Fantasising about our next house….

5 04 2013

As I sit here fantasising about selling this place for the big move, I continually design “the next house” in my head.  Beats getting angry at the mismanagement of the Matrix.  I thought I’d share some ideas with my readers who are growing in numbers at an amazing rate this month……..  must be doing something right!

I recently found this: 

Whilst I would not copy this exactly – it is wedge shaped rather than single room deep as I

Earth sheltered house

Earth sheltered house

want – it has inspired me to consider our next dwelling.  Furthermore, as a lot of concrete is involved – and we all know how greenhouse unfriendly that stuff is – I am considering the possibility of using a material designed in Tasmania that has been around for quite some time but has not taken off for reasons I have yet to establish:  TecEco Cement.


Solar gain through front glazing

Developed by John Harrison in Glenorchy, TecEco’s technologies, in John’s own words, “are part of an ambitious yet uniquely profitable and politically acceptable solution to the problems of global warming, water and waste we call Gaia Engineering which is a tececology that can save civilisation as we know it on our planet by changing materials flows and thus underlying damaging moleconomic flows resulting in carbon dioxide and other wastes becoming resources.”  Follow those links, and you will find more interesting stuff to read.

Obviously with no money and no block of land to build on, things are hardly moving just yet, but at least John has agreed to be involved when the time comes.  Only time will tell.  The economy has to hold together for starters!

There are several reasons why I want to build this way.  Since the last bout of Tasmanian bushfires, and as it is becoming recognised that Climate Change has made some permanent alterations to weather patterns down South, I have become particularly concerned about being bushfire proof.  An earth sheltered house seriously reduces exposure to fire by only having one side exposed to the elements.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThat one side, if facing the Equator (ie, North in Australia) can become the solar heater during the cool winter months, and with the use of double (or even triple) glazing, this solar gain can be trapped inside the house and stored in all that concrete such that the house never needs additional heating.  By sizing the eaves appropriately, it’s possible to exclude the sun altogether in Summer thus avoiding unwelcome heating at that time of the year.

A building like this can only be built on a North facing slope…..  and that’s what I’m looking for.  I have actually found several already!  All I need is a buyer for this place, which is tentatively “on the market” with a small ad in Grassroots magazine, soon to be followed by another in Earth Garden.

I’ve been feverishly finishing off Mon Abri with those details we put off for years, thinking we’d never ever sell and put up with as mere aesthetic bling….  like cornices and pelmets, and painting!  It may be bling to us, but I think it’s important that the next owner likes what s/he sees.  I am planning a page on this blog soon to market the property once I have enough quality photos to show it off properly.  So watch this space.




10 responses

6 04 2013

Good thinking, Mike. Saw a ‘Grand Designs’ episode where a similar design used earth-filled tires as the outer walls. Labour intensive, but used up a readily available & cheap resource.

6 04 2013

Ah yes, the classic Earthship……. If I was still 25, I’d do that. But I’m running out of time, and I haven’t got the energy to swing a sledge hammer all day long any more, and I doubt my friendship with the few Tasmanians that I have met would stretch to slave labour!

6 04 2013

All looks good Mike and I wish you well for your move to Tasmania. One thing though regarding “feverishly finishing off Mon Abri with those details we put off for years”. In a past life I was a real estate agent and warn against spending too much time or money on ‘titivating’ your current place. Buyers rarely compensate sellers for what they have done unless it is a complete renovation. Just get down to Tasmania and start living your dream. Cygnet and the Huon are best kept secrets that offer an enviable lifestyle that would be hard to find anywhere else in Australia.

6 04 2013

Hi Graham….. we’re just tidying up really. It makes my wife happy too, and that’s always a bonus! Plus I have to say there were one or two areas that always bugged me for looking “unfinished”, and now they look great.

Wouldn’t you think a potential buyer could say “well it’s not finished, is it, so I’m only gonna pay $XYZ…” I’ve probably only spent $600 on mouldings and paint, so it’s not like it’s a major expense either. Just time consuming, and what else can I do around here…?! 🙂

8 01 2015

Please stop recommending Cygnet and the Huon to climate refugees, we’re trying to keep it secret.

There are too many people here already. One can’t even guarantee a vacant parking spot outside the shops anymore.

The harbour is already full of over-fancy yachts and gin palace cruisers. Mercedes, BMWs and Audies crowd the main street. And when I saw the first windsock erected I knew we were doomed. It’s turning into Balmain.

Talk about killing the thing you love!

8 01 2015

Sorry Phil…… my wife says the same thing! The windsock’s a bit of a worry…

All in all, I’d blame the Gourmet Farmer myself, he must’ve done a whole lot more damage than I ever will…!

1 07 2015
Claire S

They wont last when they know how much work they will have to do to get by in the next 5 to 10 years.

Don’t worry ☺

6 04 2013

Good luck with that the transition south. Sooner the better I would think. We are also hoping to do the same. Straw bales is where the heart is. Earthship makes sense bar council red tape and long term back preservation. So with plenty of stone on site, it will more than likely be our mendium of choice.

23 10 2013
John Burtonclay

I wanted to build this type of house in 1985 near Bendigo on a bush block, but the local council wouldn’t hear of it for a variety of reasons, one being some rooms didn’t meet the requirement that windows have to be at least 1/8th of the floor space in any room. Wouldn’t accept skylights either. Main reason was it was new technology to them so they rejected it out of hand even when I offered to get an engineer to design the supporting walls and roof which I planned to cover with earth excavated from the site.. I have a perfect north facing slope too. So I built a mud brick house, but then they made me excavate the site and build the house in a hole when I wanted to build the front up. This has caused massive drainage problems at the rear of the house, and as a bonus, I have to climb several steps to get to ground level. Now I’m getting older, this is a major problem.

23 10 2013

Hi John….. welcome to DTM.

Human stupidity knows no bounds is my latest motto…. I anticipate problems with approval, I had my fair share with THIS house, and in the end got my way… I’m even thinking of not bothering with approval in Tassie if I can get the sort of land where nobody sees what’s going on…!

Once TSHTF, nobody will care what people like us do…..

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