You are reading content from Scuttlebutt
@xj9

i've been thinking about what intermediate steps i can take to prepare to go walkaway. a lot of things are completely solved problems: portable, low-impact housing, generating/storing solar energy. the big challenges are supply-chain things around food and other crucial materials. winter is a tough one. for the sake of my health and saftey, i'd like to spend at least one winter in a fail-safe test mode where the grid is still available as a backup just in case i miscalculate some things.

to get started, i'm planning to buy a mobile home. i'm still debating on the extact model, but a single-wide with 1 or 2 bedrooms is approximately what i'm looking for. trailer parks are pretty common in my area so i can keep working on walkaway utah while i work on my quarters. i've been in conctact with some maunfacturers, but i still need to shop around and see what used options there are.

once i've proven the concept and upgraded my trailer appropriately i can move it to a more permanent off-grid location (hopefully) with some other #solarpunk peeps i find at the meetup.

Park Models 2018 Wyoming.pdf

@bobhaugen
Voted this
@bobhaugen

@xj9 is it possible to super-insulate a mobile home from the outside?

@InĂªs
Voted this
@polylith
Voted this
@xj9

@bobhaugen

it might take stripping off the siding and replacing it with more efficient materials. i'm hoping a newer trailer will have good insulation to start with, but that's still something that i need to look into.

@aran
Voted this
@w
Voted this
@dasanchez
Voted this
@Dan Hassan
Voted this
@Dominic
Voted this
@elavoie
Voted this
@xj9
Re: %ANMeAPs9y

taking a step away from 100% DIY, it might be worth exploring mobile homes as an alternative housing option for walkaway communities. they have a market outside of our niche, but also fit many of the unique requirements that we have. there are some challenges (at least historically) with insulation, but that shouldn't be too difficult to fix aftermarket. the renewability of the manufacturing process depends on the manufacturer, but it may be possible to start a cooperative to do this ourselves at some point in the future.

mobile homes are attractive because they can be installed without a permanent foundation, which significantly reduces their impact on the housing site, they are relatively inexpensive compared to traditional housing options, and they require much less DIY work to be livable. in terms of developing a fully off-grid housing option, they also make it easy to experiment in a grid-adjacent location before pulling the plug and going independent.

in a community setting, it would be interesting to develop a distributed smart grid that can balance energy reserves across the community automatically. this would apply equally to trailer-mounted solar, other available renewables, and backup energy sources (such as bio-diesel generators).

@Robbt

My last attempt to go off the grid resulted in a straw bale cabin being built in Autumn and finished enough that I could have lived in it if I needed too but there were also some flaws in the design regarding insulating the floor, air-flow, humidity etc and so it only got comfortable about 3 feet above the ground.

I think going off the grid makes sense as a community project and any attempt to do so as a solo project is ultimately as meaningful as you interpret your experience. It could be a form of self-sacrifice and meditation in suffering/adaption. I don't imagine a mobile home would be designed to weather winter without relying upon some form of combustion. Migrating to a warmer climate during winter most likely makes more sense than hunkering down in a mobile home. If you are tied to the NW Utah/Wyoming area - underground houses are a good idea. Mike Oehler now older built a ton of houses - wrote the 50$ underground house book but now you can see his buildings on youtube - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8B6xR3T37gI

@Dominic

A wood burner is renewable if you also plant trees, also fallen branches are just gonna rot an (therefore release their carbon) so burning those isn't less carbon footprint than letting them rot. (although obviously lots of fungus and bacteria and thus the forest benefits from that)

@bobhaugen

Wood-as-fuel is renewable depending on the climate and ecosystem. It works well where we are in Wisconsin, especially as climate change makes it wetter, but would suck in western North Dakota where I was born. Out there, the people who understood the ecosystem built earth domes to live in. https://www.nps.gov/knri/learn/historyculture/earthlodge.htm

Later European immigrants who were savvy built with similar-but-different methods: https://library.ndsu.edu/grhc/articles/newspapers/news/architecture.html

@bobhaugen

The thing about earth domes and some of the other earthen houses is they could be super-insulated and use fuel like buffalo or cow chips (dried poop). Or you could dig lignite, a form of soft coal that was about one step beyond peat, from stream banks with a shovel as my grandparents did.

@bobhaugen

However, the same earth domes would be hell on earth in a climate like ours in Wisconsin now. Everything would rot. Everything. You and everything you have. It would all rot.

@bobhaugen

I helped to build a half-Mandan-earthlodge in a dryer part of Wisconsin maybe 30 years ago. My last understanding as of maybe 2010 was that the other building we constructed, which was a timber-frame straw-insulated half-built-into-the-hill structure, was still standing, but the half-earthlodge had crumbled into the hill.

@bobhaugen

One more summary tidbit and then I will shut up:

  • appropriate type of low-tech cheap indigenous building depends on your ecosystem and direction of climate change where you are.
@nanomonkey

@bobhaugen I'm not sure what would rot in a properly built earthen structure. For one, there is usually a stone or concrete foundation with french drains built up to the water splash line, the rest of the structure is usually covered with high lime adobe, or sod, which breathes, allowing proper moisture loss. Wood will also rot, if not given a correct footing.

Here is an example of the footing in a Turf house built in Iceland...plenty of weather there:
Stong_footing.jpg

@nanomonkey

@xj9

the big challenges are supply-chain things around food and other crucial materials.

Azure Standards has several drop points in the SLC area. You can get bulk goods supplied through them and cut down on your costs and number of supply runs.

@Dan Hassan

@nanomonkey "Iceland...plenty of weather there"

This just gave me a ROFL

@tulsi

@nanomonkey Hadn't heard of Azure. That's pretty cool. Have you ordered from them?

@nanomonkey

@Tulsi Yes, in the past. They used to have a minimum purchase price of something like $350, now it appears to be $50 at a drop off point, so a couple of friends of mine would do group buys of 30 or 50 lb bags of beans, rice, flour and what not. Everything is organic and non-GMO, etc. which is pretty nice. They pretty much stock anything you'd get at a nature food store.

@bobhaugen

I'm not sure what would rot in a properly built earthen structure.

Any organic material and mold also settles on dust on any other material. Doesn't matter if it is connected to the floor or not.

I've made adobe bricks for a living in New Mexico where an adobe house can last for centuries. Where we live now, in southwest Wisonsin, I built a rocket stove with compressed earth blocks with some added magnesium-cement stabilizer and put it on a stone floor with washed gravel under it, under a roof, and it started to crumble the first year. Now rebuilding with bricks.

We've also had three "100-year floods" in the area in the last 10 years. One town moved itself uphill, and two other towns are talking about doing so.

@bobhaugen

But @nanomonkey that was a lovely turf building in Iceland...

@nanomonkey

@bobhaugen I'm not trying to be contradictory, just trying to figure out the disparage between the stories you tell and what I've seen myself. There are thousand year old cob houses in Ireland whose only maintenance has been regular updates to their roof and a lime wash. I have to expect that earthen structures are suitable to wet climates, they just need appropriate considerations.

Any organic material and mold also settles on dust on any other material. Doesn't matter if it is connected to the floor or not.

You mentioned a dome. It's possible that only vertical structures are appropriate for rainy climates...and also not being in a flood plain where the house would wash away. I'd also imagine that a yearly brush down to remove dust and grime if not a fresh coating of adobe/lime would be useful. Alternately one could go the sod route and use a living system to maintain the integrity of the earth wall, in which case the addition of more organic matter is a bonus.

I built a rocket stove with compressed earth blocks with some added magnesium-cement stabilizer and put it on a stone floor with washed gravel under it, under a roof, and it started to crumble the first year.

A stove is an entirely different beast, it goes through thermal cycling quite a bit more intense the a house would. From my understanding, from the few cob ovens that I've seen built and used, is that you try and build a more insulating vessel, utilizing straw, sawdust pulp or perlite to reduce the thermal conductance. The material is often brought to the bisque phase of firing so that the organic material is burned out resulting in empty space increasing the insulating properties. Rammed earth might have been too compact and rigid...a great thermal mass, but likely to conductive to not undergo thermal stress. I've also yet to see a cob stove that didn't have some cracks that weren't built with refractive liners (metal barrel or bricks).

All said, I agree with you. Don't build a traditional english A-frame house in the desert where the attic will trap too much heat and the wood and latex paint will degrade rapidly in the sun...and don't expect your wattle and daub construction to stand up to rain.

I'm sure your methods of dealing with dealing with human and animal dung (ie composting) wouldn't work in a dry environment where the dung just dries out and sits...instead burning it as a fuel might be a better solution...something that would never work in a wetter environment.

@bobhaugen

@nanomonkey I don't know how to account for those differences in experience either. I expect it is more like the places where people have done earthen structures in wet climates learned some techniques that the people including me who built the structures that failed did not know.

@misty

@nanomonkey and @bobhaugen

There are definite differences for earth building techiques depending on how wet the climate is. It has something to do with the mixture of earth vs. clay vs. something else. The Cal Earth Institute mentioned in another thread talks about this and I think they talk about it in the books they offer?

@Robbt Mike's book, The 50$ Underhouse Ground.... one. I read that years ago. My desire to go out into the back yard or up into the hills and start digging was a major issue between me and the spouse I had at the time. I admit, I still haven't attempted it. It's a very inspiring book.

User has chosen not to be hosted publicly
@stimoceiver
Voted this
@adam
Voted this
@w
Voted this
Join Scuttlebutt now