Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Catching Up

Since my last post in November these are highlights of what has happened:
  • In April I attended rammed earth workshop by Quentin Branch, owner of Rammed Earth Solar Homes in Oracle, Arizona.  The site of the workshop is Quentin's house which has been built by a succession of workshop participants.  Much of the technical heavy lifting for rammed earth construction has been done by Quentin over the past four decades.  What started out as a quixotic endeavor in the 1960's has grown into a very respectable body of knowledge which the rammed earth community draws on for projects around the world.
  • Two weeks ago I hired a draftsman.  I was going to hand draw my plans but my first attempt in March convinced me that I just can't draw quickly enough.  Hand drawing also doesn't allow for quick and easy alterations to the design, something this project needs.  The person I hired, Paul Martinez, has almost 30 years experience and it shows.  He's quick, insightful, and knows what I mean even when I can't quite find the right words.
  • We began the process of obtaining financing with Johnson Bank.
  • I took initial topographical readings of my lot.  It was obvious that it had a slight drop from east to west.  Now I know that slope is 6 inches across the width of the lot, much of it in the western 50 feet.  For my purposes the lot is essentially level and I won't have to step my footings.  I will however need to level it for irrigation purposes.
  • I've begun searching for a mechanical engineer.   I had asked around using my industry contacts but hadn't found an engineer to hire.  So I wrote to an ASU professor, Dr. Patrick Phelan who put me in touch with a few people who have said they are interested in helping me.  Last week I had lunch with Marcus Myers and he had so many great ideas its going to take me another week to look up the words he used!
  • I'm going to meet with a subcontractor who specializes in systems integration.  I know there are great things going on in building automation, energy management, access, communications, entertainment, etc.  Hopefully, even if I can't afford the whole package immediately I can install the proper infrastructure to add it later.
  • I've met with Steve Rafalski at Jones Concrete who is going to give me a good dose of reality by telling me what my pipe dream of rammed earth and insulated concrete panels will cost.  We also discussed the idea of creating the overhangs using wood trusses to save money.  The insulated concrete would end in the middle of the exterior wall and wood trusses would project out, creating the overhang.
Here is the floor plan so far.

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