We had never planned to build ourselves a large home, but after roughly calculating the square footage of our future home we are looking at about 1600 square feet of living space. Going from a 41ft sailboat, and then a 23ft travel trailer, this seems quite an excessive amount of space. Eben and I have both questioned our reasoning for all this space when we are perfectly happy living in a small travel trailer! But what it comes down to is that A) we love to host. We want to have a comfortable guest room and enough living space that guests will come and stay with us for extended periods of time without feeling like they are in our way. And B) we are building this home ourselves, so outside of raw materials, a little extra space will not amount to a huge $ difference in the long run.
The home we are going to be building is planned to be a beautiful conglomeration of a few different ideas, or so we hope it turns out beautiful! It is hard to explain, so bear with me.
Our first level will be made up of a 40ft shipping container which will run along the back of the house, with a semi-circular wall jutting out from the seacan, spanning it from tip to tip. On this lower level we plan to have two bedrooms (our master and the girls room), a bathroom, a utility room (for batteries and such running our solar system and wood for the stove), and possibly a small play area. We have already purchased our shipping container and are just waiting until we have levelled the land to bring it in.
We had originally planned on doing the semi-circular wall out of packed tires, which would then be plastered. The idea, dumbed down, is that you take used car tires, pack them full of clay, stack them to the height of your wall, and then backfill/berm the outside of the wall to give it support and insulation. But after talking it over with Jair and Mel we realized that this method, although economical and very DIY, may not be our best option, given that we do not want to backfill the entire lower level of the house as we envision both the bedrooms having large windows or even private patios. This means we are back at the drawing board of what we would like this first level of our home made out of. Should we go cordwood? Should we build a regular home since Eben has framing experience? Should we go log? So many options when you are doing it yourself! We still have a lot of research to do on this subject and have not committed to anything yet.
The second “floor” of our home will actually be made up of a yurt. We thought we would off-set it a bit from the seacan (giving more space on the lower level). The extra square footage of the lower lever that is not covered by the yurt, will become a large second floor outdoor living space/deck. With the views we have surrounding our home we plan to have many outdoor gatherings and want to have a comfortable space to do so. We envision it having an outdoor lounge/patio set, a fireplace, a bbq, and dinning table. (The deck will be huge!) Inside the yurt, on the main level there will be the kitchen, living room, and guest room. In the yurt loft, we will have a play space for the kids and possibly a pullout couch for more guests. We aren’t joking, we like having guests!
Since we’re building on a mountain side we have a lot of digging and ground levelling to do before the shipping container can be plopped into its permanent spot. We figure, since it’s already snowing, that levelling the ground and getting the container in there is about as much as we will manage to do before the cold gets too cold for us. At that point we will store all of our things in the seacan and head back to the boat for the winter, returning to continue the build once Canada has thawed out in Spring.
We are still in the early phase of the build (clearing and levelling the land), but that hasn’t stopped us from envisioning our completed dream home and collaborating with certain companies to make our dream a reality. Through many hours and emails we have some amazing people supporting what we are doing. To get the ball rolling we needed tools and work clothes, STIHL and Dickies jumped onboard. Inside our home we wanted the same luxurious comfort covering our floor as we have on our boat, Infinity LWV. Not only will we be using them for our flooring, but we will use their newest fabric as the outer shell of our yurt. To keep us warm we have gone with the top of the line insulation for a yurt (because I am a wimp when it comes to the cold!), Astro-Therm. For the roof of our yurt we will be using Naizil vinyl, a Canadian company making great vinyl. To heat the inside of our home we have a RAIS stove, which is as much an accent piece as it is a heating element. To give us hot water from a tap (hooray!!!!) Marey’s tankless water heater best suited our desires. To be able to drink the water we catch and get from the river, we’ll be using a Viqua uv-filter to keep us safe. To rest our heads on at night, Obasan, sent us the comfiest pillows ever. And for all those evenings of wine-sipping on our deck, we will do so around our Zen fireplace by Dreamcast. The puzzle pieces are coming together and we envision our “land home” to be something of comfort and luxury, as well as being eco and as green as we can make it.