Monthly Archives: January 2012

Technique: Tumbleweed Tiny Houses

Jay Shafer is an interesting guy. One day he decided to build himself a small house (89 sq ft) and then travel with his house, eventually turning his experience into a business. He has since been designing and building small houses with his business “Tumbleweed Tiny Houses”, creating houses that are both mobile and stationary. His approach to design is simple: keep it small. Check out his blog to follow him on his small house living mission.

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Projects for the Week

Starting this week, and every Monday I will be posting the top 3 projects to explore for the week. I scour my favorites sites to find the best (small) DIY projects that are usually easy to handle during in a week. They will range from furniture, crafts, to home improvements. Enjoy:

Glass Bottle Coat Rack:

This is a great little project to use up those old bottles you might have laying around and adds some reuse charm to your place. My recommendation would be to use a nicer piece of wood that is being used in the instructional, perhaps something that compliments the color of the bottles that you choose to use.

Plant Light Stand:

This is good project for the “all year” gardener. It requires a little bit of extra space, but if you can make it work it’s a great way to grow your favorite herbs and small produce. This one might take a little longer than a week, and I may tackle this one myself so I’ll get back to you on total completion time.

Winterizing your home or apartment:

January is almost over and winterizing is something you would probably like to do before winter actually arrives, but honestly it’s never too late. And although you probably won’t do all of these before the end of the week, it’s always a good idea to understand what it means to make your place more energy efficient. At the very least read these useful tips and maybe tackle a few before the spring gets here.

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Review

Passive Houses (or Passihaus design) may be gaining more traction in the U.S. these days. After reading a recent article by TXCHNOLOGIST, and watching the short documentary, it’s good to see that someone is taking the initiative to broadcast the benefits of Passive Houses. Europe, specifically Germany, has been actively working with Passive House design since 1988. Here in the U.S. we typically use Energy Star, which uses energy efficient building methods, but is not nearly as efficient as Passive House standards. The fundamentals of Passive House are:

• Airtight construction
• High insulation value (thermal massing)
• Heat recovery ventilation
• Reduce thermal bridging
• High insulated windows

Currently the U.S. has its own Passive House Institute where users can be directed to Passive House consultants, articles, and other resources. Be sure to check out the documentary “Passive Passion” (only 21 minutes) if you get a chance.

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Technique: Rain Barrels


How can you harvest rainwater? Furthermore why would you want to collect rainwater? Consider a rainy season followed by weeks of severely dry weather, and you tend to a healthy, bountiful garden. Depending on where you live, a drastically dry summer can be detrimental to your garden and water bills, not to mention extremely wasteful. One of the details that I would like to add to the Micro-Studio design is a highly efficient rain barrel that will be connected the gutters system on the roof. The intent for the water collection system is to supply a garden, and for supplying a small shower. I was able to find a local supplier for rain barrel kits, based out of southern Maryland called “Aquabarrel”. I should be able to get a free (or very cheap) barrel from connection that I have, but I will definitely be purchasing the kit that the supplier sells. I will be following up with a tutorial on how to set-up the rain barrel kit, and later a step-by-step on the shower plumbing connection.

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Website of the Week

The Greenest Dollar website is an interesting read if you’re looking for ways to save money and help the environment at the same time, as their motto suggests. I originally found their site when looking for more information on container homes and found that the authors have actually published a book on shipping container homes. I plan on ordering the book and will post a review soon.

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Technique: Prefab done well

After reading about LV Prefab design in a November 2006 article of Dwell magazine, I wished I had come across this company a while ago. LV Prefab homes are the design ingenuity of Roccio Romero, an Architect by trade. The LV collection is both varied and sustainable. Based on the design specifications for the LV collection the following sustainable principles are integrated:

• High R-values for both walls (R38) and roof (R50)
• Large aperture/glazing for those that are looking for passive solar
• Easy integration of solar
• Smaller design for energy efficiency

Naturally prefab is a preferred choice to that of site built when considering construction waste and environmental impact. If prefab is a new concept to you check out the following article. So how does prefab relate to DIY? Well what LV prefab homes allows you to do is choose from several designs, and although they do arrive as a kit, there are still several steps that must be completed, which can be you. The nice thing about having a prefab home, as opposed to site built, is lower waste and shorter build time. If you’re considering a semi-DIY project or at least one that allows you to get a little more involved, then check out LV prefab designs.

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