Some Questions were asked of me recently and they make sense so I am passing my answers on to others who may be wondering about some of these things too.
1. What began your journey to building tiny houses from salvaged material?
Being poor. My first house I built was inside of a school bus and the materials all gathered from building sites that was being thrown away. That was in 1981 before I set off after college to write the great American novel in one day and travel to market after self publishing it. Along the way I learned I needed to make a million dollars first so I became an entrepreneur for a few decades, though I reached my goal in the first five years. My journey in salvage has continued ever since I was 6 years old when I first climbed in dumpsters to salvage the toys and stuff other families had to leave behind when the Army shipped them home from Germany. Family weight limit for shipping was 2,500 lbs and all else went to yard sale or in the dumpster.
Later when I was dead broke after getting my college degree and not being able to get a job while living in a bus, I ate out of dumpsters as well as found the materials and stuff to sell at the flea market to fix it when it blew a motor and make my way to Austin, Texas where I finally settled down to make money doing the same thing with houses as a real estate broker and eventually redeveloper of small condemned houses. Eventually that led to creating an architectural antiques store that became the largest of its kind, Discovery Architectural Antiques (135,000 sf under roof). From there I started Tiny Texas Houses to prove we could do more than what Tumbledweed houses was doing as the movement was beginning for Tiny Houses On Wheels. My choice was to take a different path where the health of the inhabitants and resources of the planet were considered, the costs in human and fossil or electrical energy involved in making them, how long they would last, and how hard to transport them if they needed to be, thus built to travel down the road just in case.
2. We were recently introduced to the idea that off gassing/low oxygen levels may be more of a health concern in tiny houses. Do you have any thoughts on that?
I was one of the first to bring this up years ago and yell CAUTION but the industry blew my tune out the door. http://puresalvageliving.com/tiny-houses-on-wheels-and-the-air-quality-inside-simple-mathyuck/
3. You mention in your “What is pure salvage living” video, by using salvaged goods, you can minimize toxicity. Can you explain how that works?
The videos on how to become a salvage miner, a salvage builder, what to watch out for when doing either, and other consideration are all taken into account as I cover the issues and benefits of converting to a Pure Salvage Living ethos.
No new chemicals created to make 95% of the materials used to build with also means no coal, fossil fuel, or energy required to create the windows, doors, siding, floors, sinks, tubs, hardware, and many more parts that were salvaged and can be used with nothing more than human energy applied. No new paint used in many cases, no new formaldehyde cabinets, flooring, or toxic sheetrock that 4of 5 landfills will no longer take as it creates Hydrogen Sulfide when buried without air and later getting wet. We do not have vinyl giving off endocrine disruptive compounds that mimic estrogen in the limited air space. We do not have dangerous electrical fields generated from the walls, floors, and ceilings that cause inflammation in the body, and the pineal gland to not function properly at night and produce the essential Melatonin that the body needs to dream and heal while sleeping. Likewise no latex paint that outgases acrylic acid gases that are harmful to people, especially those with Lupus or Fibro Myalgia or whose immune systems are already compromised. It is a path I hope will help us create a new generation free of immune system disorders and cancer by pursuing all the avenues toward a more organic way of living by creating sustainable housing and preserving the best of our past rather than throwing it away as we are learning how truly valuable and irreplaceable the resources we are throwing away are, and how we can empower people while turning the tables around and creating new solutions instead of new problems.
There is more, but these are just a few of the benefits that come with salvaged materials over new.
More important is the concept of embodied energy, both human and fuel, that were consumed to make the products we use that are salvaged, the trees that were cut two centuries ago and by then, 500 years old and not to be found in America today or near future. We save the energy of the coal pulled out of the mines by 12 year olds, the wood sawn by the giant saw blades sharpened by 12 year olds in a day when they, like their dads, worked 362 days a year for tokens, not cash in the dollar form in the lumber industry in Texas or the coal industry in Virginia. It was a time when our ancestors had a sense of pride in craftsmanship that came from Europe, where we immigrants that took over this country came from, at the cost of the Native Americans who hosted and helped the original immigrants before they were annihilated by them. Does history repeat itself? I pray we can learn from it and save the treasures of the past knowledge, hard work, and brave heart that has made our lives to day possible. I now hope we can pass along the best of the past to build the future with instead of the worst of it which seems to be what the politicians in American and Global Corporations have in mind. Help us keep the future of millions out of the landfills while there is still enough available to house, employ, and feed millions of people across this land.
4. You state that one of your intents is to build “healthy houses,” what does that mean to you?
I spoke of the air in the article above.
The more exhaustive toxins discussion and how the Tiny House Industry has openly ignored and seemingly denied the serious consequences to their buyers over these products.
5. Have you had any pushback from zoning and/or building codes?
I stay away from bureaucracy if possible and when we have had to do battle, they always win because it is in their sandbox. Loopholology is the only path I know of to getting to build and live in an Organic Cottage as the rules are designed to force everyone to go to the big box store, use global corporations and imported products to build with, and be forced to do so through the code they write to force people to build bigger houses than they need out of toxic materials. Like junk food, you can get the square footage up front, the energy efficiency while living in it until it becomes obsolete on schedule and has to be replaced with more toxic products. Tiny Houses do not offer that luxury of the extra air to offset the toxins, and in fact the bigger houses to not either, thus the growing health issues in rich and poor who live in them.
The system of code enforcement is designed around an industry dictating how the public will build, and not with the best interests of the people but the corporate profit margins are their sole concern. When the public wakes up to the true cost of letting themselves be sold houses that will make them sick and cost more to maintain in 15 years than they did to live in because all systems, from AC to windows, will fail as well as their health in many cases.
Organic Houses are like Organic Food …. in that you can not expect great health without paying attention to how both affect you and your loved ones. Failing to tell the customer the dangers of the materials used to build a house and then live in it is nearly criminal in my book because it leaves the ignorant buyer making a critical life decision without all of the facts that the creator had a due diligence to learn and share because it is his business and thus as a professional, he should know the consequences to the people who will live in the home he builds. Pretending otherwise is simply a way to rationalize making big profits off from using crappy materials.
6. What is your ultimate vision for Pure Salvage?
To see the next generations that follow us respect the treasures of the past, the ancestors who created it, and the perspective that we owe it to the last 7 and next 7 generations to respect what we have and pass it along in better shape than when we took stewardship of it if at all possible.
Showing people how to enter a new era of Peace and Prosperity with the key component, our respect for our planet and preservation of the environment so that our children can live free of the growing consequences of our pollution and destruction.
The Pure Salvage Living Renaissance is about creating a new mindset about how we build, live, and grow the future through empowering the people, teaching them how to live organically and break free from a cycle of consumerism that has breached the levels sustainable by our planet’s limited resources.
This gives you some idea up front where I would go with the present path of downsizing but there are special considerations to keep in mind so:
The issue of trailers is another story too and should be addressed in any discussion of that breed called THOWS.
and an article of the general sort on the subject.