Author Topic: Design of your homestead  (Read 7589 times)

Offline Mad_Man

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Design of your homestead
« on: September 25, 2009, 05:53:37 PM »
I have been thinking for a while as to what characteristics would be best in a house post SHTF.  For instance:

1) Large for extended family
2) Designed for natural cooling (I live in Florida)
3) Incorporate an underground storage (i.e. basement)
4) Solar power
5) Energy efficient.  I like concrete block (simple and understood technology) but I am looking at the styrofoam blocks filled with concrete (ICUs)
6) Metal roof

Out buildings
1) Dry storage building.
2) Barn
3) Water (including hand/wind powered)
4) Wind power (unlikely here in Florida without an improvement in technology)

Thoughts?

Offline Preppernation

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Re: Design of your homestead
« Reply #1 on: September 25, 2009, 09:20:36 PM »
Hey, Mad_man,

I think you are right on target with everything you proposed. The other BIG thing in my opinion is having it all debt free! If you could have all of these features and have the place debt free, then you'd really be way ahead... If I could only have a fraction of your list but debt free, I would sacrafice to get the free and clear homestead, for sure.

I haven't had the income to sustain my ultimate retreat/homestead yet so I sacraficed, kind of... I went with a used singlewide mobile home. It and the land are completely paid for and it really is alot more of what I want than just a sacrafice... I have posted a number of short articles on what I've gotten accomplished over at my website - www.preppernation.com

CHeck it out and maybe it can be of help to you. I have additional steps/projects to show yet and many more planned that I will be documenting as well... Jack inspired me to start the website, I hope to inspire folks to get out and start working on these things and show them it can be done!

I like your list of desires so far but like i said if you can even get part of them you will be one fortunate prepper!

Best wishes,

Prepper

Offline LvsChant

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Re: Design of your homestead
« Reply #2 on: September 25, 2009, 09:33:54 PM »
can you have a basement in FL? I thought the water table was too high...

Offline union hill

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Re: Design of your homestead
« Reply #3 on: September 25, 2009, 11:55:53 PM »
Seems like an earth-sheltered home would address many of these requirements... if digging into the ground is a problem you could pour the slab on grade and cover the structure with earth dug to create a pond.

Offline Dan

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Re: Design of your homestead
« Reply #4 on: September 26, 2009, 12:11:29 AM »
Rain catchment and some sort of concealed secure storage.

What is the problem with wind power in Florida at its current level of development?

Offline Mad_Man

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Re: Design of your homestead
« Reply #5 on: September 26, 2009, 04:45:13 AM »
can you have a basement in FL? I thought the water table was too high...

Yes, but it ain't easy or cheap.  You can get concrete with a very low permeability and a proper sump design would pull water away from the basement.  Let's just say it would take some thought.

Offline Mad_Man

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Re: Design of your homestead
« Reply #6 on: September 26, 2009, 04:50:31 AM »
Seems like an earth-sheltered home would address many of these requirements... if digging into the ground is a problem you could pour the slab on grade and cover the structure with earth dug to create a pond.

An Earthship would probably cover most of these quite well.  I have never been in one but they would seem to be 'dark and gloomy', like a cave.  (I know they probably are not, but that is just my impression).  I guess it is a psychologyical thing, do you want to burry down into the ground? or build up?  Also,  in Florida without ANY breeze is helpful and mold is a nightmare problem.  I don't see an Earthship helping with either of these

Offline Mad_Man

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Re: Design of your homestead
« Reply #7 on: September 26, 2009, 04:53:41 AM »
Rain catchment and some sort of concealed secure storage.

What is the problem with wind power in Florida at its current level of development?

Rain catchment, I knew I was forgetting something!  Thanks.

Winds in Florida (except on the coast) is usually around 0 to 5 mph.  Too low for most windmill designs.  Then we get a thunderstorm come through and get 70 mph gusts.  There is no happy medium to design a windmill for.

Offline Ian-FW

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Re: Design of your homestead
« Reply #8 on: September 26, 2009, 04:12:17 PM »
Earthships are not at all dark or gloomy. The layout of the generic Earthship is one room deep into a south-facing hill (natural or artificially bermed up) and long in the east-west axis. This means that every room gets piles of sunlight; more than in a lot of conventional homes. How many normal rooms have significant window area on more than one wall? Some, certainly, but having glazing on only one side of a room in no way automatically makes it a gloomy, claustrophobic place. Unless you really want a total bunker, it's pretty simple to design an earth-sheltered/underground house with plenty of light and open, comfortable space.

Getting back to the original topic, those types of homes also offer top-notch heating and cooling efficiency, enhanced protection from earthquakes, wildfires, tornados, and hailstorms, and the potential (if you plan for it in the design) for excellent home security.

My list for homestead/retreat attributes would be (not in any particular order):

* Trustworthy neighbors (if you've got this, the majority of your security issues are solved, IMO)
* Self-sustainable pressurized, potable water (drinking water in drums is good, but being able to take a shower at the turn of a faucet is the difference between living and merely surviving)
* Self-sustainable refrigeration (most likely through solar/wind/hydro power, but any way that works)
* At least some self-sustainable food sources (bulk stored food can cover a lot, but fresh meat or veggies or dairy are a necessity)
* Small enough to keep other people from wanting to move in with you :)
* Self-sustainable heating/cooling (enough to be comfortable, whether through passive solar or a lot or treed property or whatever else works)

Offline Mad_Man

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Re: Design of your homestead
« Reply #9 on: September 26, 2009, 05:20:32 PM »
Earthship benefits are certainly "On topic".  I have not been in an Earthship yet.  Someone is reportedly building one about 2 hours south of me.  I will go check it out one day.  Being partially buried, they would offer a lot of pros regarding heating/cooling.  One problem I can see (again, not having been in one) is a lack of raw square footage.  I would imagine anything over 2,000 sq ft would go from being an "Earthship" to a "Rabbitwarren".  (The Earthship website lists sizes from 800 to 1500 sqft).  To get more room, you have to go UP (or down).  A single axis design is not very efficient on materials.

So, we are at a serious issue.  How much room do you need?  The answer is how many do you plan on living with you.  If you are planning just yourself, spouse/significant other, couple rug rats and a dog, than 1500 sq ft is fine and dandy.  If you are thinking of any extended family, any non-family, storage, workshop, library/classroom, etc.  Life gets crowded very, very fast.  Post SHTF, more people = more labor resource.  There is a LOT of stuff that gets done on a modern, small farm with electricity and diesel.  Almost all of it can be done by hand, but it takes people do it. 

In regards to windows, I believe you are thinking of the current McMansion designs that are so unfortunately prevalent.  These are optimized for air conditioning and multiple environments (meaning they do not work in any).  Look at older homes (Pre WWII) designs.  Some are practically greenhouses in the size/number of windows.  They are also laid out for natural ventilation. 

I am not sure what you mean by "self-sustainable, pressurized, potable water" other than modern pressure tanks for wells.  I don't know how long they last.  I think the bladders have a limited life.  A water tower would be the obvious solution, but that takes some real engineering and work, plus a method for getting the water up there.

Offline Saint

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Re: Design of your homestead
« Reply #10 on: September 26, 2009, 07:52:21 PM »
This is a great thread - thanks!

Offline azjake

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Re: Design of your homestead
« Reply #11 on: September 26, 2009, 08:47:54 PM »
As for water pressure you could run 12v RV style water pump.  Shurflo makes some nice ones that do not surge like ones common in regular RVs.  A solar panel and a couple deep cycle batteries could keep the water flowing. 
http://www.shurflo.com/pages/RV/rv_categories/potable_water/extreme.html
65 psi, which would be on par with a well/ pressure system or municipal water pressures.
$170
http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/ShurFlo-5-7-GPM-Extreme-Series-RV-Trailer-Water-Pump_W0QQcmdZViewItemQQ_trksidZp4999Q2ec0Q2em14QQhashZitem4a9a8800b4QQitemZ320420184244QQptZMotorsQ5fRVQ5fTrailerQ5fCamperQ5fPartsQ5fAccessories

Offline Ian-FW

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Re: Design of your homestead
« Reply #12 on: September 26, 2009, 10:31:52 PM »
IMO, the best solution for water pressure is gravity. Put the water tank as far above the house site as practical, and eliminate the need for any mechanically-added pressure.

Offline Mad_Man

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Re: Design of your homestead
« Reply #13 on: September 27, 2009, 04:53:40 AM »
IMO, the best solution for water pressure is gravity. Put the water tank as far above the house site as practical, and eliminate the need for any mechanically-added pressure.

Unfortunately, it would take a tower approximately 150 feet high to get the 65 psi mentioned above (65 psi / (62.5 psf / 144 in / ft)).  Thats a pretty tall tower for Harry the Homeowner to build.  Even 15 psi needs some 35 ft.  I agree about gravity but a tower is out for nearly all of us.  You need a hill (or a whole lot of dirt!)

Offline Ian-FW

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Re: Design of your homestead
« Reply #14 on: September 27, 2009, 07:56:47 AM »
I'm definitely thinking hills, rather than towers. And I wonder how much the average person really needs 65 psi...yeah, if you're used to city living and want to be able to run the washing machine, dishwasher, two showers and a garden hose all at the same time. But one of the fundamentals of living off-grid is conservation. Unless you've got a huge family, limit yourself to one water pressure application at a time, and 15 psi from a hill above your house will work just fine.

Quote
One problem I can see (again, not having been in one) is a lack of raw square footage.


Whether you're building an Earthship or a totally conventional stick house, I would provide extra space for more people by building additional small/medium houses rather than one huge one. The privacy of having a place to yourself makes life much nicer than having 4 families under the same roof. If also gives you the opportunity to have some redundancy. If something happens to your main house, you can move to the guest house for a time. And you can build independent mechanical systems (like hot water heaters, for example) so that if your main one fails for some reason you have a fully functional backup already running.

Offline Mad_Man

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Re: Design of your homestead
« Reply #15 on: September 27, 2009, 12:22:47 PM »
Whether you're building an Earthship or a totally conventional stick house, I would provide extra space for more people by building additional small/medium houses rather than one huge one. The privacy of having a place to yourself makes life much nicer than having 4 families under the same roof. If also gives you the opportunity to have some redundancy. If something happens to your main house, you can move to the guest house for a time. And you can build independent mechanical systems (like hot water heaters, for example) so that if your main one fails for some reason you have a fully functional backup already running.

Something else that intregues me is the idea of using several small structures instead of one massive one.  One/two for sleeping.  One for cooking.  One for storage. etc.  Some have claimed this is a better arrangement (cooking does not heat up the rest of the house in summer) but I am not sure.  It is not an efficient use of material.

I was just at the local science museum in Tampa.  Good Housekeeping has a traveling display there for a couple weeks.  It is housed in an inflatable building.  I was pretty impressed with the rigidity of this blow up building.  The guy said it can handle 80 mph winds.  My thought was using it as an inflatable form for a concrete building.  Any windows and doors could be framed out and 12" of concrete poured over it.  Instant bunker.  It was made by www.tectoniks.com

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Re: Design of your homestead
« Reply #16 on: September 28, 2009, 07:02:43 AM »
The only thing from your initial post that bothers me is the basement.  It sounds too complicated and energy intensive to keep it dry.  The last thing you want is to end up living over a stagnant pool of water.  Ditch the basement and use one of your outbuildings for storage.  Tall ceilings, transoms over the doors, windows that open lower toward the ground, and some site planning ought to keep you pretty comfortable.  Stay away from anything that will demand regular power usage to keep the house liveable. 

Offline Mad_Man

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Re: Design of your homestead
« Reply #17 on: September 28, 2009, 11:15:52 AM »
The only thing from your initial post that bothers me is the basement.  It sounds too complicated and energy intensive to keep it dry.  The last thing you want is to end up living over a stagnant pool of water.  Ditch the basement and use one of your outbuildings for storage.  Tall ceilings, transoms over the doors, windows that open lower toward the ground, and some site planning ought to keep you pretty comfortable.  Stay away from anything that will demand regular power usage to keep the house liveable. 

I will say: It depends.  Of course you want any structure to be solid without direct inputs.  There are some things that can be done.  Micro Silica or Ultra Fine Fly Ash can be used in a concrete mix to tighten the porousity and decrease water intrusion.  A reverse french drain system, similar to what is used behind retaining walls, could be incorporated at the base of the foundation.  Good earthwork maangement could bring the ground floor elevation up a few feet.

I'm not saying I want a basement or not.  I see pros and cons to it (ESPECIALLY here in Florida!)

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Re: Design of your homestead
« Reply #18 on: September 28, 2009, 12:01:11 PM »
I love my basement, and have always had one in all my houses.  I'm reluctantly going to give it up when I build though.  Of course, one of the main points of my home design is a large cement slab which will act as a thermal storage battery.

Offline Cacinok

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Re: Design of your homestead
« Reply #19 on: September 28, 2009, 01:09:35 PM »
I have been thinking for a while as to what characteristics would be best in a house post SHTF.  For instance:

1) Large for extended family
2) Designed for natural cooling (I live in Florida)
3) Incorporate an underground storage (i.e. basement)
4) Solar power
5) Energy efficient.  I like concrete block (simple and understood technology) but I am looking at the styrofoam blocks filled with concrete (ICUs)
6) Metal roof

Out buildings
1) Dry storage building.
2) Barn
3) Water (including hand/wind powered)
4) Wind power (unlikely here in Florida without an improvement in technology)

Thoughts?

i'm a big proponent of monolithic domes.  such as this one that survived a hurricane in FL.  it was designed so that the bottom floor was the garage and had garage doors in the front and back.  when the hurricane and storm surge was on it's way, the owner opened the garage doors and the surge went in the front doors and out the back w/ minimal damage.



as to requirements:

1) Large for extended family

easy enough w/ the monolithic, especially since the whole thing is protected.

2) Designed for natural cooling (I live in Florida)

b/c monolithics are made of so much concrete, they don't heat up or cool down w/ fluctuations in weather.  they are also easy to heat/cool w/ a small amount of heat/cooling input.  they retain what heat/cooling you put in.

3) Incorporate an underground storage (i.e. basement)

not really needed b/c of the protection factor of the monolithic dome, but you could still put a dome on top of a basement.  or you could bury the dome completely.

4) Solar power

easy enough to do.

5) Energy efficient.  I like concrete block (simple and understood technology) but I am looking at the styrofoam blocks filled with concrete (ICUs)

see 2 above.  i've read of examples of owners in MN heating an entire 3000 sf dome w/ a small wood stove, using less than a cord of wood for the winter.  also, cooling a large dome w/ a small window unit.

6) Metal roof

not needed.

you could go w/ one large dome, or multiple small domes and tie them together.  either way, you're talking extreme protection against just about everything that could be thrown at it.  wind, fire, flooding (if designed correctly  - bottom part a flow through design) and .30-06.

http://www.monolithicdome.com

Offline Mad_Man

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Re: Design of your homestead
« Reply #20 on: September 28, 2009, 01:28:34 PM »
I love my basement, and have always had one in all my houses.  I'm reluctantly going to give it up when I build though.  Of course, one of the main points of my home design is a large cement slab which will act as a thermal storage battery.

I don't think so, at least not very well.  The slab is in direct contact with the ground so it acts more of a way to loose heat, vs. gain.  Plus, it is shielded from the direct sun by the house.  Our house has terrazzo floors.  The idea being the bare concrete is cooler.  If you want a way to store energy like that, consider a southern wall of concrete.

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Re: Design of your homestead
« Reply #21 on: September 28, 2009, 01:48:40 PM »
I don't think so, at least not very well.  The slab is in direct contact with the ground so it acts more of a way to loose heat, vs. gain.  Plus, it is shielded from the direct sun by the house.  Our house has terrazzo floors.  The idea being the bare concrete is cooler.  If you want a way to store energy like that, consider a southern wall of concrete.

The entire southern wall will be angled glass shining on dark terrazzo.  All the exterior walls will be cement, and there will be clerestory windows to light the north end of the house.  The interior of the cement block walls will be stucco'd with surface bonding cement, then painted.  The exterior will be foam insulated then sided, vinyl, stone, brick, whatever.  Wing insulation out from the house 30 feet or so.  One of these homes at 8000' in Co seems to do well, and the owner claims to need no supplemental heat.  The cement also keeps the home cooler than ambient temp in the summer.  Check this out: http://www.thenaturalhome.com/passivesolar.html   I posted that link in another thread.  This link addresses the effiency of these homes, and is full of info...

Offline Mad_Man

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Re: Design of your homestead
« Reply #22 on: September 28, 2009, 04:32:47 PM »
The entire southern wall will be angled glass shining on dark terrazzo. 

Ah, sorry about that.  I am used to thinking of Florida and trying to keep the sun OUT as much as possible.  Be advised: you may have to worry about thermal cracks with large swings of temperature.  Concrete pavement is known to expand/contract 1 inch over 100ft.  I don't know much about designing for terrazzo so I cannot give any advise.  Just something to keep in mind.