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I'm researching alternative housing like earthships and dome houses and wanted to ask around for experiences (pros/cons) of these and perhaps others. I want to stay away from traditional houses (square frames, etc.) and want to go w/ something eccentric, economical (something I could build myself,) environmentally friendly, etc. I live in the TX panhandle so our climate ranges from hot/dry to windy/cold- little precip but alot of sun.
thanks! Kim
 

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At one time Countryside magazine was published out of a dome house in Waterloo, WI. I visited Jd and Diane while they were there. Jd said he loved the open feel of the dome, but it was a bear to try to heat and cool evenly. Perhaps that has now been solved with better air ciculation.

Probably shouldn't tell this on Jd, but his office was on the second floor loft under the dome. He said he put out several issues dressed in just boxer shorts because it was so hot there.

Ken S. in WC TN
 

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Eccentric can be expensive, or not... MY dream is build a wide open Timber frame home with Strawbale envelope, heated with a nice big, heavy, massive Masonry Heater with a bread oven and heated benches, which also provides heat for radiant floors.

MO is much wetter than your climate, but I still see Strawbale as a viable material.

See Pics of examples:

Strawbale:
http://www.dsaarch.com/Projects.htm

Timber Frames:
http://www.gallerywoodworking.com/timber_frames.php

Masonry Heaters:
http://www.mha-net.org/html/gallery.htm

Ah... to dream ;)
 
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clafarge said:
Eccentric can be expensive, or not... MY dream is build a wide open Timber frame home with Strawbale envelope, heated with a nice big, heavy, massive Masonry Heater with a bread oven and heated benches, which also provides heat for radiant floors.
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

That combination sounds nice Chad. I like the wide-open idea. I don't have kids and it's just me and my husband so a huge house is not necessary. I like the masonry heater/fireplaces, etc. but they look pretty expensive! Kim
 
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Ken Scharabok said:
At one time Countryside magazine was published out of a dome house in Waterloo, WI.>>>>>

Any idea how big the dome was Ken?
Kim
 

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Just beware of buying a dome kit from a company that in 1999 was going by Birthright owned & operated by a fellow named Duke Sandler. We found the ad in Countryside and after talking to this fellow numerous times we decided to purchase a kit. We paid $2000 for the framing kit and never did get it! After getting two states involved when he tried to skip to a new state we got back some of it but at $35-$50 a month. Needless to say we are still out over $1000 and haven't heard from him for over 2 yrs and he's left for parts unknown.
Even as late as 2001 he started another website with a different name which I can't remember trying to sell the kits! I contacted the webmaster, told my story and he checked into it. The website was down within a couple of months but I'm sure if he wanted to, he'd just start another one in a different area of the US.
Just be sure of who you order any kits from, just because they are in publications like Countryside doesn't mean the people running the ads are as honest as the magazine. Countryside is not to blame in any way, we take responsibility for being dumb but I would hate to see someone else lose that much money needlessly.
 

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Well, I am farther south and east in Texas than you..
We did go attend a seminar at a "sustainable" living homesite last month.

They had built two different forms of housing... one was strawbale/adobe/glass, the other was wood timber and glass.... the strawbale combo was the most interesting... they had built it quite tall and had a thatched roof. They had even put in a seat that ran the length of one wall which was strawbales covered in adobe also. They had done their homework as to which way the breezes consistantly come from and had put in louvered windows all up and down that wall face.. that wall was at least 25 ft high... the over all building sloped down to an eight ft high point. The building also had a fireplace built in the opposite wall of the windows...

The only problem they had was that moisture had leached in the base of the building and was causing the strawbales to decompose.. they had to open one wall to replace strawbales. So that is something to think about.

The floor was also adobe/mud that they added some lime to... once it had hardened they covered it with thompsons water seal.

It wasnt a bad house...... but it had some problems like moisture, but as they said it was a learning experience for them. They are also completely off the grid. They raise vegetables that they sell to the local resturants as well as making goat cheese they also sell to a local french resturant. That is part of their income as well as having classes in how to build these kind of houses. Their classes were quite expensive, we had gone to an open house, but, they want $250 a semester for the class per person as well as a materials fee of $140... I think I would go to the library and read up before paying someone else.

Lynn in Texas
 

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Unregistered said:
I'm researching alternative housing like earthships and dome houses and wanted to ask around for experiences (pros/cons) of these and perhaps others. I want to stay away from traditional houses (square frames, etc.) and want to go w/ something eccentric, economical (something I could build myself,) environmentally friendly, etc. I live in the TX panhandle so our climate ranges from hot/dry to windy/cold- little precip but alot of sun.
thanks! Kim
Hi Kim,
As a fellow "Texan" I can tell you my largest concern is the summer heat and how to ESCAPE it in an alternative home. I am researching Underground. Gary Oehler (?) has a book (I read it) and videos (which I'm awaiting) at his website:

http://www.undergroundhousing.com

I enjoyed the book.. but since I'm a 'visual' learner.. well.. had to order the tapes. He was on a segment of Extreme Homes last spring on HGTV. Maybe they'll show it again and you can see it.
 

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Two sites I've found very interesting are thenaturalhome.com and greenhomebuilding.com (sorry, I don't know how to do the link thingy). Green home covers the pros and cons of all different types of alternative building, has a q&a section and oodles of resource links. I'm checking into the earthbag construction now.
 

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chickflick said:
Hi Kim,
As a fellow "Texan" I can tell you my largest concern is the summer heat and how to ESCAPE it in an alternative home. I am researching Underground. Gary Oehler (?) has a book (I read it) and videos (which I'm awaiting) at his website:

http://www.undergroundhousing.com

I enjoyed the book.. but since I'm a 'visual' learner.. well.. had to order the tapes. He was on a segment of Extreme Homes last spring on HGTV. Maybe they'll show it again and you can see it.
Here is a cool link on building an underground house.

http://www.countryplans.com/underground.html
 

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We built a dome house similar to the one pictured above in the mid 70's. You will notice that this one pictured is roofed, which I would consider a must. Ours was not suppose to have to be roofed, just the foam spray...but it leaked like crazy even though we had the foam sprayed professionally. I know of several others with similar experience. We had large sliders, four of them, in the opening that you see. The fifth opening was into a small addition that was the bathroom and very large laundry and pantry. The entire home was open and it had a loft over 1/2 half of it. We found it quite functional, but it did heat rather unevenly. We had the sliders situated that they caught the winter sun, so we had a lot of passive solar heat. Never had a problem with cooling as we had good cross ventilation, but than it was in central Michigan.
 

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My wife, son and I live in an earthship. It is six years old. It works VERY well. We have had no need for ANY heat other than the sun this winter. We do have a couple kiva fireplaces. Last year we burnt 1/2 cord wood mostly for atmosphere. We have catch rain water that watered our gardens all year. A very pleasant living experience. Cost about the same as conventional stick frame - the difference is the operational costs and the savings of energy resources. I know someone with an earthship in Texas. Let me know by private email if you would like to contact him.

our home:

http://www.earthship.tk/
 
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Unregistered said:
I'm researching alternative housing like earthships and dome houses and wanted to ask around for experiences (pros/cons) of these and perhaps others. I want to stay away from traditional houses (square frames, etc.) and want to go w/ something eccentric, economical (something I could build myself,) environmentally friendly, etc. I live in the TX panhandle so our climate ranges from hot/dry to windy/cold- little precip but alot of sun.
thanks! Kim
Consider a yurt - used for centuries in ihospitable climates in Asia:
http://www.yurt.com
 

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chickflick said:
Hi Kim,
As a fellow "Texan" I can tell you my largest concern is the summer heat and how to ESCAPE it in an alternative home. I am researching Underground. Gary Oehler (?) has a book (I read it) and videos (which I'm awaiting) at his website:

http://www.undergroundhousing.com

I enjoyed the book.. but since I'm a 'visual' learner.. well.. had to order the tapes. He was on a segment of Extreme Homes last spring on HGTV. Maybe they'll show it again and you can see it.

Here is another texan.... I have my place located just north of Stephenville. Have you received any additional thoughts, inspirations, plans, etc on the Underground concept?? My wife and I are considering this option as our land has a perfect slope that faces east.

How were the tapes?? I have heard they were pretty low quality, but if they are informative and educational, then I can overlook the quality some!
 
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