Saturday, July 12, 2014

Timeline - Education Materials, Land Search, Regulatory Environment

Educational Materials
Once we decided to build an energy neutral home, I began doing something I enjoy a lot -- researching.  I first combed our local library and its inter-library loan system for all available books on green building design, carpentry, plumbing, wiring, concrete work, dry-stacking cinder blocks, drywalling, insulating, greenhouse design, structural insulated panel construction, timber framing, cabinet and furniture making and building codes.
Green building "library"

I then bought select books that I had seen at the library or heard about from other sources, some of which were out of print.  I subscribed to publications, collected downloads, bookmarked websites, contacted manufacturers, attended home and garden, timber frame, log home and green building shows ad nauseum, vetted potential consultants and vendors and filled a filing cabinet with copies,clippings, downloads, technical manuals, handouts, advertising materials and notes.

Land Search

The search for land proved a struggle.  We wanted to move to one of the counties across the Mississippi River from downtown St Louis in order to be closer to Dorothy's large close-knit family.  And we needed a south-facing slope that would be suitable for earth sheltering. While hills are abundant in Missouri, they are hard to come by in glacier-leveled Illinois.  The hills there tend to be overlooking creeks where a high water table might be problematic for earth sheltering or they are Mississippi River bluffs that are already over-built, although that is exactly where we ended up.

After kissing a lot of frogs over a five-year period, we lucked onto a good find in one of the most unlikely places -- in the old section of Collinsville, IL almost directly across from and 10 miles east of the Gateway Arch.  We have three and a third acres nestled in the bluffs with a south slope facing the street, which is perfect for an earth sheltered home. Most of the remainder is the level top of a bluff which is convenient for storing, overflow parking, recreating and growing things.

Regulatory Environment
The regulatory environment in Collinsville is favorable for do-it-yourselfing.  I will be able to pull permits and do as much of the work myself as I choose to do as long as it meets code.  Before buying the property, we shared our intentions with the Building Director who is the permitting authority.  He has been especially accommodating and patient with me as I included him in the numerous pre-construction fits and starts that are the grist for future posts.  He actually seems excited about being involved with the first green building in Collinsville.

One of the reasons for owner-building are based partly upon the satisfaction of DIYing. (For a perspective on this viewpoint, visit another post about DIY building.  The other reason for DIYing is our impossibly low budget. Consequently, it was never a choice between DIYing or hiring a professional -- it was a choice between doing the project ourselves or not doing it at all.

No comments:

Post a Comment

As a do-it-selfer-in-training, I welcome your comments.