joshua tree workshop 2018

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Building on lousy, steep, marshy, or difficult land plots

Since a good chunk of the tiny house movement is based in thrift and economy- "living on less, with less, for less", as I always say- I thought this one single photo here might be a good piece of inspiration to show you that even the lousiest hunk of land (and thereby the most affordable!) can be buildable- it just takes a little imagination, with a dash of guts in some cases.

I can't find a credit for this one, so I'll just take the liberty of dubbing it "The Soil Yourself House". Those afraid of heights need not apply! I LOVE this place- its incredibly daring.
 Photo: The downside....carrying in building materials, and supplies would be a nightmare. The bright side: what a view this place would have! -and vandals might be less likely to strike for fear of falling to their demise!
Other potential approaches and solutions for less-savory terrain include....

-Stilt-houses for marsh territories (A pole house approach, but using treated timbers, or concrete pilings).

-Floating homes- Can't afford land? Build a houseboat, OR, build a houseboat to sit atop a flood plain piece of land. This way you're not disturbing wetlands by most laws/regions, and if you land ever floods, Noah's Ark-style, you need not worry.

-Cantilevered homes (and/or on poles)- I've seen this done (even "bridge-style")) with a good many shipping container homes.

-Buying in less populated/desert areas- New Mexico, for example (I own a piece of land in NM (1/2 acre) that I bought about ten years ago for a mere $500.00). Sure, its in the middle of a nuclear testing site, but it was cheap! No, its perfectly safe, and even very picturesque. You might not be near a major metropolitan area with this approach (which you may prefer), or much of anything, but its one means to an end. My Vermont land, I bought it when I was 21/22 for $11,500 (cash- I had saved awhile)- a 10.5 acre plot. Phil Garlington's book "Rancho Costa Nada" might appeal to those looking to head to ultra-affordable scrub-lands as their path of action.

-Hillside Dugout Homes- Self explanatory, and see Mike Oehler's brilliant "The $50 and Up Underground House Book" for more on this (below).

-Tree Houses- If the trees are large enough and well rooted enough, why not?? If you're out of sight too, in a rural region, what building inspector is going to find, or find, then climb, to your plot to heckle you? Hilly lands can also make tree house access EASIER, if you chose, as you can simply build a walkway from the rising land behind the structure, to enter it without having to climb a ladder, or stairs, at all- and think of the view you might have! The now viral/famous "Hemloft" tree house uses this approach.

A hillside tree house from the German firm Bauhaus
 -TIER Your Structure to conform to the land. Look at the many terraced villages in Italy, and elsewhere, its worked well for them, even in a farming sense, so why not?

-Building into/onto boulders! If the terrain is too rocky, build atop and amongst the rocks, with a carbide drill bit, a collar, and some cement, you can affix footings to giant rocks rather easily, and most of these monoliths, structure-wise, won't be moving anytime soon.