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Taking the plunge, have a few questions

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Greetings! I've been lurking on these forums for some time and am about ready to get started on a rather large project. My partner and I are about to invest in a 1.12 acre property in the Appalachians of North Carolina. We will finally be ready to get started in the early summer, but we were both curious about some logistics.

We are not planning on having a well or being connected to municipal water, as we are interested in primarily living off of rainwater. My first priority was going to be building several ferrocement containers as well as simple structures that would increase the surface area of catchment. By this I mean several columns of wood supporting a flat sheet of enameled steel, and this would also serve as a place to store tools and keep them out of the rain. We are planning on letting the rain collect as we work on this project phase by phase. Annually, this area of NC gets between 50-65" of rainfall a year. My first question -- Is this feasible, or just absolutely ridiculous for our North American temperate climate?

Additionally, we were hungry for input regarding the subject of bathing. Since we are not planning on be hooked up to a water source or having a water heater, we were thinking about a couple of different options. We are planning on adding a simple greenhouse that will be connected to the kitchen of our house. In it, we were thinking of building a solar shower that would be nothing more complicated than a suspended bucket of water attached to a shower head with a valve. We figured a greenhouse would be the best place to put a solar shower, as it will easily be the (naturally) warmest place we'd have access to. Additionally we were toying with the idea of constructing a sauna room between the kitchen and greenhouse, and having a bathtub in the sauna room. This could serve multiple purposes in that the sauna would keep the room comfortable for bathing and heat the home/greenhouse during the nights of colder months. Finally we were curious about constructing a rocket stove+bathtub combo somewhere within the house. This final approach is something that I would definitely need some advice with, as I am only familiar with rocket stoves in their typical usage. How do you guys feel about these options?

Also, we are primarily interested in building a small cob house (no more than 200 sqft) by the end of this year. Does anyone have experience with cob or the soil structure in this region of NC? And while I'm asking, do we have any fellow permies in that area? We'd love to get to know some like-minded folks in the region!

We are both very excited and welcome any input Thanks, all!!
Posts: 11804
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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It's quite feasible to live on just rainwater - you just need to make sure you have enough collection and storage! 

Really good resources for water info:



Rainwater harvesting videos:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2iQ-FBAmvBw
Posts: 177
Location: California
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I know personally from living in the southeast that there are many folks in your neck of the woods doing the things you're talking about. A good place to start would be the section of these forums organized by region.

Eastern U.S.:


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