• Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
permaculture forums growies critters building homesteading energy monies kitchen purity ungarbage community wilderness fiber arts art permaculture artisans regional education skip experiences global resources cider press projects digital market permies.com private forums all forums
this forum made possible by our volunteer staff, including ...
master stewards:
  • Nicole Alderman
  • r ranson
  • Anne Miller
  • Pearl Sutton
  • Mike Haasl
stewards:
  • paul wheaton
  • Joylynn Hardesty
  • Dave Burton
master gardeners:
  • jordan barton
  • Greg Martin
  • Steve Thorn
gardeners:
  • Carla Burke
  • Jay Angler
  • Kate Downham

Natural building advice for a beginner building in zone 4 VT?

 
Posts: 17
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hello!
I just bought 10 acres in mid-Vermont and I am planning to build myself a tiny house on a foundation. I was briefly inspired to do a cob home but then realized they are not recommended for cold climates. The thing is, I like a lot of things about cob and I’m hoping I can get some pointers on what to do instead that would hopefully be similar to cob but insulated. The thing I like about cob is very few woodworking skills are required. I was going to do a gable roof (timber frame perhaps) but I will hire someone do that for me. I’d like to do the majority of the build myself. Then I heard about load bearing straw bale and also cob-bale. Can anyone point me in the direction of more info on this? Perhaps an online course? Are there any other load bearing techniques that would be relatively easy for a newbie 48 yo woman? I’d love some advice! Thank you for your time.
 
pollinator
Posts: 1298
Location: Bendigo , Australia
79
dog gear plumbing earthworks bee building homestead
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
This site has plenty of stories, also google searches will open your world.

Cob and Cold

In places with cold winters, the most efficient homes are well-insulated to keep heat inside.
Cob has excellent thermal mass for heat storage, but poor insulation.
So an all-cob building will slowly leak heat through the walls in cold weather.

BUT, in my opinion if the outside of the cob was insulated, you would have the best of both worlds.
OR, use it for internal walls only.

Insulating cob is not difficult.
[url=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2dDMF8MVDnM]Insulating cob, one way[/url
I developed a syatem that ewssentially turns a brick house inside out.
The bricks [cob] are inside  and an exterior wall is built to contain insulation and exterior cladding.
I have been involved in many houses in Australia had have developed a plan that works for many.

- design something small that can be enlarged, as each prior section is completed.
- Start with a roof structure on a footer foundation so you have cover to store materials and work out of the rain.- You can wrap canvas around if its windy etc.
- Build a toilet, shower and basic kitchen in a small room which may finish up the bathroom when the other rooms are done.
- Have another room as a bedroom which may become a lounge or kitchen later.
- Build small and build well.
 
A Johnson
Posts: 17
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Thanks John -
That’s good advice. I agree - Starting with the roof too. I will do that.
So far the floor plans I have been developing have been hovering around 200 square feet. However, if I can do a lot of the work myself I may be able to afford a little more space.
So, it will be small! And although I have no experience building a house, I did go to art school - so hopefully whatever I end up with will be done well
I will look further into cob as well - if I could make it work that would be great.
 
John C Daley
pollinator
Posts: 1298
Location: Bendigo , Australia
79
dog gear plumbing earthworks bee building homestead
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I have just edited my first response
 
John C Daley
pollinator
Posts: 1298
Location: Bendigo , Australia
79
dog gear plumbing earthworks bee building homestead
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Well good on you.

Anybody can build, you just need knowledge, enthusiasm and some muscle.

Do you want to put up your plans for input?
What windows, heating, water supply and doors do you have in mind?
 
A Johnson
Posts: 17
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Will do! I just have to figure out how to do it first New to message boards....

My water supply will be a well with electric on-demand hot water. I will probably do salvaged doors and windows - since I prefer wood and I like divided panes. Since it will be very small - and hopefully well-insulated - I was thinking of doing an ethanol fireplace. I was also thinking about doing solar for my electric appliances...I will probably get a quote to see how the price compares to having the electric from the street run underground to the house - but since I cannot get financing for this house, I probably won’t be able to afford it.

Thanks for the Cob and Cold link - I will check it out.
 
John C Daley
pollinator
Posts: 1298
Location: Bendigo , Australia
79
dog gear plumbing earthworks bee building homestead
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Those rocket mass heaters may work for you.
Heating water off a small solar system may be difficult.
Could you live with an LPG system?
- I use LPG for hot water, cooking and refrigeration.
I alaso had a wood heater and a fireplace outside for cooking. Later I put an LPG BBQ outside as well.

Maybe you can have a small solar lighting system and after the house is built etc, save the money for the grid connection.
My house was about 500 sq ft and my solar panel was 24 x 18 inches self regulating with one storage battery.
I used that for 10 years.
 
master pollinator
Posts: 385
Location: Vermont, USA
74
hugelkultur dog forest garden fungi foraging books chicken cooking medical herbs homestead
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Welcome from another Vermonter!  I'm down in Windsor County, near Mt. Ascutney.

Salvaged windows and doors are in need of serious attention to stay warm.  The really old ones were leaky.  Now the glass in windows is almost always double-paned, and quite tight.  I am not a builder (but have lived with two of them!), but I know that really good insulation stuffed all around the window before the trim goes on helps a lot.

Windows can cost a fortune.  Start cruising Craigslist!  Best of luck!
 
A Johnson
Posts: 17
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hi Anne
I actually live in Lebanon right now - so quite close! Moving to Corinth.
Yes - I’m torn about windows. I like that old windows don’t block any of the natural light spectrum, and I love the look and craftsmanship of true divided lights. I was thinking that I may keep my windows all looking down the field to the South West - and that at night I would use 1” thick wool felt panels as indoor shutters - I imagine they will both insulate and help with any condensation. I have just watched a video on YouTube about a woman in Wales named Emma who lives in a round cob bale hut with a green roof - no electricity or plumbing - and I was surprisingly moved by it. Perhaps you have seen her? Got me thinking I have nothing to lose by giving it a try....cob fireplace, composting toilet...we’ll see!
Nice to know there’s a “permie” close by
Anya
 
John C Daley
pollinator
Posts: 1298
Location: Bendigo , Australia
79
dog gear plumbing earthworks bee building homestead
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Is this the one
emma's house
 
A Johnson
Posts: 17
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Yup! That’s the one, John.
 
A Johnson
Posts: 17
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

John C Daley wrote:Those rocket mass heaters may work for you.
Heating water off a small solar system may be difficult.
Could you live with an LPG system?
- I use LPG for hot water, cooking and refrigeration.
I alaso had a wood heater and a fireplace outside for cooking. Later I put an LPG BBQ outside as well.

Maybe you can have a small solar lighting system and after the house is built etc, save the money for the grid connection.
My house was about 500 sq ft and my solar panel was 24 x 18 inches self regulating with one storage battery.
I used that for 10 years.



I have looked into using LPG - for heating, hot water and even freezer and fridge -
I am conflicted about LPG. Fracking bothers me. I realize that Ethanol is both expensive and made from GMO corn but I feel like it may be a future sustainable fuel if some changes are made. Also looking at making a rumford fireplace or one of those masonry stoves with cob. Lot of choices! I am also thinking of an outdoor oven. That one is pretty much decided. There is a pizza oven they sell that is multi fuel. Good for when I am feeling lazy or don’t want to go out for a long time in the cold - supposedly it can cook a pizza in 60 seconds at 900 degrees!

Something else that is figuring in to my design - if I do have electricity, I want to keep it only to a small area of the house - away from the sleeping area especially. Mainly, what I wanted to power was a fridge, freezer, hot water heater, charging station for devices - but I was going to go with an alternative source of light and not have any outlets in the rest of the house. Basically just the bathroom and part of the kitchen.

I know nothing about solar, but I have noticed that they sell appliances especially for solar - which is why I felt pressured to make a decision at the outset. Do you have any books you can recommend for solar beginners? I didn’t realize one panel, as you describe, could power much of anything. I have no concept at all! I did look up the average cost of a solar system in Vt - $13000. I don’t know what that can power though. For a short time I considered a heat pump and solar. I don’t like the constant noise of a fan though.
 
A Johnson
Posts: 17
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

A Johnson wrote:Can anyone point me in the direction of more info on this? Perhaps an online course?



This is what I have found and am going to be digesting ~

A set of DVD’s (instant download) on straw bale building from Strawbale.com (this has videos on all parts of construction - from foundation to load bearing and timber frame building systems)
Book: Serious Straw Bale: A Home Construction Guide for All Climates
Book: Straw Bale Building Details: An Illustrated Guide for Design and Construction
Book: The Natural Building Companion: A Comprehensive Guide to Integrative Design and Construction
Book: Building Green, New Edition: A Complete How-To Guide to Alternative Building Methods
Book: How to Build Your Own Tiny House

Overboard perhaps! But my worst nightmare is the scenario in the cold and cob link!!!

Nothing specifically about Cob Bale building but it seems to me that is just a straw bale house with a thick cob layer inside - no?
 
pollinator
Posts: 378
Location: Victor, Montana; Zone 5b
116
hugelkultur forest garden food preservation
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Late to the conversation on this one, but I have some experience with cob and balecob building. Check out my website in my signature  or just follow the progress I've posted on Permies here

https://permies.com/t/60866/balecob-home-earthbag-foundation-building

Balecob works very well and you get the beauty of cob while still having insulation values that work extremely well. The only real information on this technique comes from Cob Cottage Company in Oregon. The only finds I've had on written accounts about building are short blurbs in the cobweb books which are available on the cob cottage company website. Not the greatest books for instructional building, but definitely work having in your collection for great reading on all the experiments people are doing in natural building.

Balecob is superior to both cob and bale as the thermal mass of the cob is only able to throw its residual heat back into the house, and not lose any to the outside. My house is approximately 600 square feet of floor space with 200 feet of loft space. It stays very warm from April to October without any additional heating other than sun exposure through windows and baking. From November to March an 8" batch rocket mass heater keeps the house approximately 68F on 1.5 cords of crap wood--we use the ends of 1x4 pine boards from a lumber yard we get for free.

My big recommendations are:

Post and beam--get the roof on first which will give a nice place to store bales from the weather while building.. I had to tarp mine and it wasn't a great solution.
Use Balecob techniques on all exterior walls and cob walls on interior walls.
Put an oversized Rocket Mass Heater somewhere central in the home. A rumford cob firepace is really nice for viewing, but won't heat anywhere close to an RMH. Build a garden wall and put the rumford there for a beautiful outdoor area.
Stay on the ground--meaning don't bother with a loft. The books always say build up because its cheaper. I haven't found this to be true and it is a pain to haul cob and stack bales higher than seven feet high.
Use propane for just a few things. I interchange 2 10lb tanks used for RVs and go through a tank every month and a half for on demand hot water and stove/oven.

Any specific questions about balecob feel free to ask or shoot me a purple mooseage. Good luck! and have fun.
 
A Johnson
Posts: 17
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Daniel Ray wrote:
Any specific questions about balecob feel free to ask or shoot me a purple mooseage. Good luck! and have fun.



Not late at all - thanks for the input! I will take a look - both at your building and cob cottage stuff.

My house will probably be around 200-300 sq. Ft. with no loft - So I’m a little worried about over-heating it - I saw a you tube video about the batch heater - loved the gothic arch on the top - so pretty. He said his building was poorly insulated tho. Using cob bale - even in zone 4 I feel I’ll probably have to be careful and have something I can really turn down. If I go with propane I am  considering Woodstock Soapstone’s Mini Franklin Stove - so pretty!
 
Posts: 29
Location: Southern NH
4
forest garden chicken homestead
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Have you considered Cord Wood construction.  It's on my list of "one of these days" projects.  Seems like it's often done in climates similar to ours.



Earthwood Website

As for over-heating the house - I guess that might be a concern, but it will be easier to open a window in a hot house than trying to find heat that isn't there.
 
A Johnson
Posts: 17
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Brian Michael wrote:Have you considered Cord Wood construction.  It's on my list of "one of these days" projects.  Seems like it's often done in climates similar to ours.



Earthwood Website

As for over-heating the house - I guess that might be a concern, but it will be easier to open a window in a hot house than trying to find heat that isn't there.



Thanks for the video - does that really last a long time? I would think the ends of the wood could be easily infiltrated by pests...True about the heat.
Thanks!
 
Anne Pratt
master pollinator
Posts: 385
Location: Vermont, USA
74
hugelkultur dog forest garden fungi foraging books chicken cooking medical herbs homestead
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Oh!  Wool felt shutters sound really warm.  On the other hand, with a rocket mass heater you might want some drafts.  <wink>  I love divided-light windows, too.  Our house has those fake muntins, which periodically get caught when we open windows and breaking.  

I just watched the video about Emma. (Thanks, John!) It takes my wish to live more simply to a higher degree, but it's not what I envision for myself.  That could have something to do with my age (67) and arthritis.  

But I love seeing what others are doing!  I do dream of being off grid, probably with solar.  We heat 90% with wood, but a wood cookstove would make sense off-grid.  (Or propane, I guess.)  And in the weather we are having this weekend, an outdoor kitchen looks better and better!  I don't even have a grill outside because we have had two unhappy encounters with bears.  One broke (and I mean broke) into my porch after the garbage can, which it dragged outdoors through a window creating the loudest racket that has ever awakened me!  The other tore open the chicken coop and made off with one of my chickens.  I am hesitant to do anything that might give them ideas.
 
John C Daley
pollinator
Posts: 1298
Location: Bendigo , Australia
79
dog gear plumbing earthworks bee building homestead
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I guess you need to build keeping on mind the locals.
Most of us think about thieves or dogs, not bears.
Is it possible to design and build in such a manner the bears cannot damage things.
Of course that means stronger and smarter design, no loose bins, heavier chook sheds.
Is it possible?
 
Anne Pratt
master pollinator
Posts: 385
Location: Vermont, USA
74
hugelkultur dog forest garden fungi foraging books chicken cooking medical herbs homestead
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

John C Daley wrote: I guess you need to build keeping on mind the locals.
Most of us think about thieves or dogs, not bears.
Is it possible to design and build in such a manner the bears cannot damage things.
Of course that means stronger and smarter design, no loose bins, heavier chook sheds.
Is it possible?



Everyone tells me that the real solution is an electric fence!

We have reinforced the chicken coop, but keep any smelly garbage in the freezer, adding it last to the bin before we go to the dump.  For some reason, they don't get into my compost pile, so the amount of garbage in the freezer is small!  I do think it might be hard to keep an outdoor kitchen from attracting bears, though.  Scrupulous cleaning, and as you point out, clever design!

I should note that most of my neighbors have outdoor grills.  But after two incidents, I continue to feel like our solution is best.  Maybe something small enough to lock in the house?  My partner just built the garage, and he is reluctant to store any bear attractants there.  When they want to break in, they can cause a lot of damage, even if they don't get in.
 
A Johnson
Posts: 17
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hello All ~

Well, here it is...a first try at a floor plan. I have looked into a pile of straw bale house books and have decided: too complicated for me!

The most important aspects of my design are, I want something that I, an unskilled builder can undertake with confidence. I also want something that I can afford without financing - tough! - so I need it to be small, one story, simple in concept and execution.

It is going to be cob. And I will make sure it has a moisture barrier, insulation and hydro radiant floor heat (propane) in the professionally installed slab. Since I want the roof to be as simple, strong and inexpensive as possible, I was thinking of doing a FLAT roof using 6”x6” beams - with sod on top. Yes, I live in a climate with heavy snow and I have not looked into this deeply, so shoot it down as nonsense if you must . I will probably have the slab and the roof made first by pros so that I can then do the cobbing myself.

So, the context of this plan is:
To the north, is the road and the driveway. (Around 75 feet away)
To the East is a wooded ravine with a stream at the bottom.
To the west is a view down the rolling 10 acre pasture (a long rectangle that runs east to west parallel to a dirt road)
To the south is the wooded edge of said pasture that goes down toward the stream as it wraps around the property as well.

My grid disappeared when I exported the plan from my program.
The best reference for size is my 5’x6’ bed in the northeast corner of the plan.

The bed will be raised off the floor 3 feet or so, and under will be pull out shelving (like a bookcase with a drawer pull on the end) to make full use of the cubic footage under the bed for storage.
To the west of the bed is the living room with a pair of out-swinging French doors facing south west
The kitchen has a floor to ceiling pantry made up of multiple (7, I think) vertical bookcase-like vertical pullout units side by side.
There is a Refrigerator and Freezer marked R and F.
Across from the East wall of the kitchen is a corner sink, a four foot prep counter and a couple propane burners in front of as many counter to ceiling windows as I can fit - I love casement style but on a budget, we’ll see!
Then comes the bathroom with a back door - on the East wall it has a top of the line composting toilet (I want as much ease as I can afford surrounding this process!) and across from it is a round tub under a window looking down the field. I want to embed a tiny round sink in the cob, as well.

Those bright orange dots are the ethanol burners I want to embed in spots around the house for supplemental heating to the radiant floor ~ and ambiance

Let me know what you think...
Thank you!
Anya

DE2FA10C-EE67-4728-B916-056BC00D1D44.png
[Thumbnail for DE2FA10C-EE67-4728-B916-056BC00D1D44.png]
 
Anne Pratt
master pollinator
Posts: 385
Location: Vermont, USA
74
hugelkultur dog forest garden fungi foraging books chicken cooking medical herbs homestead
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
This is exciting!

As you imagined, Vermonters are going to have a moment imagining your flat roof.  A way to build almost as simply could be with a shed roof - simply higher on one side (ideally the south) and lower on the other.  This increases your solar gain, insulates you further against the north, and solves some of the leaking/ice dam/load-bearing issues you'll encounter with a flat roof.  

Have you looked at the building code in the town?  Do it before you get too far along, so you don't do many hours of work only to face great disappointment.
 
A Johnson
Posts: 17
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Anne Pratt wrote:This is exciting!

As you imagined, Vermonters are going to have a moment imagining your flat roof.  A way to build almost as simply could be with a shed roof - simply higher on one side (ideally the south) and lower on the other.  This increases your solar gain, insulates you further against the north, and solves some of the leaking/ice dam/load-bearing issues you'll encounter with a flat roof.  

Have you looked at the building code in the town?  Do it before you get too far along, so you don't do many hours of work only to face great disappointment.



Thanks Anne!
Actually, one of the big reasons I chose the land is no zoning and no building codes
I agree about the drainage. Something to look into further.
Do you happen to know, being a vermonter, if there is any way to avoid putting in septic? I feel that low impact builders should be rewarded for not wanting to tear up the land, you know? I loved discovering from Emma in that youtube vid that her house was legal due to a low impact initiative of that country. Vermont is forward thinking in so many ways...I have not talked to anyone “official” about this yet...

Like Emma’s house, instead of having an eye catching facade, I’d like to blend as much as possible with my surroundings. What would be really cool is if I could put radiant heat in the roof as well as the floor, tip the roof toward the southwest and grow food there too Dreams....
 
Posts: 33
4
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I second the comment to go for a shed roof not a flat roof.
Also remember that rafters can form a cold bridge from the outside to the ceiling, causing condensation patches.
 
A Johnson
Posts: 17
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Douglas Campbell wrote:I second the comment to go for a shed roof not a flat roof.
Also remember that rafters can form a cold bridge from the outside to the ceiling, causing condensation patches.



Thanks! Shed roof it is. I have a book coming that explains how to make living roofs. Do you know of any resources that could help me avoid those “cold bridges” you speak of?
 
John C Daley
pollinator
Posts: 1298
Location: Bendigo , Australia
79
dog gear plumbing earthworks bee building homestead
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Cold bridges occur when there is a direct connection between the roofing iron and the interior of the building.
heat and cold can move both ways if your rafters were steel for instance.
So an insulating block is inserted against the iron roof to prevent movement by conduction of heat or cold.
Think about having a deep roof structure so plenty of insulation can be used.

The roof structure you are looking for may be called a skillion roof.

If you have a composting toilet, you maybe able to have a grease trap and read bed for the grey water. IE Kitchen, laundry and shower water.

 
A Johnson
Posts: 17
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Thanks for the info John - I will look into it!
 
Anne Pratt
master pollinator
Posts: 385
Location: Vermont, USA
74
hugelkultur dog forest garden fungi foraging books chicken cooking medical herbs homestead
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I didn't read all the regulations, but attached some resources.  Although my limited experience with this is that Vermont has very strict water quality rules, it appears there is hope!

Look at this website:  A hopeful tidbit

I've attached a PDF from the Vermont laws/regs.

Good luck!  Hope this is going to work out in your favor!
Filename: doineedapermit.15.10.09(1).pdf
Description: "Do I need a permit?" Vermont regs
File size: 253 Kbytes
 
pollinator
Posts: 3585
Location: Kansas Zone 6a
86
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Living roofs are typically VERY expensive because you have to build them so strong to deal with the weight, but your house is small enough it might be possible for not a lot extra.  I do know one guy that built a tiny house with a flat deck roof and then put a greenhouse on top as his second floor.  But it was tiny, like garden shed tiny.

I really like your layout.
 
A Johnson
Posts: 17
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Thanks for the doc on waste water rules Anne!

I also found this: https://www.uvm.edu/~vlrs/Environment/WasteWater.pdf

Apparently constructed wetlands (reed bed, as John mentioned) are more expensive than regular leach fields to install :/ disappointing.

I will probably go with a composting toilet and conventional waste water system of a reduced size.
 
A Johnson
Posts: 17
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

R Scott wrote:Living roofs are typically VERY expensive because you have to build them so strong to deal with the weight, but your house is small enough it might be possible for not a lot extra.  I do know one guy that built a tiny house with a flat deck roof and then put a greenhouse on top as his second floor.  But it was tiny, like garden shed tiny.

I really like your layout.



Thanks R :)

Yes - that makes sense. I got the book “Building Green” which showed the structure in a cutaway - complex. Great book though.

Hehe - I’ll probably end up in garden shed tiny just so to stay out of debt :)
 
Anne Pratt
master pollinator
Posts: 385
Location: Vermont, USA
74
hugelkultur dog forest garden fungi foraging books chicken cooking medical herbs homestead
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Anya, thanks for the link.  Interesting!  Sometimes all that's needed is to take an interest, and I can learn something!

It's too bad you have to abandon your plans for the green roof and the constructed wetland.  I think it's hard to make a green roof that is slanted adequately for the snow, though.  Better you can't grow plants overhead than the roof come down on top of you when it has 3 feet of snow followed by a long rain!  Maybe your garden shed can have a green roof!

Looking forward to your other adventures.


 
gardener
Posts: 3111
Location: Upstate NY, zone 5
152
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
With the skinny layout shown, spanning with 6-8" logs could easily support a full-scale green roof.

If you are really going with cob walls, you should be aware of just how much hard labor is involved. Minimizing surface to volume is not just a heating issue, but it will take considerably more time and effort to build the long indented outline than a more compact outline. For the same effort and very little more cost, you could get significantly more space with a convex shape of that much wall, or less effort and cost for the same space and less wall. The bathroom could be moved to where the pantry is, pantry moved out in front of it, jog in west wall eliminated, and you would have the same space with less cob to build. You would also get significantly more morning and midday sun inside in winter. I find that with my main windows oriented south-southeast, I get a flood of cheery morning sun to warm up the space in winter. The plan shown would get no sun at all except on the bed space until afternoon.

What is your social and financial situation? Can you call on a goodly group of friends to help cob, or afford a strong helper? What is the clay supply? Have you investigated the character of the land? My sister is in eastern NH and they have mostly sand and rock, no clay, and friends in northeast VT I visited recently have pockets of silty soil but nothing really good enough for structural cob.
gift
 
Rocket Mass Heater Manual
will be released to subscribers in: soon!
reply
    Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic