of the counties in GA now require building code compliance, but some seem to be more reasonable than others. A lot can be done that is not specifically within codes if you have an engineer's stamp on the plans. I suppose that makes the code enforcement officials more comfortable since it puts the onus on somebody else if the place falls down. It does mean you need to be working with an architect and/or engineer to draw up plans, which means additional expense, but that's just the way it is these days. You could build on the lam, but I just don't think it's worth the risk, and even if you're planning on living off grid way out in the woods, it'll be hard to get away with. You could also limit yourself to structures classed as mobile or temporary, but that really limits your options, too.

At any rate, we've made some significant progress on the water tower in the last few months, and now have the second floor deck framed up and the subfloor down. Next step - the second floor wall and roof framing!

Doug


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Steve Lansing


Joined: Apr 01, 2013
Posts: 9
Location: Cumming, GA
Hello All. Love this website and this forum really inspired me. For a short time, been researching building with cob and realized that to pass codes, a timber frame home with straw bale walls overlaid with cobb and a foundation in urbanite may be best. I am in the status of learning as much as I can before I start working with local inspectors/ code enforcement and pick a county in N. GA to build, possible Cherokee. I would like to purchase an old homestead that may have some infrustructor on it to help with costs, like water and power. As much as possible I would like the property to be self-sufficient, some solar, some wind power, perhaps even hydro if a stream is on it. Lots of ideas and reading your posts have encouraged me. I would like to strike up a correspondance with several others in the N. GA area to visit, assist, learn, etc from each other. I am building a cob oven to start the learning process and perhaps a cob bench later. I am taking pictures and may post them later. If you have some pictures/ stories to share, please send them to me or just let me know your experience/ tell me your story with building with cob. My goal is to learning for two years/ investigate if a local county will code my ideas with timber frame/straw/cob home. Start with a garage on the site for non-habitable dwelling, use it for storage and further experience, then a house to move into in about 4-5 years. At about 3 years from now, start the purchase of the property and laying out the plan, garden, rain water harvest, gray water drainage, natural swimming pool, etc. Final goal is to sell my house, pay for any outstanding debt with proceeds, move onto new property debt free, live off land to 80% and save the funds for retirement. If all goes well, retire early and live off land. I am rather handy around the house having completed numerious projects from plumbling, electrical, home improvement, mechanical, etc. Just need to educate myself, make some plans, and see where this takes me.

Some of the projects here I would like to hear more about and see some pictures, especially any in N. GA. Feel free to contact me at ga_seagull@yahoo.com

Regards,

Rich


Rich. "Live&Love&Laugh"
Doug Gillespie


Joined: May 04, 2010
Posts: 77
Greetings to all. We're going to be working at the land in NE GA next (Memorial Day) weekend. If anyone in the area is interested in dropping by and connecting, PM or email me.

Doug
 
 
subject: Homestead in N.E. Georgia
 
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