From General

Like the ‘Blogroll’ category in the Links section, the ‘Uncategorized’ category of blog posts can be renamed but not deleted. If it is renamed be sure to update the category slug as well.

Fallgren Strawbale Home receives Zero Energy certification

On Jan 3, 2018, the Fallgren Home in Campo, CA, became the second building in Southern California to be awarded “Zero Energy Building” status through the International Living Future Institute. This third-party certification is based on actual performance data and verifies that the building uses less energy than it produces, as well as meets the program’s criteria for sensitive development, beauty, and education.

California has set a goal that all new residential buildings will be Zero Energy by 2020. This house is one example of how we can meet that goal using carbon-sequestering, non-toxic materials that are better for people and the environment.

Super-insulation, thoughtful design and careful construction mean that this home stays a comfortable temperature year round in this extreme climate while using little energy. The smaller than the average photovoltaic solar array (4.1 kW) provides almost twice as much electricity as this home uses even though every system in the home is electric (no gas or propane).

“When it was cold this winter, the house stayed at about 70° without any heat. When it got hot this summer, the house stayed at about 74° without air conditioning. It’s a very comfortable house.” – Brian Fallgren, Homeowner

This home is one of only 64 in the world to achieve this certification through ILIFI, a nonprofit working to build an ecologically-minded, restorative world for all people. Using principles of social and environmental justice, ILFI seeks to counter climate change by pushing for an urban environment free of fossil fuels. ILFI runs the Living Building Challenge, which is the world’s most rigorous green building standard, as well as the Zero Energy Building Certification (ZEB), the Living Product Challenge, and the Living Community Challenge. The ILFI ZEB certification draws from the Living Building Challenge and is a highly rigorous and regarded standard in its own right.

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New legislation about “guest houses” in San Diego!

Whether you call them guest houses, granny flats, or second dwelling units, there’s some exciting news about them! New legislation passed in CA lifts some of the restrictions around these units, which are now all called Accessory Dwelling Units (ADU’s).

Two of the most exciting features of the new rules, which went into effect on Jan 1st, are that ADU’s are now allowed to be as big as 50% of the square footage of the main house instead of 30% and, if the project is located close to public transportation, the requirement to provide extra onsite parking has been waived. The new rules also make permitting an ADU faster and less expensive. A permitted ADU can legally be rented out, generating steady income for the owner.

Most jurisdictions count square footage of living space to the inside of the walls, so the thick walls of a  strawbale building wouldn’t be counted in the maximum square footage calculations. Even if your home is smaller than 800 sq feet, most jurisdictions will allow you to build a 400 sq ft ADU, as long as you can meet the zoning and setback requirements.

This could be huge for San Diego’s affordable housing crisis! Now combine that with natural, non-toxic, low-carbon building and we can do something real to address our growing population in a more sustainable way.

If you would like to explore the possibility of building a high-performance, non-toxic ADU on your property, we’d be happy to help you evaluate your options.

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Workshops for the tiny strawbale building for Coral Tree Farm

We’re excited to be making progress on the 120 sq foot turmeric growing building for Coral Tree Farm. We held three wonderful workshops already (framing, straw bales, and clay base plaster) and are looking forward to the Finish Clay Plaster workshop on 8/12. As of 8/8, there is only one spot left in the finish clay plaster workshop, so register soon if you are interested in participating (link to registration).

foundation work
the framing workshop
the straw bale workshop
progress on the clay base plaster
Bales are in, ready for plaster
The last workshop

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Intro to Carpentry for Women

Back by popular demand! Click here to see what the previous students had to say about this class.

Learn how to safely and effectively use basic hand and power tools in a fun, supportive environment while building a small workbench to take home with you. 

No previous experience with carpentry or fractions required. All tools will be provided for your use during the class. The cost of the ticket includes the cost of the materials for your workbench. Taught by Rebecca Tasker, a general contractor and co-owner of Simple Construct Naturally Healthy Homes. Note: closed-toed, sturdy shoes are required. 

Class size is limited to 4 students so register soon!

 

Intro to Carpentry Class for Women – sold out!

This class sold out in less than 24 hours so it seems like there is enough interest to do another one soon. If you would like to be notified, make sure to join our mailing list (at bottom of this page). Thanks!

Click here to see photos and hear what the students had to say about this class.

Learn how to safely and effectively use basic hand and power tools in a fun, supportive environment while building a small workbench to take home with you.

No previous experience with carpentry or fractions required. All tools will be provided for your use during the class. The cost of the ticket includes the cost of the materials for your workbench. Taught by Rebecca Tasker, a general contractor and co-owner of Simple Construct Naturally Healthy Homes. Note: closed-toed, sturdy shoes are required. Class size is limited to 5 students so register soon! Sorry, this class is full.

Sale 25% off clay plaster for your home now through Feb 28th

Clay plaster is gorgeous, durable, non-toxic, and environmentally friendly. It is anti-static, easily repaired, and even helps moderate indoor humidity. It can be made in a wide range of colors and textures and can be installed right over most painted or new drywall in conventional homes. Check out what our clients and colleagues have to say.

We’ve spent the last few months formulating a new recipe for our interior finish clay plaster and training talented new clay plaster artisans and now we’re geared up to rock some beautiful clay plaster for you! To get you excited too, we’re offering our first-ever sale:

25% off materials and installation of interior finish clay plaster!

Contact us today to explore beautiful, healthy clay plaster for your home. More info about clay plaster…


Details: Receive 25% off of the total cost of installing a maximum of 800 square feet interior finish clay plaster, excluding custom color samples and pigment charges. Although clay plaster can be installed over many surfaces, not every situation is appropriate for clay plaster and Simple Construct reserves the right to decline any project. Sale ends midnight (PST) February 28th, 2017.


Straw Bale Tiny Accessory Building – coming in 2017!

Here’s a fun animation of a 120 square foot tiny hybrid straw bale and straw-clay building that we’ve designed. We’re planning to build this one in northern San Diego County in 2017 and will have a number of workshops during the construction. We’re still working out the details but, if you are interested and would like to know more, make sure you are on our email list (scroll to the bottom of this page)!