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The Sheer Lunacy of the Housing Situation — 10 Comments

  1. I love this site! We have a solid plan to buy some land and build a “Mountain Cottage” – and I couldn’t imagine life any other way. Why sacrifice your life for a gigantic box that looks like all the others and costs a fortune to maintain?

  2. All of these ideas are excellent using steel buildings and such. The problem I have seen is building codes. What is suitable for commercial or agriculture is not usually allowed in most parts of the US as residential housing. If your building in the boonies and can get away with it, great. But I suspect that if you try to get a permitted structure, the engineering, changes and delays to pass code compliance could make it much more costly then it initially appears. Often municipalities won’t allow outbuildings if there is not a house already on the property.

    If the name of the game is money, then I would stick with earthbag structures alone. Even though it would take some additional money to get it engineered, the other costs are low. With a steel fabricated structure, you have the cost of the building, plus all the additional stuff to make it inhabitable. Not nearly so much with an earthbag structure. Especially a dome.

    On the Cal Earth grounds there was a portion of a building that Nader or his students had built out of a large galvanized corrugated pipe. It was all steel. I was thinking a large piece of pipe, stood on end with doors and windows cut in would make the perfect interior or exterior shell for an insulative earthbag roundhouse structure. By the structure being all fairly thick steel, it would be extremely strong.and earthquake resistant.

    • That’s why we’re always recommending to build in remote rural areas with few or no building codes. Building to code will make costs skyrocket.

      But not every area is the same. Kelly’s Carriage House is in a housing development in Crestone, Colorado. It was built with authorization of the homeowners association as a legit structure. This is unusual, but there are ‘pockets of freedom’ still out there.

      Another related option is used grain bins for storing grain. You could put earthbags on the inside or outside of the grain bin, or use two grain bins that are 18″ different in size and use earthbags between. Similar structures have been built (but not with earthbags). http://www.motherearthnews.com/do-it-yourself/grain-bins-z10m0gri.aspx

  3. Owen,

    Really love the various plans and ideas that keep popping up on this site for alternative housing. Another option to consider instead of a steel quonset hut would be to utilize used ISB Shipping Containers with a scoria filled earthbag shell. Not sure if anyone has tried this yet, but I think it would work very well.

  4. I love this post. How true it is! At least for me: Let’s remember there are people that will always slave themselves to a bank in order to be able to just show off with their last i-phone model.

    If you add a bit of solar/wind energy, self growing food ( do yourselves a favor ans read ” the one-straw revolution”) and one can be free. At least free to do what makes sense for you in life, and be able to have some fun out of live, which is the only reason why we are here.

    If you are able to change the car for a bike…well, them you are an star!!

    Have a nice day.

  5. Too true…housing is way overpriced and I like the coincidence that a mortgage lasts as long as one of those boxes, so we have to start again. There is little in them that can be fixed unless we call and pay a specialized tradeperson as compelled by increasing regulations (heater, gas, power, etc.). Also coincidentally, the consideration/approval of building standards for DYO take a LOT of time (at least here), as overseas technical tests must be verified (again!) and comply with “Australian standards”, as if they were better than thousand of years of physical proof. But hey, the comparison is way too favourable for the “alternative” buildings not to eventuate.

    • You said “the coincidence that a mortgage lasts as long as one of those boxes”. Ha ha. I can just see the greedy bankers planning how to maximize profits. I think people are getting really fed up with this scam and that’s probably why people write me every day about their projects.

  6. Owen, this blog is so damn inspiring. I seriously love seeing all these creative low cost housing solutions come through my RSS feed every day. I’m not in a position to settle down and build a home right now, but someday down the road I really want to try alternative building.

    Anyway, love what you’re doing!

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