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Old 04-04-2008, 08:45 AM
 
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How feasible do you think this type of home would be in a rural area. I'm not talking about in a small town, but a rural area. This home really appeals to me and I can't seem to shake it from my thoughts.

I've brought this up on other forums before and it's never really garnered much reaction and, for the life of me, I can't imagine why not.

A Low Impact Woodland Home
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Old 04-04-2008, 09:04 AM
 
Location: Ocala National Forest
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Cute! Looks like Froto's home in the Shire (Lord of the Rings). Seriously in most areas the weather would dictate preserving the wood in some way, being from FL, everything here seems to break down in time with the heat and humidity. We are moving to TN, and with the tornado activity there lately we are considering a partial sub-terranian home, since our property is a steady slope, not to steep. Your site is some food for thought. Thanks.
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Old 04-04-2008, 09:32 AM
 
Location: The beautiful Rogue Valley, Oregon
7,543 posts, read 15,699,428 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Simple Living View Post
How feasible do you think this type of home would be in a rural area. I'm not talking about in a small town, but a rural area. This home really appeals to me and I can't seem to shake it from my thoughts.

I've brought this up on other forums before and it's never really garnered much reaction and, for the life of me, I can't imagine why not.

A Low Impact Woodland Home
Not very. Almost all counties still have a basic building code and require building permits. It's possible a talented architect could work in something that had that "feel" - I've seen some awfully cute straw bale houses, but nothing that far off "square."

In our experience, building in a rural area, we had trouble with our "green" and passive solar requirements, as we were asking for something a lot of the subcontractors had never done or seen.

Straw bale:
50 straw bale house plans
Architectural House Plans : Home Plan Search[0]=Strawbale
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Old 04-04-2008, 09:44 AM
 
4,834 posts, read 5,590,912 times
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This looks like a great idea but I doubt that it would get by the local/county building inspectors here in NC. Green homes are starting to catch on but they still have a standard structure underneath the roof.
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Old 04-04-2008, 10:13 AM
 
Location: Londonderry, NH
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New Mexico has a bunch of "Earthships" built along the same lines. Most seem to be in the vicinity of the town of Madrid on Rt 14.

The big problem in houses of this type of design are how are the utilities like water, waste and electricity handled? That is what eats up design time and creates inspector problems. another problem involves structural integrity in an earthquake prone region. You really do not want to be buried by your house.
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Old 04-04-2008, 10:27 AM
 
1,839 posts, read 4,506,688 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GregW View Post
New Mexico has a bunch of "Earthships" built along the same lines. Most seem to be in the vicinity of the town of Madrid on Rt 14.

The big problem in houses of this type of design are how are the utilities like water, waste and electricity handled? That is what eats up design time and creates inspector problems. another problem involves structural integrity in an earthquake prone region. You really do not want to be buried by your house.
Here's what the website says in regard to things like electric, water and waste. As for earthquake zones, I'm not in one of those, so I'm not too concerned about that. But these are all GREAT things to bring up and look into. I appreciate it!

Quote:
Some key points of the design and construction:
  • Dug into hillside for low visual impact and shelter
  • Stone and mud from diggings used for retaining walls, foundations etc.
  • Frame of oak thinnings (spare wood) from surrounding woodland
  • Reciprocal roof rafters are structurally and aesthaetically fantastic and very easy to do
  • Straw bales in floor, walls and roof for super-insulation and easy building
  • Plastic sheet and mud/turf roof for low impact and ease
  • Lime plaster on walls is breathable and low energy to manufacture (compared to cement)
  • Reclaimed (scrap) wood for floors and fittings
  • Anything you could possibly want is in a rubbish pile somewhere (windows, burner, plumbing, wiring...)
  • Woodburner for heating - renewable and locally plentiful
  • Flue goes through big stone/plaster lump to retain and slowly release heat
  • Fridge is cooled by air coming underground through foundations
  • Skylight in roof lets in natural feeling light
  • Solar panels for lighting, music and computing
  • Water by gravity from nearby spring
  • Compost toilet
  • Roof water collects in pond for garden etc.
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Old 04-04-2008, 10:27 AM
 
Location: The mountians of Northern California.
1,354 posts, read 5,805,369 times
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There are companies that build these types of homes to the local codes in your areas. There is an underground home in my area. A friend of mine rented it for a year while her new home was built. When she arrived to look at it, she wanted to leave. But her hubby wanted to look at it. They moved in within a week. It was self cooling in our dry hot summers, and kept the the warmth in during the winter. They used a woodstove for winter heat and it worked really well. She really did like it. She did mention she needed some extra lighting. HGTV had a special about underground homes awhile back, it was very interesting. Here are a few links that might be interesting.

UnderGroundHomes.com - Home Page

Davis Caves, Earth Sheltered Homes, Recent Construction Photos

Our underground home (http://www.jmbamboo.com/home.htm - broken link)
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Old 04-04-2008, 10:31 AM
 
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I appreciate the thoughts, so far, everyone! If this ever became a viable option, I would be looking at Western Montana and Northern Idaho for building. Again, somewhere very rural, not in town sandwiched between brick and mortar homes!

Thanks for the links, PNW-type-gal!
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Old 04-04-2008, 10:33 AM
 
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Great, encouraging post, Inthesierras! Thanks! I appreciate the links!

I don't own a television so I didn't see the HGTV specials but I would love to.
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Old 04-04-2008, 10:34 AM
 
Location: Somewhere in northern Alabama
18,581 posts, read 55,510,434 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Simple Living View Post
How feasible do you think this type of home would be in a rural area. I'm not talking about in a small town, but a rural area. This home really appeals to me and I can't seem to shake it from my thoughts.

I've brought this up on other forums before and it's never really garnered much reaction and, for the life of me, I can't imagine why not.

A Low Impact Woodland Home
I've seen that website before. If you look back in some of the early Mother Earth News, and IIRC Whole Earth, you'll see similar housing treatments. This house in particular looks shy on the structural support of the roof. Crooked branches don't have the strength of straight, and you don't want tons of earth crashing down on you.

The dwelling is also small and looks like it would be prone to mold. Then there is the possibility of termites or post beetles or brown recluse spiders or any number of pests taking up residence. Structures like this were undoubtedly built in centuries past, but wattle and thatched roofs (which are no great shakes[unintended pun]) won out for a reason.

Something like that would be great if you planned on renting it out as a movie set, or use it as a retreat, but I think you might tire quickly of it once the flaws became more apparent and age related problems began to appear and couldn't be fixed easily or safely.
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