Author Topic: Best Kinds of Houses for Survival  (Read 32893 times)

Dude_from_the_Sud

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Best Kinds of Houses for Survival
« on: October 01, 2008, 09:39:11 PM »
Hello everyone, I've been pondering this question for a while now and I think this is the right crowd to bring it up in.  What are your opinions on the best kind(s) of house for sustainable survival.  I have some property that I've been looking to build on for the past few years and now the rest of my family is seriously talking about getting the heck out of the suburbs and setting ourselves up a situation (would amount to two or three nuclear families).
 
I have two main concerns that I'm working around in trying to figure this out.  Sustainability is a key factor, since I'd like to be able to take us off the grid.  We've had generations growing food out there so it's good land, and in an area of the country that gets plenty of sun, so I'm definitely going solar as far as our power goes, and a well for water.  Defensibility is another matter that I'd want to address, since we would be within walking or biking distance of a fair sized metropolitan area and refugees could be possibly be streaming out of there if things went to pot.  As far as is possible, I would like to have a place that could be designed to take advantage of the situation, i.e passive solar, deciduous trees to shade during the summer, cross-breezes to cool. 

I've only within the past year or so begun to investigate survival and self-sufficiency in an earnest way, and this issue of housing has been on the back burner for a good bit of that time.  I've read about underground or partially underground houses, which appeal to me for several reasons.    I've also come across the idea of using alternative construction materials like earth-filled tires.  Are these ideas ludicrous in the survival situation?  Any help on the topic would be appreciated.

jeremya

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Re: Best Kinds of Houses for Survival
« Reply #1 on: October 01, 2008, 11:31:57 PM »
Considering humans have lived in earthen homes probably as long as their have been humans I do don't see anything absurd with the earth filled tire building method
or building an Earthship type home. Since they are built out of fairly common materials it should make finding materials for repairs
easier.

Plus once you learn how to build one it gives you a skill you can use for barter or employment in the PAW.

-- Jeremy

Offline BigDanInTX

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Re: Best Kinds of Houses for Survival
« Reply #2 on: October 02, 2008, 08:22:54 AM »
Well, obviously the best type of home to keep you and yours safe would be something like a castle.  Given that this would be quite silly to build in this day and age, I do feel that some sort of home that provides geo-thermal warmth in the winter and natural cooling in the summer would be your best bet.  Either you could build a home that is half under-ground or you could look into Geothermal Pumps (no clue how expensive this would be, but I thought it was interesting).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geothermal_heat_pump

If you could hook up a pump like that to a solar cell, I think it could serve you for quite a while.

Offline ModernSurvival

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Re: Best Kinds of Houses for Survival
« Reply #3 on: October 02, 2008, 01:03:04 PM »
The only concern with Earth Berm or any underground part of a home is being sure you don't have Radon in your area.  Radon sucks! 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:US_homes_over_recommended_radon_levels.gif

Don't be to lulled by the map either many of the low areas are where no one builds basements, no basement, not radon in the house.  That said I love the earth ship concept you just have to take precautions.

Offline Beetle

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Re: Best Kinds of Houses for Survival
« Reply #4 on: October 02, 2008, 04:22:59 PM »
I like Yurts.

A yurt is a portable, felt-covered, wood lattice-framed dwelling structure used by nomads in the steppes of Central Asia. (here)

EDIT: Added description and link.
« Last Edit: October 02, 2008, 04:26:54 PM by BigDanInTX »

Dude_from_the_Sud

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Re: Best Kinds of Houses for Survival
« Reply #5 on: October 02, 2008, 04:31:31 PM »
I like the Eartship idea.  Using recycled or found materials would be a plus as far as keeping costs down.  Thanks for the great ideas.

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Re: Best Kinds of Houses for Survival
« Reply #6 on: October 02, 2008, 04:35:57 PM »
I like the Eartship idea.  Using recycled or found materials would be a plus as far as keeping costs down.  Thanks for the great ideas.
Not to mention it can also be useful to know how to use what's available to make a shelter if you have to GTH outta Dodge...

Offline archer

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Re: Best Kinds of Houses for Survival
« Reply #7 on: October 03, 2008, 11:06:43 AM »
I've been dreaming/scheming/planning to build a concrete monolithic dome (http://www.monolithic.com/). It's quite secure, strong, insulated and weather/disaster resistant. My brother is building a small one as a vacation cabin in San Diego. You can build them above ground or bury them.

Offline flagtag

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Re: Best Kinds of Houses for Survival
« Reply #8 on: October 04, 2008, 05:33:21 PM »
I saw this on another site.  I found one (well, actually several) floor plan that I printed out.  I would love to be able to have one of these built out in the country somewhere.  I bet that looters would overlook something like that - at least at first.  And it wouldn't stand out on a skyline like a regular house would.

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Re: Best Kinds of Houses for Survival
« Reply #9 on: October 05, 2008, 12:17:10 AM »
And with steel shutters on the windows damn near impregnable. At least to anything short of military strength.

millerized1

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Re: Best Kinds of Houses for Survival
« Reply #10 on: October 05, 2008, 06:08:51 AM »
I've been dreaming/scheming/planning to build a concrete monolithic dome (http://www.monolithic.com/). It's quite secure, strong, insulated and weather/disaster resistant. My brother is building a small one as a vacation cabin in San Diego. You can build them above ground or bury them.
There was a thread on ARFCOM on these, along with a crapload of photo's taken by the guy that was putting them up.  Start to "finish", they were amazing pieces of work.  Intense thermal mass, they coin the phrase "heat it with a candle, cool it with an ice cube".  If you can get past the initial build cost, these will literally last several generations. I've been drafting my dream homes since I saw my first dome at the world fair in '82.  Once I saw monolithic domes, 20 years of dreams suddenly changed.
Bulletproof glass, steel shutters and/or roll up covers, nothing short of an army is visiting for dinner.

Oh, and the rebar structure if grounded is one hell of a Faraday cage against EMP.  Build it underground, and, well, I'll let you figure the rest out. ;)

Offline archer

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Re: Best Kinds of Houses for Survival
« Reply #11 on: October 05, 2008, 06:43:44 AM »

There was a thread on ARFCOM on these, along with a crapload of photo's taken by the guy that was putting them up.  Start to "finish", they were amazing pieces of work.  Intense thermal mass, they coin the phrase "heat it with a candle, cool it with an ice cube".  If you can get past the initial build cost, these will literally last several generations. I've been drafting my dream homes since I saw my first dome at the world fair in '82.  Once I saw monolithic domes, 20 years of dreams suddenly changed.
Bulletproof glass, steel shutters and/or roll up covers, nothing short of an army is visiting for dinner.

Oh, and the rebar structure if grounded is one hell of a Faraday cage against EMP.  Build it underground, and, well, I'll let you figure the rest out. ;)

They are an excellent disaster resistant home. I've read stories about a news crews riding out a hurricane in Florida about them (http://www.domeofahome.com/), in SoCal a fire crew was going to shelter in one of they were overrun by a wildfire.
I'm not investigated their Faraday properties. I'll have to look that up.


dreadstalker

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Re: Best Kinds of Houses for Survival
« Reply #12 on: October 05, 2008, 08:14:45 AM »
Monolthic domes are indeed incredible. Just a litle out of my price range though unfortunately.

My thoughts lean more torwards , rammed earth , straw bale building , cordwood masonary and cob dwellings. For ease and simplicity in building the cob earth dwelling is a winner, as well as a rammed earth tire filled dwelling.
Both have great geo thermal mass and are chep to build.

Offline archer

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Re: Best Kinds of Houses for Survival
« Reply #13 on: October 05, 2008, 10:01:57 AM »
My plans for a dome are still in the 'dream' stage. I've looked into the cobb and straw bale houses, those have their appeal. Esp. since they use local materials and as you said, much cheaper and maybe easier to build.

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Re: Best Kinds of Houses for Survival
« Reply #14 on: October 10, 2008, 11:08:14 AM »
If anyone wants to see pictures of my brothers dome that is being built, PM me.

Offline ElyasWolff

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Re: Best Kinds of Houses for Survival
« Reply #15 on: October 13, 2008, 03:43:24 PM »


Big + 1 on the dome home.

Log cabins are well insulated and can be built with trees off your own land if you have the skills  ;D

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Re: Best Kinds of Houses for Survival
« Reply #16 on: October 13, 2008, 04:51:46 PM »
Nice dome home! Is that yours?

Here's a picture of my brothers dome after being sprayed (not dry yet):



kaiservontexas

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Re: Best Kinds of Houses for Survival
« Reply #17 on: October 13, 2008, 07:07:57 PM »
How much do the domes costs? How strong are they? Seeing those pictures has me very curious.

Offline TimSuggs

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Re: Best Kinds of Houses for Survival
« Reply #18 on: October 13, 2008, 11:14:35 PM »
Well, I guess that's sort of an "individual needs" type of question.  For me, at 51, the kids are grown, two have families of their own, and two grandmonkeys as well and we all live in the same general area (for now).  So, what I'm looking for is sort of a "part-time" retreat that will allow me and mine to augment our daily subsistance in the "big city" <grin> of Birmingham, AL by growing various foods and raising a meat animal on maybe a weekend warrior type basis, BUT, also be a viable "sho nuff'" survival stand for whatever comes down the road.  I plan on being more "out of sight" than a fortified bunker style, so something I can haul in and build myself with the least number of people knowing about it is my plan.  And I didn't have to look any further than Home Depot for my answer.  My choice is one of their two story utility buildings.  When I started looking at them several years ago, they were in the neighborhood of $6k, now they price out around $8k, and I want to do what is common building technique for my Northern Brothers and use 2x6/10's instead of 2x4's and add the extra insulation and a few more mods so I may have around $10k in mine, but hey, your hard pressed to find a home that will feed ya, house ya, heat and cool ya anywhere in this country (even Alabama) for $10k.

In the beginning, gonna go with enough fold down bunks to sleep everybody in the family if push comes to shove, but would eventually like to have a total of 5 identical dwellings arranged in a circle so that each of the kids and their loved ones had their own.  Time is important, and this way we can not only work on the dwelling on the weekends, but get the ground work done for the gardens and such while having a good old family campout to boot.

Tim Suggs
Birmingham, AL. USA!

Offline archer

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Re: Best Kinds of Houses for Survival
« Reply #19 on: October 13, 2008, 11:29:51 PM »
I can get the costs/dome specs from my brother tomorrow. As to how strong, they can take hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, wildfires, etc, w/o any problems (well, maybe smoke damage if the smoke can seep in). And maybe water damage if you don't plan for flooding.

Here is a page with links about strengths:
http://static.monolithic.com/disaster_resistance/index.html
 

BoatDriver

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Re: Best Kinds of Houses for Survival
« Reply #20 on: October 13, 2008, 11:53:25 PM »
Build whatever design home you desire then insulate it with ureathane foam.  You will need very little heating and cooling in a home insulated with foam.  There simply in hardly any heat exchange with the outdoors.  I will cost more upfront but it cannot be beat for R-value.  Also the ureathane will chemicallly bond with the resin in the studs and plywood on the exterior walls to make a very strong wall.  When used in the roof you can use 100% of your attic space as living space because the heat of the roof will not penetrate through the foam into the house.  I don't apply the product but I do work for a company that manufactures the raw materials for the product.  I'm not plugging the product just letting you know just how well it performs.  It is what insulates your refrigerator and freezer, that has only about 1 to 2 inches of the stuff.  When you put it in a 4 or 6 inch wall it is incredible.

http://www.tailoredfoaminc.com/residential/index.asp

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Re: Best Kinds of Houses for Survival
« Reply #21 on: October 14, 2008, 11:26:34 AM »
I can get the costs/dome specs from my brother tomorrow.
From my brother on the dome he is building:

Price is about $66k for 32 foot diameter base (804 sq feet),
355 sq foot loft, though only about 160 sq feet above 4' line.


kaiservontexas

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Re: Best Kinds of Houses for Survival
« Reply #22 on: October 14, 2008, 05:22:52 PM »
I can get the costs/dome specs from my brother tomorrow.
From my brother on the dome he is building:

Price is about $66k for 32 foot diameter base (804 sq feet),
355 sq foot loft, though only about 160 sq feet above 4' line.



Thanks for the link and information.

Offline surfivor

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Re: Best Kinds of Houses for Survival
« Reply #23 on: October 14, 2008, 08:20:27 PM »
I have a 14 foot diameter yurt tent from shelter systems that looks like this:



 It is sturdier than a regular tent for wind and such. Mine has a liner so that I could put insulation between the outer part of the tent to insulate it, but I've never tried it.

 They come in various sizes, up to 30 feet in diameter

















apparently they claim a stove could also be put in one of these.


They are quite portable, though with the liner, mine packs significantly larger than a tent, but it has more room.

http://www.shelter-systems.com/
« Last Edit: October 14, 2008, 08:33:53 PM by surfivor »

Offline archer

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Re: Best Kinds of Houses for Survival
« Reply #24 on: October 14, 2008, 08:39:54 PM »
Oh nice Sufivor! How do you like it? What did it cost? What is the longest yo have stayed it in? Is it a permanent setting or do you move it around? My other brother and I have been considering one of those strongly for a first shelter on remote property.

Offline surfivor

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Re: Best Kinds of Houses for Survival
« Reply #25 on: October 14, 2008, 09:15:53 PM »
 Hi,

 Well, I first bought it because when I camped in the winter, I wanted sort of like a living room to play the guitar in and for spreading out in because my truck camper is very small and cramped. I heated it with a 8,000 BTU ceramic heater, but it was too cold when the temp was 30 degrees or so. Then I ordered the liner, which didn't really help. You'd probably have to stuff insulation in between the liner and the tent as just air isn't going to do anything.

I paid around $500 for the yurt itself, and another $500 or so for the liner which is sort of like a yurt inside of a yurt. I ordered it over the internet back around 2002 it would have been.

 I also brought the yurt along with my camper on several camping and surfing trips to Canada and central Maine, I'd have the yurt plus my small camper. I then bought a north face tent that was 8'x12' and easier to set up, so I started using that more for shorter trips, and on other trips as well since it was smaller to pack and all. I had the yurt on my seasonal camp site all year in 2007, but the manager of the campground didn't like it for some strange reason and they wouldn't let me put it up this year even though everyone else seemed to think it was really cool.

  It kind of takes alot of space up in my mothers garage along with a folding kayak I hardly ever use and a bunch of other gear. My mother always complains about all that.

  I like the idea of a camp that is movable, I may want to look into building my own stove or rustic type setup that is easier to leave by itself for several months and not have to look after it all the time and it's not as likely to attract thieves and so on hopefully.



Offline surfivor

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Re: Best Kinds of Houses for Survival
« Reply #26 on: October 15, 2008, 11:52:35 AM »
I am thinking about finding some land in Maine and building a cabin, if I go far enough north maybe I can get a few acres with enough trees so I could build the cabin and have some wood as I think I'd want to put a wood stove in it. Something very rustic and primitive as I may not be there very often and I don't want to tempt thieves and vandals. If I had a cabin with a woods stove, the place would probably be warm enough to spend some time there in the winter. I figure owning some cheap land far enough north would be a good way to have some money someplace besides a bank or IRA, and a cheap place to vacation and experiment with this or other types of projects. I'd basically use a small porta poti in the winter, set up a latrine or have a large waste receptacle for the toilet and bring in water in 5 gallon jugs of drinking water at least initially.



This site gives an interesting overview:
http://outlands.tripod.com/farm/logcabin.htm



This book looks promising:


This book explains how to make other types of things like leantos and such:




This is another interesting idea, it's 100 square feet prefab cabin that costs $6,000. The platform it's on in the pic is not included.
They claim it can be assembled by one person in a day and it says that there is virtually no cutting, drilling or measuring involved.
This structure can also be disassembled and moved someplace else it says. I guess if you had a wood stove you could try to run the chimney out the window would be the best bet ?


http://www.rusticcabins.us/Montana.html



 They make some other units up to 215 square feet for 10k or 11k
« Last Edit: October 15, 2008, 12:15:13 PM by surfivor »

Offline archer

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Re: Best Kinds of Houses for Survival
« Reply #27 on: October 15, 2008, 02:20:07 PM »
I like your idea for the remote land with the small house there for vacations/BOL.

Here are some links for small houses:
http://www.tumbleweedhouses.com/
http://www.littlehouseonasmallplanet.com/

and an association for small housing dwellers:
http://www.resourcesforlife.com/small-house-society

Offline IRKCOD

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Re: Best Kinds of Houses for Survival
« Reply #28 on: October 15, 2008, 06:17:21 PM »
A Good practical web site with interesting and easily constructed designs is

http://www.calearth.org/EmergencyShelter/eshelter.html

Printed some of the construction plans off a few years ago while working in Papua New Guinea and put them up on the staff notice board.  The local staff ran the photocopier out of toner printing off copies for their  'wantoks' (clan)

Offline Beetle

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Re: Best Kinds of Houses for Survival
« Reply #29 on: October 15, 2008, 10:41:15 PM »
Does  anyone know how to get around county code requirments to be able to build something from these forums? When I went to them wanting to build a yurt they said " NO WAY" it is llike banging your head against a wall...