Something gnawing at me...(natural housing)

Discussion in 'Designing, building, making and powering your life' started by Pakanohida, Mar 10, 2013.

  1. Pakanohida

    Pakanohida Junior Member

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    Here in the Pacific NW, the indigenous housing is called a Plank House. What I note from these homes, is that the interior is sunken, and there is for lack of a better term, storage or a walk way around it on the inside.

    https://www.blm.gov/or/resources/recreation/tablerock/images/takelma/Plank-House_lg.jpg

    .........Roofing
    .....R
    .R
    ..........Wall
    ..........W
    ..........W
    ..........W
    ..........W
    ..........W
    ..........W
    .......--W-----Original Ground Level
    ..........W
    ..........W=Storage=W
    ............................Wall
    ............................Wall
    ............................Wall
    ............................Wall
    ............................Wall
    ............................Wall
    ............................Wall
    ............................Wall
    ............................Wall===Sunken Flooring=====


    What I do not understand with this system is why doesn't the floor flood? :think: I got rainforest conditions and Old Man's Beard & ferns growing on trees it is so rainy here!:giggle:

    Seriously though, this gives me pause for my designs which are akin to this amazing place.

    I was planning timber framing as per the website directly above, but after learning about the plank house, I am pausing because it has been my experience that the locals do things, and evolved things a certain way for a reason.



    Any on topic thoughts behind this project? :bow:
     
  2. Unmutual

    Unmutual Junior Member

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    There's probably something akin to a french drain around each house. I found no mention of using pitch(or any other sealant) in the overlapping wall boards.
     
  3. pebble

    pebble Junior Member

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    Location:
    inland Otago, NZ
    Climate:
    Inland maritime/hot/dry/frosty
    Yeah, that's what I reckon. We did this when I was growing up, around the tent, when we camped in rainforest.

    Big and low eaves in that pic too.
     
  4. sweetpea

    sweetpea Junior Member

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    At best those plant houses were temporary for lumberjacks and maybe during the Gold Rush, root cellars to keep food stored, but they get wet and moldy, even if somehow the water doesn't stand in the bottom of them.

    If you look into building a house into the side of a hill today there are plans for such a thing, but it involves complete sealing against water seepage. After living in this foggy, damp world I want my biggest investment to be where there's plenty of airflow underneath it. The last thing you want is to have to keep screwing with the foundation or flooring after the expansive clay expands and contracts and jerks your house around, makes doors and windows uncloseable and puts mold in the walls, especially around windows.

    The Codes may be a pain, but they evolved out of making a building dry and bacterially clean, and able to withstand soil expansion, settling, putting a heavy cast iron stove in it, and maybe even an earthquake. :)
     
  5. Ludi

    Ludi Junior Member

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    According to that article, some of the houses might have been moved seasonally:

    "The cedar ropes that secured the planks to the uprights and beams allowed the people to deconstruct their homes and bring their planks with them to the next location. These planks were not small nor were they easily obtained, but they were valuable assets and as such, they were transported with the household goods during the seasonal migrations. The house frames were left intact until the next season when the people returned and reattached their traveling planks and reconstructed their home."

    So they might have avoided problems with pervasive damp and rot by moving the house to a new location. This probably also gave them an opportunity to inspect the boards for rot and weakness and to replace them. Most of us probably don't want to have to move our houses or replace parts of them very often! :p
     
  6. Pakanohida

    Pakanohida Junior Member

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    I started reading:

    The Underground House Book by Stu Campbell
    Earth Sheltered Houses by Rob Roy
    Earthships Volume 1 & 2 (again) by Michael Reynolds

    This home I am currently in on the property is anything but thermally stable. I have much to consider at the moment.
     
  7. sweetpea

    sweetpea Junior Member

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    In case this helps, I've gone into some pretty good detail in these forums about our passive solar house, and how well it works. It's conventionally built, insulated in walls, floors and ceiling, it makes it easy to get parts at the local big box stores, maintenance on it is standard with easily gotten, inexpensive plumbing, electricity, septic, roofing (tree limbs blow and very happily go right through a new roof), gutters, downspouts, roof that is not too steep and can be walked on safely, decking that is easy to put next to it, heaters work with the electrical system or propane, Hardie board siding that is part cement and won't burn or be eaten by termites, things that are easily gotten and the least expensive options.

    We looked into nontraditional housing, but honestly, having to order special parts, modify existing parts to make things work, always having to use custom parts, once it's in place, and that takes quite a while to do, I needed a break from all that, and I needed to know in the wind storms and heavy rains that it was stable and not going to get into trouble, and I wasn't going to be out there in the wet, cold storms trying to fix something over and over again.

    Eight-sided or domed houses don't have easy roofs to get on. It's hard to fit conventional furniture and appliances against rounded or short walls. Rats and mice chew right through yurt fabric. I would never want the floor or decking to be higher than 2, 3 feet at the most, because going up and down stairs with something heavy or awkward (groceries, tools, generator, supplies) is exhausting, and it's easy to lose your balance in the dark, especially if the deck or mud is wet and slippery. And piers over 3 feet need special engineering.

    Put a lot of money, time and planning into a foundation that is overkill. Once you have that, anything you put on top of it will be in fine shape. But make sure you can crawl under the house. Code says minimum of 18 inches, and that's a little bit creepy, 2 feet is a lot easier to move around in. But that means that it needs to be very stable to be up a little higher. I've had to go under the house a lot to stop the rats and mice, and to put a drain for the gray water, and a special connection to the generator when the solar got too low.

    One thing that made more difference than I knew would matter is having big windows and a lot of light. On dreary overcast or foggy days, light and white paint keeps the inside cheerful and bright, which is psychologically important when some other rural issue may be causing a problem.

    5-foot tall windows are great for the view and the light, and help with the passive heat. And as I've mentioned before, small eaves so that the sun can get to the windows.
     
  8. Unmutual

    Unmutual Junior Member

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    Hah, I just picked up the $50 and up underground house book by Mike Oehler. After researching a variety of "alternative housing", I think underground(or at least earth bermed) makes the most sense if building from scratch(depending on area). I'm far from deciding though, just leaning more towards it at the moment.
     
  9. sweetpea

    sweetpea Junior Member

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    You've got to check out this solar hot air heater from metal downspouts:

    https://youtu.be/a62mZMIMpc0


    Also, check out hot water batch heaters, old hot water heaters inside insulated boxes with glass doors that get the water up over 120 degrees F:

    https://youtu.be/F6BvsxFPN2o


    So if the location of the house affords a 30-foot south-facing stretch where it's completely open and there can be these kinds of access to direct sun all day, these would be great additions.
     
  10. Unmutual

    Unmutual Junior Member

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    I think passive solar from thermal mass inside the house/greenhouse(coupled with a rocket mass stove) is the way I'm leaning right now instead of a trombe wall. The hot water batch heater is pretty good(and I may very well use that idea..thanks!), and would make a great addition to a water jacket/rocket mass water heater.

    Heating the house won't be my main problem though, cooling will(hence the underground house to reduce cooling pollution), so having the hot water tank(s) outside would seem to be desirable.
     
  11. gardengrove

    gardengrove New Member

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    simon dale house

    My wife and I are embarking on A similar project to begin as soon as everything thaws out up here on the south shore of Lake Superior in northwest WI. We were inspired by simon dale's house in wales as well. We are building our house to code, using an earthbag retaining wall on the north, east and west sides of our house, timber framed with a reciprocal roof and either a straw bale or cob (haven't made up our minds just yet), with an adobe floor all on a gravel pad, similar to a poured fou.dation. I've been researching and designing for months. Some key words to look up for drainage and heaving issues are "frost protected shallow footings", "wing isulation", and "how to waterproof ypur earth sheltered home" this last one having a cutaway image of the umbrella over the home. We would be happy to share our plans with anyone interested. Best of luck!
     
  12. Pakanohida

    Pakanohida Junior Member

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    I am going with a rammed earth tire foundation after reading the earthquake results from Earthships and Straw bale home use. I live on the Ring of Fire so I look at it as a precaution.

    I have been recently reading about asian wood joinery and how they build temples around 1 tree / center axis pole so that during an earthquake the place shifts, but doesn't collapse.
     
  13. Donkey32

    Donkey32 Junior Member

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    Ya know, Pakanohida..
    You're smack in the heart of COB country there.. Just a stone's throw from Ianto and his gang of muddy hippies.. How come yer not going in for the cob thing?

    To attempt a guess at the native dugout question:
    It may be that they built them only in certain areas, or under certain conditions. You would need to investigate the particular area around (and if possible under) one of the original (actually native built, and built pre-european if possible) buildings.
    You may find that they are built on sandy mounds, or used some kind of curtain drain, or only built them on the east side of the mountains, or some other thing.

    It's entirely possible that they did (on occassion) flood and everyone had to sleep on the ledges for a while.
    ??
     
  14. sweetpea

    sweetpea Junior Member

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    Paka, we have friends in the Santa Cruz mountains, you know how funky the summer cabins can be there, and they used to build their houses, yes, houses around the redwood trees, which kept growing, they had to enlarge the opening, and walking space around the tree shrunk, causing huge problems. The trees sway making it almost impossible to keep the roof sealed, but there's no way to remove a giant tree from the biggest investment you've ever made. Plus the mold issues directly under trees, they have their own fungi, mold, etc. that loves dampness.

    I've been looking into an insulated potting shed/greenhouse that I need to have passive solar in late winter through mid-summer, and while cob is so appealing, it requires 18" to 24" eaves to protect the exterior from rainfall, and I believe you have quite a bit of that. But eaves that large will not work well during winter, chilly spring at letting that low sunlight in. The success of our passive solar is that the early sun hits the windows first thing in the morning, no eaves to block it.

    But there is another middle ground, really cool type of construction, cordwood construction, I'm sure you've seen it, where the 1 foot cut pieces of cordwood are put horizontally between regular 2x4, doubled or tripled up, uprights, layered with a special mortar mix. Great insulation, and with a special treatment on the exterior wood ends it doesn't need large eaves. I'm going to do a 6x10 shed with the coldest wall in cordwood construction, and a slanting glass wall on the sunny side. And if that type of construction works for me I want to eventually do a large, special bedroom in it. It feels really comfortable. Colored bottles can be inserted into the walls as well, blue, green, clear, and light sparkles through them. An easy low-maintenance roof can go over the top of it, still using exposed beams. It's just so appealing :)

    https://www.renaupitis.com/cordwood-construction/
     

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