Building a Non-conventional home?

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by steve-in-kville, May 24, 2008.

  1. steve-in-kville

    steve-in-kville Raised Bed Artist

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    Like converting an old barn into a home or putting up a steel building and converting to a home, etc.

    I need some ideas, folks. We need a larger than normal home and we don't have the big bucks to do it. I've looked at kit homes, too.
     
  2. MedicalUser

    MedicalUser Well-Known Member

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    google: cordwood masonry.... cob is another great alternative. I wont go into details here about these building techniques, there is alot of info on the web. I have built a cordwood cabin with a living roof. If u want any help. i might be able to assist. I have also done some small projects using cob..as well as a cordwood / cob hybrid.

    pEaCe
     

  3. CGUARDSMAN

    CGUARDSMAN Well-Known Member

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    I'm a fan of steel buildingd because of the amount of open space inside. My sister has a converted pole shed that is 30x40 and it is pretty cool...others on here have such homes too.
     
  4. ErinP

    ErinP Too many fat quarters... Supporter

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    As well as straw bale, my personal favorite. :)
     
  5. steve-in-kville

    steve-in-kville Raised Bed Artist

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    My wife insists we have a rancher, as she is tired of steps. Thought about the steel building thing.... once read about a straw bale houses. Interesting... to say the least.
     
  6. texican

    texican Well-Known Member

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    Forget kits or gimmicks...

    What you need is a good ol scrounger instinct, and an unlimited supply of sweat equity.

    Built my first mostly traditional home on only 7K. 90% of the materials (outside of the roof and slab) were scrounged, or discounted.

    I've been re-scrounging ever since...now I've got 20 years more scrounged material, and instead of building another barn to put the stuff, I'm building...

    I've saved enough money for the slab and new roofing materials....

    I won't be borrowing any money.

    As for your particular situation... remodeling is twice as expensive as building from scratch... if you're paying someone... if you're DIY, you could save a lot of money, if you're scrounging all the 'new' parts...
     
  7. jasper

    jasper Well-Known Member

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    other than the attractive costs of cordwood construction, i absolutely love the look of it. it is by far my favorite alternative building.

    maybe you will allow me to call on you someday for some adivse?
     
  8. farminghandyman

    farminghandyman Well-Known Member Supporter

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    question, I looked at the http://homesteadingtoday.com/showthread.php?t=252564 scrap house thread, and saw the wall of phone books,

    now in my area my phone book is about 1/4 thick, but in areas where they have the phone book "recycling" in large cities,

    what about using phone books like the straw bales, and build a similar type of building, and stucco over the wall when done inside and out? similar to dry stack blocks.

    I saw a house being built once that was foam sheets that was stuccoed in side and out,

    but I would think the books would stack and would make fair insulation, not that they have a lot of air space, and be nearly bullet proof, (if that has an appeal),

    this is a little different but interesting. http://www.livinginpaper.com/construction.htm
     
  9. barn-apart

    barn-apart Well-Known Member

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    I would suggest barns, these buildings are prefabed ,have stood for 100 years or more and are availiable nearly everywhere,plus have a desireable resale value. There are very efficient methods to semi-dismantle and move to make them cost effective. Insulation added, windows and doors sawn in where desired,As for size, well 40x100 some larger. The trick is to cut the unit you desire from the larger original biulding. I have done several and there is a sizeable cost savings as many times the building can be obtained for free.
    Carefull planning will allow single or multi story rebuilds.
    One thing to check is if you have a building department make sure they don't freakout over reclaimed material, I have been held up several times because of reclaimed.Had to have the material graded by a certified lumber grader and engineering done.
    Good Luck
     
  10. Shrek

    Shrek Singletree Moderator Staff Member

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  11. TNHermit

    TNHermit Well-Known Member Supporter

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    People are always looking for that alternate cheap as dirt house. Lots of neat ways of costructing things. Iv'e built most of them. Yurts,Domes,Post& Beam, Pole Barn, Etc. But the common stick built ranch is the best deal going. Especially with lumber as cheap as it is. It can be up and under roof in 10 days or less. It can be sealed up tight to keep the bugs out and use less energy. And if you can do like Texican said it can be cheaper. Anything else is gonna be buggy,drafty and a lot of work and constant maintenance. IF ya got a lot of time, like to work on your house forever and don't plan on living there for more than 10 or so years then do one of the alternatives.
     
  12. naturewoman

    naturewoman Well-Known Member

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    Never heard of cordwood. I'll have to look into that. What about tires packed with earth?

    The only things that might be limit your building are codes and insurance, if you need it.
     
  13. MedicalUser

    MedicalUser Well-Known Member

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    I dont know where u r Tnhermit but lumber is far from cheap here. Cordwood lends itself to many advantages. No straight trees need to cut as with conventional build. CW is also a truly owner/builder friendly, even those without any construction experience. CW also has amazing R-values, is almost fireproof, Has been used for hundreds if not thousands of years. Im not an authority on CW or cob just owner/builder. Id look into Rob Roy, Jack Henstridge they both have excellent books as well as hands on traing courses if u so desire. I was able to build a 12x24 CW cabin with a living roof , with no mechanical assistance other than a chainsaw and a pick-up truck for hauling. We built this cabin in under 3 months. Underroof, it was warm a cozy. It felt like u were in a fortress. Someone said bulletproof might seem appealing..well with CW u can use up to 24" log sections ..making the wall 2 foot thick!! Hows that for bullet proof? There is even a technique for severly cold climates where a double wall of 24" logs are laid making it a total of 4ft thick!!! In my opinion stick built homes are a waste of materials and they r very inefficeint when it comes to heating and cooling. BTW it took us 1 1/2 cords of wood to heat that cabin for 4 months thru an ohio winter :) hows that for effient ? :)

    A good forum for some info is www.daycreek.com

    PeAcE!!!
     
  14. TNHermit

    TNHermit Well-Known Member Supporter

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    A lot of what you say is true but there are some realities. A conventional framed home right now ,say 32 x40, materials will be around 12-15,000. It will be around 10,000 board ft (It might be less than that. Been a while. )
    A 32 x40 cordwood with 16" walls will use about 21000 bd ft of lumber. Now if you got trees that aren't all that good and lots of time. But to cut up that much good lumber , even at 1.00 a board ft is not cheap nor is it the best. I can make a lot of nice furniture out of that 10,000 ft of lumber :)
    Don't get me wrong I like cord wood. I like the yurts we built in Breckenridge,CO on top of the mt. I prefer post and beam with sips panels.
    The other thing is you have exposed end grain and the logs are gonna dry and split. That lets bugs in ! And if your in a freeze thaw cycle then you are gonna have to be doing constant maintenance to keep it up. Filling crackss and repairing mortar. Unless you use all cedar,white oak or something similar. But you still have the mortar to deal with. End grain sucks up moisture and will eventually rot unless kept treated.

    THINGS are made specifically for framed houses. There si very little I know that is made for cordwood. Not that it can't be adapted and prepared for.

    All the cordwood homes I know are on a slab. So then you have extra expense for plumbing and heating. Especially if you have to repair.

    I hope you enjoy your cord wood. I have been thinking about a couple of buildings out of it. But i have gnarly trees. :). and there is nothing in the floor. But dollar for dollar you can't beat a simple framed house. UNLESS as you said you got LOTS of time and don't mind the upkeep.
     
  15. Deborah Stephenson

    Deborah Stephenson Well-Known Member

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    There are soooo many good ideas for cheap, earth-friendly, sustainable and easy to build homes, but this is a great place to START for alternative building ideas.

    http://www.greenhomebuilding.com/index.htm

    It pretty much has articles and ideas for just about everything already listed here and more. (cob; strawbale; earthbermed, tire-filled "earthships; papercrete; ferro-cement; domes - you name it) It will be a springboard to a lot of other places you might want to look at.

    We are personally building a kind of hybrid design we worked out for ourselves. Its basically a combination of timberframe and stawbale with a ferro-cement shell (for strength and storm resistance - since we are in tornado alley). It also has a living roof.

    If you have access to free paper in quantitiy, you should check out papercrete (maybe in combination with ferro-cement - using the ferro-cement for strength and the papercrete for insulation). http://www.livinginpaper.com/business.htm
    http://ferrocement.net/cgi-bin/shop/i-shop.cgi?shop_id=1&product=equ&cart_id=6614879_10051

    Or for something really different... check out a very new alternative - tirebales! (We really wanted to do this but didn't have a close enough source for them). http://www.tirebalehouse.com/ and http://www.touchtheearthranch.com/tirestart.htm and http://www.touchtheearthranch.com/Unruhtire.htm

    If those aren't enough - pm me, I have a whole folder full of alternative building links I've been accumulating for about 5 or 6 years now.
     
  16. FarmerGreen

    FarmerGreen Well-Known Member

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    This is what we're planning. Home Sweet Quonset

    [ame]http://youtube.com/watch?v=kusl1OImy8w[/ame]

    Ours will be a bit different, though. Ours will have no basement, it's 40 x 50 with a second floor about 2/3 of that for a total of 3500sf. We'll be building on a concrete slab with hydronic radiant floor heat. With 3" spray foam insulation it should be easy to heat.
     
  17. ET1 SS

    ET1 SS zone 5 - riverfrontage Supporter

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    We are building and living in a steel building.

    http://smg.photobucket.com/albums/v205/gyoung09/house/house designs/

    86 photos of the archetectural design of our finished home. Feel free to scroll through the pictures.

    Here is the shell when it was first completed:
    http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v205/gyoung09/house/shell completed/a2041d22.jpg

    The Northside today:
    http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v205/gyoung09/house/01Dec06/DSCN0150.jpg

    The Southside:
    http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v205/gyoung09/house/01Dec06/DSCN0154.jpg

    Some interior walls:
    [​IMG]

    Bathroom:
    http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v205/gyoung09/house/Kitchen mezzanine/Bathroom3.jpg

    And
    http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v205/gyoung09/house/Kitchen mezzanine/Ceiling3.jpg

    Here is up over the kitchen:
    [​IMG]

    Here is over the lap-pool:
    [​IMG]

    Looking down into the sunken livingroom:
    http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v205/gyoung09/house/living room/livingroom001.jpg

    And:
    http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v205/gyoung09/house/living room/2bNEsteps.jpg

    In the livingroom, looking at the door to the basement:
    http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v205/gyoung09/house/living room/Westbench.jpg

    I do recommend steel warehouses as homes. :)

    Our is 40' by 60', the kit cost me $16k.
     
  18. grimm_mojo

    grimm_mojo Well-Known Member

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    here in ohio i have seen more then a few barns turned into houses an they look pretty cool i think . got few books on cordwood houses they seem pretty nice as well wouldnt mind getting see one on insife just see what it like. as to cheap lumber if you live near sawmills you can get pretty good prices on rough cut lumber there bunch around area i live in an i called other day check price was told 40 cents a board for no matter what it is you get what they got cut at the time
     
  19. farminghandyman

    farminghandyman Well-Known Member Supporter

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  20. foaly

    foaly Just happy to be here! Supporter

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    Give me a concrete home! I have dreamed of this for years. Built correctly, they can apparently withstand an F5 tornado (according to the research done at Texas Tech). It's not the tornadoes that bother me.....it's the potential maiming and/or death from the flying debris. :eek: