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Author Topic: Demand for "Earthship" home builders  (Read 8592 times)
RidleyReport
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Demand for "Earthship" home builders
« on: October 04, 2003, 01:54:58 pm »

I'm thinking of building one of these for a home:

www.earthship.org

And I know quite a few other Free Staters are thinking the same thing.  I understand they are fairly easy for contractors to build, and some folks build them with their own hands even if they have only basic building skills.

I'd probably hire a home building firm.   I'm curious to know who's best up there...
« Last Edit: October 04, 2003, 01:55:42 pm by Dada Orwell » Logged

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Re:Demand for "Earthship" home builders
« Reply #1 on: October 04, 2003, 04:57:35 pm »

I'm not at all sure how the contractor list might overlap, but I know you can contact the electric utility company PSNH (http://www.psnh.com/) to get information on building an 'energy-star' rated home (exceeding minimal standards). The package they send includes a list of contractors who have at least attended their seminars.
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Re:Demand for "Earthship" home builders
« Reply #2 on: October 07, 2003, 06:55:30 am »

No all electric home for me, thank you.

Cathleen in SC
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Tracy Saboe
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Re:Demand for "Earthship" home builders
« Reply #3 on: October 12, 2003, 05:51:00 am »

My house is going to be powered by Solar panals

It would only cost me about $5,000 to fit my house for my current amount of electricity that I use. And Solar energy technology is getting cheeper and cheeper. If you build your house right (passive solar house, underground house, etc.) you really don't need energy to regulate temerature.

I could build an underground house for $10,000, or so, Purchase solar pannels for around $5,000 and live pretty comfortably.

no electricity bills, no gas bills, no mortgate bills, extreamly minimal property tax (because the house would probably be deemed worthless by the city -- nobodywould want to buy it)

I'd like to put it on an acre with a decent stream, so I can get my own running water. (powered by a solarpowered water pump ($200 or so), and filtered with water filtration system -- fairly cheep -- around $600 for a fancy one. Actually in NH I think their's probably enough rain, I could collect rainwater and live of that. Any stats about precipitation?

I'll need homeowners insurence, (but also cheep, tornados can huricanes can't hurt it.) and flood insurence.

How much would a cheep solar powered car cost?

Tracy
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Re:Demand for "Earthship" home builders
« Reply #4 on: October 13, 2003, 05:35:33 am »

There are a few other things to consider with underground houses...

While the structure itself may offer increased protection against severe weather, basements and underground structures must be designed to resist flooding and to be easily drained.  There also must be enough structure above land to allow you to enter/exit even if the surrounding land is covered in a few feet of water.  And, of course, the above-ground entrances are susceptible to tornado and hurricane damage.  I'm not sure how many tornadoes and hurricanes hit NH, but probably not many compared to other areas of the Union, so don't fret too much.

I keep hearing about how underground homes have the temperature regulated by the heat stored in the earth, to the degree that it takes "virtually no energy" to heat/cool the home.  Well, I've lived in Minnesota for over 25 years and I will attest that I've never seen a basement that didn't require quite a bit of external heat after 3-4 months (or 3-4 days) of sub-zero temperatures, and that's with a 70-degree heated house sitting on top.  If I remember right, the earth (below the frost point which can be many feet) maintains an average temp around 50 degrees F.  This means in the summer when it is 90 outside, the home will be cooled slightly (but not to 50 degrees) and when it's 10 degrees it will be warmed slightly (but not to and certainly not more than 50 degrees).  Expect to use quite a bit of energy to heat your home in New Hampshire winters no matter how deep you dig.

Another concern with any basement or underground structure is radon emissions from the ground.  I'm no eco-wacko, but I understand radon can be very unhealthy if you're continually exposed to it.  Make sure the home is built with radon shielding in mind.

As for solar-powered vehicles, as far as I know there are no commercially-available solar cars, and all the experiments have shown that it's pretty much impossible to build a car that's durable enough for daily use yet light enough to be propelled by the meager energy from the solar panels which would fit on the vehicle.  Your best bet at this point would be a hydrogen hybrid, and it will be quite expensive to run, as you will be among the pioneers of fuel cell technology.  Or consider an electric-powered vehicle which you could charge with a larger array of solar panels at home.  This, too, will not be cheap.  Cars use nearly as much energy as an entire home (sometimes more).


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Re:Demand for "Earthship" home builders
« Reply #5 on: October 13, 2003, 07:37:37 am »

Solar power in new hampshire??

why didnt I think of that?
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Re:Demand for "Earthship" home builders
« Reply #6 on: October 20, 2003, 01:53:25 am »

Forgive me if this is an unwarranted or unwanted from someone new, but the thought of building a home below grade in New Hampshire caught my eye. I live in Massachusetts about an hour's drive from the border of NH (if you take your time). Right now it's somewhere in the low 20's outside and I can attest that when the ground freezes here, it does so with vigor (something I'm sure Free Thinker is familiar with). Field stone and concrete basments have a nasty habit of developing stress fractures thanks in large part to the dirt around the foundations freezing for four or five months every year. They are also tend to be very cold in the winter and rather damp in the summer. I'm sure this could be easily rectified with propper insulation, but it is something to keep in mind if you plan on building an underground dwelling.

Also, yes, radon can be an issue in below grade basements around here. Quick science for those not familiar, radon is a carcinogenic, gaseous, radioactive element produced by the decay of uranium. There tends to be a fair amount of Uranium in New England thanks to the ancient and absolutely massive amounts of granite and shale in the region which leads to a fair amount of radon. It is not an issue outdoors however. It only becomes a problem if you have cracks in your foundation and it's poorly ventilated. Radon test kits are available for around $50 I belive and home inspections usually include at least the option of testing for it so you know what you're getting before you buy a house.
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Re:Demand for "Earthship" home builders
« Reply #7 on: November 28, 2003, 11:49:12 pm »

I landed in Claremont, NH only this week.  Currently I am remodeling a home that is in desperate need of help for a local Libertarian who is then planning on selling said home and building anew.  With myself as the General Contractor (After three years here he has decided he doesn't like Claremont).  We've discussed starting a "build your own home" consulting service mainly aimed toward porcupines who would like to build their own home and are ill equipped or would just prefer the security of a person to help them through the process.  

I've spent the last hour on the earthship site and am very excited about it.  It seems this is in perfect allignment with my current endeavors and I gladly offer my services to anyone considering building an earthship.  If this seems like something you might be interested in please contact me ASAP so that I can reserve a spot in the next seminar.
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Re:Demand for "Earthship" home builders
« Reply #8 on: November 29, 2003, 05:08:34 pm »

My house is going to be powered by Solar panals

It would only cost me about $5,000 to fit my house for my current amount of electricity that I use. And Solar energy technology is getting cheeper and cheeper. If you build your house right (passive solar house, underground house, etc.) you really don't need energy to regulate temerature.

I could build an underground house for $10,000, or so, Purchase solar pannels for around $5,000 and live pretty comfortably.

no electricity bills, no gas bills, no mortgate bills, extreamly minimal property tax (because the house would probably be deemed worthless by the city -- nobodywould want to buy it)

I'd like to put it on an acre with a decent stream, so I can get my own running water. (powered by a solarpowered water pump ($200 or so), and filtered with water filtration system -- fairly cheep -- around $600 for a fancy one. Actually in NH I think their's probably enough rain, I could collect rainwater and live of that. Any stats about precipitation?

I'll need homeowners insurence, (but also cheep, tornados can huricanes can't hurt it.) and flood insurence.

How much would a cheep solar powered car cost?

Tracy

Tracy, you sound positively "green"!!
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Re:Demand for "Earthship" home builders
« Reply #9 on: November 29, 2003, 08:43:25 pm »

I landed in Claremont, NH only this week.  Currently I am remodeling a home that is in desperate need of help for a local Libertarian who is then planning on selling said home and building anew.  With myself as the General Contractor (After three years here he has decided he doesn't like Claremont).  We've discussed starting a "build your own home" consulting service mainly aimed toward porcupines who would like to build their own home and are ill equipped or would just prefer the security of a person to help them through the process.  
If I buy a house in SW NH, maybe you could be hired to do some handy work??? Unfortunately, I have no skills in that department! I'm thinking you should "advertise" any services that you can offer porcs in this fixer-upper area. There will be a lot of need and I think many of us would really like to help another porc if possible.
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Re:Demand for "Earthship" home builders
« Reply #10 on: December 03, 2003, 10:56:34 pm »

Yes I do handywork.  I've also met a few others in the area who have more experience with the local architecture.  I expect we'll put many of these old homes back into shape as the housing demand increases.
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Re:Demand for "Earthship" home builders
« Reply #11 on: December 05, 2003, 08:19:17 pm »

I want to mention in response to the poster concerned about underground structures cracking in the winter:

It is entirely dependent on how you build. Foundations built by speculative developers tend to be thinner than I would recommend and laborers generally do not do a good job of either setting up the foundation drainage or of backfilling around the foundation. Foundation cracking comes from water that does not drain from behind a foundation due to faulty drainage. The water freezes and expands.

In my parents last house, we bought it when it was 15 years old and just starting to crack. We sealed the cracks and put up with it for 5 years, then started to repair the foundation in stages over several years. This was a raised ranch with the foundation set partly into a slope, such that there was a slab and two foundation walls in an L. The builder slanted the drain pipes behind these walls in the wrong direction and water built up behind them as it flowed underground down the hillside. There was lots of underground rock ledging.

Once we repaired much of the foundation, replaced the rest, and installed a proper drainage system, the foundation has remained stable since the mid 1980's. The drainage ditch we installed has water flow throughout the year, yet we have not had any more cracking.
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Re:Demand for "Earthship" home builders
« Reply #12 on: December 05, 2003, 09:03:45 pm »

I agree, most water problems can be solved by getting water away from your house.  Anywhere in the country, if you have water problems the first thing to do is bury your downspouts and run them well away from your house.  
I can't agree that all foundation cracking comes from freezing water however.  I have seen plenty of foundation cracking in areas where the frostline is only three inches deep.
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Re:Demand for "Earthship" home builders
« Reply #13 on: December 06, 2003, 02:42:31 pm »

Well, there are other sources of cracking, but water tends to be the worst. You'll get it from thin foundation walls, poorly reinforced foundation walls, or walls that are backfilled too soon after being poured. If you allow some water to get into the wall, it will corrode the rebar reinforcement and that rusting will cause spalling. Using rebar that is polymer dipped and/or painted after installation is more expensive, but is one of those details that ensures your foundation is good for a century or more.
Loading is also a factor. Once your foundation sets and the concrete is dry, nothing can hurt it more than either unbalanced loading or low loading. Concrete becomes stronger over time if it is under compressive loading. Unloaded concrete is more likely to develop cracking and disintegration over time. This is why builders who build big concrete buildings impose stresses in reinforcement cabling in concrete slabs. It gets stronger that way.
If you build a house that sits unevenly on a foundation, such that one part of the foundation assumes greater load than another part, you will get tortional and other stresses in the foundation that do not contribute to compression. If this is not taken into account when designing the foundation, you WILL get cracking as a result.
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