Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Simple instructions for a simple house

Mark Stephen Chenail has simple down to earth instructions for building a basic house. He makes it sound very doable. Even has a simple way of making a barn.

Monday, August 06, 2007

More on concrete counter tops

A while ago I commented on how much I like concrete countertops and sinks. I just came across this Instructables where a guy described how he made his countertops.

I am afraid I am not so meticulous as this guy and would not go to so much bother. I don't see the necessity for them to be shiny. And I would build the molds in place, not make them somewhere else and lug them in to the kitchen. This guy, Buddy Rhodes, has built a business with concrete countertops, sinks, fireplaces, etc. and does have some beautiful work. These people cater to the do-it-yourselfer using Buddy Rhodes' molds and materials.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Another house from throwaways

Here are two grandmothers building a house from an old trailer and papercrete on a sloping lot. I've seen trailers and modular houses on craigslist for free, so you would only have the cost of hauling it to your site. But then you would have the basic plumbing and electricity already installed. That's not a bad idea. You could live in it while you're building the outer shell. Just cover up that awful tinny trailer look. I think I would still want to do slipform stone walls and maybe build the masonry fireplace into the hill.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Building a house from throwaways.

Here's an idea for building a cheap house: Use what others are throwing away. This woman is using closed cell foam. It has to be disposed of, because of an envirmonmental law passed in the Ozarks. She is using them as load bearing supports. It looks good, but one doesn't ususally think of foam as being that strong.

Carrying this idea along, what they mostly try to give away on Craigslist is concrete chunks, mattresses and old appliances. I could see using concrete chunks like rocks in a slipform concrete wall. Maybe you could build a post and beam house filling in the sides with mattresses. Appliances, well maybe you could have a wall of microwaves. A refrigerator, washer/dryer/dishwasher wall would be quite wide, but at least they would all be more or less the same thickness. You could even have the doors open to the inside and have built in storage. It goes without saying that you would have to build this somewhere where there are no inspectors. I hear rural Vermont is like that.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

More about composting toilets

Further to my post on composting toilets, Florida Solar Cracker House has an interesting description of the actual use of a Clivus Multrum "Multrum I" toilet. They had problems at first, but after two years the toilet was working perfectly.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Straw bale house

I hadn't done a post on straw bale houses, because they don't appeal to me that much. Unless I lived next to a farm where they baled straw, the expense of hawling them would not be worth it. The bale walls take up a lot of space, and moisture could be a problem unless you lived in a dry climate. This site, Balewatch, has everything imaginable about straw bale houses. Some nice house plans. Be sure and check out the Q and A.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Would you, could you on a boat?

Living on a boat on a quiet inland lake has a certain appeal. Here's a simple plan for making a classic shantyboat. Here's the diary of a guy that really built one, so it can be done. Some more free plans. I can count the times I've been on a boat on the fingers of one hand, so I'm a landlubber if there ever was one. Never would consider living on a boat on an ocean coast. I was in Miami for Hurricane Andrew, and I wouldn't want to worry about a hurricane ruining everything even if I could get insurance. Seattle houseboats are talked about in this article. I guess they don't have hurricanes, but it sounds like the same as living in the city, which I would not like at all. Cool Tools has houseboats covered too. Here's a forum with discussions about living on a houseboat.

I would need to have space for garden containers, maybe on the roof, because I would always want to have a garden unless I could use some space on land near the mooring. The floating Spiral Island really caught my fancy, because of the way they integrated the plants onto the platform of floating pop bottles. But I want something that lasts better than the pop bottles, so if I ever come across some free or almost free plastic drums and have access to a lake I would try it.

Thanks to Redneck Structures for the picture. They give away old motorhomes don't they?

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Slipform stone construction

Here's an interesting narrative of a guy building a slipform house practically all by himself. This is still my favorite form of self-building although it looks like so much work. He also plans to build a masonry stove. That's what I want too.

I would like to build a large probably brick masonry stove in the center and use it also to be the central support of the roof. This is most likely against building codes, but the brick never gets warmer than you can touch, and you would keep the wood beams at least a couple of feet from the actual chimney.

This website also has an interesting article about building if you don't have much money.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Another round house in Wales

I generally don't like round houses, but this is another Welsh home that is especially cozy. And the building method I could really relate to:
"Lift logs, prop up, nail together and continue until no longer wobbly."
Straw bale was used to infill between the log posts. I wonder how hard it would be to use slipformed stone instead.

They did most of the building while living in a tent with a baby and a toddler. Now that's the real thing.