Elements of Permaculture House Design

Discussion in 'Designing, building, making and powering your life' started by Tasman, May 16, 2013.

  1. Tasman

    Tasman Junior Member

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    Hi All,

    We are slowly getting ready to design a house. Or rather to give input to some kind of house designer such that they will design one for us. Most of my experience is with conventional suburban houses. If forum members have elements of their house that they are especially happy/unhappy with as they relate to a permaculture world, details, things to keep in mind or even just points to mull over would be much appreciated.

    Things on my mind are:

    Mud room: a utility room, airlock between the outside and the inside of the house. A place we can drop things we bring from outside, deposit outside equipment like tools and muddy clothes, wash food and selves. Perhaps I'll put washing machine in here. It can be on the south side of the house.

    Pantry: easy access to kitchen and maybe mud room. Away from hot things (stove, hot water system, north and west side of house). When I toured David Holmgren's house he had a long pipe burried under the ground that fed directly into the bottom of a small food storage area. The air was kept constantly flowing through temperature differential. It was quite remarkable how much cool air was flowing through the space.

    Greenhouse: Could be joined to the north side of the house as a part of the building, perhaps even with a vent system to feed warm air into the house in winter. Or it could be separate and built later. As part of the house, means more expensive?, Blocks view from living space to the north of the house. An architect told me that the air if vented into the house can be quite humid so it was better not to do it. Mollison suggests adjoining chook house and greenhouse to house.

    Shed: storage, workshop, vehicles go here. Water collection for house from the roof. Can be near the house or up the hill (negating the need for pump to pressurize water). Seems like a very frequent walk from the house so maybe nearby and pump to pressurize water is better. Freezer goes here on in mud room.

    Dining Area come utility workspace. Heavy strong dining table that can double as workspace for preserving/bottling/packing. Easy access to pantry.

    Cellar/basement - no idea. I'm thinking to get the Root Celar book so I can understand more of its benefits and also how much could be gained by building one in conjunction with the house rather than later at my leisire.

    Finally, do you think a wood burning oven, for use in winter makes sense? It can cook our food, heat our water, heat our house. In summer we could use a hotplate, BBQ and brick oven to cook. I lived for years in Asia where few have ovens, so I know its quite doable. But I can't seem to find too many people who thinks its a good idea (my wife does not number amongst them). We've got plenty of wood. In fact my site plan is going to call for trimming a few degrees of trees from our north east aspect.

    Cheers,
    tas
     
  2. Pakanohida

    Pakanohida Junior Member

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    Hi Tas!

    I am working on adding a greenhouse / expanding a kitchen to the south side & east (note North latitude here) of a building. I am digging and using rammed earth tires for the foundation. From that it will be straw bale infill between vigas cut here on the property with as many windows, as I can find. The greenhouse will then start getting concrete & beer can planters that will also have grey water from the kitchen section.

    Zone 0 is an often under utilized area for permaculture.
     
  3. gardenlen

    gardenlen Group for banned users

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    yes as paka says, you won't really see much about zone '0' or '00', in permaculture they mostly get involved in being see design stuff.

    check our eco' home on our site, we researched that and it worked well wish we still had it. the big thing never spoken of in buying land is teh aspect, in australia simply it has to be a true north aspect or at least mag' north if on a slope maybe some east can be tolerated(our experience will suit low tropics, to warm temperate. one lady in tassie was talking to me about our design but i can't help terribly much with tassie, maybe unless i was standing there.

    the house should face directly true north, for winter sun and to keep afternoon summer solstice off the back wall, have a look you will see. we had that home almost facing mag' north, we are hopeless at getting it right and builders have no idea so can't help. our new house (financial restrictions) is more around to true north has gable vaulted ceilings a works as well as can be. interior orientation should be on our site up here kitchen best in nth/east corner, then dining and lounge along that north wall to nth/west end, big factor no window or doors in western wall and be careful with windows in eastern wall, might get too much solstice morning sun in. house vents better if sun tracks the length of the house. partition interior walls allow the house to breathe. in paka's world change north to south east and west still the same.

    not location; location; location - but aspect; aspect; aspect and should imagine down your way that aspect might need to be high as.

    len
     
  4. eco4560

    eco4560 New Member

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    I had a 'green' architect do my plans for me. The things I'm happiest about are the placement and direction of windows to capture winter sun but exclude summer sun. And in winter that sunlight falls onto blockwork walls to suck up the heat to release at night. In summer the block work suck ups the excess heat all day because no sun reaches that wall. The other thing that worked well is that the underfloor (under my wood, over the beams / joists) is Heeble - that aerated concrete stuff. It insulates well so heat doesn't fall through the floors in winter or rise through in summer and it dampens down lots of noise so you don't get the load sounds you get walking on a wood floor. The roof orientation was also deliberately planned to give the best orientation to the sun for solar electricity and hot water systems to go on.
    I also appreciate the lack of storage - which sounds counterintuitive to what all the design mags tell you. But it forces me to constantly review the 'crap' that you rapidly accumulate in life and to not bring home stuff that isn't absolutely vital and to rehouse anything that is no longer contributing to the function of the house.
    Regrets? I would have loved to have had the time / energy / enthusiasm to self build and use natural building methods instead of a more conventional build. But it just wasn't the right time or place for that in my life. Next house.... And even though I reduced the size of the house several times during the planning stage it is still bigger than I really need it to be.
     
  5. pebble

    pebble Junior Member

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    A wood burning oven/stove is pretty high on my list of priorities. Useful things, not just for cooking, but for drying foods in climates where the air gets moist, or where you need to dry quickly.

    I also consider using ceiling space important: clothes drying, food and herb drying, storage etc.
     
  6. ecodharmamark

    ecodharmamark Junior Member

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    G'day Tasman. Some good advice provided already above. Assuming that you did not acquire the property with dwelling size, location, orientation, internal and external layout, and construction method/materials in mind, I hope the following is of some use:

    1) Size - How many bedrooms/beds? Does each bedroom need access to a separate bathroom, or will one central unit suffice? Size of kitchen, dining, lounge, study, wet/mud room, laundry/utility will naturally follow based on the number of people who will be living/staying in the dwelling.

    2) Location - Where are you going to site the dwelling on the property? Do you have a choice? Where are you sourcing your water from - e.g. does the dwelling need to be lower in altitude than a dam/feeder tank, etc? Have you done a sector analysis - e.g. is the property/neighbouring properties heavily vegetated and at risk of wildfire attack?

    3) Orientation - Living areas facing solar north in the southern hemisphere (south in the northern). Dwelling if rectangle in shape (most are): long axis on the east/west plane. A full sector analysis will help with the orientation task.

    4) Internal layout - Living areas: kitchen, dining, lounge, study, etc. all on the north side of the property. Bedrooms, bathroom/s, mud/utility/laundry on the south. Some prefer their kitchen on the east (morning sun), others on the west (evening light). Generally depends on the climate/environment. All areas serviced by water/waste: kitchen, bath, laundry, etc. should be on the one (east or west) wall or corner for ease of (reduced cost in) plumbing and servicing.

    5) External layout - Zone and sector analysis: Sheds will be sited in places based on easy access/egress, in between essential services such as potable/fire-fighting water storages (tanks), main vehicular access and egress roads and parking areas, waste (human and otherwise) bioremediation field e.g. orchard, chook house/run, kitchen garden, etc.

    6) Construction method/materials - What does the site/bioregion provide? Stone, timber, mud, straw? Post and beam or concrete slab? Site cut and fill, or work with what you have in terms of slope? What's your ability/time? Self build, or contract?

    In a perfect world, all of the above would have been considered before the property was acquired. This way the intended/needed dwelling would have naturally 'fit' the site. However, if none of the above was given any consideration prior to purchase, then (and even it was) I would likewise (and always) suggest you consult a local (at least to the bioregion) architect. Someone (preferably) who understands permaculture, or at the very least someone who understands what a zone and sector analysis entails.

    One final piece of advice, make sure your architect is fully accredited and licensed: https://www.findanarchitect.com.au/

    And most importantly, make sure you involve all of the people who are going to live in the dwelling in the planning and design process and, as always, enjoy the journey :).
     
  7. gardenlen

    gardenlen Group for banned users

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    just had a thought to get the thinking cap into gear, even a good think starting point for us and we had that in mins.

    teh absolute best home would be in the side of a steepish hill and only have a mainly glass front facing true north, like a cave, stable temp all year round, very bush fire and flood safe.

    so with that in mind the home we designed upon was cave like in style.

    a bloke in the high tropics around darwin built like our except he had higher front 6 meters and lots more glass and storm shutter, dunno what aspect as northern sun may not be important air flow and humidity were his concerns.

    len
     
  8. 9anda1f

    9anda1f Administrator Staff Member

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    While all of the above are important, in the past few houses I've lived I noticed a peculiar feature worth mentioning: the design of the actual transition between indoors and outdoors.

    The feature that I like best is an house entry that is very nearly at ground level (not necessarily all entries, but at least one) such that there are no steps between doorway and patio/ground level. This seems to bring the outdoors almost right into the house, and the living space right outdoors.

    Anyhow, just a little feature I particularly like.

    = )
     
  9. hardworkinghippy

    hardworkinghippy Junior Member

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    I have hundreds (Maybe thousands even) of photo of building our house with descriptions of why we chose to things the way we did, how things are done and how they work.

    For example this set "Solar Home" shows the house at different times of the year :

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/hardworkinghippy/sets/72157629415697916/

    This set is a compilation of off grid photos :

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/hardworkinghippy/sets/72057594066748877/

    Building our lean-to greenhouse :

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/hardworkinghippy/sets/72157624069922140/detail/

    and lots of others.

    I love my woodburning stove and I'm rather sad when the weather get warmer and we stop using it.

    I'd also like to add that putting straw bales under the house floor for insulation is a cheap and easy way to have a floor which stores the heat - lovely to walk on in bare feet and the dogs love it too.

    Irene
     

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