Sustainable Homes for an Uncertain Future

Sustainable Homes for an Uncertain Future

Living off-grid has become a very popular and sensible option for sustainable living in this uncertain world where disaster could strike at any time.

Tiny Homes” (under 400 sq feet) have become very popular in the last few years and their popularity can be attributed to globalism (one world government) via the United Nations plan titled  Agenda 2030. Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development U.N. has brought the world’s attention to the concept of sustainable living, by decreasing the world population and moving people out of rural and suburban areas into larger cities. It is important to note that while sustainable living is certainly a part of Agenda 2030, it is something we should all look at in the future as a way to decrease our dependency on banks/mortgages/utility corps and governments.

Living Off Grid is contrary to Agenda 2030’s goals. The independence we can achieve using the concepts of Off Grid/Sustainable Living is anathema to the globalists beliefs and goals for our future. When off grid living became popular it only referred to being off the electrical grid but now, “Off-the-grid homes aim to achieve autonomy; they do not rely on one or more of municipal water supply, sewer, gas, electrical power grid, or similar utility services.” Wikipedia

Tiny living met the standards of the Agenda 2030 vision of the future, however that vision has been described by many followers as cramming many people in tiny spaces/apartments, similar to how many people live in Japan today. They certainly did not foresee people taking the concept of tiny living into a whole new direction where people are able to use their tiny homes to travel the country and live debt free.

While tiny homes may not protect you physically from many disasters they are certainly affordable. Some people buy a large shed or barn from their local Home Depot or Lowes for around $10-12,000 then convert it into a tiny house for around $10-20,000 depending on building permits and just how nice you want it to be. Adding solar energy is not necessary in a tiny home if all you are looking for is low cost utilities. Tiny homes are not meant to house more than 2 people.

If you already own the land then you’re all set. If not, the cost of buying land will depend on where you want to build. “States with generally larger rural areas tended to have a lower value relative to their size, while more densely populated states that contain large urban centers had the highest estimated worth per acre. 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the estimated value of land in each of 48 states. The type of land in a given area has a significant impact on its worth. Agricultural and other largely undeveloped areas are generally worth significantly less than cities and suburbs land. Developed land, or land where housing, roads, and other structures are located, was valued at an estimated $106,000 per acre, while undeveloped land was estimated at $6,500 per acre, and farmland at only $2,000 per acre.” MSN  Calculating the cost of transforming a shed to an off-grid tiny house can be as low as $20-40,000 which is considerably lower than homes on the grid and in urban areas. 

Buying a pre-built tiny home is an option but they can cost up to $60-70,000. This doesn’t include the land, electric, gas, water, sewer lines and/or septic systems. Also, you must factor in the fact that these tiny homes lack storage and realistically only those above 400 sq feet can house more than 1-2 people. You will have to downsize your furniture, clothing and personal items as much as possible if you are in it for the long run.

Tiny homes can also replace RVs for retiree’s and young people who want to travel and save on housing/hotel expenses as these homes can also come with wheels. Private RV camp sites come with sewage, water and electric hookups. The average cost runs about $30-40 per night although the price varies on where you decide to go. The northeast is the most expensive and the southwest is the least expensive. Public campgrounds are mostly free, however those only comprise 4% of campgrounds in the U.S. If you plan on living at a private RV campground all year the cost may be around $10-14,000 in rent.

Tiny homes are not for everyone and there are many different options available depending on just how off the grid/sustainable you wish to live. “There are all different types of Prefab homes, and many of them aren’t necessarily marketed as “sustainable” or “green.” However, since prefab homes are built off site and follow from similar formulas for each model of home that is built, there is much less waste that goes into the construction of these homes.

Big box prefab

In the United States alone, we generate over 250 million tons of waste each year, and 40% of that comes from surplus or unused building materials. Finding ways to limit the amount of construction-related waste that goes into the homes we live in is an essential aspect of home sustainability.”

Many prefab homes also incorporate several other elements of sustainability into their design. From energy efficient light fixtures and appliances, to design options that maximize solar gain, there are several prefab homes that are eco-friendly and will end up saving you enormous amounts of money in your energy bills.” Build with Rise

Shipping Containers made of strong durable steel and are being used to build cost effective homes. Homes, offices and even apartments have been built around the world using one or more containers. Seventeen million shipping containers worldwide have been re-purposed to serve as affordable housing and make economic and environmental sense. They are easy to transport and are low maintenance. On average, a good used container can cost from $2000 to $3,000 each. The same rules apply as to the cost of converting a shed to home.  However, unlike a tiny house shipping containers can be used underground when done properly by sealing it and using steel re-bar to support the roof.

There are several alternatives other than traditional style homes when looking for low cost, high efficiency options. Monolithic Dome Houses for example cost as much to build as a regular home but the utility savings can more than make up for the cost to build. Compared to a conventional home, the ongoing costs of a dome are substantially lower if it is constructed right without cutting any corners such as the recommended amount of insulation needed. Many people love the unconventional rounded walls and openness of dome homes, but they are not for everybody. Domes, like shipping containers, are also used for churches, schools and commercial properties. There are whole dome communities/ neighborhoods around the world.

Actor/comedian Steve Martin’s earth berm home in Montecito, Ca.

“Once an Underground Home is built, there is not much maintenance needed, and the cooling and heating costs are much lower than in a traditional, stick-built, above-ground home. The cost of living in an underground home is less over the long run than the cost of living in conventional homes.

Insurers have discovered the innate resistance to natural disasters, and the energy and maintenance costs are lower in an earth sheltered home. Also, in the event of the power grid going down the temperature inside the home will rarely drop below 50 degrees Fahrenheit inside even in the coldest areas of the country. Even in an earthquake, the ground around the home will vibrate less as it goes deeper, and the concrete foundations of these homes are considered to be earthquake-resistant. In addition, the exterior of these homes is made with metal studs and concrete, which makes them fire-resistant”. Underground-Homes

The Benefits of Earthship Homes: Earthships Have Landed

“An Earthship is a brand of passive solar earth shelter that is made of both natural and upcycled materials such as earth-packed tires, pioneered by architect Michael Reynolds and are designed with thermal mass construction and natural cross-ventilation to regulate indoor temperature.” Wikipedia The designs are intentionally uncomplicated and mainly single-story, so that people with little building knowledge can construct them.

Earthship structures are intended to be “off-the-grid-ready” homes, with minimal reliance on public utilities and fossil fuels. They are constructed to use available natural resources, especially energy from the sun and rain water.

First Hand Look Inside an Earthship - YouTube

An Earthship addresses six principles or human needs:

Thermo-solar heating and cooling.

Solar and wind electricity.

Self-contained sewage treatment.

Building with natural and recycled materials.

Water harvesting and long term storage.

Some internal food production capability.

EARTHSHIP presentation.jpg

Earthships can be adapted for literally any kind of environment except perhaps for the arctic and antarctic. Although, that may change in the future.

Africa, Australia, Central America, South America and Europe are just a few of the places people are building earthships. Mike Reynolds took his vision to hurricane ravaged Puerto Rico and taught the locals how to turn the wreckage and trash from Hurricane Maria in 2018 into safe, self reliant homes. They organize sustainable development and poverty relief projects all over the world.

Garbage Warrior is a 2007 documentary film which tells the story of how Mike Reynolds, the inventor of the earthship concept and describes his struggles with the building codes and laws in New Mexico. It also includes footage of his work in the Andaman Islands in the aftermath of the 2004 Boxing Day Tsunami to assist the locals with disaster recovery and teaching them how to construct extremely low-cost earthships.

In Taos, New Mexico, the Earthship’s base of operations, you can go visit and stay in an earthship to experience what living in these type of off-grid homes are for you.

“Most amazing house we’ve ever been to. Fruits on the trees in the house, amazing space. So clean, so comfy so amazing!”  and, “Staying in an earthship is amazing. A great and enjoyable experience. The house is wonderful , nice personal touches and a real treat to behold.” Earthship renter

You can volunteer and learn how to build earthships by attending one of Mike Reynolds Global Outreach programs.  However, the 2020 Haiti Outreach program where they will be building a sustainable school has already been filled. Just go to Earthship Global for more information.

While concrete is the most common material used to build these homes, Caves are also being used as they have been since the Paleolithic Age. Pre-existing abandonded Mines are also used these days to create underground homes.

Cave home in Missouri

 

 

While concrete is the most common material used to build these homes, Caves are also being used as they have been since the Paleolithic Age. Pre-existing abandoned Mines are also used these days to create underground homes.

Today’s cave and mine homes can be found here in the U.S., Spain, Australia, Morocco and in other Mediterranean countries. But these caves have been turned into beautiful, comfortable houses. Being underground has its advantages as these cave homes are all natural materials and are very effective in maintaining a constant temperature. Sizes vary from a simple three room cave to a big cave comprising a dozen rooms which is likely to accommodate three generations of a family.

Coober Pedy, S. AustraliaKnown as the “Opal Capitol of the World”, Coober Pedy, South Australia, residents have turned abandoned mine “dug outs” into a subterranean town complete with businesses and homes to get away from the scorching heat of the desert temperatures which can reach 95 degrees Fahrenheit in the shade. Coober Pedy also has an above ground portion of town and its population was 1,762 as of 2016 and half live in the caves.

Cave House Bisbee Arizona « Inhabitat – Green Design ...

The “Cave House” in Bisbee, Arizona was listed for $2 million dollars back in 2009. Bearing in mind that it had already been transformed into a home with an office, library, workshop, hot tub, shed and carport, not to mention a guesthouse and barbecue area. Plus there are no water bills, thanks to a natural spring, or heating (has a pellet fireplace) or cooling bills. The cost of renovating an existing cave or mine can be prohibitive. The property with known large caves can reach $100,000 or more. However, these structures are remarkably durable and most are virtually fire and tornado proof.

10 Secret Underground Bunkers Around The World ... Abandoned Missile Silo’s and Underground Bunkers may cost you as little as $25,000 or as much as $3 million it depends on where it is, how large and of course what exactly you are planning to do with it.

According to Vivos, a Global Shelter Network which sells space in underground bunkers for as low as $60 a month,  “The central theme to all catastrophic and epic life-threatening events has typically always been to find shelter underground. The soil of the Earth itself can provide the best shelter for most catastrophes, deep below the surface. Vivos shelters are deep underground, fully self-contained complexes designed to survive or substantially mitigate virtually any catastrophe, or threat scenario including natural or man-made disasters. Whatever the threat, our shelters are built and engineered to withstand or mitigate just about everything from a pole shift, to super volcano eruptions, solar flares, earthquakes, tsunamis, pandemics, asteroid strikes, the anticipated affects of Planet X – Nibiru, and man-made threats including nuclear explosions, a reactor melt down, biological or chemical disasters, terrorism and even widespread anarchy.” VIVOS

This video #HitTheBell “What’s inside a Luxury Doomsday Bunker?” gives the viewer an interesting tour of where the rich and famous hope to ride out Armageddon.

Even our government has contingency plans in place not only in case of nuclear attack but other disaster scenarios as described in History.com’s  “Inside the Government’s Top-Secret Doomsday Hideouts” by Christopher Klein

“As the Cold War heated up in the 1950s, the U.S. government devised top-secret plans to ensure its survival if the Soviet Union launched a nuclear attack. These ‘Continuity of Government’ preparations included building dozens of underground bunkers and arranging to move high-ranking government officials out of harm’s way.”

If worse comes to worst, the richest among us have already prepared. Many millionaires and billionaires have already built and purchased space in underground bunkers.

A word of caution. If you plan to live underground then you must consider the fact that Radon is a concern in literally every option available. Of course it can be an issue with regular above ground homes too.

You’ll have to test for issues like Radon which is a cancer-causing, radioactive gas. Radon testing is cheap, affordable and radon-resistant construction techniques can be effective in preventing radon entry when building a new home. Some radon reduction systems can reduce radon levels in your home by up to 99%. Even very high levels can be reduced to acceptable levels. installing them at the time of construction makes it easier and less expensive to reduce radon levels further if these passive techniques don’t reduce radon levels to below 4 pCi/L. Every new home should be tested after occupancy, even if it was built radon resistant. No matter what your plan regarding buying or building a new home or just renovating your current home, it’s important to test for radon as the EPA estimates it causes lung cancer which kills thousands of people a year in the U.S.

RADON GETS IN THROUGH:
1. Cracks in solid floors.
2. Construction joints.
3. Cracks in walls.
4. Gaps in suspended floors.
5. Gaps around service pipes.
6. Cavities inside walls.
7. The water supply

So many choices of what you may choose to build in the future and those choices are seemingly endless.  UndergroundHomes is a great website to check out even more options. As fossil fuels become more and more expensive in the coming years, our reliance on fossil fuels and nuclear energy may become a liability.

Another concern for all homes that are underground is the issue of mold. The use of dehumidifiers and mold resistant building supplies can cut this problem down significantly. Proper ventilation is necessary to prevent mold and radon from becoming a problem.

It doesn’t matter whether you are a doomsday prepper, a green energy proponent or just wanting to get out from under the financial pressure of the rising cost of utilities, building sustainable homes makes sense. Our inability to see into the future and predict the weather, wars and disease makes us all equal in the desire to protect ourselves and our loved ones from disaster. Educating ourselves in what is best for our particular needs and abilities is common sense.

Another article on sustainable gardening is in the works!

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