Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Home Dreamin'

We want to build our own home. Building our own home would allow us to incorporate several energy-efficient and sustainable features that would otherwise be impossible with a developer built stick-frame and stucco McMansion clone home. It will also allow us to save money on the construction of my home, which will make it a smaller mortgage to pay off. One of my inspirations for this idea came from reading several books, like Rob Roy’s “Mortgage Free!”, Smith’s “Owner Builder Book” and their excellent Owner Builder forum and web site, and so on. Before happening upon this stuff, I didn’t think it was possible for a guy like to me to do it. The biggest boon to my research into energy-efficient, self-sufficient homes and homebuilding (besides the Internet, of course) was Bookman’s Used books, a local used-book megastore. I have been able to purchase two bookshelves full of books on homesteading, homebuilding, pioneer skills, water systems, solar power, animals, and so on for pennies on the dollar that I wouldn’t have otherwise been able to own if it weren’t for Bookman’s.

One book that really got me thinking about housing self-sufficiency is the Earthship series by Michael Reynolds. These books are filled with ideas about how to live lighter on the earth, even if you don’t build an earthship of your own. We even went up to Taos, New Mexico last year for part of our vacation to take a tour of an earthship and looked around at several examples of different earthships. Earthships, if you don’t know, are homes with walls made of tires filled with compacted earth and banked into the earth. Ok, you say, radials aren’t very attractive! Well, you won’t see any tires on a completed earthship. They are all plastered over. The closest comparison I have seen is thick adobe walls, except the “bricks” are tires. They are totally self-sufficient, running on solar and wind power, heating and with the sun and keeping cool with the massive walls solar design, collecting, storing and purifying rainwater for drinking, and processing it’s own waste. A finished earthship is a very beautiful and comforting structure. One day I may build a home like it. For more information about Earthships, go here.

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