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Thread: Construction methods for DIY home building...

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    Moderator & Team Gunsnet Platinum 07/2011 O.S.O.K.'s Avatar

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    Construction methods for DIY home building...

    I am still in the process of getting the land purchased - lawyer has the contract and will forward when OK'd - then I get that signed and all of the other stuff is done - title search, etc..

    But I'm thinking ahead. What kind of construction method will I use to build my house?

    I've thought of using traditional pier and beam/stick construction... but then there are so many other options.

    One that I'm looking at hard is to use conform compressed polystyrene blocks to make the structure - which is then fitted with rebar and filled with concrete. This can be used for making a basement and/or the whole structure. The advantages of this are many. The blocks are really light weight - you off-load them yourself. They are very easy to place and you can literally have the whole structure in-place in a matter of a long day or two. The interior is then laid-out with electical - you just route out the styrofoam to make room for the conduits and outlets and then using adhesive, you place your drywall - no worrying about lining it up with studs... The exterior can be finished in a variety of ways - non of which give away the actual nature of the construction - very cool.

    Keep in mind, that all of this is being done by moi. No labor charges. I am comfortable laying out the electric and plumbing - but will have professionals come in and finish off the jobs and inspect what I've done.

    My wife likes this idea as it gives her a basement. She's been watching the news and all of the tornados going through the area....

    I've been looking at all kinds of stuff - using shipping containers, compressed earth brick. log homes and concrete log homes (these are very cool but not cheap).

    The idea is to get something that leaves us with very little if any debt. We will be selling our place in Texas and using the proceeds to pay for the house construction... at least that's the idea.

    If all goes well, we should be able to get this all paid in full within 8 years or so.

    Anybody have any other ideas for alternative/economical construction methods?
    Last edited by O.S.O.K.; 05-03-2011 at 06:01 PM.
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  2. #2
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    id just go traditional earth contact with a eco heat pump thingy,upgrade on your furnace and get a good woodburner to heat the house through vents etc.

  3. #3
    Hey... FWIW, since you mentioned that YOU are doing a lot of the construction work, if not all of it...

    Yesterday on our new land, I worked for about 4 hours on 4/10th's of mile on the road to the land.... I borrowed my BIL's gas powered hedger (the blade on this thing is about 30" long.

    I went up and down both sides of the road trimming all the mountain laurels that were overhanging into the road, my hope was to cut them back far enough so that I wouldn't scratch my truck up too bad with new pin-striping courtesy of nature.

    Anyway, I only got about half the job done... I still have at least 3/10th's of mile to do MORE!

    Last night at the soccer game, I was telling a nurse friend of mine (we both work in the same building) about my ordeal on Monday (my day off)... she laughed and asked why I worked so hard? I thought maybe she was referencing that I could afford to pay someone to do that kind of work...

    My guess is that the landscaper who bush-hogs the neighborhood's roadsides would charge me about $400-500 bucks (based upon what he charges the home owner's association), ... to be honest, I've got other financial priorities right now...

    What she was getting at, is she said I should have just gone down to the local ACE Hardware store about 7am... I asked why, and she said that there's always about 12-20 Mexican "day laborers" (don't know if they're illegal, but likely) ALWAYS standing out in front of ACE 6 days a week at 7am waiting on work... she said she got these guys to do all the landscape digging/planting for $10 bucks an hour for a recent job on their property!

    No Joke! Whenever it comes to this kind of manual labor, whether landscaping or cleaning my pool... Mr. Whiteguy, up here in Blue Ridge, always wants $30-40 bucks an hour for manual labor or he won't do it... The Mexicans will do it for $10 bucks an hour.

    $10 an hour? That sure as heck beats McDonald's... I pay in cash, they don't have to pay taxes... and before you start questioning my ethics and loyalty to our country... I have no problem hiring "whitey" and would prefer to do such... but "whitey" won't work for $10 bucks an hour.

    Its not like I'm only paying $3 or $4 an hour undercutting "whitey"... $10 bucks an hour is a pretty good wage considering GA min. wage is $7.25! And I'm not talking about back-breaking manual labor like house construction hanging dry wall... I'm talking about cutting some bushes down.

    I hope I didn't piss off anyone or you by suggesting Mexican "day laborers"... but I'd pay any man a fair wage to do this work regardless of their skin color...

    At 45 years of age, my arms and back are worn out! I'm sure many of you, even older are probably in better physical shape than I. But, I physically just can't do it... and doing so, risks me not being able to do dentistry because of potential injury.

    So, with all that said... what do you think of hiring "day laborers"?

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    Moderator & Team Gunsnet Platinum 07/2011 O.S.O.K.'s Avatar

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    Sure, go ahead - show them your escape pod.

    Seriously, you really should just look into renting a tractor for a day with a brush hog attachment. Look into it - shouldn't be that much.
    ~Nemo me impune lacessit~
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  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by O.S.O.K. View Post
    Sure, go ahead - show them your escape pod.

    Seriously, you really should just look into renting a tractor for a day with a brush hog attachment. Look into it - shouldn't be that much.
    I agree with the rental. Or better than that, If you have quite a bit of work get you a tractor. I have 80 acres with a 5-6 acre lake on it and bought one of the Kubota package deals that had a 4x4 30hp tractor with HS transmission and QD front end loader, 6' box blade, bush hog, landscape rake, a 62" QD deck mower and an 18' trailer. Man I have had some fun with that thing. Bought a Stihl chain saw, a pole saw and put a tooth bar on the Kubota. My neighbors tell me that my cabin area looks like a state park now.

  6. #6
    Guns Network Lifetime Membership 01/2011 old Grump's Avatar

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    Starting from scratch again if I had my druthers it would be poured in place cement or cement slabs brought in and set in place. Just make sure you know where the plumbing and electrical are going to go before you pour and have your chase pipe in place. That includes the drain in the basement.

    I'd forget the shipping container unless it is strictly above ground storage. Built to hold weight on the bed but not take the pressure of dirt on the sides and top and even if reinforced you still have a corrosion problem if you bury them.

    My basement is basically a stryo foam cement sandwich. so no leaking or cold infiltration problem. If I had gone all cement I would only have half the house I have and sometimes that would be a good thing when it comes to taxes, heating and cooling. My problem was x dollars, disability check for income and broke back limiting my sweat equity. If you don't have that problem write to PCA for their book on cement structures, you won't be sorry if you go that way.

    http://www.cement.org/homes/ch_homeplans.asp
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    Moderator & Team Gunsnet Platinum 07/2011 O.S.O.K.'s Avatar

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    Thanks Grump. I'll look into that too.

    But the nice thing about the styro forms is that you just put them in place and have them filled. They'll be cement on the inside and really well insulated..... that's why I was attracted to them. You just cut channels on the inside for electrical and plumbing and glue the drywall on - on fitting to studs.

    This looks like something I can handle...



    You can finish them any way you want:



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  8. #8
    My wife and I have ours already planned out. I plan on using Sandbags filled with stabilized dirt and then plastered over. Using dome type construction. For heating I plan on using Rocket stoves with Thermal mass structures.

    Here is kind of what we're doing, using this technology mixed with a few other things I've picked up. Obviously I would be building larger domes for a kitchen and bedrooms than what their floor plan shows, as well as a whole lot more storage.

    http://calearth.org/building-designs/eco-dome.html

  9. #9
    Guns Network Lifetime Membership 01/2011 old Grump's Avatar

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    Thanks Grump. I'll look into that too.

    But the nice thing about the styro forms is that you just put them in place and have them filled. They'll be cement on the inside and really well insulated..... that's why I was attracted to them. You just cut channels on the inside for electrical and plumbing and glue the drywall on - on fitting to studs.

    This looks like something I can handle...
    Your key point right there I think. If I had been still working and in the kind of shape I was in while I was working I would never have gone for this prefab house I bought. No real complaints, I designed it and they mostly went with what I designed. It's a green house and not bad to heat and cool but it would have been better if I could have done the cement dome I wanted and covered 3 sides and the top with sod. But you do what you can with what you got and it keeps me warm and dry.

    I like the idea of the flexibility you have with the styro forms and those were some good looking houses. I'm big on porches and decks and both them had them so I was predisposed to like them anyway.

    Roman Catholic, Life Member of American Legion, VFW, Wisconsin Libertarian party, Wi-FORCE, WGO, NRA, JPFO, GOA, SAF and CCRKBA


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    Moderator & Team Gunsnet Platinum 07/2011 O.S.O.K.'s Avatar

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    I like the earth dome - womb. Very earthy What was the mystic's name?

    Seriously, that is an excellent structure for a more arid environment - and you don't have to give and arm and a leg to make it. Further, I like the way you can link them together and make more space. One cluster could be a kitchen with storage all around and the other a living space with sleeping quarters all around and maybe even a third for a guest house or working area.

    Reminds me of the "rope" method of making clay pots.
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  11. #11
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    I've said it before- I vote for sips:

    http://www.sips.org/content/about/index.cfm?pageId=7
    CHOOT UM!

  12. #12
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    After the storms last week I think if I was to build a home it would be tornado proof. 12" poured concrete rebar reinforced with earth sheltering mounded up around it. Back in the early 80's I had some casual friends that built an earth sheltered home. It was basically out in a corn field. From a distance it looked like a lump or small hill. Sky lights let in sun light from above. It was very quiet inside. They had a very low energy consumption rate to keep it hot or cold depending on the season.

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    Moderator & Team Gunsnet Platinum 07/2011 O.S.O.K.'s Avatar

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    Adobe or compressed earth brick is also very very efficient. In fact, a properly designed structure will remain 80 degrees inside when the temp outside is much hotter.

    Part of my deal is that I have a wife... who is not very accepting of alternative building techniques - but she's totally cool with the stryro/cement blocks. Mostly because you end up with what appears to be a traditional structure.

    For me, I'd live in an alternative structure in a heartbeat. I like the cargo container buildings a lot - not to bury, but for above ground. Cheap, strong as hell and modular.

    Once you get them placed, you can do everything else yourself. They run from $1200 to $2000 per container, so you can get a decent sized structure for $6K - assuming 5 of them stacked up.

    There's a youtube of a guy using 31 of them (!) to make a huge mansion - has four levels - two of the containers are on-end - one will be a tower with water storage in the top and the other an elevator shaft. Kinda cool.

    I could see using them in conjunction with other materials - like the compressed earth brick or styro/cement blocks as they need to be insulated really.
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  14. #14
    Guns Network Contributor 04/2013 El Laton Caliente's Avatar

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    One of my co-workers just ordered $5000 in foam-forms for his house... his buddy that is helping him (they trade labor) ordered even more.

    Tilt wall is another that makes a lasting solid structure.

  15. #15

    Exclamation Watch "This Old House"

    O.S.O.K. - are you talking about polystyrene forms that have plastic ties holding the inside and outside panels together? "TOH" has been showing these being done on an episode aired today here in the St. Louis area. The concrete they used also had part of the cement replaced with "flyash" from coal-fired electric plants. The ash actually makes the concrete stronger but it does slow down the cure rate and, by replacing part of the concrete, it makes the product a bit "greener".
    They said that, with proper waterproofing and rebar, a poured wall like this is nearly indestructible.
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    Moderator & Team Gunsnet Platinum 07/2011 O.S.O.K.'s Avatar

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    That's good to know! I wonder how they fair in high winds. My wife is really worried about tornadoes - which are prevailent in the central Miss area. We've both grown up and lived most of our lives in tornado areas but always had basements before....

    I'm planning on makeing a basement for her at this new place - she want's at least a 1/2 basement but I think it would actually be easier to and better to just do a full basement than to try and have half the house on a slab or pier and beam and the other half over a basement.... seems they wouldn't settle the same and you'd get cracking.
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  17. #17
    Team Gunsnet Silver 02/14 - Moderator recon's Avatar

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    Quote Originally Posted by O.S.O.K. View Post
    Adobe or compressed earth brick is also very very efficient. In fact, a properly designed structure will remain 80 degrees inside when the temp outside is much hotter.

    Part of my deal is that I have a wife... who is not very accepting of alternative building techniques - but she's totally cool with the stryro/cement blocks. Mostly because you end up with what appears to be a traditional structure.

    For me, I'd live in an alternative structure in a heartbeat. I like the cargo container buildings a lot - not to bury, but for above ground. Cheap, strong as hell and modular.

    Once you get them placed, you can do everything else yourself. They run from $1200 to $2000 per container, so you can get a decent sized structure for $6K - assuming 5 of them stacked up.

    There's a youtube of a guy using 31 of them (!) to make a huge mansion - has four levels - two of the containers are on-end - one will be a tower with water storage in the top and the other an elevator shaft. Kinda cool.

    I could see using them in conjunction with other materials - like the compressed earth brick or styro/cement blocks as they need to be insulated really.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aG13knBVVqY&NR=1
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    Moderator & Team Gunsnet Platinum 07/2011 O.S.O.K.'s Avatar

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    Yeah - that's it! lol

    Pretty cool really - and if he got a good price on them he's probably "only" got about $40K sunk into the containers....

    Picture those all painted with windows and such - post-apocolyptic fortress-esque = I like it!!

    Integratedj - where are you guys located in general? I'm thinking that the earth-tube type building method is best in a dry environment?
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  19. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by O.S.O.K. View Post
    Yeah - that's it! lol

    Pretty cool really - and if he got a good price on them he's probably "only" got about $40K sunk into the containers....

    Picture those all painted with windows and such - post-apocolyptic fortress-esque = I like it!!

    Integratedj - where are you guys located in general? I'm thinking that the earth-tube type building method is best in a dry environment?
    We'll either be in Eastern Az, or up in the Wyoming/Montana area. Depending on what you coat them with they have no problems in wet areas. I've seen a couple earth domes up north east of Flagstaff that deal with good snow levels year after year without a problem.

  20. #20
    Moderator & Team Gunsnet Platinum 07/2011 O.S.O.K.'s Avatar

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    I would think the thing is prolonged and sustained rain. That would present a problem...
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