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Old 12-08-2007, 09:14 AM
Location: Denver
1,082 posts, read 4,214,613 times
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I picked up a book at a cordwood built coffee shop in Del Norte, Rio Grande County--Cordwood building. It is the only home remodeling/building book I have ever read cover to cover. It's by a guy named rob roy and he does training workshops on eco-friendly building techniques used since before the 1960s and 1970s. He has a website too but I can't remember the name of it--I think just google cordwood and you will find it. For those of you who don't know about it, it is using cordwood, straw, and/or stucco or masonry to insulate and fill out the walls, which are supported by traditional lumber or post and beam support structures. If you are ever east of Alamosa definitely check out the coffee shop on the north west side of town (route 160). It is one lovely building, with colored bottle windows and all. P.S. this is in colorado.

Last edited by esya; 12-08-2007 at 09:16 AM.. Reason: incomplete info
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Old 12-10-2007, 06:45 AM
Location: Londonderry, NH
41,505 posts, read 49,574,957 times
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Interesting thread. Please check my posts on the NM solar thread for ideas about self contained Combined Heat and Power (CHP) systems for superinsulated (straw, Punice-Crete, log, etc) residential sized buildings. Just remember - the more time spent in planning a home and all the asociated systems the likelier it is to be made right the first time.

I like the idea of building in NM because there are way fewer zoning codes around to inhibit your creativity.

Quoting myself;

'There is a recently parented process where a mixture of earth. Gypsum and "other" can be poured into two sided forms or sprayed into one side forms that sets up fast enough to be tooled into walls and used within a week (IRCC). There is an entire sub culture of earth-based architecture in the southwest.

It has been said that adobe is for the poor, that can afford the time to make the bricks and build a home with them, or the rich, that can pay for someone else to take the time. To a great extent rammed earth fall into this category. Poured in place somewhat less so. In any case the electric, plumbing, water supply, wastewater disposal will cost nearly as much as the foundation, floor, walls and roof."

Last edited by GregW; 12-10-2007 at 06:48 AM.. Reason: Added quote
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Old 03-03-2009, 10:36 AM
2 posts, read 3,297 times
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Originally Posted by jecc View Post
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:


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.
Jecc I read your info on RVs and small houses on land in New Mexico. I did not know about the tax difference. My husband and I have land in New Mexico and where thinking about a house but we might just go with a portable cabin instead. Nordicnova in Minnesota
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Old 03-03-2009, 10:41 AM
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Jecc I was reading the info you posted about small houses and RVs on land in New Mexico. Very interesting I did not know that. My husband and I where thinking of building on a piece of land I own in Northern New Mexcio. But I think we will look at Mobile Cabins instead. We sure could save alot of money. Thanks Nordicnova in Minnesota
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Old 03-03-2009, 11:35 AM
Location: Londonderry, NH
41,505 posts, read 49,574,957 times
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My wife and I live in a small 2 bed room condo in southern New Hampshire. Our problem is simple. After 26 years the books are taking up more space then we do. As much as I like the idea of small houses after living in this one for so many years we really want some space for the computers, the beadery, my forge (so long as my hands hold up), and a couple of cars.

I have been looking into various house building techniques and have concluded that the ideal depends on climate. Surprising statement of the blindingly obvious. Here in New England a conventionally finished home made of precut Structural Insulated Panels (SIPs) on a Insulcrete™ foundation with radiant in floor heating and whole house ventilation would probably be most efficient.

In the south west the cast pumice concrete (Pumice-Crete tm) house without a basement and sited and designed for maximum winter solar gain would be just about indestructible. I have toyed with the idea of making insulating pumice block and building a house myself. I would start by having a complete steel roof with supporting structure erected on site and supported on posts. This would provide a shaded and dry building site while the masonry was being done and a durable roof after the house was built underneath.

I appreciate this thread. Let us keep it going.
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