Author Topic: Small/Green Design & Construction  (Read 6009 times)

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Offline Shelley

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Small/Green Design & Construction
« on: March 21, 2005, 08:00:16 AM »
Here's an interesting site.  

http://www.syncronos.com/index.html

Found it off a link in the NM Solar page....www.nmsea.org.

Though the house is straw, adobe and even a little cob its size is similar to several of John's plans.  Thought you all might get some interior design ideas.

Good pics of rubble foundation, harvesting rain water, passive solar and the like.
It's a dry heat.  Right.

Offline Amanda_931

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Re: Small/Green Design & Construction
« Reply #1 on: March 21, 2005, 08:29:38 AM »
interesting.

Even if they are confusing light clay (straw or wood chips with pure clay, more suitable for infill than loadbearing walls) with cob (also made with clay and straw, but with rather a lot of sand.  Very suitable for loadbearing walls.)


Offline Shelley

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Re: Small/Green Design & Construction
« Reply #2 on: March 21, 2005, 09:44:26 AM »
Well, you see Amanda, NM as well as  surrounding states, actually has a separate "adobe code"  which includes adobe, straw bale and rammed earth.

So, these materials are not classed as "experimental" by the plans check people.  It was just revised last year.  Load bearing straw bale not permitted unless you go the "experimental" (read painful) route
It's a dry heat.  Right.

Offline Amanda_931

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Re: Small/Green Design & Construction
« Reply #3 on: March 21, 2005, 03:22:24 PM »
No, no.  The lower floor was straw bale infill (and putting the roof up first sounds like a reasonable reason to look hard at infill, even if it's not in the codes in your area).  

It was the area around that gable end window that was described as "cob" defined by them as mixing clay and straw until the straw is just coated.

Cob has more sand than clay--and the "modern" kind, Becky Bee, Ianto Evans, et al--has a lot of sand in it.  A friend doing cob has only two sand to one clay, but it's very sandy clay.  three or even five sand to one clay seems to be pretty normal.

I think people who have any desire to be code-approved with their cob structures are working either under an adobe code (although IIRC the New Mexico version requires concrete) or as unspecified infill.  In that case too, it gets their roof up first!

Offline Shelley

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Re: Small/Green Design & Construction
« Reply #4 on: March 21, 2005, 03:39:37 PM »
I getcha now.  I'll have to go back and take another look.  When I skimmed it, I thought they just used cob over the window up to the peak.  Did they use it on the entire gable end?

NM code doesn't require concrete.  Don't think they changed that.  Does require asphalt emulsion to stablilize.  First course must be fully stablized.  Subsequent ones semi-stablilized.  Raw is a no-no unless you go the painful route.

Think maybe AZ requires some portland.  Don't know, but they seem to add some in their mud.  Don't know if that's just the way it's done or code requires.  They have seismic issues in their code that we don't.
It's a dry heat.  Right.


Offline Amanda_931

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Re: Small/Green Design & Construction
« Reply #5 on: March 21, 2005, 04:51:06 PM »


Here is the picture--the gray area is a concrete bond beam.

Here's the description of their "not-cob-but-light-clay:"

"cobb in the triangular area around the window. Cob is straw mixed with just enough mud to make it stick together."

What's weird is that New Mexico actually has a light clay code that is reprinted by those people in Madison Wisconsin who seem to absolutely love beautiful thick light clay walls:

http://designcoalition.org/features/lansing/NMcode/NMcode.htm

The adobe propaganda I've read seems to say that concrete "stucco" as they've used here--picture 1--has caused a lot of damage to historic adobe because it does not breathe.

Cob and Straw bale people generally put, sometimes quite high, stem-walls inside and out to keep their walls dry.  Why did these guys use adobe?  I think they may have gone with a concrete bond beam because the light clay code IIRC says something about wrapping wood in contact with the stuff in tarpaper or something.  

Couldn't find the adobe code on-line--sure I've got a link--somewhere (this computer is dying, so I'm not organizing links as I go right now, just saving batches every couple of days), but you're right,  asphalt emulsion is the stabilizer.  Charmaine Taylor of dirtcheapbuilders loves it.

Offline Shelley

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Re: Small/Green Design & Construction
« Reply #6 on: March 21, 2005, 05:45:34 PM »
Oh, the bond beam.  Yes, can be concrete or wood...builder's choice.  Keeps the walls from splaying outward.  They used buttresses in the old ones.

When they stuccoed the old buildings they got "rising damp"  just like England.  Turned the adobes (raw of course) to dust.  Yes, because of breathing, but more importantly cause a lot of the old ones have no foundation.  Adobes sitting on the ground wicking up water and no way to evaporate.

These guys are evidently not into replastering every year.  That's why they used stucco along the bottom splash line and earthen plaster above.  Seems smart to me.  No problem with the adobes since they're sitting on a proper stem wall away from the ground water.
It's a dry heat.  Right.

Offline glenn kangiser

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Re: Small/Green Design & Construction
« Reply #7 on: March 21, 2005, 07:59:52 PM »
I have found that the average rule of thumb calling for 70% sand to 30% clay is about right for the best mix.  If you don't take into consideration the sand/gravel/claystone insoluble materials that are already in the clay things start to act badly.  With too much sand things don't stick together well.  Too much clay -they shrink more- maybe crack more, but more straw helps.

I think the post and beam with straw bale infill is the way to do that-- load bearing bales have a hard time keeping a straight roof -frames etc.

We did a little strawbale landscaping with stabilized cob plaster over it around the frog pond on the roof-- our results were similar to some others recent findings- one little area where water can get in causes a whole bunch of straw to go away.

Chew Kee store in Fiddletown, CA used rammed earth foundation even underground- no rocks -It lasted over 100 yrs until restoration - had some problems but they rebuilt it.  They said the major area eaten away was at the surface of the ground-- the active layer.  I'd still use rocks for a foundation and stemwall - they are a vapor barrier by themselves.
« Last Edit: March 21, 2005, 08:06:01 PM by glenn-k »
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Offline DavidLeBlanc

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Re: Small/Green Design & Construction
« Reply #8 on: March 22, 2005, 09:42:22 AM »
Thanks for posting the syncronos site: gives one a great appreciation for what a furnished Builder's Cottage would look like: at 13' wide, the two would be quite similar!

Love the idea of the raised living room floor!

The entryway is a great idea I've had in mind all along, but it needs an inner door to make the space an "airlock" to help keep warm air in - or out, depending on the season.

The loft looks ever so romantic, but that ladder looks like an accident waiting to happen to me - and on to hard concrete at that!

It's not at all clear where they stashed the bathroom though!


Offline conohawk

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Re: Small/Green Design & Construction
« Reply #9 on: March 25, 2005, 09:48:59 AM »
Quote
Here's an interesting site. ...

I ordered the DVD ($35 USD).  It arrived yesterday. Very impressive.  Lovely videography.  And, more importantly, I learned a tremendous amount about green building, as well as creative ways to address many construction tasks.

For example, I am contemplating using a slab floor in combination with radiant heating.  But, my site makes bringing in concrete by truck a problem.  So, if I had to use a portable mixer, I wondered about constructing a slab using multiple pours.  This is exactly what the Syncronos team did.  What's more, they turned it into a creative opportunity by enhancing the free-form division lines between abutting slab sections.

It also happens that their practical approach toward design (reminding me of Glenn K.) is very appealing.

What surprised me was the generous amount of detail given to subjects like installing a submersible pump,  graywater cistern plumbing, and solar installation.

I'd like to list more examples, but no time right now.

For more info on  the DVD:
http://www.syncronos.com/Movies2.html
« Last Edit: March 25, 2005, 09:51:41 AM by conohawk »

Offline Shelley

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Re: Small/Green Design & Construction
« Reply #10 on: March 25, 2005, 10:49:00 AM »
Before I forget it, know what makes a great concrete form if you want some curves?  

Steel  landscaping bender board edging stuff.  You know the stuff you get at HD.  Comes in brown or green. 10' lengths.

You'll have to beef up the matching stakes with some wooden ones.

Then, you use it later when you landscape. ;)
It's a dry heat.  Right.

Offline glenn kangiser

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Re: Small/Green Design & Construction
« Reply #11 on: March 25, 2005, 11:03:06 AM »
Another thing for curving footing forms - I read somewhere is straw bales staked down- then removed and re-used later.  Probably used in cases where edge look doesn't matter.
"Always work from the general to the specific." J. Raabe

Glenn's Underground Cabin  http://countryplans.com/smf/index.php?topic=151.0

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