Someday I will build a house house

There are many types of owner built homes. I dream of building myself one someday. My favorite is stone but there are straw, cordword and even paper.

Friday, November 25, 2005

A masonry fireplace for your house

When I first learned about masonry fireplaces (also called Russian fireplaces), it was a mystery to me why more houses don't have them; it still is. Actually, I've never seen one in the flesh (or stone or brick). But I think unless you are a thermostat junkie, masonry fireplaces are the best way to heat a home along with some passive solar.

The way a masonry fireplace works is you build a hot fire in the firebox. The hot air heats the bricks or stones through a series of twists and turns that it has to go through before going out the chimney. Because the fire is very hot it completely burns your wood so there is no creosote build up and the air that finally leaves the chimney has very few polluting particles in it. The fire burns for about and hour or two and the heat radiates out from the bricks or stones up to 24 hours.

It is possible to build it yourself, but you will have to buy the bricks. These can't be adobe or mud, because of the high temperatures. I think stone would be pretty difficult. This guy has a lot of information about building it yourself, although it is a little hard to follow at times. Some Mother Earth articles here and here. Another guy that did it himself. Then there is the European style with soapstone, really beautiful; I would like to be able to use soapstone for other applications also (if I win the lottery). These appear to be kits that you build yourself. Here's some good info from the brick industry. And then there is the Masonry Heater Association.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Cheap materials for building your house

Most people are familiar with Freecycle, a Yahoo local mailing list for giving or getting free all sorts of household and personal items. There are also material exchanges for more industrial type exchanges. You can get items at low cost from business that have excesses. Originally they would have thrown them away.

If you have every done any type of industrial dumpster diving, it boggles your mind the stuff companies throw away at least in the US, or maybe I should say used to. Hopefully they are all getting into these material exchange programs.

Just look up "materials exchange" plus your local state, city or country to find one near you. They are all over the world. And don't forget which is also local.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Floating Island and house

Well, if you can't afford land to put your house on, you can always build a floating island. "Spiral Island," floated in a lagoon on the East Coast of Mexico south of Cancun from 1998, until it was unfortunately destroyed by Hurricane Emily earlier this year. The island had a two-story house and a sandy beach. It floated on about a quarter million discarded PET plastic water bottles. Start collecting those soda bottles. What's really neat is how the plants and trees grew on it. The roots from the trees combined with the netting holding the bottles and helped to hold it all together. Only problem they had to be constantly adding new bottles, as they deteriorated fairly rapidly.

There are also floating islands in Lake Titicaca in Peru. They have existed for hundreds of years and are made from reeds, but they don't have vegetation growing on them. Of course it's cold up there over 12,000 feet above sea level, so not much grows up there anyhow. The inhabitants also need to be constantly adding to the reeds, as the reeds eventually rot. At least there are no hurricanes up there.

On the opposite end of the scale are the Dubai Palm Islands. Not floating islands but certainly man-made, quite the engineering feat. One of the projects is near completion. Luxury apartments are already selling on ebay.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Folding House

Another one that you can't exactly call building your house, but if you are in a real hurry this will do the trick. You just unfold it, really. The Habitaflex house comes complete with bathroom and kitchen fixtures plus heating, lights and water heater. The outside is quite the plain Jane, but inside is cozy with all wood paneling. They cost about $40,000. I guess you haul your furniture, stove and fridge in the back of the truck.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Do it yourself - all kinds of help for the homebuilder

This self help site has info on everything from wiring to plumbing to building decks. Stuff you will need to know if you want to build your home. There is also a forum. I like forums, because you get the real life nitty gritty on what's involved with a job. Check it out.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Geese to guard my house

I remember when I was a kid, we used to go visit some people who had geese, and I was terrified of those geese. They would raise a raucous and run at us kids like they were going to do something horrible if they ever caught us. So when I first read somewhere that geese make good watchdogs, I could concur.

Hopefully my acreage will be somewhat remote, and I'll want to have a dog or two and geese. These birds also eat a lot of insects like ticks and Japanese beetles. But if I have a really big tick problem, I'll try guinea fowl too. Supposedly they're the champion tick eaters and also good watchdogs. And it sounds like they are easy to care for too. The babies are called keets. Remember that for when you are playing Scrabble.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

More house kits -bamboo FOB Saigon

Here's a synergy of my post about house kits and my post about bamboo. Bamboo house kits from our onetime archenemies. Bamboo Technologies has a website complete with detailed houseplans from 200 to 1500 square feet and pricing FOB Saigon. For those without experience in international shipping, that means the price includes loading the container and delivering it to the port of Saigon. The customers are responsible for freight and insurance from the port of Saigon to the customers' locations and unloading the container.