Sunday, October 18, 2009

Deciding what to build

If I was going to build my own house, I knew I wanted energy efficiency with low maintenance to be main requirements. I wanted to be able to walk up to the front door and feel this was my home.
I like the rustic character of a cabin, and the warmth of the all the wood surrounding me. However all the wood on the outside would require regular maintenance and diligence to keep the wood boring, burrowing and eating insects in our area, from turning it into sawdust!
I like the inherent energy efficiency that dome homes whether geodesic or sprayed concrete on an inflated membrane could give, but dealing with all the curved walls seems like it would be a challenge to make efficient use of the space. I also don't like heights and since a dome would need at least two floors to work, there would be areas in a dome that would require getting up on a ladder to do any maintenance.
I also had concerns about weather to consider. Sometimes the area gets a lot of severe weather in form of thunderstorms and tornadoes. So I wanted very solid walls and a strong roof, where I could sit comfortably in my home with minimal concern that my roof would be ripped off, and the walls would fall in on me.
I had read about earth sheltered homes in popular science back in the 80's. I liked the energy efficiency, the safety of the structure, and the idea of having plants on the roof struck me as a wonderful feature to allow the home to become part of the landscape.
I drew up an initial plan for what I wanted to build, it was a big square donut. It had a central outside courtyard, and was designed to be sunk into the existing ground or to be put on top of the ground and have earth bermed up on all the outside walls.
My father refered to it as the sunken Hacienda plan. Some have likened it to Uncle Owen's home in Star Wars.
At any rate, I had decided that my home was going to be merged into the landscape. Now I had to find a piece of property to fit it into.  

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