Sunday, December 30, 2012

Like many others it is time for a move.  I am now hosting this blog myself here in Colorado.  It lives on a virtual server provided by Front Range Hosting.

This link will take you there:  It remains a work in progress just like the house that is slowly rising from the earth.


Thursday, August 2, 2012

Dan has been working on site almost every morning. I confess, the heat makes me physically ill so I have not done very much. We have some new photos for you though, and hope you enjoy them. They cover from June 20th thru the month of July.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

New Pictures! (start @ the bottom of this entry for info)

Here are the promised pictures. I tried to get captions on them, but then they would not center properly, so I gave up. In order then, going up from here, you have The Shrinking Pile of Scoria (the filling material for the earth bags), filled bags waiting for transport up the hill (about 100 yds @ 35# each). Dan puts a whole bunch of them in the back of the truck and hauls them up in the truck. Then those bags go with the picture of the blue tarp, under which are about 140 bags protected from the UV rays, ready to go in the foundation this coming weekend. I hope. Next one should be the view looking east from what will be the front door. Last picture is the neighborhood twins, real sweet girls but very shy. Thanks for visiting!

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Earthwork is done !

The initial earthwork is completed, thanks to Vernon and his backhoe.  I took some photos.  The 4th picture shows a large piece of granite that I will have to embed in the earthbag wall.  We are fortunate that the buildsite has excellent drainage.  I do not foresee any major issues.

We have started preparing the trench for earthbags and the drain tile.

The scoria has been delivered to the build site so we will begin active construction next week. 

I noticed that the excavated material would make excellent fill for earthbags.  The material turns hard as rock and I am not able to break it with my pickaxe.  This is good to know for some of the planned outbuildings.

More photo's to come as progress is made......

Saturday, May 12, 2012

In the Merry, Merry Month of May

Sunday, May 13, 2012

5/2 Dan met a neighbor, Phil, who was kind enough to use his skid-steer to lay out the whole basic shape of our house and tamp it down real well. He told Dan all about the trees that need to come out and the rotten granite right behind the house site and more. I was not there; don't think I missed anything.

5/9 Dan wanted to show off the wonderful work done by Phil. What a surprise - remembering in my head the 20 degree slope of the land last time I was out there - come up the hill and around the corner and !WOW! There's a big flat place there that does NOT look like a big enough space for us (and Sam) to live in. Nope nope nope. Some little trees and small bushes had to be taken out. We measured it all out again, and of course the measurements are correct. But it does look smaller than the 24' yurt we stayed in up by Eagle!

5/12 Phil recommended his friend, Vernon for further assistance. Dan took him for a tour of the site and soaked up some local history from Vernon. Vernon grew up right here in the Wet Mountain Valley. He and his siblings used to hunt and ride and go snowmobiling in the little valley just down the hill from us - a couple hundred yards.

He said that our property and most of those in our vicinity were originally part of the 20,000 acre Anderson ranch; they ran cattle up there at 8600 feet. Back in the day, property like ours went for $50 an acre (being on a hillside), sites down in the valley where the kids rode around went for $100 an acre. Vernon's dad was the guy who put in all the roads in our "subdivision". He also said that a Mountain Lion was once seen right on our property, and that poaching is "not unheard of" out there.

They are going out this week to finish up the rough edges, then the foundation gets dug and we can start building. Time's awastin'!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The permitted house plan !

I was drawn to Owens' U-shaped-house when I first started looking seriously at an earthbag house.  We liked it so much that we bought the plan.  It turns out that we will not use it for our build this time because it simply will not fit in the space we have to work with.  We did not want to take out any of the pinion pine here.  The Pinion pine produce a cash crop and we can use it for barter as well.

So here is the current working plan for our round house with an integrated solar green house.  I have the building permit in hand!  The bulk of the exterior wall will consist of scoria.  The interior greenhouse wall will be built with road base.  This thermal mass will help moderate daily temperature swings during cold weather.

The entry faces East.  This plan, is subject to change before the shallow frost proof foundation is dug.

The drawing is not to scale and was created with DraftSight from Dassault Systèmes.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

In the beginning ~~~

Greetings! I go by the moniker of "momlobo" and am the other party involved in this home construction and, by default, blog.

4/16 - The house is designed by us and changes occur frequently. Last night we talked about relocating the rooms where plumbing is needed to be along the 'side' closest to the well and septic system. The county dudes want a map of all those kind of pipes in the house, as well as a map of interior and exterior electric stuff. This is really about the max interference we should see from the county controllers (engineer, Boards of This and That). 2 good reasons he chose this county rather than any other in Colorado. Did I say it's going to be a round house? 32' diameter. yep.

4/18 - We decided on a round house for a number of reasons. 1) Having stayed in a 20' yurt for a 3-day weekend, with the black Lab, we decided the concept was "workable". 2) We researched and found that round buildings of all sizes are WAY safer than any traditional, square, stick-built building. 3) They have been used successfully by native people all over the world since forever, I guess. Think of the grass huts in Africa and SE Asia, the yurts of course in Mongolia & etc., the teepees used by the nomadic tribes of the American plains not so very long ago.The specific floor plan type of details are undecided right now.

I nixed the yurt that he really wanted due to concerns about the possibility of forest fires in our area. There are also black bears seen every year, which would certainly be happy to invite themselves into your yurt for supper. And breakfast and lunch, too!

So we are going with "earthbags". If you've see folks on TV shoring up a levee or trying to protect their homes with sandbags - those are the bags we will be using. We just had the fill material delivered to the local stone yard, so we went to see it today: Big pile of dark red volcanic scoria (some 25 T of it!). We looked at each other, pointed at the dirtpile and said, "Our House!"
The filled bags will weigh about 35# each.We will need hundreds and hundreds of them. At 35# each.

Time's a-wastin' while we wait to get the paperwork back from the P & Z commission. Then the rock guys can fix the road to the build site so their truck can haul the scoria out there. They will also do the basic foundation prep w/ the Skid-Steer, much more efficient than us do it w/ a rototiller and rakes, eh? THEN we can start building. Hope it's less than 2 weeks away.

Happy Earthday!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Engineer stamped mounded septic drawing

Now I can submit permits to the county planning folks and hopefully get started building soon.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Building site pictures - click for larger view

Building site looking north
Building site looking south
Building site looking west
Earthbag greenhouse and shed building site
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Thursday, March 29, 2012

Tranquility Base update

This blog was created back in November 2011.  I feel it really is time to start using it!

We are living near Westcliffe, Colorado temporarily while the earthbag house remains a work in progress. Our septic perc test failed.  There is not enough soil over bedrock.  Per code we need 8 feet but we only have 5 feet.  We checked on using a Watson Wick septic alternative here but found it was not feasible.  Colorado law does not allow a well when using an evapotranspiration septic alternative.  We are now having an engineered mound system plan drawn up before the building permit can be issued.

Meanwhile, we have contacted a local trucking company to haul 26 tons of scoria to Westcliffe.  I will then have the scoria delivered to the build site.  The actual building design is still in progress.

Colorado building codes for owner/builders.

Some finds that should help build structures in Colorado. This is for those counties that do not do permit inspections themselves. After spending too much time searching through the maze of web portals that is Colorados’ web presence I finally produced something of value. These provide an abstract of the code/practice expected when seeking a permit. - The code for the electrical permit is found under Homeowner Installations (NEC 2011)  - House wiring. - The code for the plumbing permit is found under "Guide for Plumbing and Gas Piping Installations".