Monday, April 2, 2012

Alternative Housing

For quite sometime now I have been interested in non-conventional home building. Be it tiny houses, with under 200 square feet of living space, stack wall or cob construction which used materials from the earth to create a shelter, or recycling man-made rubbish like tires and shipping containers to make a new version of the "Canadian Dream".

Most of my excitement for such unusual projects is to learn to build houses and living space with less harm to the planet. Typical stick framing creates literally tons of construction waste, most of which ends up in the landfill. By utilizing smaller home size, even with conventional techniques will save a huge amount of waste and energy. A tiny home can be built with very little waste and can be more thriftily planned. Precision planning is easier with dimensions of such little size. Less plywood and stud trimming is needed, since the house is 90 percent less than what is normally considered a barely livable, small house. A contractor who builds many, many new homes and makes a large percentage of profit per build will be less worried about the trash and will just pass that waste on to the purchaser of the home. A perspective builder of a tiny home most likely has a smaller, more carefully planned budget as well as being concerned with the planet and wastefulness. Recycling old tires into home foundations will keep the useless bits of rubber and steel from being landfilled or burned.

I am really wondering about creating a home with more sweat and elbow grease versus just signing a few forms at the bank, and purchasing a cookie cutter home in Pleasantville. After years of working hard to pay a mortgage and seeing little results and feeling tied down by it. I want to live a simple life, save money, donate to charity, volunteer and just have much more time. Time is the thing we all only have so much of, no matter if you have a few dollars of a few billion dollars. To be awarded that extra time would be a blessing worth living in a tiny house, using a composting toilet and having a little private space. Sacrificing a dishwasher, flat screen television, and en suite bathroom to gain extra time to do fun things with my daughter, write, learn a new skill and to work on a project is completely worth it. I believe that given a chance to do things differently, many would also choose to make these adaptations to their lives.

To me, saving money and conserving are fantastic reasons, but doing it differently is also a wonderful thing. Spending twenty thousand dollars on a septic field, or using clean water to flush sewage into a city pipe is wasteful. Composting your own night soils is something that I am keen on. It may sound gross, and it is not for everyone. If you learn about how much clean drinking water is polluted just to flush something that one has been taught to ignore once out of a diaper, you might change your tune. I read the Humanure Handbook and changed my thinking about how a composting toilet works and how inexpensive and clean is can be.

I was very inspired by the conversation with my Grandma yesterday. I learned about her house, which was built by my Grandpa and Grandma, as well as extended family and friends. Much of the building materials were harvested from the wood and the beach, including the walls, beams and roofing material. The waste was used to heat the home while is was under construction so they could work in it during the winter and allow things to dry and keep the chill off of the workers. That is my kind of recycling!

Plans are in the works to make some changes in my existence. I am hoping to begin living in a tiny house this year sometime. I am very excited to live in an alternative dwelling, created by our own hands, with out visiting a bank and living with less. Too much clutter makes for a cluttered mind, too much space makes one feel lonely, a chance to give Natalie a different perspective, and more time with me. This is an exciting change that I will be sharing on this blog, and I hope to inspire others to live with less. Find Adventure.

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