Advice for Small Dwelling

Discuss lifestyle changes to better survive disasters. This category is for topics pertaining to being self reliant such as DIY, farming, alternative energy, autonomous solutions to water collection and waste removal, etc.

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Advice for Small Dwelling

Post by BJMadden85 » Wed Feb 27, 2013 11:35 pm

First off, please don't say camper/motorhome; I'm already looking into that now but want something more house-y. I have researched 'tiny houses' like Tumbleweed Houses and I think that is kinda what I'm looking for, but I live in the Florida panhandle so I worry about storms and hurricanes. There is wooded property slightly inland that may help but I wouldn't trust pines alone for protection. Any advice on this? And anyone know of a 'Florida Tumbleweed company'?
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Re: Advice for Small Dwelling

Post by TacAir » Thu Feb 28, 2013 12:21 am

It would help to define 'small' 120 sq ft? 480 sq ft?

Once folks have an idea what 'small' means to you, we can help.

Image

Did this in a long weekend with hand tools and crew of three. Has an 80% deck at 7 feet up from the floor. 16 in on center.

Is this the kind of small you are talking of?
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Re: Advice for Small Dwelling

Post by RoneKiln » Thu Feb 28, 2013 1:00 am

That's something I've studied a lot and sort of specialize in. But I'm tired and am in the middle of a long week. If I don't follow up on this by the end of the weekend, please PM me, as I love discussing these things.

As TacAir said, some more details of what you're looking for would be helpful.
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Re: Advice for Small Dwelling

Post by survivaljoe » Thu Feb 28, 2013 1:43 am

TacAir, just curious, is that foundation poured with gravel around it or is the structure sitting on gravel?
...It's been a while...

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Re: Advice for Small Dwelling

Post by Halfapint » Thu Feb 28, 2013 1:56 am

Personally I'm a HUGE fan of shipping containers. The plus side they are cheap, modular, and sturdy. The down sides are they require LOTS of insulation, and to be modular they need to be cut and welded.

With that though they are very safe, and with a little work can be outfit to be very safe especially in your AO if they can cross the Pacific hit by storms while stacked 15 high, being ground level and locked in can probably stand lots of abuse (especially if you use a brick fasade). I plan one day to build a my future house out of shipping containers if I can find the right land.
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Re: Advice for Small Dwelling

Post by tedscissors » Thu Feb 28, 2013 2:34 am

combination of shipping container and earth sheltered dwelling may be worth looking into

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Re: Advice for Small Dwelling

Post by silversnake » Thu Feb 28, 2013 6:58 am

When we bought our backyard shed a few years ago, there were several that we looked at that were large enough you could insulate them and do some interior work and live in them. One option offered by the company was an "anchor kit" - basically steel cables that run through the structure (attached through brackets on the frame) and then onto large arrow shaped metal anchors driven into the ground at the four corners - to supposedly keep it from blowing away in a storm. I don't know what they're rated at, but they seem like a solid bit of extra protection to me. I think you could pour a concrete pad, have a wood frame shed installed with such anchoring, and then go through to insulate, reinforce, and retrofit to a living space. Likely no more difficult than the shipping container but with easier logistics and more "house" look.

Edit to add: I've never done this myself and am just speculating based on having looked at a lot of sheds and a lot of tiny houses online and thought "what if".

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Re: Advice for Small Dwelling

Post by majorhavoc » Thu Feb 28, 2013 8:58 am

BJMadden85 wrote:First off, please don't say camper/motorhome; I'm already looking into that now but want something more house-y. I have researched 'tiny houses' like Tumbleweed Houses and I think that is kinda what I'm looking for, but I live in the Florida panhandle so I worry about storms and hurricanes. There is wooded property slightly inland that may help but I wouldn't trust pines alone for protection. Any advice on this? And anyone know of a 'Florida Tumbleweed company'?
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Re: Advice for Small Dwelling

Post by TacAir » Thu Feb 28, 2013 10:45 am

survivaljoe wrote:TacAir, just curious, is that foundation poured with gravel around it or is the structure sitting on gravel?
Used precast piers, see your PM for details.
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Re: Advice for Small Dwelling

Post by Manliest » Thu Feb 28, 2013 11:32 am

tedscissors wrote:combination of shipping container and earth sheltered dwelling may be worth looking into
This. I've fantasized and YouTubed a lot (not gonna call it "research" really) about using earth bermed Conex boxes for shelter/storage on a piece of land I inherited. Coating them with (foundation sealing spray-on stuff that I can't recall the name of) and setting them on a good bed of pea gravel for drainage would be pretty important. A fully buried container (except entrance) would eliminate the option for skylights to provide light, which was important to me as it's not intended to be a full time residence.

Of course, moving a trailered Conex into the property seems to be impossible until major road improvements are in my budget or a Chinook randomly appears on my lawn. I have to use the right trail in the right weather just to get my Jeep and small box trailer in and out. :lol:

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Re: Advice for Small Dwelling

Post by rule9 » Thu Feb 28, 2013 2:54 pm

majorhavoc wrote:
BJMadden85 wrote:First off, please don't say camper/motorhome; I'm already looking into that now but want something more house-y. I have researched 'tiny houses' like Tumbleweed Houses and I think that is kinda what I'm looking for, but I live in the Florida panhandle so I worry about storms and hurricanes. There is wooded property slightly inland that may help but I wouldn't trust pines alone for protection. Any advice on this? And anyone know of a 'Florida Tumbleweed company'?
BJ: Google "Tiny House Movement" and prepare to be blown away.
I think the OP was specifically trying to avoid that...

(Edit for actual on-topic content: the dome on the last episode of Doomsday Preppers might be a good storm-resistent option, though I'm guessing it would be more expensive than something made from shipping containers.)

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Re: Advice for Small Dwelling

Post by ZH10950 » Thu Feb 28, 2013 3:03 pm

TacAir wrote:It would help to define 'small' 120 sq ft? 480 sq ft?

Once folks have an idea what 'small' means to you, we can help.

Image

Did this in a long weekend with hand tools and crew of three. Has an 80% deck at 7 feet up from the floor. 16 in on center.

Is this the kind of small you are talking of?
Glad to see you went with something that didn't stick out like a sore thumb! :rofl: 8-)
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Re: Advice for Small Dwelling

Post by TacAir » Thu Feb 28, 2013 3:44 pm

ZH10950 wrote:
TacAir wrote:It would help to define 'small' 120 sq ft? 480 sq ft?

Once folks have an idea what 'small' means to you, we can help.

Image

Did this in a long weekend with hand tools and crew of three. Has an 80% deck at 7 feet up from the floor. 16 in on center.

Is this the kind of small you are talking of?
Glad to see you went with something that didn't stick out like a sore thumb! :rofl: 8-)
Flat red - or barn red, becomes hard to see at a distance. Since it is in my back yard, that isn't an issue.
I've found the IR capability of the paint to be a big plus - it is warm to the touch during the day light hours, even in the dead of winter, something I find valuable here in AK.
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Re: Advice for Small Dwelling

Post by Shoden » Thu Feb 28, 2013 4:26 pm

You didn't specify a price range or if a mobile structure was a priority, so here's something that's a bit more expensive and way less mobile, but storm and fire resistant and energy efficient: http://www.monolithic.com/topics/cabins. They've even got a sale going on right now for several units: http://www.monolithic.com/stories/cabin-sale

My current plan is to use a combination of the monolithic thin shell technique and PAHS underground design for the house I'll be building in a few years, so I've spent a lot of time reading on the Monolithic site over the past few years.

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Re: Advice for Small Dwelling

Post by Evan the Diplomat » Thu Feb 28, 2013 4:44 pm

If you are certain you don't want the house to move, then my vote is for a load bearing straw bale house. Image

You would "pin" the courses of straw bales to each other with rebar or bamboo.Image

You could make any number of foundation types from rammed earth tires Image Image Or poured concrete.

With a bond beam or ladder style top,you could both mechanically compress the bales and attach the roof to the foundation.

ImageImage

Wrap with chicken wire an plaster by hand for a breathable exterior.
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Re: Advice for Small Dwelling

Post by Halfapint » Thu Feb 28, 2013 6:30 pm

I really like the hay bale idea it'd be a great insulator, not to mention I'd be damn cheap. I'm still a sucker for shipping containers though. Spraying them in sealant and making an earthen dwelling out of them (hobbit hole anyone?) would be pretty bad ass. I'd make sure to have a south facing door to get sunlight in, and really skylight wouldn't be all that difficult if you planned ahead and got a metal tube of some sort (sewer pipe perhaps?) welded it to the roof of the shipping container then cut the inside out and painted the tube white to reflect more light down. I've even seen recently where people take a coke bottle, fill it with water and add a small amount of bleach put it though the roof of their house and it reflects/refracts a lot of light. I'm sure something like that could be modified, but you wouldn't get to see the sky like though a normal skylight. The biggest thing about a shipping container is that its steel you really have to spray it with sealant and put a bit of a slant on the roof if its underground because water will pool on the top and eventually start to rust.
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Re: Advice for Small Dwelling

Post by suburbansniper » Fri Mar 01, 2013 12:06 am

here is what your looking for. some really neat ideas you could build yourself, for the most part. http://countryplans.com/smf/index.php?P ... &board=6.0" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

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Re: Advice for Small Dwelling

Post by Manliest » Fri Mar 01, 2013 1:27 am

I wonder if you could upscale the soda bottle lights into 5gal watercooler jug lights?

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Re: Advice for Small Dwelling

Post by Halfapint » Fri Mar 01, 2013 2:03 am

Manliest wrote:I wonder if you could upscale the soda bottle lights into 5gal watercooler jug lights?

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No reason you couldn't it's merely physics. Though I think it has to be clear to work properly. Just add more bleach to the water and voila you got light! Would be a cool experiment to try though.
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Re: Advice for Small Dwelling

Post by BJMadden85 » Sat Mar 02, 2013 9:16 am

Thank you all! I appreciate the posts. In response to 'specifics': I am unsure as to exact size but 100-300 sq ft sounds great, and I like Tumbleweed houses and the barn-type thing TacAir has built. Someone said it: They don't stick out like a sore thumb. I have also researched cob houses, straw mixed into a earthy clay material because they are very durable and I wouldn't need more than an old style wood-burning stove and a fan for climate control. And I could get a lot for around $20K and put some work into it, then build a cob house on it and when I'm done and have to move, finally I could sell it for maybe twice that much. But my ideas may just be a pipe dream. I'm getting out of active military service in about 7 months and probably shouldn't tie myself down to a property...even though it will be 40 minutes from wherever I would live after I'm out... But enough rambling. Does anyone have any thoughts on the cob house idea?
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Re: Advice for Small Dwelling

Post by Cowgirl » Sat Mar 02, 2013 9:57 am

BJMadden85 wrote:Thank you all! I appreciate the posts. In response to 'specifics': I am unsure as to exact size but 100-300 sq ft sounds great, and I like Tumbleweed houses and the barn-type thing TacAir has built. Someone said it: They don't stick out like a sore thumb. I have also researched cob houses, straw mixed into a earthy clay material because they are very durable and I wouldn't need more than an old style wood-burning stove and a fan for climate control. And I could get a lot for around $20K and put some work into it, then build a cob house on it and when I'm done and have to move, finally I could sell it for maybe twice that much. But my ideas may just be a pipe dream. I'm getting out of active military service in about 7 months and probably shouldn't tie myself down to a property...even though it will be 40 minutes from wherever I would live after I'm out... But enough rambling. Does anyone have any thoughts on the cob house idea?
If you expect to sell, I think building something more conventional is important. The vast majority of the real estate market will not be interested in buying alternative housing. If you can't go with conventional, go with mobile or easily removed so the prospective buyers will not be considering how much it would cost to remove it. Even a hunting cabin would be better than a cob house on the market.

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Re: Advice for Small Dwelling

Post by BJMadden85 » Sat Mar 02, 2013 1:01 pm

I see. That makes sense. I am really interested in getting land and having my own place. But my girlfriend says renting a place would be the way to go for now. So I will be looking into getting an RV and apocolizing it with a solar panel setup, off-the-grid upgrades like some sort of extra water storage, maybe some security cameras... So new direction: Thank you all for the advice but it will have to wait. Does any one have anything to say abut RV living or turning an RV into a mobile survival option?
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Re: Advice for Small Dwelling

Post by Halfapint » Sat Mar 02, 2013 3:11 pm

That's a pretty good one with some great info. There are others that are relatively active that you should be able to find. I just cant seem to find them this second.

http://zombiehunters.org/forum/viewtopi ... 5&t=101707" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
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Re: Advice for Small Dwelling

Post by RoneKiln » Tue Mar 05, 2013 4:37 pm

BJMadden85 wrote:Thank you all! I appreciate the posts. In response to 'specifics': I am unsure as to exact size but 100-300 sq ft sounds great, and I like Tumbleweed houses and the barn-type thing TacAir has built. Someone said it: They don't stick out like a sore thumb. I have also researched cob houses, straw mixed into a earthy clay material because they are very durable and I wouldn't need more than an old style wood-burning stove and a fan for climate control. And I could get a lot for around $20K and put some work into it, then build a cob house on it and when I'm done and have to move, finally I could sell it for maybe twice that much. But my ideas may just be a pipe dream. I'm getting out of active military service in about 7 months and probably shouldn't tie myself down to a property...even though it will be 40 minutes from wherever I would live after I'm out... But enough rambling. Does anyone have any thoughts on the cob house idea?

Anyone looking through my posts will find that I am one of the biggest strawbale fans ever. I've worked on a number of them and think they are ideal for most situations. However, the moisture issues in Florida would have me hesitant to recommend them to you. Though I know of one strawbale house in Georgia that's around 100 years old with minimal problems with moisture. So perhaps I'm being paranoid.

Cob is much more moisture resistant and may be a better material for your area. However, it may not help protect against the heat well. Cob makes fairly poor insulator, and its traditional value as a thermal mass will be negligable due to typical Florida weather patterns. Thermal mass helps moderate temperature swings. This makes it awesome in the desert. Cold nights and hot days are balanced out by the correct amount of thermal mass. Day after day of muggy heat won't be moderated by thermal mass. The cob walls will eventually raise to a similar temp as the surrounding air and the place will be the same temperature inside as out.

If you're looking at keeping the size under 300 sq ft, then insulation may not be a huge issue for you. It doesn't take a whole lot to cool 300 sq ft. Be careful on the detailing to try to keep it fairly airtight and a pretty small AC unit should take the edge off the heat. It's not like you need to keep the place ice box cold like most Floridans seem to like to keep their places (seriously, I have to put a sweater on to walk in a grocery store).

Now keep in mind, cob is not nearly as cheap as you may think. Well, the cob is. The house isn't. The walls on average make up less than 10% of a house's cost. That's for a normal size house. Go tiny, and the cost is suddenly 5% or less. The real cost isn't the walls, but the plumbing, sewage, electricity, etc. This makes tiny houses more costly per sq ft. The stories you hear of people making strawbale or cob houses for $20 a square foot are not taking into account the incredible amount of labor the owner put into their home, nor the incredible amount of time they spent hunting for used materials.

You'll also want to look out for zoning restrictions on size of homes and construction styles. These codes and regulations are in place for very good reasons, but can be difficult to work around and get frustrating. The biggest advantage is to walk in with all the plans and engineering done up to look very professional, and ask someone in the building department for help in navigating the process for exemptions.
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