Our (almost finished) little house in
to see more of the farm click here
Ginger and I wanted an economical, environmentally friendly
structure to use as a kitchen and office space while I built my
treehouse and she built her cob house. Originally this was a 24'
diameter Pacific Yurt. Halfway through the building of the yurt
we were busted by Clatsop county and informed in no uncertain terms
that one could not build or live in a yurt under any circumstances,
ever. We learned the hard way that under current county rules the
only acceptable living space is a code approved house.
To meet the requirements to be able to live on our own land, we built
this small house as eco-friendly as we could. The floor
plan is open with about 360 sq ft downstairs and 300 sq ft in the
loft. Our approach to building lightly on the land was to
build small and to use as much recycled material as possible within our
budget. Still, we used a lot of expensive, energy intensive
toxic crud. Building this house has solidified my belief that for
green architechture to have meaningful impacts on global resource
depletion and global toxics production, we must change the way we
relate to the spaces we live in and building codes must make allowances
for alternative living stategies. I think it is positive that we
are dressing our current systems up with green products and
technologies, but my fear is that ultimately this distracts from the
more important goal of changing how we live. 'Green building'
must not only consider the lessening of environmental impacts but also
must be accessible to people of lesser economic means. Simply
put, the peasant farmer in a poor country with his recycled,
mud/wood/thatch home is already greener than anything we are doing with
technology. Marrying this approach with high tech solutions
seems to me to be the logical way forward in sustainable
architecture. None of this can happen until the rules about what
may be built are changed. Ok, off my soapbox and on
to the house.
Up the stairs and through a door we found at the recycle yard and
modified to fit. The threshold is a made from a piece of black
locust I my friend Mark gave to me four years ago. The window
came from the house of a local person
who was replacing windows. All the downstairs recycled windows
together cost less than a single new casement window upstairs.
Our cedar shingles came from a local mill. I trimmed the openings
in knotty rather than clear cedar.
The downstairs living space. A friend sold us this beautiful
futon couch for almost nothing when she was moving furniture out of a
new house she bought. The wood stove was given to us by a friend
who wasn't using it.
Our kitchen. Ginny found the flooring at a garage sale for
cheap. The cabinets were bought at the recycle yard and the sink
too. The countertop is 3/4" bamboo ply, which is still expensive
at $225 a sheet but a fraction of what solid 2" countertop costs.
How much countertop do you wear away in a lifetime anyways?
Our bathroom. The arrangement of this small bathroom keeps it
from feeling small. The toilet was salvaged from a shed on the
property, the sink purchased at the recycle yard, the flooring is a
marmoleum remnant purchased from the environmental building center, the
base mold is prefinished cherry florring left over from the kitchen
floor. The cat, Crafty, was a feral kitten, born in the
bushes this fall.
This is our utility center, solar panels provide electricity to the
little white box and then to the batteries in the larger wooden box, DC
power is then fed to the black inverter which supplies the AC power to
the house. I'm very proud that I designed and installed this code
compliant off-grid electric system. Soon we will be connecting a
very small hydro generator to carry us through the dark
months. The larger white box is our on-demand propane hot
water heater, salvaged by a friend during a remodel project, we had it
fixed and then installed it. Eventually this will be the last
step of water preheated by the woodstove and the refrigerator and solar
water heater. Our goal is to get off the propane!
Breakfast on the wood stove, soon this will be replaced with an old
Magestic cookstove I bought from a friend for 300 dollars. I
bought twenty feet of double wall stove pipe from the recycle
yard. Heating and cooking, and soon hot
water, a sustainable solution for forest dwellers.
The wood floors in the main room are reclaimed white oak that I bought
from my girlfriend, who bought it ten years ago from Endura
hardwoods. I finished them with shellac and water based
urethane. The hearth is made of floor tiles I bought at the
Let me brag about my staircase for a moment. Built out of
ordinary framing lumber it is twice as strong as a 'stairjack'
staircase, uses less than half the materials, and requires no
finishing. The framed stairs are the final stairs and require no
expensive and specialized casing process. The natural
handrail cost me only six hours of my time and the money for sixteen
lag bolts, a stark contrast to the cost of a professionally finished
rail, and beautiful!
The loft upstairs is a single open room with low sweeping corners.
Gingers' bed upstairs, overlooking the garden, where she can look down
and plan the important work of our farm.
Trim, covered porch, solar and wood hot water, hydro power, all coming
a sincere thanks to all of the following people who loaned us stuff,
sold us stuff, and gave us stuff and advice, or worked for us, in no
order of importance.
Jackie Sauriol, Morgan Hine, Otis Wardlow, Anthony and Victoria
Stopiello, Mark Beach and Kathleen Ryan, Mark Whitakker, Larry Smieja,
Susan Salkowski, Doug Firstbrook, Terry Fullen, Harvey Golden, Don
Golden, Bruce Phillips, Brian
Bubblitz, Richard Mastenik, Chip and Sherri Rashio, Gwendolyn Endicott,
Lee Schore and Jerry Atkin, Kathleen Moore, Jeff Trenary, Hank Tallman,
Rita and Pappa Wood, Daryl, Nehalem lumber, Cart-M, and the ReBuilding
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