Construction Overview

Describing the construction overview is difficult because as I start to explain the general stages, I get caught up in the minutiae of the construction process and must rein myself in to just explaining the broad strokes. Getting caught up is not a bad thing. I end up considering things I have not yet considered, and everything I can plan out before I start construction is an answered question. Answered questions actually speed up the process.

The actual configuration of the our house is ever-changing.  Because we are living in a small space (~640 sf), and because we’ve winnowed our life down to really comfortable basics, I’ve found I don’t need a large house.  For us, 1000 sf would be large.  I need room to quilt and Terry needs room to watch TV.  Those requirements keeps our plans pretty small and simple.  In not having a guest room, people magically don’t come and stay.  While I’m not seeing that as a bad thing, I will have to plan for some way to accommodate overnight guests or I will never see the family I like unless I leave the farm.

To see where we are at any given point, you’ll need to work your way through to the last page in The Progress of Design.  It should have the most current layout.

One of the designs I played with extensively was pods.  I’ve moved beyond pods to solar earth sheltered, but the design process was interesting.  Even though I really like this design idea, we are no longer planning to use this particular design.  The rest of this article covers what has to happen before we can start construction.  That bit isn’t subject to change, so just ignore the pod shapes.

Before the first pod can be constructed lots of other construction stuff has to happen. The PAHS tubing must be buried. I am having a huge debate with myself on how/when to do the PAHS insulating/waterproofing. I really want the best of all worlds, of course. Who doesn’t. And I want to “undo” the minimum amount of stuff through the construction process.

Do I insulate and weatherproof the ground around the first pod or put that task off until the second pod is complete?

I don’t think there’s any way to truly protect the entire PAHS umbrella fabric through three rounds of construction. Logic says do the cheapy PAHS umbrella (layers of hay/straw and visqueen done in stages and layers as the pods are built). Once the final pod construction is complete, tear up the temporary umbrella and install the permanent version. Or, install the temporary umbrella deep enough to install the permanent right over the top. I think temporary to start is the way to go.

Once the second pod is complete we can go into holding mode for a while. Below is the “just us” configuration. It’s enough room for us to be comfortable. It’s actually 64 square feet bigger than the last “real” house we lived in.

Step 1

At this point the permanent PAHS umbrella can be installed on the north, northwest, northeast, east and southeast sides of the master bedroom pod where it will be protected by the driveway and the permanent brick patios and landscaping. It’s the blue area in the image below. It actually won’t have corners (top left and right) and there are trees there. I want to stay back from the tree roots with the PAHS umbrella so the tree isn’t deprived of water and nutrition.

I can build a semi-circular greenhouse in the angle where the two front pods join when the final two pods are in place. This can act as an entry as well as a place to put the larger of my house plants.

Below is the final layout once construction is complete, the “it’s ready to sell” configuration. The final pod on the left will have a bathroom that will open out onto the patio.

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