Tuesday, March 31, 2009

alternative post

So, my computer isn't recognizing my camera so I can't load any pics, Ughhh, so can't show you the mid-progress picture of the trailer. Oh well, next time, I promise.

Instead, this is a picture that has been bandied about amongst those who like to tease us with what we are planning on building..

Oh, yes, real funny. I actually think that might be fun!!

And along that note, when we were buying this property, we had a huge issue because the current house on the property is a double wide. Its an old double wide and wasn't HUD certified. So no one would loan on it and in fact we ended up with a land loan and devalued the land based on the cost to remove the double wide. Anyway, there was a lot of issue with what type of house this was, Mobile home, Manufactured home, trailer, modular.....you wouldn't believe how complex this became. So it was finally our fabulous realtor Kristina Augustin (Classic Country Properties -REMAX) that got it sorted out..so I sent her this

So that is about it and yes, if you would like to know, our current home is registered with the DMV and has a license plate on it - can you believe it!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Recycle, Reuse - Phew its hard work though

So this weekend we decided that instead of giving away the old 26ft 5th Wheel Travel Trailer that was left on our property when we bought it, that we would reuse it and turn it into a flat bed trailer that would be useful for moving our tractor and supplies when we start building the house.

This is what it started out like - - don't get excited, it was NASTY inside. Things we didn't anticipate during demo - the masses of wiring running through the walls - the thing was WIRED for lift off!! And the ANTS....the trailer was inundated with them which required de-anting ourselves every few minutes as they would jump into our hair and clothes and yes, the were the biting kind.

The roof had leaked for a while so the floor was pretty rotten and there was a good bit of leftover debris from previous residents. Funnily enough, there were some walls that just wouldn't die...it took us about 16 hours total to take it apart. It took longer because we removed the aluminium separately so that we could salvage it and the windows.

We are now left with a great frame and axels, I will take pictures tonight and post tomorrow so you can see what it looks like now. We still have some welding to do as we want it to be a bumper pull not a 5th wheel and I want it to be bright, shiny red to match our other trailer the Red Rascal. hmm, will have to come up with a name for this one..

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Idea Post

Thought I would delight y'all with some of the interesting idea pics we have saved over the past year and a half - things that have inspired us in our design...

Friday, March 27, 2009

The things you do to build your own home part 2

Its hard to categorize this one in that group because I actually started learning how to do this to start my own business, which is still the goal but maybe once the economy has left the toilet.

This past summer I took a bunch of Concrete classes learning how to cast concrete for home applications, countertops, fireplaces, sinks etc...Its amazing. It is so fun to work with such an industrial resource and make it so beautiful. I also am lucky because the two BEST guys that do this are located right here in the Bay Area - Buddy Rhodes and Fu Tung Cheng.

Their work is stunning and timeless. I learned so much and then things got even better. I was able to apprentice with Nick Relampagos at his company - It's Concrete.

Nick is amazing, his work is stunning and he does both the Buddy Rhodes and Cheng Design methods. He truly is very talented and has a great eye. It was so much fun to work with him and I learned so much from him. Now of course, like with anything, its time to go solo and try my hand alone. So the next few months will be starting small projects, some stepping stones to make a path from the house to the shop, some large planters for outside the house and then by the time the house is ready I can do the kitchen and bathroom countertops and sinks - not only saving HUGE $$$ but how amazing is it to work on a kitchen counter everyday that YOU made....I love that.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

The things you do to build your own home

Part of building your own home is learning (hopefully in advance) how to do a lot of the skills you will need. Building with containers we knew there would be  a lot of welding. Now Kyle has welded before and has two welders. I had never welded before but always loved the thought of working with metal and hey, how many times had I watched my blacksmith do his thing, I must have picked up something along the way.

So we took a welding class this past summer at a non-profit welding school in Richmond, CA. Its a great school because it provides a lot of the local guys with great skills to take to the refineries in the area and they can earn great money. Unfortunately Kyle was the hit and I was there to learn to do my "artsy" projects - UGHHH!!!

Needless to say Kyle was welding in no time and I spent a lot of time cutting metal...so now I will be doing all the cutting out of container walls as I am an expert. There are some cool women welding sites out there and of course Richmond being home to Rosie the Riveter...go Rosie.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Cool Containers

Thought I would include some cool links to container homes in this post. They are few and far between but some are stunning.

This is my favorite - Cove Park

This is probably the most famous one in Rodondo Beach, CA

I think this one is in Maine of all places - 12 Container House

A cool site that has lots of different kinds of container homes - Web Urbanist

So why on earth did we decide to build a house out of shipping containers?
Well, it evolved because mainly they are abundant, easy to get, cheap, incredibly strong and fire resistant.
We aren't looking to make the entire house out of containers but more using them on the exterior walls because of their immense strength. They are built to be stacked upto 9 containers high on ships in salt air and FULL. For every 10 containers that come loaded with goods from China, we only send 2 containers back, hence why there are so many just sitting in the ports of the U.S.
They are very inexpensive, are easy to connect together and will be installed in less than a day to create the frame of the home. The nice thing about them is that they are fire resistant, not to say they won't melt if there is an interior fire BUT if we have a wildfire, they won't catch which is vital.

Along with implementing recycled containers in our home we are planning on also using lots of other recycled steel, timber and other resources throughout the building process. The final home will incorporate passive solar, high energy efficiency to include R-40 insulation and higher, radiant heating, grey water recirculation, rainwater catchment and a PV array that we are hoping will offset the remaining power usage.

So stay tuned as we progress, do more research and fall deeper and deeper into this process

Containers gaining Popularity

I very excitedly found, this morning, a posting that pulls pics of many cool container projects together in a slide show. There are some really amazing designs (and some not so much) and its amazing how creative you can be with a rectangle.

Check out this article from The Daily Green.

As part of our house will also be utilizing many types of recycled resources, here is an amazing example of utilizing a free resource, what an amazing feat.

With a little creativity and vision, you can reuse and recycle just about everything into something new that has use and value. On a smaller scale, here is a great example. This used to be a pepsi can!!!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

People that make it happen

Obviously puchasing property in this current market is NOT an easy thing and purchasing remote acreage that has been foreclosed on and has a trailer on it is virtually impossible. But with the immense help of Dana Krause of Peak Capital and Kristina Augustin of Classic Country Properties - REMAX. Without them we would NOT be the proud owners of this luxurious double wide, they truly went above and beyond and pulled all tricks out of their hats to make sure this sale went through. They are truly godsends in this whole process and we owe them so much.
So now to introduce our architects, of whom I am sure you will hearing much more about. Organic Architect, Eric Corey Freed and his team David and Soojin have already begun to make inroads into the bizarre design we are pursuing. We had our first meeting last week and saw the stunning designs that they have come up with already. One in particular hit the nail on the head and prompted Kyle and I to go back, cut up a few 4x4 timbers and try to recreate a Barbie sized replica.

Anyway, it will be very unusual and modern and hopefully a lot less expensive to build than a traditional stick built home and mroe fire resistant, important when you are a firefighter and live in the middle of fire country.

So now we kicked these pics back to David and Soojin and are waiting to see some sketches on paper and elevation views to get a better idea of what it will look like. We are really excited about this design, its like Kyle's initial design on steroids. We are eager to start building.

Friday, March 20, 2009

The Dirty Boys

Well, they are the soil guys. They come to your house and play in the dirt and then tell you if you dirt is strong enough to support a house (that's the important part of their job and why they are paid the big bucks).
So Kelly and his team (pictured below) from Foothill Geotechnical came by with their drill rig and drilled some holes in the front yard (like we don't have 3 dogs that do that already).

Well the first hole was not too successful - lots of quartz and decomposing granite accompanied by an enormous boulder under that. Smokes, they only got to 6 feet.

So a few more holes and then we hit - yes, you guessed it, water. (no, not gold!!) Anyway, they got 4 holes drilled and Kelly's first analysis is that the soil is very good for building a house on, we won't wash away down the hil or sink into a hole the size of the one in Peru.

Kelly also enlightened us to why we live on Shoo Fly Rd - and NO its not named after the stupid pie. (who ever wants to eat pie that has flies on it!!)

Shoo Fly is actually a type of slate that our road sits on, the Shoo Fly Complex sits in the Great Divide (that is what they call our area) - unfortunately there isn't much written about it but I will enlighten your geological minds as more info comes  in.

So next is to narrow down the plans for the house, oh boy, stay tuned...

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Playing Catch Up

So I am trying to play catch up on the house here. Not that, that much has happened but I want to get all up to speed before the real big stuff starts.

So we had Chuck Bishop and his friend's out to survey the property around the house. What a fabulous guy Chuck is - LOVE HIM!!! I am sad I didn't get a pic of him but I have a feeling he will be back. He has planned out our vegetable garden so once we are ready to implement we will give him a call. He is so lovely and knowledgable as well as being smart about the earth and all it gives us.

His guys came and have now furnished us with a fabulous Site Map of our property and the architects have a copy too so they can start their plans in ernest.

Onwards and upwards..............

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

First Timer

So never blogged before, this could be fun, could be!! We are building a house, yikes. There, said it out loud.

We bought 23 acres in the foothills of the California Sierra Nevada Mountains and on it sits a very old and very cold double wide trailer. The Le Cruz '72 model...oh yeh, top of the line.

So it obviously can't stay, so we have to begin construction by this fall. So far we have had the property surveyed, soil borings taken and the architects are already exasperated with our indecision.

So building a house - whoopdeedooo, you say. Us and millions of others, no big deal. Well, we gotta be kind of different. Our house will be structurally supported with shipping containers, yes, you read correctly.

Its been done before but not much. We are hoping to build the majority of the house ourselves, partly because we love the hands on stuff and partly to get more house for our money.

So sit back and enjoy the ride...maybe take some bets on how long you think it will take us to finish!!