Organic Cottages are a trend I think you will be hearing more about as we are forced to delineate between the idea of Tiny Houses on Wheels which the TV shows have made popular and the tiny houses that are not on wheels and are intended for living in full time. The idea of creating sustainable houses that could be transported but are not road vehicles is one I have built over 70 houses upon. Some have weighed in at over 20,000 lbsand others well under 5,000 lbs. The possibilities are many, and all have been built with 95% Pure Salvage. Two trailers have delivered 65 houses so why waste a trailer under just one house. For those that find their new homestead quickly, the axles and trailers will have little meaning later and will likely go to waste as they will seldom be used to move the house, but are tied to it for life.
Given the incredible reduction in airspace when the people move into tiny houses on wheels or others that are sealed up rather air tight, one should perhaps consider how much air one needs to survive. What quality of air would you like to breath? Consider the formaldehyde, plasticizers, vinyl, glues, and other materials that outgas into a very tiny breathing space, then factor in that the children under 8 have no blood brain barrier to keep these chemicals from getting into their brains while youngsters and hurting their brains for life. It is critical people understand the dangers caused by the environment that outgassing creates when the immune systems are compromised when they are stressed out by having to give up their homes they have been in for decades. After years of abusing our immune systems, the Baby Boomer generation is going to have to pay attention their houses as Lupus, Fibromyalgia, and other immune system or health issues plague them as they enter their 50’s and 60’s. Tiny Houses, if not built properly, will only aggravate the problem and result in consequences that few seem to be anticipating. Soon the evidence will be undeniable and the home being built as toxin free as possible will become a big issue for those that care about their health and that of those they love who share their tiny homes with them.
We should look at the environment we create for people that we call a home, as a due diligence owed to the people by the builders and the companies that create the materials being used to construct the typical houses being built today. Factoring the ecological, health, and energy costs of the materials we use is a responsible form of diligence that can be done if one sets their mind to it, but few builders do. As responsible stewards of the world and the continual call for stopping the pollution, imports of the last rain forests, issues of toxins created in the processing of the aluminum, vinyl, sheetrock, glass, etc. I suggest that we measure the cost of energy used to create and then separately, the energy required to live in housing, not just the amount we use after we move in, then perhaps we can make people more aware of the true costs of our houses from an energy, resources, and human energy perspective.The should calculate the cost to create glass, plastics, vinyl windows, wiring, tubs, sinks, numerous parts, and the trees it takes to build as well. These are the energy costs that amount to more than what you will use while living in the house for decades, and likely, by the time the house is 15 years old, the ac system, carpet, roof, water heater, fogged up energy efficient windows, and many other parts will already need to be replaced, thus the added energy costs to create, ship, stock, sell, and install them adds to the superficial costs of operating a house for heating and cooling, which is all that is used now to determine the efficiency of a house. Seems rather short sighted to not calculate the costs of the materials it takes to build it in addition to the living costs after it is built when the former cost is the greater of the two. So the 15 or 20 year life of one product versus the 100 year life of another becomes more meaningful in the equation since the materials might create a structure with 3 times the lifespan and is using 1/10th of the resources, the impact is much greater.
Now, if you can build a house with 95% of the parts costing you a total of 40 gallons of diesel fuel in energy, whether used to run the generator to de-nail the wood, to run the saws to build the house, the nail guns to shoot out and shoot in the new nails, or the few other new parts needed to build an organic sustainable house. The 5% of new items required are screws, nails, underlayment for exterior walls, insulation, wiring, and plumbing. The fewer materials you create anew to build a house with, the lower the energy and resource component in the bigger energy equation. Make the tiny houses energy efficient as well as organic, sustainable, and healthy… you have a paradigm shift in thinking about how to calculate the real cost of housing to the planet. IF 40 gallons of fuel, truly a small amount of energy released to manifest 95% of the house means that it costs 1 gallon of diesel per year of its first 40 years of its potential 100 year lifespan.
Better still is the amount of energy saved before the house was built by not having to create the other parts as well. For example, the cast iron sink that is 60 lbs with a thick porcelain coating on it was salvaged thus the savings by not having to create cast iron from iron ore, cast the sink in a mold, put it through a kiln to bake on the thick porcelain, and ship it to Texas from the far away foundries that create it. Add to that the average additional cost of going through the marketing chain from China where it likely would be made, ships, warehouses, big box stores, and eventually though the builder into the house cost equation, including advertising cost for all of the entities involved to make it all happen.
The true cost of the sink from a resource and energy cost is huge, human energy is still great, and thus, the old sink that would have been scrapped comes to life again to save the energy it took to make it, and bank it toward the future. The heat and fuel it took to create it is enough to fuel the entire energy needs of the organic energy efficient house it goes into for more than 50 years alone. The savings by not having to make new glass and cut trees to create the wooden windows that are rather energy efficient once weather stripped, again, enough to heat and cool the home for 15 years for it take a whole lot of energy to melt sand into glass. That does not value or mention the human energy required to blow the bubbles in a pit, lift it to the table, cut it and unroll it to create sheets of glass as they did up until 1919.
If one saves as much energy as a house would use in 100 years before it is built by not having to create the materials it will take to build it, and it only cost you 40 gallons of diesel fuel and some human energy to accomplish that feat, wouldn’t it make sense to promote that sort of building on a national scale. That would be the target, knowing it is possible, thus some could or shoot for something lower but similar in scope if one could not attain that high of a percentage of salvaged materials in the total construction. How do we inspire that sort of thinking and a shift in the paradigm that is presently dominating the building materials industry, the one of all new materials, imported, and without any significant points to count or regard for the energy it takes to bring it together in a house as part of the Energy Star and LEEDs rating systems. Once we transition to calculating the total cost to build a house, the savings from salvage and reward people for building with this standard in mind, we can create an industry from what is now trash.
If you tract the value of the materials that go into the landfill and see what taxes get paid on the building materials that now comprise 50% of the landfills across the country. They pay nothing in property taxes nor for the loss of resources, the release of carbon there after, or the pollution from the sites. If we take 25% of the landfills, just half of the building materials presently going into the landfill and use them to build houses instead that deserve the same tax free status as the trash in the landfill for the benefits to the planet in savings that they thus create. They keep the carbon trapped in the old growth lumber we can save, the siding, glass that was formed with coal pulled from the mines by 12 year olds, and respect the enormous human energy it took by our forefathers to create all of it. We respect them and the giant trees 4′ across and over a hundred feet tall by not throwing the lumber they were turned into long before the end of its usable lifespan. If we throw it away, there is no more. Instead, if we gave a lifetime tax exemption for what ever portion of a house that was salvage, people would be clamoring for 95% Pure Salvage, not just 40% so they could live in a tiny Organic Cottage for the rest of their lives. These are the sorts of legitimate rewards we need to offer the retiring baby boomers so that they have a choice in saving the world for the kids to come and being rewarded for using up what would have filled badly needed landfill space so that we do not have to build more landfills.
The concept of Pure Salvage Outposts are simply Resource Banks that people can gather the salvage in, barter, share knowledge, labor, and skills to help each other not only create houses, but communities where skills like teaching can be bartered for house parts, help, clothing and food if needed. Each person has something to offer in such a co op and all have much to gain. The common resources stored to build organic houses, mostly at the cost of human energy, not new resources, and the tools and spaces to build in, common trailer and truck to ship with, and the community to support each person in their progress to new skills and self sufficiency. Why not fund it with the gifts left to us by our ancestors, old houses, barns, and buildings full of treasure we could not otherwise afford?
This is my vision, my dream, for the Pure Salvage Living Renaissance to spread so all may share in the benefits of building incredible houses out of salvage and in doing so, empowering the masses to all have what they need, and know they are preserving the future of the planet for the generations that will follow. How better can we respect those who came before us, share the planet with us, and all it took to make these miracles possible every day?
If you have not heard the Song of Salvage in the two versions available as Music Videos…. Please do take a moment and enjoy them as they are full of great pictures and have a great tune to go with them.
and the other by Johnny B and the Apostles of Salvage…
Thanks for sharing the vision and perhaps helping it manifest in your part of the world.