Type of building considerations:
North Central Florida: Hurricanes – we have experienced 90 MPH winds and torrential rains. The original design surpasses the hurricane requirements in Florida. Most property owners in the area remove all trees surrounding the dwelling. Florida summers are quite severe and the cost of energy cooling these buildings exposed to the bare elements must be considerable.
Termites, a real problem. Eating away quite nicely as we speak. Cocky – cockroaches and other creepy crawlies. Most buildings up here are pre-fab or wooden and do not have a long life expectancy. Rebuild every 40 years? Good for the economy.
Earth bag construction is a natural counter for all of these challenges. We studied a few different designs and modified one we felt we could work with. The engineer modified the basic layout to satisfy code. It was further modified during construction, so that the final building is vastly different to what we originally planned. The top floor was eventually cut off and a sloped roof is being built.
We moved the whole bathroom inside the main 20 ft. main dome.This is phase One. Phase Two adds another two domes to the original. One bedroom and a meditation dome. This way we can make use of a self-sufficient fully equipped dwelling while the other two domes are under construction.
We also wanted a good footing in the ground as we get some heavy torrential rain. Building code here calls for a 3 ft wide by 5 ft high fireman’s egress window on the upper floor, so we modified the plans to accommodate this.The final update removed the top story anyway… (So we donder on ou maat). Doorways have been added for the other two domes and we have moved the windows as well.
We are trying to keep away from the hot Florida sun in Summer whilst allowing warmth and light into the building during Winter months.
Initially we hoped to go a lot “greener” than we are. Weather considerations moved us toward cement stabilization of the first few rows of bags as well as some give and take with the building department. We need to compromise to fit in to others requirements as well? Home owner builder is a big help too. This allowed us to put in our own electrics, sewage and water systems. Local suppliers of hardware are keen to help, as is our building inspector.
The property has existing power, a water well and septic and a well equipped workshop. A good start.
The best reason of all is to own a home, which you can build. Be debt free. How many people do we know that pay a mortgage every month for a depreciating asset? Most Americans. After 40 years it needs major remodeling anyway. Own a building that will still be there hundreds of years later and is virtually maintenance free. Say no more. The system is killing us… and we are the victims.
Be done with the banking industry.