Friday, May 24, 2013


  Well, Some people say beware, because Karma will bite you in the rear. How right they are!

  I managed to loan out a serious amount of money yesterday. Of which I get very little in the first place. And afterwards I was browsing my local craigslist and drooling over things I couldn't afford.

  Well, I ran across an ad for free bricks. And wanting to do raised garden beds with a long lasting material, these seemed optimal. The ad showed a small pile. I called and left a message. Not really expecting a call back. Late last night he called back and said he had probably around 150 or so red bricks he had pulled up from a project. I was thinking Yay, I can do at least a small garden bed!

  I arrived at 11 this morning and his kids helped me load the bricks. I ended up filling a full sized pickup bed to a nice flat fill, and drove backroads home because I was a 'little' overweight and didn't want to get in traffic.

  I neatly unloaded and stacked the bricks. It turned out to be an even 450, with about 100 or so halved bricks. My small garden planter has now turned into a full 35 foot garden/landscape wall on the street side of the house, with an estimated 200 bricks left to make a couple decent sized planting beds.

  Karma, circle of life, whatever it's called. I am very happy to have the materials now to complete a project I have been trying to figure out how to afford for a while. (afford=find materials cheap and barter-able, since I dislike purchasing new)

  It's been a good long day, time for some sleep here!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

  Ok, I know I have been SUPER slacking on the blog for a while. But things are really starting to move along here. This is a sneak peek at the project I currently have going. My first brown paper floor!

  I have been taking photos throughout the process, and will be providing an extremely detailed how to of this project once I have the spare time. And will even be doing an article on the second floor I will be starting shortly after this one is completed.

  This is just my 'learning room' to get a grasp of the concept. The next room is going to be substantially larger and a bit more complex, and I will be including a bit of framing and maybe even a how to on installing your own door (properly) if needed.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Minimalist practice.

Well, it was not an intentional shift of habits, but somewhere over the past few months I have lost the desire for electricity. Except for my coffee pot and my laptop, I seem to have not used any electricity over a two month period. Except for 3 minutes here and there with the bathroom lighting. This has gotten me really thinking as to how much (energy) I will be needing in the future. I few minor lighting fixtures around the house? Definitely. The convenience of flipping a switch in the middle of the night is truly a wonderful thing. But at the same time, it's not. I pay for that convenience monthly, having an electricity even connected to the house you automatically have a payment, even if you don't use it. I think the next few months (winter) I am going to be doing some serious digging into the finer points of solar/PV (photo-voltaic) systems and calculate how much of a battery and panel system I will truly need. As well as how much I will want to have on hand in case some other need arises. New things to add to my 'shopping' list: **Hurricane lamps. Little ones, big ones, just a few to have around. **12 volt light bulbs...hehe. These are great, available at just about every automotive store around, and really cheap. (or go out to the salvage yard and grab a few). **cheap wiring. (Be VERY careful with electricity!) **Solar yard lights. Always on the lookout for those. **and just about every little trinket or doo-dad I feel may be useful in tinkering. haha

Monday, June 4, 2012

back online, and go go go!

After a long, albeit necessary, hermitage from the electronic world, I am finally back on track and hitting my blog again. It's the beginning of June, the heat is setting in here. We are already breaking 100 degrees and it feels wonderful. I have a few things on the burner for this summer, and a few plans to get into the works also. Firstly, A front room remodel. I will be converting approximately 423sq feet of the front end of the house into a living space. What does this entail? A LOT! I have assessed my utility usage, without actually metering it, and have realized I use so very little electricity as it is, I may as well go towards a zero power bill. Even living in the city. This means my project will include a bit of creativity, as I will be preparing the remodel for a low voltage setup to be incorporated. Not a big deal, I can run a few extra wires and prepare the location for the batteries quite easily along with the rest of the remodeling. Secondly, I have decided to go with primarily used or free materials. This limits me mostly in time, and will turn it into a bit longer of a project, but so much more rewarding in the end. a: Re-using materials already on hand. a-1: Converting old closet door setup into a new pocket door setup for the living area. b-1: Removing old paneling and using it to 'skin' the new area to maintain consistency with original home. b: Using a lot of materials not commonly used in home building. Note, I am a VERY highly skilled carpenter and woodworker, and it is very important that you choose your materials wisely, as well as use the utmost caution in all aspects of building. Safety, health, and longevity are all important factors. I will be using recycled pallets for the flooring. Yeah, I'm certain a lot of you will be rolling your eyes thinking "yeah, this is gonna be ugly." or "what, does he live in a shack?" or something like that. Well, I can't wait to get the project rolling and post pictures. I went down and priced (with absolutely NO intention of buying) that laminate flooring junk. Wow, are some people being truly ripped off. Estimated cost to redo the flooring using laminated junk (new) is close to $1200. I will be dismantling the pallets, milling the wood down to my own specifications, and installing it with an estimated cost of around $200 for fuel and electricity. And with the added benefit of my floor will be REAL hardwood, REAL recycled, and will be what they term as 5/4 (five quarter) lumber. Which, in this day and age, and often in the past also, is only found in higher end homes. Amazing what a little elbow grease and ingenuity can do in this world. Granted, I will have to refinish the HARDWOOD floor in a few years, but I also wont be replacing the whole thing because it's a laminated piece of modern junk either. Thirdly, I will also be incorporating a few very unorthodox building designs not found very often. I will be re-insulating the front of the house. It faces due south, and catches the brunt of the summer sun and is VERY poorly insulated. Rather than tearing out the interior, purchasing insulation which is NOT good for the environment, and spending a ton of money to do exactly what they did years ago and have to fix it again in another 30 years, I am going Swiss. I am sure you are probably wondering what "Swiss" means. It's kind of a term I came up with myself after studying a bit of how the Swiss build their homes. Wonderous how their engineers do things! Their walls 'breath' unlike our American walls which are built air tight and packed with insulating material to slow the heat transfer. I will be doing a similar type of build on the remodel, incorporating an air path that allows the heated air to pass through and out, while providing, in all reality, shade on the side of the house. In effect, I will be creating a thermal chimney which requires no electricity to operate. I am definitely going to have to draw up some sketches, and take lots of photos during this project. While all the details and materials used will be very minor, none of it will be a waste of energy or materials and every little piece will have a purpose. Gonna end the blog for this evening, tomorrow finds me preparing some soil for some late season planting! Can't wait to get my garden started. ( yes, it's late in the season, but planned that way also! )

Monday, August 8, 2011

Architecture...who's in charge?

I've been browsing a lot of architectural sites over the past year or so, and it appears that everyone is trying to use architecture to define the community.

If people are focused on, rather than a certain 'style' of building, it would empower the community to define the architecture. Not everyone wants a huge, gaudy structure dominating their views. It's all a form of advertising, and people fall for it at a very high cost.
Most buildings are over built, and therefore people are forced to heat and cool a lot of wasted air. (similar to supporting a politician?)

Efficiency isn't in the designs anymore, and it's the world and the people in it who are ultimately suffering.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

notations and calculations.

Last night I decided to break out the pencil and paper (yes, some of us still have antiques like that around) and do some calculating on building design relative to square footage.

For the 'control' I am basing everything off 8 lineal feet per panel. Not referencing any certain building, I am just calculating all walls to be the same length.

4 sides, 32 lineal feet of walls, 64 square feet of floorspace. 2:1 ratio
5 sides, 40 lineal feet of walls, 110 square feet of floorspace. 2.75:1 ratio
6 sides, 48 lineal feet of walls, 166 square feet of floorspace. 3.45:1 ratio
7 sides, 56 lineal feet of walls, 233 square feet of floorspace. 4.16:1 ratio
8 sides, 64 lineal feet of walls, 309 square feet of floorspace. 4.8:1 ratio
9 sides, 72 lineal feet of walls, 396 square feet of floorspace. 5.5:1 ratio

These are all based upon a symmetrical polygon layout, and as you can tell the closer you get to being a true circle the higher the ratio of floorspace to materials used for framing. The easiest construction is based upon 4 walls, which is lowest on the scale for efficiency. The next easiest (from a builders viewpoint) is the octagon, which apparently gives a LOT more floorspace for each foot of wall you build, while maintaining an ease of build using common angles. (one chopsaw, one setting, all day long) which will also decrease waste in the form of materials and labor.

Looking at octagonal shapes for living space, they seem quite feasible, and the added efficiency of building and materials can provide for a very low cost building.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Current Side Project

One of the newer projects on the board is the design and placement of gardening areas with a focus on ease of use.

We are looking at two separate formats for the footprint, one is based upon a 6' by 8' rectangle, and the other is based upon an octagon with 8' sides.

These may or may not be connected to eachother, and preferable raised beds for ease of upkeep. There will be a focus on wheelchair access, crop production, diversity of plantings, and orientation to the sun.

There may also be a consideration for the ability to provide frost cover in the form of an easily installed covering.