In The Beginning.....It Starts by asking yourself......
What if? Can I do it? Do I have the skills, know how and passion?
Youth has its great advantage in dreaming and then fulfilling those dreams. While in my mid twenties (late in the 60's) my husband and I believed in a lifestyle of living off the land, self-sufficiently by building a home and growing our own food. We weren't hippies but definitely believed there was more to life than living in the "burbs". Well fast forward to current day and I embarked on this 50+ year dream of an alternative lifestyle. I approached by daughter and her husband about this idea and they were gracious enough (and believed in me) to set aside a small parcel of land carved from their farm (first momentous task done). Ground breaking begin in May 2014.
A local "dowser" was engaged to determine where the well should be.
It was the beginning of bringing into reality this life long dream. So let's start the show:
First, siting where the house would be built for a good southern exposure. Leveling the ground then first posts
were set in place (cedar was used and tapped in the way builders did it years prior to using cement).
Let's not get bored with all the many small yet important details as pictures are worth a thousand words:
After what seemed like a hundreds of hours preparing & building the stone foundation our first volunteers mixed the first cob,
performed a traditional cob dance and ended the day with a perfect "mud hand slap" and a pizza cooked in the cob oven.
Cob oven was built along with a "Lorena" stove. See info later on this build.
The model home at the Sustainable Heroes Project is a true "EcoHouse". It was designed to natural efficiency meaning that what natural (unprocessed) materials would give maximum energy efficiency for heating/cooling. In North Carolina the weather is not severe cold but does reach warmer summer heat. With those considerations to meet for comfortable living several design features were incorporated. The first being a larger roof overhang (4'), south facing for thermal properties and wall thickness achieved by matching the straw bale thickness to the adjoining cob walls. The north, west and partial east wall were built with straw bales. The south and south east wall were built with cob to increase the thermal opportunity along with increased window installation.
Remember each geographical and land characteristic will affect your design/build/resources.
So let's begin showing the next phase of the build: straw bale install
Wow building with those straw bales made the walls go up fast. Remember you're building with 3 x 2 foot bricks (kinda). If you look closely, you can see the bales are stacked with the string side facing out. Most straw bale builders build with the bale resting on its side (raw prickly edges) facing out. It does make it much easier to trim the wall flat so when you're finishing the walls with earthen or lime plaster more level/straight. Looking back after gaining the experience (difficulties in getting walls flat) it is much better to build laying the bale on its sides.
NEXT .........Installing the windows .....many of the windows were donated (we used those for cob-non opening/stationary
applications) but the double hung and special roll out ones were purchased from Habitat for Humanity Restore.
Look at the round green globes.....every house needs a little spark or something unique to look and talk about. The glass globes are actually fishing net floats that Japanese fishermen used to float their nets. Each is individually blown and are extremely durable. Here's more pictures:
WELL THAT'S ALL FOR THIS SECTION ON BUILDING ....
..The Sustainable Heroes Project model home.
Check in later to see more progress.