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  • johnirvin000

Life Uh.... Gets in the Way

I know its been quite a while coming this update so lets put some structure to it.


  1. Change in building plans

  2. Foundation

  3. How its going in general

  4. Weather

  5. The horizon

First things first. This project is moving in a new direction when it comes to materials. I am no longer going to building with adobe for my home. I am moving to a more traditional frame house but keeping most of the rest of the design. There are a number of reasons and it is a little bittersweet for me.

It is bittersweet for me because I wont get the opportunity to carry on a centuries old tradition in the southwest and build from the local soil. After testing my soil with the right amount of straw will make really good adobe bricks so its not for lack of materials.

The change comes due to cost, labor, time, and code navigation. The cost and labor factors are the primary reasons. After making some test adobes and working through that process it is way more physically exhausting than I had anticipated. It also requires much more cleared space for drying and storage of the bricks than I have available. I add cost to this because another route of doing adobe rather than making them from scratch is to buy them from an adobe yard (manufacturer) and have them delivered. Buying adobe would cut the labor in half because all that would need to be done is building the walls but the price is expensive. My calculations for an adobe count to do the house is right around 2200 bricks. Buying those bricks without shipping or taxes would come to about $8000 and at least another $1000 for transport. Those costs don't include the mortar needed to stack the walls or the cost of the concrete bond beam needed by code to maintain compliance. This cost is about 30% higher than just building stud framed walls. The time factor I will talk more about when it comes to talking about the weather later on in this post.

Stud framed walls for the same $8000 dollars will get me 2x8 walls, trusses for the roof, sheathing for the roof and walls, house wrap and felt for the walls and roof, and all of the anchors to securely hook the house to the slab foundation. The pricing also includes the transport of materials and the tools that I will need to do the work. The same amount of money in short will get the project to a place where it is covered, dry, and quick to build. One other benefit to doing stud building and getting it "dried in" is there wont be the worry of mud bricks eroding from the weather.

Speaking about the foundation its done!!!

With the foundation complete I have most of the hard infrastructure in place. The slab foundation comes with hydronic heating, all the waste and fresh water lines embedded in it, the septic system complete. This step was also ,based on current calculations, the most expensive part of the whole build with just over half of the total cost tied up in it.

I've mentioned the weather down here a couple of times and for good reason. In the last two months it has already been below freezing at night most of the time with the lowest temperature recorded being -6 F before wind over night. I have also been contending with high winds during the day. I currently live in a 20ft travel trailer on the land and let me tell you it is not warm. With skirting around the base of the trailer, Reflectix (bubble wrap with a foil coating on both sides) over the North windows and plastic over the south windows the furnace still runs quite often. The furnace burns through a 20 pound propane tank in about a week which is both expensive and a pain to haul back and forth to town to have filled.Doing this to make it through the 22-23 winter I can manage but another winter in this space just wont do. That brings us to the horizon beyond and the spring of 2023.

The plan for spring is to build a tiny house / shack to live in until the main home is done. Ive drawn up some preliminary plans and done a basic bill of materials. New Mexico doesn't require an inspection of any space smaller than 200 sq ft that doesn't have permanent gas, electric, or plumbing. This is exactly what I plan to build. I have calculated that for approximately $6000-7000 dollars I can build a 200 sq ft shack to live in that would be weather tight, warm, and larger than the current living space. I plan to use exactly the same wall construction as for the primary house and when the full home is finished it will make a nice guest house or studio for anyone coming to visit. This also gives me a dry run at all of the things needed to put the final home together and figure out any quirks that may crop up before I do it on a much larger scale. This is also something that is within my budget to do with cash in hand as there have been some snags with finances on the main build.

This opportunity also gives me a chance to learn some more skills such as framing and welding as I plan to weld up my own wood stove to heat the tiny home. All in all it is a smaller more manageable project that will allow me to learn everything needed for success.


Please enjoy these views from my place





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