RE: [hreg] More on Solar House
- Kevin: I appreciate your comments, because a project like this will be
difficult. But this will be a test of the mettle of this group. I like the
combination of a member wanting to build the house and members with a common
goal to efficiently utilize renewable energy. So we have a client with money
(maybe not a lot, but enough to cover the basics of a house), then with
enough group energy we could go after the extras and see what happens. I
agree that Charlie would be facing a daunting challenge to take this on by
himself in this town, and even working with us, he has the lion's share of
the work. So it makes sense that he is trying to get some idea of
commitment from the group. What do you all think?
From: Kevin L. Conlin [mailto:kconlin@...]
Sent: Friday, August 11, 2000 1:53 PM
Subject: Re: [hreg] More on Solar House
Hi Charlie, This is in response to your solar house idea. I think your
ideas are good, but are you aware that award winning solar demonstration
homes have already been built in Houston? Not PV powered, but with
appropriate technology. You will have to find a progressive builder to
cooperate with you on the project, but more importantly, how will you fund
it? I think you will find there is a very distinct chasm between peoples
interest and their financial support. Also, if you were expecting the
professional members of the HREG to contribute their time and expertise,
you're basically asking them to work for free, and I don't think that will
be well received. It will be up to you to make this happen, your will and
perseverance, your vision, and your money. As for public interest, this is
not a solar conscious town, nor is it particularly interested in
environmentally friendly technologies. You would have a better chance of
gaining public support and funding in Austin. I know many in this group will
disagree, but we are the exceptions, not the norm. I'm not trying to throw
a wet blanket on your idea, but I think you need to be realistic, think it
through, develop a house plan and business plan, and approach it like you
cannot fail. Try to think in terms of how the technology you utilize could
be transferred and valuable, for example, could you build a prototype prefab
cottage that could be replicated in the eco-tourism industry? Something
that could be shipped anywhere in a shipping container and erected in
minimal time with little technical savvy? This is just one angle, try to
take advantage of an emerging trend that can benefit from what you want to
build. I realize my response is more philosophical than technical, but I've
seen a lot of "solar demonstration homes" in my career that have not been
successful, the biggest reason being that this is the most difficult part of
the country to utilize solar technologies in residential construction.
Combined with an apathetic populace, well, you've got your work cut out for
you. Good luck. Kevin Conlin
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Friday, August 11, 2000 8:18 AM
Subject: [hreg] More on Solar House
> The email yesterday was kind of "off the top of my head". I'm so tired of
> trying to find the "right" place to live that when the thought came
> why not just build one? - it was kind of exciting and I sent it out before
> trying to work out any details. I have had some further thoughts and would
> like to share them too.
> Just researching what all should go into such a house would be a real
> but since we have lots of experts here, we could probably do that pretty
> easily. Some of you guys may even have some pretty complete stuff on this
> available from your files and previous studies. It sould also be a great
> project we could all work on together and maybe even generate some
> for HREG.
> Of course the big hurdle would be cost. If you include everything - energy
> efficient applicances and lighting, thermopane glass, filtered air to
> all allergens, a water purification system, etc. - I assume it must be
> prohibitively expensive; otherwise why doesn't anyone build such houses?
> not sure how much more it would cost. Maybe someone has a guestimate? Half
> again the cost of a regular house? Twice as much?
> Anyway, I was wondering - why not make it a demo house for manufacturers,
> contractors, etc who are interested in this kind of thing? I could offer
> have open house - say every other Sunday from 10am to 6pm or whatever for
> year or two - and let them put out their literature and bring prospective
> clients by. Hopefully they would give a sizeable discount on their
> and services in return for showing how their stuff really looks in
> with someone living there. If this were a really first class job with lots
> media coverage, it might be worth a lot to them.
> Or it might be a duplex with one side a demo and me in the other.
> customers could spend a few days living there just to see how they liked
> or some other member of this group might want to live in the other side
> we could alternate making our units available on Sundays as a public demo.
> I could go on with this kind of stuff but don't guess there's much point
> until I see if there is much interest. So far Steve Stelzer has responded
> positively. Sure would appreciate some feedback - pro or con - from
> Charlie Mauch
> Charlie Mauch
- You might check the holdings of Chelsea Green Publishing; they have some
wonderful books about houses, including straw bale and cob, and things
that go with them. Their books are very affordable, too. You can find
them on the web.
and if you ever got to Hawley, Texas, you could ask around and find a
determined woman (a very small one) who had nothing but sandy land and
access to old tires, so she built herself a 4000 square foot house of
tires and sand. It is sort of round and has conventional windows. She
just bolted the tires together, using them like bricks and filling them
with sand. The roof is metal. Somebody else did the roof and windows but
she mostly did it herself. I haven't seen it finished but it is pretty
awe-inspiring. Hawley is near Abilene.
- Lets research details and cost, then put the idea out. This is a wonderful
idea and needs to be presented right. David's response highlighted some
details that might be necessary in a project such as this but funding will be
the mean issue. Again, this is a good topic for the next meeting.