Small Diameter Roundwood Trusses

There is a glut of small diameter wood in many parts of the US, both in national forests and tree farms. This resource is often wasted as it becomes fuel in massive forest fires. On tree farms, where it barely pays the bills, small diameter wood is sold cheaply to make paper. Instead of sending … Read more

Desert Submarine

This unique 241 square foot all solar design qualifies as a zero energy home. It’s for desert regions only. The home is cooled with water trickling over the metal roofing using the same evaporative cooling principle as found in the original Desert Submarine. It’s a simple yet proven technology. Solar panels power the water pumps, … Read more

Timber Trusses

This timber truss is a good truss system for small, simple structures such as cabins in non-code areas. Having trees of the right size and type nearby is an obvious plus. In many areas of the US you can legally cut trees from national forests with a low cost firewood permit. Instead of cutting the … Read more

Alternatives to Conventional Roofs: Domes and Vaults

From time to time we answer reader’s questions. Q: Why aren’t people making roofs from earth using domes or Nubian vaults? In impoverished areas the cost of a tin roof is sometimes a year’s salary. A: Domes and vaults evolved in extremely dry areas of the Middle East, where wood was scarce and lack of … Read more

Alternative Waterproof Membranes for Living Roofs

There’s growing interest in living roofs or green roofs. The difficulty is deciding on the waterproof membrane. Rubber pond liner (EPDM) is the most waterproof and durable material, and the most common choice due to proven performance, but it’s also very expensive and made from nasty petro chemicals. I think a number of less toxic, … Read more

Thatch Panels

We used pre-made panels of thatch to roof our roundhouse. Thatching is usually very slow and laborious, but we thatched our roundhouse in just one day and for only $100. That’s why I love thatch panels – they’re very inexpensive and all the tedious work has already been done. And they work great on round … Read more