• 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 pie forums private forums all forums
this forum made possible by our volunteer staff, including ...
master stewards:
  • Carla Burke
  • John F Dean
  • Nancy Reading
  • r ranson
  • Jay Angler
  • Pearl Sutton
stewards:
  • Leigh Tate
  • paul wheaton
  • Nicole Alderman
master gardeners:
  • Timothy Norton
  • Christopher Weeks
gardeners:
  • Saana Jalimauchi
  • Jeremy VanGelder
  • Ulla Bisgaard

gabions - combining the wisdom (and time saving) of a stick built house.. with earthbag designs?

 
pollinator
Posts: 108
38
  • Likes 7
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hi, i've been kind of idle for a bit focused on college and health issues, but now that i'm hopefully ready to move onto a next phase planning for an off grid alternative house is at the forefront of my mind.

I've loved the earthbag design for a long time mostly due to it's frugality.  I've watched a discussion of alternative fill materials pooh poohed because then it's no longer dirt holding the form of the house together if bags rip over time - gravel being dissed a bit, although what i've always wanted to do was things like scoria, perlite, volcanic rock, maybe even ricehulls.  Things lighter/easier to handle and more insulative, but perhaps if bags rip that's a problem.  Though having seen someone use netted bags (even cheaper than earthbags) and i'd think blocks of volcanic rock especially would interlock to some degree the individual bags together if the plaster held the outer wall parts together...

Time is money in the building of a house but also in my rambling.  I better jump to the point.  

A house is going to cost in either time or dollars and you can switch things from one to another based on which you have an abundance of.  Going for absolute zero dollars if it wastes time isn't a winner for me, just trying to minimize total all in cost.  Ie the hours of work i'd have to do at a wage job offsetting the cost of a better way to do a thing.

What I most like about the earthbag design is youre basically taking a cheap container, and filling it with a cheap or onsite/free fill material, and that it's viable for making domed roofs and foundations as well as the walls when the walls are usually the least expensive part honestly.  (strawbales using an expensive conventional foundation and roof making not alot of sense for me and not even saving money much of the time by what I hear)  Heck you could almost put stick built walls up to save time (as earthbags are a big cost in time and hassle per cubic foot filled whereas the walls are the cheapest by comparison to roof/foundation) and things like that is almost what i'm now thinking...


We need to rethink the container, along with the fill materials (only a little bit).  Why aren't we already doing this?  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gabion





Stick built houses are about SAVE TIME SAVE TIME SAVE TIME labor is expensive in the first world.  I'm going to college still (trying to finally transition into grad school, it's taken longer than normal because i'm disabled adding further problems to my ability to do high volume work when an earthbag house is already ALOT of work) and holding off a career to build a house I may need to be living in before I even finish school is now a reality.  So i'm going to be balancing more college work with trying to build an off grid house.  I dont have the time!! D:

Or we need to rethink it.  Stick built walls go up fast - posts, container (the walls) for insulation, the insulation itself.  Honestly about like a gabion container, except these metal crates stack!

The mesh is too coarse - not a problem, lets add some finer grained webbing - like the kind used for vegetable and onion bags.  (I forget the term but I already saw someone planning to use it for earthbags and its even cheaper than bag-bags)  Even if the bags eventually degraded the gabion containers themselves should prevent any large scale sideways movement of the wall.  Or use chickenwire for finer mesh that will keep volcanic rock in place for instance.

Yes the containers are too wide - were not building a pyramid, I get that, but that's another 'mistake'.  Earthbags self stack atop one another and have to be a certain width to get a certain height.  So lets go back to the wisdom of stick built houses - just put in some framing.  But let's make it super low cost, simplified, or even on-site type framing.  Like reusing telephone poles, or rough hewn felled trees instead of 2x4's to stick through the gabion cages so that you have more vertical stability.  Don't get too earthbaggey in your thinking, framing isnt BAD it just isn't as cheap as it could be with modern wood esp with rising wood prices, plus we'd like to use less.  You even might be able to use reclaimed metal from some source or another I haven't fully thought through yet... i'm just publically brainstorming.



Under for a foundation i'd be concerned about the metal cages lasting as long as they would above grade so i'm fine doing rubble trench or any number of other things there.

The roofing, normally the most expensive part, the idea of using gabion crates and finer mesh or polypropylene inside, but this time filled just with rice hulls - one of the lighter bulk materials (a little nervous about having anything heavy overhead in a design like this) that's an alternative to fiberglass and it's health/inhalation issues which I don't like.  Alternately I might use recycled styrofoam, which could even include bags of packing peanuts (are those fire resistant?) thrown into earthbags.

Things like running utilites thru the wall become easy if you put things in place before filling the gabions with volcanic rock.


Now big thick metal like the picture with the rocks wouldn't HAVE to be used, part of that is for weight and stackability among other things, if were using much lighter infill it will be less.  Heck it could even be non metal - there might be fiberglass or other alternatives that would work here.  Are you familiar with Hesco barriers like the army uses and which they can quickly fill with two dumps of a forklift?




So sound off...  brilliant, stupid, or somewhere in between?  What problems do you see if i'm set on attempting this anyways?  Really what were doing is designing what amounts to a house of lego-bricks where each lego brick is really a wire-basket-container, with or without inexpensive/improvised framing (when the framing costs less than a thicker wall and it's infill, we use framing, if freestacking and optionally wiring together cubes for stability is cheaper, we do that) and able to use bulk inexpensive insulative materials approaching superinsulation levels even if the per-inch rating is not spectacular.

The simple fact is that I need a house design that's inexpensive in both hours AND time and can go up kind of quick-ish, and it's fine if I expand it later - honestly the big lego like cubes seem like it'd be easy to start with a one room tiny house and later expand things the 2nd and 3rd summers, squares being easier to do this with than round and oval shapes to some degree.  I need something the size of an RV (any size RV, not just the 40 foot monsters) that I can finish the first summer despite being less than fully physically abled between me and my girlfriend after which we don't mind adding the same or more square footage in future summers.

Even if this isn't perfect housing it might also be another option for outbuilding construction, or first attempted as outbuilding construction if there's too many iffy variables.

 
Posts: 18
Location: Allen Park, United States
1
fungi earthworks building
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Gabions are great if you have enough of the right material for it.  I just bought an old gravel pit and I have mountains of 2-6" rock for material.  I plan to build quite a few walls and fence line using gabion.

I see companies selling stainless steel cages for them, but I plan to use something like cattle panel from tractor supply.  I can always coat the cage if I need to bury partial.  Its galvanized and I have been using it outdoors for 10+ years without an issue.

What area are you in, most of the buildings I have seen so far are in warmer areas.  Not to say I can't make it insulated, I am in northern Michigan.  I could see possibly integrating a RMH into your walls.

Let me know if you build something.  I would be interested to see.
 
steward
Posts: 15123
Location: USDA Zone 8a
4150
dog hunting food preservation cooking bee greening the desert
  • Likes 6
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I was pretty sure I had seen gabion houses on Pinterest so I looked and yes they are there.

You have a great idea.

Maybe these will help you figure out how to do what you are wanting to do:


source


source

You can even buy the cages:


source

This cordwood house uses the gabions for the foundation:


source
 
pollinator
Posts: 5207
Location: Bendigo , Australia
439
plumbing earthworks bee building homestead greening the desert
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Brian, I have to tell you that building a home will cost time or money as you have said and hard work.
I use a different mindset about house building.
Nothing is cheap or expensive- its affordable or not. Because those words are too general they distort reality.
I look at the cost of components and note if they are beneficial or not. IE Earthbags save time, and the money used to buy them would buy a window for instance.
If I wince everytime I spent money the job would not start.
PLANNING I go through this process;
- total cost I hope it costs
- amount of money I have
- What do I want?
- what do I need?
- how much time is there to complete it?
- how long do I want to spend doing the work, compared with getting help or prefabricated parts?
- what size. roof material, windows etc
- where will I build it, what direction will it face?
-what materials and building technique?
Materials I have used;
- adobe
- stick framed 150mm thick walls
- strawbale
- rock and bricks
- tyres filled with earth but not as an earthship
- concrete
- recycled anything
- repurposed items which can be turned into a building material. IE Coolroom panels
- old street sign posts
- bolt together garage and relined
- secondhand building
If you live where it rains, concrete foundations are necessary to prevent movement and water creeping inside if you use earthbags.
Do you have any limitations in what you can physically do?


 
Rocket Scientist
Posts: 4389
Location: Upstate NY, zone 5
522
5
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
If you live where it rains, concrete foundations will wick damp up to the walls, and must be isolated with waterproof membranes or other methods.

A rubble trench foundation with stones and little sand or other fines near the top will give the damp-resistant construction you need, and if deep enough or well insulated and on a good subsoil will not shift after initial settling.
 
John C Daley
pollinator
Posts: 5207
Location: Bendigo , Australia
439
plumbing earthworks bee building homestead greening the desert
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Glenn you are correct about the variations of the foundations and the need for moisture barriers.
But concrete for all its issues is fast and easy.
You need a lot of local rocks and heavy labour to collect and install rocks.
 
Glenn Herbert
Rocket Scientist
Posts: 4389
Location: Upstate NY, zone 5
522
5
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Yes, it's a matter of resources and time. If you have lots of rock available and the stamina to move it, rubble is great. If not, concrete works as long as you handle it right.
 
Posts: 2
  • Likes 4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
This is a great thread, thanks for starting the conversation!

I like the look of the gabion as well. The thermal mass would be awesome for storing heat or cool.

Thinking through two issues I can see with it would be structural integrity with larger bin sizes, so would smaller ones have greater support? Maybe adding reinforcing wire at multiple points in the center of each bin to keep from bulging out, especially around the bottom course?

Another potential issue would be air transmission due to the spaces between the larger aggregate. Depending on the climate this could be beneficial or a detractor. Installing an air barrier material in the wall below your exterior surface or interior surface finishes may be helpful.

Good luck!
 
Posts: 77
40
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Shipping containers are like big gabions if you think about it.  I always thought they would make great foundations and an instant garage / workshop / deck space. I would use a thinner gabion wall to dress up the containers over time.  They are beautiful and add so much texture.

I've worked with rice hulls in my bedding business, mice love them so be careful of who else will want to live in your walls!

We built a straw bale house and yes, expensive upfront (overbuilt foundation and roof needed) even though we did most of the building ourselves - only saves money in the long run.  If built passive solar, you only need to run the heat for a few hours a day and almost nothing you need to maintain compared to stick built walls.  

A tornado recently came through our neighborhood and this is not an area known for this type of extreme weather.
Build for the worst case scenario no matter where you are.  

Advice starting out is to consult with your local building dept. or an engineer / architect who knows the area you are building.  For example our house on paper was 2 bedroom, one bath with a composting toilet but the zoning made us install a septic system that could handle a 2 bath, four bedroom house with all conventional systems, regardless of what we wanted.  

One of the largest costs of our house was rent while we built.  If we had built something small to live in first, then built our main house we would not have a mortgage today, but then we also may not have a "fairly finished" house either as once you move onto your land and you are comfortable, work tends to slow down.  Human nature
 
Posts: 81
25
3
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
We are just completing a house remodel with a full basement. The walls for the basement are gabion baskets. I even got an engineer to sign off on the design (in Missoula), in order to get a building permit. It's hugely labor intensive, but we accomplished the goal: minimal use of concrete. Anyone interested I very much am open to give tours.
Our standard Missoula stick-frame, 1940s home is now an all-electric, net-zero home. We have enough solar panels to heat and light the place - paying only $4 a month to NorthWestern Energy (for administration costs). This house in Missoula uses a ground-source heat-pump (using a well) and in-floor tubing.
 
pollinator
Posts: 1292
Location: zone 4b, sandy, Continental D
374
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
No matter where you live, anything a person builds will have to have an exterior cladding that is waterproof/critter-proof. All the arrangements inside will be secondary and can be undertaken at your own pace. I don't know how cheaply one can procure gabions but I look at the price of cattle panels at $21 a pop around here: They are only 16 ft long and 4ft. high and it seems that gabions, whose strands of metal are closer together are probably a lot  more $$$. They sure would make beautiful thick walls and they could be finished up in a variety of ways.
Filling these things with rocks and stacking them seems to me a herculean task. I probably could fill the bottom row of gabions, but then hoisting another gabion on top, then filling it with rocks? I am mostly limited by my age and waning strength. Depending what you fill them with and how skillful you are at preventing them from bulging under the weight of more gabions filled with rocks on top, it may work ... or not. Would you have access to short logs to put in those gabions? Wood is lighter to handle and could be fastened to prevent bulging? It is also a much better insulator than rocks?
I know that around here [central WI.]  poured concrete walls would  be cheaper and faster than amassing large amounts of rocks. Maybe it is because it is super sandy here and rocks would have to be trucked, adding greatly to the cost. A lot depends on what's available for a reasonable price in your area, of course. Again, it costs nothing to ask for an estimate. A friend of mine got it done that way and the insulation was also poured at the same time. They told me it was cheaper than cinder blocks, especially when you consider the labor: Labor is very expensive, but if you reduce the amount of time from a week to a day or two, you are far ahead getting it poured. The basement was poured and the walls too, with the insulation. It looks beautiful. They are doing all the finishing themselves.
Germaine to that are also modular walls, especially for the inside, but just to toy with the idea:[It costs nothing to dream]
https://www.versare.com/shop/modular-walls/?utm_source=google&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=(ROI)%20DSA&utm_content=&utm_term=&kw=&cpn=969579044&utm_term=&utm_campaign=(ROI)+DSA&utm_source=adwords&utm_medium=ppc&hsa_acc=6636857300&hsa_cam=969579044&hsa_grp=138406151970&hsa_ad=633283386366&hsa_src=g&hsa_tgt=dsa-1881719248945&hsa_kw=&hsa_mt=&hsa_net=adwords&hsa_ver=3&gclid=CjwKCAiA76-dBhByEiwAA0_s9eAbHUGD_Ubg9QJMpkbow1Q_SvpuPDg8DQpMX8wZ7s1pYy7hen42FRoCrJAQAvD_BwE
Speaking of what's available, a good idea would be to check on shipping containers in your area. Some are used, some are new, and asking doesn't cost anything. It is usually quoted with the delivery price because, of course, delivery and set up isn't something that everyone can do. You would have to prepare the site and make it level, maybe get it excavated if the first one would be your root cellar? You would at least have a box that you can work from/ live in, then add another if you wish, without going too far into debt. If your strength/ physical limitations make building difficult, that's something to keep in mind: You would own, quickly and for a modest price a box that you can use and build on, at your own pace.
You sound like a guy who has a lot of energy and willingness to endure to bring your dream to life. That's a great quality. If your mate looks at things the same way, there is nothing the two of you cannot accomplish.
Let us know how you are coming. We are pulling for you.
 
Cécile Stelzer Johnson
pollinator
Posts: 1292
Location: zone 4b, sandy, Continental D
374
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
A 10 ft X20 ft. dry shipping container is just under $3,000.
https://www.container-xchange.com/search-results-trading/?location=US&container=TWENTY_DRY_CONTAINER&action=buy
Something to think about...
 
Brian Shaw
pollinator
Posts: 108
38
  • Likes 4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I havent responded on this in awhile but I still check on occasion...

Someone said "filling gabions with rock would be a herculean task"...

Why must it be rock?

Earthbags arent necessarily filled with rock, or sometimes they use light stuff - perlite, vermiculite, lava rock, rice hulls.

What if the gabion was filled with... earthbags?  Of something else light like rice hulls?

Instant insulation, larger structure, should go up fast.  Or maybe you put a layer of 'earthbags' in the gabion on one side with gravel and then a layer of earthbags on the inside with the insulation.

I'm looking for fast ways to build walls, and ways to support a roof.  The metal grates of gabions are just a coarse mesh - to hold finer mesh things like earthbags - to hold even finer and lighter material in my book.  I'd never use it just to slab up rocks by the ton let alone by hand.

One idea I thought of was to put up gabions and then stick a quonset on the top since youve raised the walls a bit gaining ceiling height for some of the less wide spans.
 
Posts: 542
119
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I am one of the first people to think outside the box, so I love new ways to do things but age has also made me realize people do things in traditional ways for a reason.

I LOVE the concept of gabions but unfortunately also hate snakes and while I might live in the only state in the nation without poisonous ones, the idea of snakes all through my house still creeps me out.

I don’t mind rats, but I don’t want to live among them either and so rice hulls are out for me as well.

Finally there is something to be said for longevity. Something that lasts “20 years” is a lifetime when you are 20, but at 50 I have had to fix a lot of galvanized stuff because it does not last very long. That is the problem with corrosion, it is not a linear path. It will look great for 15 years but as the zinc wears off, in a scant 5 years it goes from looking great to failure. On some stuff that is okay, like a barn, but it really sucks to be 55 and having to replace EVERYTHING you did at 25 because of corrosion and poor material choices.

That is why it’s best to really consider all aspects of a material before building a home. Time has proven to me that most times in life the harder thing to do, is most often the best thing to do.

Does that meant stick built?

Probably stone, but with mortar because I hate snakes.

😀😀😀

 
Brian Shaw
pollinator
Posts: 108
38
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Also the bit about cattle panels and such is part of my public brainstorming...  i'm aware it would be a coarse 'grid' but perhaps given a layer of some kind of poly netting around (anything)bags it would serve to stabilize an anythingbag wall...  turn whats normally a bit of a stacking challenge where I see things mostly settle due to mass and barbed wire into stacking like lego blocks able to give larger structures and squared off corners.

There's a wisdom to stick built houses and it's about saving time for the laborers - things that go up fast - how can we combine the originally intended benefits of earthbags... using on site materials, using container tensile strength to replace or bolster some aspects of structural strength, and expand that idea?

Like when someone talked about hauling in rock - the whole point of earthbags, bag the dirt in the area.  On site.  If you had alot of fieldstone on site gabions could be great - if you didn't, you'd want to use something else.  Whats the cheapest material you can get hauled in by the yard?  Maybe urbanite (crushed roadway).  Maybe you could find some other 'overage' delivery, somebody had 15 yards of something delivered and 3 yards left they didn't need, dump it on my property over there... we'll eventually use the loader and either dump the large chunks right into a gabion, or the small chunks into earthbags that are then placed inside a gabion.

It doesnt have to be an earthbag it could be other types of even cheaper woven poly netting (I forget the name but things like they put onions and some fruits in) that would help structure smaller chunks of rock, to hold together enough to just not leak out the side of the walls outright..


Take the idea further...  building with the lego blocks of gabions, we can just put durable cladding right on the outside, maybe corrugated iron.  Maybe you dont like living in a tin can but if i'm in the forest in our modern world of changing climate and forest fires and i'd really like a fire resistant house making me favor metal and stone on all outer surfaces.


Since i'm thinking on the run my mind is back on the idea of sticking a quonset atop a gabion wall 4-8 feet tall to get the roof up, like one of those car sized arches so I could get some over-car storage so its almost more of a loft.  

This makes me also like the idea of a lightweight roof!  I see some designs for say earthen roofs which on one hand seem cool but then imagine the weight overhead and if anything ever had a structural issue...  big sturdy walls go ahead make them heavy.  Roof?  Keep it light, tie it down to the big heavy walls...  light roof like the soft-soded quonset, with some kind of lightweight insulation (not sure what yet) to keep the heat in... hmm...  help me expand this idea into new areas?
 
master pollinator
Posts: 1633
Location: Ashhurst New Zealand (Cfb - oceanic temperate)
509
duck trees chicken cooking wood heat woodworking homestead
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I guess the only major drawback to a lightweight roof structure is its lack of ability to handle loads. Think snow and high winds. But if you're building in an area that has neither of these factors it could be a win. And that's not to say that there are no methods to do a roof span that aren't both light on materials and strong enough to withstand loading. Think timbrel vaults. A skin of tiles as the outer roof surface with a light suspension layer holding the insulation in place would be pretty nifty.
 
John C Daley
pollinator
Posts: 5207
Location: Bendigo , Australia
439
plumbing earthworks bee building homestead greening the desert
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
GABIONS
- Quality gabions are hot dipped galvanised and will not deteriorate.
- By definition, if rocks are not used they are not Gabions,
LIGHTWEIGHT ROOF
It is possible to have a light weight roof that can carry snow loads.
But normally by definition they dont, but with good design they can be created and remove the need for cranes and heavy equipment to move large beams.
 
Brian Shaw
pollinator
Posts: 108
38
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Phil Stevens wrote:I guess the only major drawback to a lightweight roof structure is its lack of ability to handle loads. Think snow and high winds. But if you're building in an area that has neither of these factors it could be a win. And that's not to say that there are no methods to do a roof span that aren't both light on materials and strong enough to withstand loading. Think timbrel vaults. A skin of tiles as the outer roof surface with a light suspension layer holding the insulation in place would be pretty nifty.



Well lets just define in a different direction then...  I LIKE a strong roof over my head, I LIKE something that might even be overengineered for safety reasons.  What I find I dislike is a roof over my head that if something caused things to collapse including because I was neither a perfect engineer or builder is more likely to murder me in my sleep.    Designs for cheap roofing that I would have considered even two years ago like strawbale arches or even some sloping earthbag wall designs whose only prevention of horizontal movement is some bailing wire i'm finding myself less wanting to use now.  I'm not saying they can't be safe - i'm saying since I have no experience with building them, i'm not sure if i'll FEEL safe the first year or two, and I also find myself thinking even if i'd tolerate it for myself do I want my wife sleeping under something i'm less than 100% on to save money - less so there.

Outside of something like monolithic concrete domes overhead, once upon a time I never thought about it, you live in a house other people build and you take everything for granted.  Just like if all you do is write a check for a home you probably don't care what design choices were made.  If you find yourself wanting or needing to BUILD the house both things change.  Now that i'm in the latter category of wanting to build something off the beaten path i'm looking at the overhead required to put things overhead and it's a pain in the butt.  Just like I used to have a fascination with underground housing but I look at the equipment and engineering changes required for that and increasingly find myself returning to some median norm mean middle of the road "lets just leave the dang house at ground level and be done with it afterall".  When I get myself a skid steer perhaps at least the latter will change, and if I later own a boomlift i'll probably change my feelings about overhead structures on my FIRST house.

Conventional stick built house roofs probably hold wind and snow no better than a soft sided heavy canvas temporary quonset building from places like Clearspan.  (and if i'm wrong, it's not because they couldn't - they just need slightly thicker canvas and metal poles, just like quonsets built from corrugated panels the strength is in the design, but you can have panels as thin as possible or overbuilt like they did in WW2 to let you pile on 6 feet of earth, the 'eggshell' gets thicker but the design of the eggshell is solid)


John C Daley wrote:GABIONS
- Quality gabions are hot dipped galvanised and will not deteriorate.
- By definition, if rocks are not used they are not Gabions,
LIGHTWEIGHT ROOF
It is possible to have a light weight roof that can carry snow loads.
But normally by definition they dont, but with good design they can be created and remove the need for cranes and heavy equipment to move large beams.



I'm very curious about what might qualify as improvised gabion structures...  Marc Mance mentioned the cattle panels from fleet farm...  I now love you.    I'm not sure what the official price of official anything is but i'm always looking for ways to either repurpose or modify less specialized objects to do the same job - maybe that be the basis of a cheaper homebuilt gabion lego set.  Maybe it doesn't cost as much brand new cattle panels vs brand new gabions - but some people buy things used or surplus or overstock or throwaway and then... repurpose or modify.

Maybe the mesh of cattle panel gabions is too coarse - okay fine, maybe I throw chain link fencing inside that and now it's a much finer mesh to hold fieldstone captive, and maybe it still costs less than bought gabions.  I don't know i'm just brainstorming in public, it's why I started this topic.  Sharing my thoughts and trying to tap others thoughts on this topic which I can't say i've seen really explored ever in alternative construction forums so maybe i'll be the first to build this way and write articles about it.  I was hoping maybe someone else had done it and there might be an obscure book on the subject to save me more of a learning curve.  Just like since nobody else seems to ever have i'm going to do an article on geocell driveways parking and entry roads and why you want to do them instead of whatever you originally planned and alot of you will wish you would have known of them years ago.  Remind me to write it later if I forget, i'm just trying to figure out my own use of gabions first because i'm trying to formalize this part of my plans to build within 1-3 years finally for sure after years of struggle.

At some point I realize I might be reinventing the wheel or overcomplicating things by having more than one layer of at least metal mesh, I haven't yet priced out 'new' gabion cages or figured out all the different alternative ways to build less expensive ones - my goal is not to create work for itself, but just save more of the combined time/money aspect depending on what ends up being available opportunistically in the future.  If i'm earning say $20/hr AFTER tax and it costs me $100/hr to hire out people then it's the same job to pay $2000 in labor or do 100hrs of my own work.  At some point the balancing act tips towards money, at other times towards time. (or creating a job for a friend to do for me)  Right now I have an excess of thinking time to better reduce the total combined time cost (time to earn money vs time to do the job myself) but my options to borrow alot of money to build a house are very limited so I need plans that are "build/expand as I get funding and slowly build/buy equipment and tools".

If I have to bring everything around full circle i'll just point to my original topic - respecting the wisdom of stick built houses which is combining a frame, an envelope, and some kind of insulation that could be infills or bags or batts, being less focused on "I can do this for free/cheap" and more focused on "I need to get this sh__ DONE" even if money is still scarce.  We only pay for anything in time.  We either pay time to do it ourself (or time to save money), we pay in worktime converted to money we saved up, or we borrow money (borrow future time) spending 150k over 30 years to pay for a 50k house with interest for some bankers.

My designs by definition are designed around respecting a combined scarcity of time AND money, probable limited help, probable limited tools for purchase or rent or ability to get where I need to use them at a tolerable price, and it's designed around build-or-expand-as-you-go, All these are top priorities for me.  I'm not afraid of unconventional houses, ugly houses, and I plan a careful balancing line where housing code is involved (gabions under a quonset roof may be fine for my garage or workshop but not for even a quonset house, I don't know) but I know i'm going to be building with these somewhere on my property once I have it.


Like let me hit the reset button (yet again) and look at the different ways to make just a wall.  Earthbags are about using cheap bags stacked with on-site material (nothing to haul in but the bags) and even though they are time saving, compared to something like hand rammed earth, they still take more TIME than sticking up some 2x4's and some drywall and batt insulation.  There's got to be an even faster way to put up an 'earthbag' wall even if theyre not bags and not full of earth.  I'm really really keen on the idea of using either ricehulls personally (about as light as you can find, resistant to mold/insect/and I think vermin..?) or lava rock to fill earthbags to begin with, that's going to be way easier to handle and stack than bags of dirt, and becomes super insulative.  It's what I was going to do if I ever did 'earthbag' anything was experiment with those two fill materials.  I'm not using onsite dirt but hauling in a tote full of ricehulls or a trailer full of lavarock is a different animal from hauling in 10-15 cubic yards on a multiaxle delivery.

I'm just trying to take this to the next level - i've seen people use strawbales as 'infill' in a wire mesh in stick built houses.  I've seen earthbag 'infill' of earthbags (full of whatever) behind a wire mesh in stick built houses.  You might even say the ultimate expression of my idea would just be to manufacture a steel frame house of wire mesh (similar to monolithic concrete domes or custom multiple curvature forms) which is simply stuffed top to bottom with ricehull or lavarock (in or out of bags depending on wire mesh size).  It would go up super quick, fill with superinsulation levels in any shape to any thickness with less work - just pour it in, and not be too heavy to handle even without excessive equipment.  But the steel mesh and framing would still be more expensive than i'd like and have to be custom made instead of stacked like Lego brick gabion walls.  So stacking Lego brick gabion walls is my Plan B.  



I realize how many maybes and mights are in the previous page.  This is the consequence of stretching into unexplored territory. [sorry about the compulsive editing, sometimes I don't know how to say it until I see how poorly what I typed previously actually reads]
 
John C Daley
pollinator
Posts: 5207
Location: Bendigo , Australia
439
plumbing earthworks bee building homestead greening the desert
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Brian, can I say that because you change subjects so quickly its hard to keep up.
I will highlight my speaking points;
Gabions
- are built with quality when they are fabricated and then hot dipped galvanised.
- budget ones are made from zinc plated products which is not as good
- technical books abound, I have some.
- Do some searching
Stick houses
- Can be as strong as you need when designed for the purpose
- In Australia we have the "Timber ``framing Design manual"
LIGHT weight Roof
- Again designed properly they will handle almost anything.
- Its bread and butter wrk for Civil Engineers.
- Manuals are available as well in Australia.
GEOCELL
Geocells are used in construction to reduce erosion, stabilize soil, protect channels, and provide structural reinforcement for load support and earth retention on slopes during the period when grass and plants are being established..
Geocells were first developed in the early 1990s as a way to improve the stability of roads and bridges.
They are used extensively where 100% runoff is not wanted from paved areas and where the blandness and heat reflection from solid [concrete] surfaces are unwanted.

 
Brian Shaw
pollinator
Posts: 108
38
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

John C Daley wrote:Brian, can I say that because you change subjects so quickly its hard to keep up.



Hehee sorry about that, i'm a bundle of ideas with unsure implimentation as of yet.  Sometimes it's hard to figure out what to focus on first, or at all as the best direction to brainstorm in.
 
Steve Zoma
Posts: 542
119
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
It all depends on what you want, your belief system, and your time investment into a home.

My house is a timber frame, but almost all the materials came off the land here. That meant felling the trees, sawing them into lumber, and building my home. The concrete was mixed from gravel from my gravel pit, and all the slate came from hand-split rock in back of the house. It was a labor of love and took me 28 years of building from a 500 square foot small house to the 3400 square foot home it is today. But "doing as much for myself" is a personal drive of mine. In my mind it was done right, with lots of insulation and thus is easy to heat, but I live in Maine where it gets very cold over our long winters.

But quick is not always bad, its just expensive.

But some people need that. When a person gets married, and a baby is on the way...things become quite different. (It is AMAZING how much space a newborn human just 21 inches long and weighing 7 pounds needs for space), but then life is no longer about just a single person either, but rather three, and priorities really change.

You can still build with traditional products and make a home unique however. The baseboard in my home is a great example. It was cut in a way that it "sweeps" around all corners, rising and falling around doors and corners, with cut-outs of various things. For my late-son's room, tractors. For my daughter's room... hearts, and for my master bedroom, shamrocks as is pictured. The point is, you can invest time in something as mundane as baseboard and make it special. You are right, no contractor likes to spend time on a project, and my own baseboard shows that. It is a unique home because I spent time on it.
DSCN0924.JPG
Shamrock Baseboard
Shamrock Baseboard
 
John C Daley
pollinator
Posts: 5207
Location: Bendigo , Australia
439
plumbing earthworks bee building homestead greening the desert
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Steve, that is a nice story.
 
Brian Shaw
pollinator
Posts: 108
38
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Steve Zoma wrote:It all depends on what you want, your belief system, and your time investment into a home.



In my case it depends upon my wallet, my available tools and help, and limited time.  

I'm in a position where i'm basically starting over financially in my late 40's due to a series of catastrophes that weren't my fault but that I still have to live with.  I bounce ideas off the public because i'm trying to better refine my own thoughts, headcheck my analysis, or ask for alternate interpretations and readings of what direction I might go to best solve my problems.

When I first got to this board i'd come off a bit of an alternative housing depression, having read an article from someone else in a not dissimilar situation who commented that alternative housing is only an option for the idle poor not the working poor.  You can build a dirt cheap house out of dirt if 10,000 hours means nothing to you.

The ultimate currency is always time.  What we are usually doing if were capable of some DIY but not everything is deciding "do I spend money OR time on this?"  Borrowing money requires paying back with interest, but only if they will loan to you which may not happen on untested ideas on new unimproved land.  I'm not going to be getting a 30 year mortgage on anything - so in addition to reduced money, reduced time, I need "build as you go".

In the future I hope/plan to have more money - this will let me hire others to help expand, but in the beginning i'm starting with what I have.

Money buys other peoples time - ill be happy to write a check in 5-8 years.  I just can't write those checks now.

In the future I hope to have other fancy tools and machines relevant to DIY.  I just am not starting with those.


Steve Zoma wrote:
It was a labor of love and took me 28 years of building from a 500 square foot small house to the 3400 square foot home it is today. But "doing as much for myself" is a personal drive of mine.



I'm happy to plan to expand and extend anything over the years, just like I want to invest in other permaculture solutions of all sorts.  But the house is just the house.  I'm more interested in getting food production up ASAP for instance.  Simple house, good workshop, then get to the food - rather be DIY alot of food in 2 years than 6 years by simplifying plans to build faster.

Steve Zoma wrote:But quick is not always bad, its just expensive.



It's less about quick and more about reducing the hours needed.  Technology lets me save time.  So does better design.

Hand ramming earthen walls or into tires is free but if I get a degree and make good money it's not how I want to spend a weekend.  Give me a machine.

Slabs usually suck as a foundation.  Lot of money, lot of concrete, lot of energy and carbon impact and you still have something that cracks, settles, then needs mudjacking or something pricey patching a stupid solution not possible without energy subsidies to exist in the first place.

Deep foundations for the win.  Pouring concrete even as piles needs some time to set and involves hauling weight from off-property and a mixer.  Something like helical piles or earth screws is just plain faster able to be used instantly (they use them with solar panels all the time and immediately attach the panel) and it's less injurous to the earth too.

So I iteratively keep going over The Plan trying to find further ways to trim the fat, reduce the hours/ money/ time/ energy footprint/ pollution/ waste/ overbuilding.  I still want something I can expand in the future when I have more money and tools, but even if i'm paying for someone else to do it i'd like to reduce the hours of the job.

Steve Zoma wrote:But some people need that. When a person gets married, and a baby is on the way...things become quite different.



Thats my problem, not a baby but just needing to have a darn place to live on private land while still struggling through grad school and expecting to be working, not personally building in the future.  But once I have the place, other people get invited to help impliment the permaculture we all will share.  I'll be the breadwinner hopefully, but i'll never have the time to do all the work-work.  My own version of a 'permaculture for humans/social permaculture' is creating communities where you intentionally create and provide jobs - if you dont have a family, you create a community or bolster a network of friends.

Steve Zoma wrote:You can still build with traditional products and make a home unique however.



It's not a need or desire for traditional products - just the 'wisdom and time saving' of designing around the implied cost of labor, even if you can DIY there are still possibly better things to do with your time and let one of your friends do the DIY the way you would have done it.  Create a job for them.  There's a man i'm trying to rescue from chronic homelessness right now, he can do all kinds of house type building projects.  In the future i'm happy to go finish my degree and get a paycheck then just let him take over building duties.  I'll still want to design a tiny house, with minimum work hours, because my goal is just like permaculture tries to be conscious of how things work beyond writing a check, i'm trying to simultaneously have a permies house while providing someone a job and making better money at a job than i'm saving DIY.


Thanks for the talk, your questions helped refine my scattered thoughts alot I think.  My head injuries make me a bit scatterbrained at times.
 
John C Daley
pollinator
Posts: 5207
Location: Bendigo , Australia
439
plumbing earthworks bee building homestead greening the desert
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Brian a couple of questions if I may;
- do you own some land?
- if so what are its parameters?
- can you perform physical work?
- Do you have spare time with your study?
Elsewhere on this site there is a topic discussing starting a house small and expanding it as time, need and cash is available.
Basically its a simple 2 room structure that gets expanded and the rooms change roles until its completed.
Discussion points

Slabs usually suck as a foundation.  Lot of money, lot of concrete, lot of energy and carbon impact and you still have something that cracks, settles, then needs mudjacking or something pricey patching a stupid solution not possible without energy subsidies to exist in the first place.
Deep foundations for the win.  Pouring concrete even as piles needs some time to set and involves hauling weight from off-property and a mixer.  Something like helical piles or earth screws is just plain faster able to be used instantly (they use them with solar panels all the time and immediately attach the panel) and it's less injurous to the earth too.


I beg to differ from your views;
- small slabs are not expensive compared with stumps, bearers, joists, flooring and labour.
 Example recently I had a 3 x 4M slab stumps etc $800 plus labour, Concrete 100mm reinforced $1200 total by a contractor including labour.
- slabs do not crack or settle if done on virgin soil cleared of topsoil.
- any concrete takes 7 days to set before you can work on it, 28 days for full strength.
- Deep footings require machinery.
- screw piles are excellent when building in fill or soft soil.
 
Steve Zoma
Posts: 542
119
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Brian Shaw wrote:I'm in a position where i'm basically starting over financially in my late 40's due to a series of catastrophes that weren't my fault but that I still have to live with.



I truncated what you wrote due to space and not because of what you wrote. All of it had merit.

I do want you to know that I do emphasize with you, as I am 48 years old and had my now ex-wife, make me a breakfast sandwich, talk about heating for the upcoming winter season, gave me a kiss on the cheek, all the while having her parents come with a huge moving truck and cleaned me out of everything. Kids, pets, dishes, plates, food, furniture, guns, cars, EVERYTHING. This was after getting cancer 3 times in four years, and buying a cemetery plot for my infant son. So, I know what it is like to get kicked in the gut and to have to start over in our 40's. That being said, while it took some time to understand, I realized that any wife that would do that to a husband that was always loyal and provided for the family, was not a wife I want to have. Good riddance.

So now I start over. My path is different than yours, but I do understand. You are in a tricky place, having little money and little time.

Myself, I think you might do well with a used camper and go with an earth berm approach.

I had a friend that did this with a family of five and no money. He took a camper and built a building around it. In that way it was better insulated with his camper acting as bedrooms and kitchen and bathroom, but he had an extended living space heated by a pellet stove just in front of the camper.

I drew up plans for something similar, but to offset the crappy insulation of a used camper, had the shed-shaped-building earthbermed on the North, East and West sides so that the wind and cold was tempered. A days rental of a bulldozer of excavator could easily form this berm. I might try putting plastic over the roof and south wall to give you solar gain and light in the front living area. If that works out nice, you have saved a lot of money on building materials, if not you can go back and roof, side and insulate the roof and south walls, and just have paid for plastic that did not work out.

Over time, you could just make this situation better. A real septic system instead of having it pumped out. A real well instead of bought water. And who knows, eventually you could get rid of the camper and make a kitchen, bath and bedroom where the camper was. Eventually the building would turn into a home. Who knows, by then you might meet someone else, decide to form a life together, and you build a house using that make-do-dwelling as an addition off it. If that sounds funny now; it should not. It have dated a few ladies who really don't see that life is always changing and what they had now, was not always going to be that way. Kids would eventually grow up and move out. Parents would age and pass on. Housing needs would change...

So all I can say is, adapt and overcome my friend; it sucks, but life is never how you scripted it would be at age 20. Some of us 40 year olds know that, and we are rooting for you brother. You are in a good place because many of us understand. We really are rooting for you...
 
Steve Zoma
Posts: 542
119
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I disagree with the concrete slab theory however, but it deserved its own thread.

I own and have lived in houses with full basements, crawl spaces and concrete slabs and I would do that latter if I ever could. They are SO efficient. With the earth always being 57 degrees here in Maine, that meant my 3400 square foot house never gets below 57 degrees even if unheated. Super insulated above, that floor brings that heat right into the house. It also eliminates subterrain smells migrating up from the crawlspace and basement below, and eliminates any drafts.

But making it need not be difficult. You could make a slab easily and cheaply out of earthcrete. I would still use gravel as it is cheap here in Maine at $150 for 12 cubic yards, but whether using natural earth or gravel, the method is still the same.

Figure out how many bags of Portland cement you will need for the size and depth of your slab and spread it evenly over the ground where you want your slab. DO NOT USED PREMIXED CONCRETE bags however, 94 Portland Cement bags. Then using a borrowed or rented rototiller, set your times to 4 or 6 inches of depth, and rototill the hell out of your slab, mixing that cement with the gravel or earth. At this point you can just wait for moisture in the soil to harden it, or mix in water and mix it up again with a rototiller. Either way you then just trowel the surface to get the finish that you want.

A cheap and easy slab...
 
Posts: 104
57
7
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
This may or may not be of interest, just throwing it into the discussion.

The people who owned our property before the folks we bought from, had great ambitions to build a 2 story house on top of a walk out basement. The basement was built into the hillside and then bermed, with windows just above the ground level in the concrete walls. The basement is probably something like 70% bermed, with only the front wall being fully exposed. That's where the folks that built the basement ran out of money, time or interest (not sure which).

The folks that we bought from, bought the property and had to shovel years of dirt and debris out of the unused basement, finish off some plumbing, drill a well and run water to the basement. They put a roof directly on basement walls - plywood covered by metal panels. There is a stand up space the length of the roof that's about 7' high in the middle and tapers to zero at the edges. They built a wide deck out the front. The roof extends about 8' out from the walls - just a bit wider than the french drains they installed around the basement.

I have no idea what it would cost to pour a walk out basement 30' x 40' these days and then glaze it, put in a septic system, roof, etc, etc, But one thing about a bermed house is that you'll never freeze in it. We have had temps go down well below zero for over a week while we were away, with no heating on, and the min/max thermometers showed the lowest inside temp got down to 42 deg F. No frozen pipes either.

I'd say a 1200 sq ft house with those properties is more than adequate to live in long term. If you ended up with 5 kids, well, rip the roof off and build the next story on top of the basement. If careful about air circulation, the thermal properties of the basement could help some with the house above.

I'd like to build some air bnb or glamping accommodation - small just for overnight stays - and have been looking at whether expanded polystyrene domes or aircrete are do-able. Just starting the research, so can't help with any answers. However, both are light materials with good thermal properties and look like something that could be done as a DIY project.

 
John C Daley
pollinator
Posts: 5207
Location: Bendigo , Australia
439
plumbing earthworks bee building homestead greening the desert
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Steve, I am interested in Earthcrete, I have not seen it before.
It sounds like a form of stabilised earth.
How do you deal with moisture coming up through it?
 
Brian Shaw
pollinator
Posts: 108
38
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

John C Daley wrote:Brian a couple of questions if I may;
- do you own some land?
- if so what are its parameters?
- can you perform physical work?
- Do you have spare time with your study?
Elsewhere on this site there is a topic discussing starting a house small and expanding it as time, need and cash is available.
Basically its a simple 2 room structure that gets expanded and the rooms change roles until its completed.



I do not currently have land.

I can perform some physical work, but not for exceptionally long.  Machinery helps alot - give me something to drive or pilot and i'll do it all day probably fine.  There is almost nothing on most of these alternative house construction videos or designs that I see myself capable of credibly doing though because it's all hard boring difficult all-day-long work.  I could run a skid steer but don't ask me to dig ditches by hand just to save money, body wont let me anymore.  Friends will help some, but not as much as I hope until I can grease the skids with some money.

My current plan has a few angles of possibility.  Tiny house on a trailer is one, possibly including converting a semi trailer because that's about 400 square feet.  Building a small A-frame house on some skids so I don't have to sink into a foundation and can move it or/and claim to housing code that it's a temporary moveable object so they'll leave me alone.  Those are my best two starting ideas.

I'm willing to do things like take one summer off, build as much as I can with the help of 1 girlfriend and 1 other friend who will try to be as available as possible.  If we can get something liveable by the end of the summer, girlfriend saves the rent check and that money is saved to solve longer term problems.  Eventually the friend would like to move in but it's waiting on me having land and at least a tiny house or two of area to exist in.  On the plus side he brings with him a machine shop however and a willingness to do much of the physical labor that I can't.  

So i'm just trying to get from zero to "liveable temp housing" plus sticking up a quonset barn to put his machine tools in, after which point I primarily focus on college then work and once working I write checks.  This is how i'm trying to bootstrap things from nothing.


John C Daley wrote:
Discussion points

I beg to differ from your views;



I like disagreement.  :)  Part of why I post things is it's a head check.  "These are the product of my thoughts and best research" and i'm hoping somebody that knows better than me can correct the points I have wrong which may be leading me in the wrong direction.

John C Daley wrote:
- small slabs are not expensive compared with stumps, bearers, joists, flooring and labour.
 Example recently I had a 3 x 4M slab stumps etc $800 plus labour, Concrete 100mm reinforced $1200 total by a contractor including labour.
- slabs do not crack or settle if done on virgin soil cleared of topsoil.
- any concrete takes 7 days to set before you can work on it, 28 days for full strength.
- Deep footings require machinery.
- screw piles are excellent when building in fill or soft soil.



Part of why i'm not a big fan of slabs is that if I end up DIY everything, its another thing to learn, with yet more equipment to either rent or build, and with the cost of hauling up into what might be cheap land partly due to not having great access i'm not sure if it's a winning solution.

The other parts - I still have to clear land for the slabs, and thats other machinery to rent, or work to get done.  Screw piles could just go right in basically.

Clearing land and making concrete require machinery - rented, bought, or DIY built.  (the latter i'm a fan of, like the Life Trac tractor and Global Village Construction Kit projects, but i'm trying to postpone yet other "projects worth doing cuz they pay for themself in the long run" until after we have at least the minimum of liveable house!)

Screw piles have me wondering if I can DIY something.  The friend with the machine shop who'd like to move here he already runs a skid steer digging fence posts with an augur.  He's already doing a work kind of like screw piles.  He just needs the appropriate attachment that has a torque readout to verify the engineering load that each post can take (as well as potentially pass housing code) and i'm hoping he can just plunk them in for a bigger house/bigger projects later.  

Currently the hydraulics to do screw piles are $$$ but i'm wondering if a modification of the drill rig design the GVCK was I think working on could work.  To me it seems given that one tool attachment would be easier than worrying about clearing land and pouring slabs and hauling concrete up into the sticks where it may or may not be ready to handle large heavy trucks and even if it did you'll pay $$$.
 
Brian Shaw
pollinator
Posts: 108
38
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Steve Zoma wrote:

Brian Shaw wrote:I'm in a position where i'm basically starting over financially in my late 40's due to a series of catastrophes that weren't my fault but that I still have to live with.



I do want you to know that I do emphasize with you, as I am 48 years old and had my now ex-wife, make

That being said, while it took some time to understand, I realized that any wife that would do that to a husband that was always loyal and provided for the family, was not a wife I want to have. Good riddance.

So now I start over. My path is different than yours, but I do understand. You are in a tricky place, having little money and little time.



Wow..  yeah we seem to have not dissimilar suckitude.  In my case my downfall started when I made the mistake of rescuing a family that was about to become homeless and lose everything - CPS threatening to take their kid, facing criminal charges for something that arguably got out of control and was just state predatory which would have taken their car, and they expected everything they owned to be seized by the current landlord once they were both temporarily incarcerated unable to pay a small fine.  So I put them up and paid for everything, and I mean everything - car insurance, criminal fine, missed bills, medical bills, EVERYTHING, it might've even been 10k.

At the end of it when they moved out they decided to take alot of valuable property of mine with them, things I needed to sell.  They also decided I didn't need to be paid back a dime even though the money I borrowed to pay their bills came out of my own medical and college money.  When I later reached them by phone I was told that they didn't view me as a very good christian and they owed me nothing, that since it was god who helped them THROUGH me, they only owed the help to god, not me, and everything I did was willingly gave it's not like they signed any contracts or anything.  And that was that.  And being out another 10k when I was already struggling to hold on with month to month medical bills, you start missing everything and low interest debt turns into high interest debt and before you know it your life is set back a decade.

But that's life.  The only walkaway lesson I got might be called beware religious extremists.  The louder and longer they go on about how good and pious they are, maybe that's a warning they are exactly the opposite deep down and just have everyone fooled.  :-/


That said, I would eventually find a silver lining.  The native girl i'm with now is the opposite.  She borrowed college loans she can't legally escape just to cover medical treatment I needed.  She's had chances to take things of value and run when I was dying in the hospital (I actually did die and had a near death experience!) - and refuses just standing by my side.  She's the only reason i'm still here and haven't given up on life.  So the only viable strategy I have left is to sell the house i'm in, pay off as much of the shared debt as we have together, and see where things are.  It's a total wildcard how much will be left after the house sale - we could be debt negative, break even, or a little bit positive.  But the best i'd ever expect would only afford the absolute cheapest of land and might require us to start off grid because it wont have utilities hooked up for years.

Wow okay soul baring total self exposure to strangers on the internet mode over.  Back to the problems i'm trying to solve:

Steve Zoma wrote:
Myself, I think you might do well with a used camper and go with an earth berm approach.



The used camper I had thought of, the earth berm I had not.  I like the tiny houses on trailers because there's no foundation issues to fight over just yet, no housing code problems.  It buys time.  I still think a semi trailer would be the best for the room despite it's narrowness.  I just need either a reefer or I was considering getting a box van trailer and putting used styrofoam sheets that they sell from walk in freezers periodically when decommissioning or rebuilding them, instead of $50-100 new they're like $5-10 used.

I'd like to know about earth berming or how to improve this idea, if we could make it last several years while reducing energy costs, i'm hoping we'll be bootstrapped enough that either i'm finally working pulling an income, or potentially she is.  The first thing we ideally need up is internet and then power because she hopes to work remote thru her computer.

I want to stick up a quonset next because that's both workshop and a form of extended recreational space during the day if the tiny house is too cramped.  Thats when the machinist friend said he's willing to move in and cast in his lot with us.  From then on we have lots of projects planned starting with a Life Trac tractor which would let us clear land and run impliments.  Thats when we start trying to impliment '72 bricks' of permaculture and other things in earnest.


Steve Zoma wrote:
Over time, you could just make this situation better. A real septic system instead of having it pumped out. A real well instead of bought water. And who knows, eventually you could get rid of the camper and make a



Both me and the girlfriend lived without running water for 7 years so going back to that if we have to for a bit isn't too bad for us.  We'd had a furnace failure and the winter pipes froze and the insurance decided they didn't feel like paying, and since this was right after the 'religious friend' wiped me out there was zero ability to fix anything from then on.

The plan has always been that the camper or A-frame house or tiny house or semi trailer house or sealand container house would be used just to start - that eventually when we had better equipment to like clear land and such, we'd want to do some of the nicer homebuilding projects like you talked of.  Including me with my fetish for screw piles as a foundation.  The temp house then becomes part of my homeless rescue program on the corner of the land.
 
John C Daley
pollinator
Posts: 5207
Location: Bendigo , Australia
439
plumbing earthworks bee building homestead greening the desert
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I guess Brian, the next step is getting the land, then some of the variables can be sorted.
Purchasing land has a whole set of steps[
- what state
- soil type wanted
- cleared or forested
- own water supply
- close to town
- steep or flat
- already got access and a road / driveway
- hill top or valley
- communications available
 
Brian Shaw
pollinator
Posts: 108
38
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

John C Daley wrote:I guess Brian, the next step is getting the land, then some of the variables can be sorted.
Purchasing land has a whole set of steps[



Minnesota for sure

Unsure about soil type options and may not have unlimited choices

Would like mostly forested, because I cant afford farmland (and didnt plan to grow conventionally for years to come, even if I might later, paying for it now and sitting on it doing nothing for 8 years is pointless - I plan to grow in greenhouses mostly)

Probably do rainwater catchment and drivepoint well, filter anything meant for drinking, test hoping I can use it for shower and watering stuff without much more filtering tho reverse osmosis hopefully enough.  Eventually i'd like to be drilled to primary water tho and i'd like to drill and case it myself if I could.

Town proximity is mostly about cost, being outside the obvious near town areas is likely

Land may not need to be flat if i'm not farming but it has to have enough area for parking, in minnesota soft marshy land is more of a problem that I have to take into consideration

Communications is likely to end up that starlink or whatever tho DSL over phone lines work too.



More questions can be suggested to help me realize if i've given careful thought or not.  I'm mostly looking for about the smallest, usable, affordable piece of land, and kind of have a plan that if enough money came in the future we'd try to move the farmstead to the better land.  So things like a quonset which in theory can be disassembled, moved, and reassembled - or a tiny home on trailers or even on skids is in my head.
 
I agree. Here's the link: http://stoves2.com
reply
    Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic