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Old 10-07-2006, 12:52 AM
 
827 posts, read 4,506,382 times
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I am looking at some great monolithic dome homes. They are vitually indestructible! You can go to your search engine and type in monolithic dome homes and see many websites that talk about these neat homes. Great plans for any type of family too from small to very large. I am also looking at your websites too more in depth Jecc. $170 dollars to heat his house ALL winter with propane, in Iowa. Do you know how cold Iowa is? WAY cold! Awesome! How about a house like the tumbleweed in straw bale? WAY efficient!!

I remember my grandmother's old Spartan trailer that she had from the 1950s. It had ALL kinds of storage. She had tons of stuff but it had so many storage areas, including a bed, that was hidden and pulled down, out of a wall, but pull it up and it was a table and mirror. You could have a small house but have storage deluxe. The Japanese are masters of storage in small space. I have studied their home architecture and they are so proficient. I have also seen people put their beds on top of their closets and computer space. No wasted space!

Last edited by Crackerjack; 10-07-2006 at 01:25 AM..
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Old 10-07-2006, 11:51 AM
 
215 posts, read 729,087 times
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Domes are great. I looked into them. Problem was finding someone in my area to assemble it. If you can do it yourself, great. Otherwise, it might be hard to find a willing builder. This could vary by region.

Yeah, anything small like a travel trailer or one of those Tumbleweed houses will be cheap and easy to heat. I heat my 600 SF cabin at 9,000 feet for about $200 a year in propane for a ventless wall heater. About another $100 in propane goes toward the water heater, stove, and clothes dryer. That's less than a dollar a day in gas.

It's not as cold here as you might think, but it can drop below zero now and then. I used to live in Alaska, so NM seems balmy even at its coldest. The best thing is that it's never really hot here, so I don't need air conditioning. That saves a lot on power use too. My electric bill averages $25 a month, and most of that ($15) is the fee for being on the grid. So only about $10 goes toward Kw hours used.

Bottom line is that small = efficient. It's a no-brainer, but lenders and investors don't care about that as much as they do about marketable square footage. Just go to any decent bookstore and look for books about "small houses." When you look at those floor plans, you'll see that "small" means 1,200-1,800 SF. That's a mansion to me. Two people can live easily in 600 SF and each pay less than a dollar a day on traditional energy. Last time I heard, the "average" U.S. household was paying thousands per year on energy bills.
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Old 10-07-2006, 11:56 AM
 
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P.S. Crackerjack, your observations about storage are the key. Much of the space in most homes is unused and/or wasted. Also key is coming to terms with what you truly need vs. what you might want. Effecient living puts needs first, wants second. I have no TV, no cell phone, no fancy stereo system (just a little radio), no air conditioning, no high-speed Internet, no iPod. I don't miss any of that. And, as I said earlier, I'm already realizing that I could live easily in less than half the small space I'm in without giving up anything I need or want.
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Old 10-07-2006, 01:38 PM
_yb
 
Location: Central New Mexico
1,120 posts, read 4,606,852 times
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I do some work for a man north of Sante Fe a few times a year. He had a 14,000 sf home built using straw bale and adobe block. It is very energy efficient and very nice. I would not mind building a home with those same techniques in a couple of years. We would only need about 2500 sf though.
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Old 10-07-2006, 04:53 PM
 
157 posts, read 573,689 times
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Hey Crackerjack (and all others),

I was just surfing through and your post really caught my eye -- thanks for starting it!

You are probably down with this info. already, but if not, google "earthrise community" and "heartwood co-housing" for two highly "environmental" communities being planned in/around your former (I believe) and future hometown of Durango.

Thanks again to you and all who are in on this thread!
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Old 10-07-2006, 11:46 PM
 
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Jecc, $25 dollars a month for electricity!!! I can't imagine paying such a small amount! Phoenix is fairly high in electricity. My relatives in Denton, Texas said this month they had to pay over $600.00 JUST for electricity and she and her husband are hardly ever there and their home is just under 2,000 sf. Their friend's home is over 3,000 sf but they got their bill, $1,600 a month!!! They are just shocked. It has always been super high there but not that high! So you are doing REALLY GOOD!

I love up in altitude where you live because it is so refreshing and cool. I love up at Red River and Angel Fire. It stays cool. I know it can snow a lot but that never did bother me, it is ice I hate. The ice you get back east and in the south like Texas or Georgia. It is hard to drive well on ice but much easier to drive in snow. I also love the mountains. You sound like you have it made!

_yb, 14,000 sf!! MAN! That guy could house a city in that home! I just can't imagine why someone, or a couple, would need homes that big. I know a couple who have a 8500 sf home and it is just them. I would hate the upkeep on something like that! I know, Santa Fe has some monster homes.
They are so big, someone else could be living in it and you'd never know it!

Dgoboy204, thanks for the info! Yes, you are right. Durango was my old home and will be again soon. After I am done here, I am going over to read all about it. Sounds great! Durango seems to be right on the edge of stuff like that. Underground homes, solar homes, straw bale homes and such, so it doesn't surprise me they are going to do this too, which is great! Thanks!

Last edited by Crackerjack; 10-08-2006 at 12:44 AM..
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Old 10-08-2006, 08:09 AM
 
Location: new orleans
182 posts, read 735,782 times
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Crackerjack:
You should see some of the houses in Fl. Its obscene, IMP. Huge houses right on the beach blocking everyone's view and access..... you'd think here they would promote "storm friendly" houses that could survive high winds and some of the codes are moving in that direction but for the most part its still the run of the mill houses. Housing insurance rates are going up and up which is just one of many reasons I want to find a more afforadable place to live.
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Old 10-08-2006, 09:20 AM
 
Location: Santa Fe, New Mexico
3,012 posts, read 8,686,859 times
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Thank you all so much for this informative thread. My husband and I will be having a house built on our lot in Eldorado near Santa Fe in the coming year, and are looking at all of our options as far as environmental features that we can incorporate into our plan.

This thread is very helpful!
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Old 10-08-2006, 09:29 AM
 
215 posts, read 729,087 times
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CJ, electricity costs here are about average, I think. I just don't use much. A ventless propane heater needs no power, just propane. That saves me from having to use my forced-air furnace, which uses gas as well as power for its blower. Even when I lived in AK, I spent maybe $30-$40 a month on electricity for a 3BR home (1,100 SF). I kept the house around 50 degrees inside. Most people think this is outrageous, but if you put on a sweat shirt, you get used to it fast. It seems quite cozy when the air outside is below zero.

Here in NM, during the coldest parts of winter, I keep the cabin around 53-55 degrees F. In a small space, that seems much cozier than it does outside or in a large house. If that still makes your teeth chatter to think about, consider that in Siberia, where some towns are all on the same central heater, homes are kept around 40-45 F. I have done that in AK, and it's not bad either. People's perception of what they need vs. what they think they need is way off when it comes to homes, square footage, and energy.

One other note about tiny houses: Some of these things (though I'm not sure about the Tumbleweeds) are classified as RVs. This means you pay sales tax when you buy one but not property tax when you live in one. You register the thing with the DMV, and then you "park" it like a vehicle on your land. Even if you place it on a nice poured slab and install it like a real house, it's generally still considered an RV. So in most places you should pay property tax only on the land but not on the house.

My cabin/cottege here in the mountains is a "manufactured home" on a permanent foundation, so it is now called "real estate" -- i.e., a house rather than a trailer -- so I have to pay property tax on it and the land. If I had gone with an RV-type house, I'd be paying about $50 a year (yes, fifty dollars) in property taxes. With the house, it's over $300 a year, but that's peanuts compared with the $2,700 per year I was paying in AK.

CJ, you are in Phoenix, right? Check out this website:

cavcocabins.com

This company/factory is in your city, and you could drive over and check out some of these RV-style cabins. I hope to do the same someday (drive to PHX for a look) unless I can find some of these cabins closer to me. There are dealers throughout the Southwest. Happy browsing.
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Old 10-08-2006, 09:35 AM
 
215 posts, read 729,087 times
Reputation: 125
Quote:
Originally Posted by Towanda View Post
Thank you all so much for this informative thread. My husband and I will be having a house built on our lot in Eldorado near Santa Fe in the coming year, and are looking at all of our options as far as environmental features that we can incorporate into our plan.

This thread is very helpful!
Try a Google search on "earthships." These types of houses are relatively popular in the Taos area. I know a guy who helps build them there. Even if you don't want a house built of mud and old tires, the Google search will lead you to all kinds of info on enviro-friendly options.
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