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  • johnirvin000

Forward Momentum

After what has felt like six months along side Sisyphus progress has been made! Over the last bit I have gotten all of the compliance pieces within grasp and will sign a contract for the foundation, site work, in-slab hydronic heating, in-slab plumbing, and the septic system next week. In other words actual building is on the horizon!

On my foray into alternative building I learned about adobe. The building material is as cheap as can be (not counting labor) and has been used as long as humans have walked the earth. The easiest way to describe it is mud pies you either bake in the sun or stack wet. The wet stack method is the earliest and is essentially mud balls the size of a softball stacked into a structure while having the consistency of play-dough. The baked sun style is more of what you would think of as adobe today. The Spanish made wooden forms and filled them with the same earthen material. The proto-adobe is then turned out and allowed to bake in the sun until fully cured and hard. This method makes large bricks (10"x14"x4") that can then be stacked to make walls very similar to building a regular brick wall but using the same soil material mixed to a toothpaste consistency for the mortar. (see image at bottom)

Adobe it is said works with the sun. The meaning is that in the Summer it is cool due to the immense mass of the structure acting like a basement or cellar regulating the temperature. In the Winter once that same mass is heated it holds the heat over time and radiates it back inside. If you couple adobe with a structure that has a green house like windows the amount of heat needed in the winter drops significantly. This is called solar-gain heating and works in much the same way as the interior of a car in summer.

History out of the way we come to design. The house I am building a long thin rectangle roughly twice as long as it is wide. The long walls facing North and South. The Southern long wall is almost entirely glass to maximize solar gain. The roof is a shed or single pitch roof with generous overhangs around the perimeter just long enough to keep the sun out for the summer but not so long as to inhibit the winter sun from heating the inside during its lower arc. The roof and outside walls of the house are wrapped in steel left the galvanized color that comes by default. This choice was made mostly to avoid maintenance. Traditionally adobe structures are stuccoed but due to time and weather require constant upkeep with cracking. The color choice not only saves money but also is a nice "neutral" for the sage backdrop of the land.

Inside the flooring will be concrete for the ease of cleaning and cost. Walls will be hand plastered in a "Santa Fe" style also know as skip troweled. The inside ceilings and trim will be rough sawn cedar planking for a simple rustic vibe.

The home will be a one bedroom one bath and small by today's standards at just under 800 square feet. The West side of the home will have the kitchen run sixteen feet across the North wall and will be the back of the living/dining/kitchen room. This room is approximately 16x20 feet and the main living space with the South wall being all windows. On the Eastern end of the home a bedroom full depth and 10 feet wide with a fire escapement window facing east. The North wall will be two closets and the South wall again all windows. In between the great room will be utility closets, a pantry and a large bathroom with either a claw foot tub or a curb-less shower.

Until later, Stay Groovy

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