Bracing for Earl

Well, the tropical storm/hurricane that’s supposed to be here on Saturday isn’t happening at a very convenient time for me. I’m a little concerned about it damaging the  frame of my house but have stopped building and started just bracing it as much as possible.

Other than that, I’ve been listening to CBC even more than usual if that’s possible, and I heard an owl nearby when I woke up this morning. Lots of birds overhead too, which I am guessing has to do with the upcoming storm.

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I love the Solar Shower

I have a couple of walls up now, and started on a third, but it’s going a little slow as I spent yesterday in Charlottetown and today figuring things out and changing some windows around.  I was asked about what informational resources and materials I’m using, though, so I stil have something to write about.

Books:

Build Your Own Frame House (Blackwell)

This is the clearest book on framing that I have ever seen, and seems pretty extensive for basic building.  It’s probably answered the most questions I’ve needed to ask.

Building Green: A Complete How-To Guide to Alternative Building Methods (Snell)

This is a really general book on various kinds of natural building. It doesn’t have a lot of information on any one type of building, but has a lot considering what it’s covering. Also a decent section on basic building. It’s also readily available.

Sheds: The Do-It-Yourself Guide for Backyard Builders (Stiles)

Probably any shed book would be good, as it teaches you to build basic structures, and my house isn’t really bigger than some people’s sheds. This one has lots of ideas and clear instructions, materials lists for building, etc.

Tiny Houses: or How to Get Away From It All (Walker)

Floor plans of tiny houses, and ideas for making things work in small spaces.

Those are the ones I have looked at the most recently, though the last one is just for inspiration/ideas. I have tried to look at the structure of really simple buildings, and ask people questions. I have really limited building experience, but I have helped some other people with natural plastering and insulating, so at least I could look at the structure of their houses then. Also I built a loft bed. I realize it’s funny to list that as a qualification for building a house.

I haven’t completely planned what materials I am going to use for everything, but I have some thoughts. As I mentioned in the last post, I am insulating with wool. The reason for that is that it’s natural, I was able to find it relatively close-by, it’s warm and unlike many other natural building insulative materials, it doesn’t need to be dealt with it in large quantities/in a hurry. A lot of the natural insulations use clay slip (mixed with wood chips, straw, etc.), so generally a lot of people will help out over a weekend to make sure that a large amount can be mixed and then installed before it dries. I wanted something that I could do by myself or with one person more easily and do over a longer period of time. I also appreciate that the wool doesn’t need time to dry out like clay slip does before covering it up, since it could start to get rainy any time now. I also wanted to avoid materials that get moldy/wrecked easily in the damp, or don’t work so well in this climate (I’m looking at you, cob).

I’m obviously using a wood frame, with plywood on the floor and ceiling. I’m planning to close the wool into the walls using lathe made from waste/used wood. I’d really like to make a natural plaster for the inside, using some of PEI’s red sand. I have been thinking about options for the floor, and if I can access a pottery studio over the winter, I’d like to make clay tiles for the floor and maybe for the kitchen counter. I’d really like a floor that would help regulate the temperature. I have a couple nice south-facing windows, so I am sure thick tiles could store a lot of heat from the sun in the winter. For the outside of the house, wood shakes  from waste/used wood would be amazing eventually, but I am just planning on putting up tar paper this year before the winter. Another option is a natural plaster made with lime to stand the elements. I’ll probably just put tar paper up for the roof, but would like to use a metal roof eventually. The windows and door are all conventional but used.

This isn’t really a housing material, but I’ve been using a solar shower and it’s really amazing! It’s meant for camping, and is basically a thick black bag with a shower head attached to a hose but it provides hot showers in the woods with minimal effort. I shower more often now than I did in the city.

Beginning in Peakes

So, Travis and I bought 20 acres of land in Peakes, PEI a little while ago and I started building a little house and decided to write about it.

The house will be 120 square feet, and I’m using a combination of conventional and natural building.

As for the land, we’re planning on planting native species of plants, providing (hopefully more suitable) habitat for the frogs that seem to like living in puddles on the driveway by building a pond, growing vegetables, flowers and an orchard, blah blah blah.

For now, I have some pictures of the building process.

Here is me insulating the floor,  with wool that I got from a farm in Western PEI:

Two pictures of the house with one wall up:

The current outdoor kitchen/living room:

I’m planning on adding more about the land, and continue updating about the building, but feel free to let me know if you’re interested in something in particular.