From permalinks

Plastering Earthbag Walls – a hands-on workshop 11/3/18

Learn about mixing and applying plaster to earthbag walls from trained professionals in a fun and supportive environment while helping to build a real project. During this 1-day workshop, you will learn the whys and hows of this low-impact, sustainable building technique and have a chance to put that knowledge into action.

earthbag courtyard wall

Spend the day on a beautiful 10-acre property in Campo, CA (an hour East of San Diego) with other natural building enthusiasts, enjoy a delicious healthy home-cooked lunch, and learn while helping to mix and apply high-lime cement plaster to the earthbag landscaping wall around the courtyard of an award-winning Net Zero Energy strawbale home. The day will be a mix of talking about building and hands-on doing. This is a rare opportunity to participate in a real build where your safety and education are the primary focus. No previous construction experience is required. All tools will be provided for your use during the workshop.

Fallgren Strawbale Home

Get your ticket here!

Simple Construct has run numerous strawbale building and natural plaster classes and workshops (see testimonials here). After hosting a successful earthbag building workshop in September, we are excited to add plastering earthbag walls, another practical and affordable technique, to the workshop offerings. This workshop will be taught by Rebecca Tasker and Mike Long, owners of Simple Construct, who each have more than 10 years experience in clay, lime, and high-lime cement plaster. They will be assisted by Nathan Wright and Wade Lucas who are graduates of Cal-Earth Institute‘s SuperAdobe apprenticeship program who studied all aspects of this form of earth building while helping to build and teach others at CalEarth’s campus in Hesperia, CA. Since leaving CalEarth, they have helped to build 9 SuperAdobe projects and have worked for Simple Construct building with straw bales and plastering with clay.

a window in an earthbag wall

The address will be provided with registration. There is a 10% discount for couples/partners. Attendees of our earthbag workshop will be sent an additional discount code. Cancellations with 7 or more days notice before the event will receive a refund minus a $25 administration fee. If you would like to attend but cannot afford the full price, contact us to discuss the limited scholarship and work-study possibilities.

We look forward to building with you!

Rebecca & Mike

– Rebecca & Mike

Want to visit a strawbale house, touch clay plaster, or sit on a cob bench? Green Homes Tour 10/21/18

Interested in seeing some of our work in person? Here’s your chance: three projects we worked on will be open to the public on the Green Homes Tour on Sunday, Oct 21, 2018, from 10 am – 4 pm. The Tour is an annual event hosted by the San Diego chapter of the Green Building Council and, this year features a total of 13 homes all over the county. More info and tickets here: http://usgbc-sd.org/event-3042748

“Net Zero, Naturally” video about the Fallgren home

1. The Fallgren Net Zero Strawbale Home in Campo: Simple Construct designed and built this turn-of-the-last-century rancho style home. With strawbale walls, exquisite salvaged wood details, and all natural finishes, this homes is not just energy-efficient it is also a feast for the eyes. After a year of monitoring, it earned the Net Zero Energy Building certification through the Living Building Challenge, a third-party certification that verifies that the house uses less energy than it produces. In 2018, this project was honored with a Leadership in Energy Efficiency Award, watch the short video 

* Earthbag courtyard wall: If you are interested in earthbag construction, you have yet another reason to visit the Fallgren home in Campo. We are in the process of building a 6′ tall earthbag wall that will enclose the future outdoor kitchen, seating area, and raised bed vegetable gardens.


2. The Martin-Lynn Strawbale Home in Jamul: Simple Construct installed the straw bales, lath, and plaster on this lovely 3 bedroom, 2 bath custom home designed and built by TNT Custom Builders. The home features peeled posts, stained concrete floors, fine woodworking, and gorgeous clay-plastered strawbale walls. Though not quite finished, it’s clear this will be a stunningly beautiful, energy-efficient natural home.

 


3. The Ponizil-Berlfein Green Renovation in Encinitas: Simple Construct assisted with a deep-energy retrofit of this typical San Diego home, helping to air-seal and reinsulate the roof. We also installed beautiful clay plaster in two rooms and built a cob/adobe seating area in the backyard.

 

 

 

 

 

 


We hope to see you one the Green Homes Tour!

Saving the world with carbon-smart materials like straw

Architecture 2030 chart of the impacts of various forms of insulation

It sounds far-fetched at first, but building with straw and other bio-based, carbon-sequestering materials can help fight climate change. We can go beyond “doing less harm” with building, we can actually do some good.

Check out this chart from Architecture 2030’s Carbon-Smart Materials Palette showing that straw bales not only cause less carbon dioxide to be emitted, they actually sequester carbon in the wall. Read more about the carbon impact of strawbale on Architecture 2030’s website.

“Beyond Energy Efficiency: Why Embodied Carbon in Materials Matters”

 

For an in-depth discussion of embodied carbon in building materials, check out this thorough but accessible article on embodied carbon written by Ace McArleton and Jacob Deva Racusin of NewFrameworks to understand how.

 

Let’s do some good while building natural, beautiful, healthy homes!

 

Fallgren Strawbale Home will be featured on SDGBC’s Green Homes Tour Oct 2018

The Fallgren strawbale home, recently certified a Net Zero Energy Building through the Living Building Challenge, will be featured on this year’s Green Homes Tour!

The tour is Sunday, October 21, 2018 from 10 am – 4 pm at locations all over the county. More info and registration can be found here.

*** Update: There are now 3 projects that Simple Construct worked on featured on the Tour. More info here ***

 

Earthbag workshop Sept 29, now Sat only!

Earthbag Hands-on 1-day Workshop
Sat, Sept 29, 2018, Campo, CA

Learn about earthbag building from trained professionals in a fun and supportive environment while helping to build a real project. During this one day workshop, you will learn the whys and hows of this low-impact, sustainable building technique and have a chance to put that knowledge into action.

Spend the day on a beautiful 10-acre property in Campo, CA (an hour East of San Diego) with other natural building enthusiasts, enjoy a delicious healthy home-cooked lunch and learn while helping to build a landscaping wall around the courtyard of an award-winning Net Zero Energy strawbale home. The day will be a mix of talking about building and hands-on doing. This is a rare opportunity to participate in a real build where your safety and education are the primary focus. No previous construction experience is required. All tools will be provided for your use during the workshop.

Nathan Wright & Wade Lucas
This class is presented by Simple Construct and will be taught by Nathan Wright and Wade Lucas, graduates of the CalEarth Institute’s SuperAdobe apprentice program. Since graduating from CalEarth, they have helped to build 9 SuperAdobe projects including the Bonita Domes and “One I Call” installation for Desert X, which was featured in the LA Times. Nathan and Wade are current employees of Simple Construct where they continue to learn about natural building and hone their plastering skills.

Our new net zero strawbale article is published

“Net Zero, Naturally” strawbale article

Our newest article on high-performance strawbale building is out in this month’s Home Power magazine!

The article is all about our recent strawbale project that achieved Net Zero Energy Building certification through the Living Building Challenge. This home will be part of the USGBC’s Green Homes Tour on Oct 21, 2018.

Here’s a link to the article:  https://www.homepower.com/articles/home-efficiency/design-construction/net-zero-naturally

They do require a subscription to view the content but it’s only $15 per year and Home Power are doing a lot to promote high-performance natural building.

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video from the Excellence in Energy Leadership award 2018

We were honored to receive an Excellence in Energy Leadership award from SDG&E in recognition of our recent Net Zero strawbale project, the Fallgren Home. As part of the award, they made this short video that promotes the project (as well as SDG&E).

There is plenty wrong with our current energy system and it’s easy to find fault with the utility providers, so it was a nice counterpoint for SDG&E to help promote high-performance natural building. Click on the image to watch the video on YouTube

 

Seeking a Part-Time Office Manager

Award-winning high-performance natural design-build company in San Diego seeks office magician 8-16 hrs per week.

 

Are you an organized, detail-oriented person who loves taming chaos and making all the numbers add up in Quickbooks? Are you excited to provide crucial behind-the-scenes administrative support to a team of highly-creative craftspeople? Do you value working with a company that cares about people and the environment? Then you might be the right person to join our growing company!

JOB DESCRIPTION:

General Description:  The Office Manager is responsible for all the financial transactions of the company, including financial reporting to the Owners, as well as the organization of the office, including answering phone calls and emails, scheduling meetings, performing basic research, posting approved content to website and social media, handling registration for events, organizing bids and contracts.

Major Job Activities/Responsibilities:   The Office Manager is responsible for Accounts Payable, Accounts Receivable, Payroll, Job Cost Accounting, and Administrative Support.

Responsibilities:

•       Enter vendor bills and prepare checks for signature weekly.

•       Enter employee timecards and prepare bi-weekly payroll.

•       Review change order requests against contract documents.

•       Prepare customer invoices and receive payments.

•       Log deposits.

•       Reconcile bank accounts and credit card monthly.

•       File quarterly payroll taxes.

•       Calculate burdened labor costs.

•       Run job profitability reports.

•       Track estimated to actual job costs on a bi-weekly basis.

•       Prepare books for Accountant to do annual tax return.

•      Answer phone calls and emails.

      Schedule meetings.

•      Organize bids and contracts.

      Perform basic research.

•      Post approved content to social media.

      Assist with promotion and registration for events.

Qualifications:

•       Training and/or previous experience in accounting or bookkeeping in a construction setting.

•       Computer background with experience in spreadsheets and QuickBooks.

•       Excellent problem-solving ability.

•       Highly organized.

•       Critical thinking skills.

•       Ability to create the structure that supports a dynamic, messy, creative environment.

Reports to: Owners

Compensation Range: Based on experience

 

If this sounds like the right job for you, send a cover letter introduction and pdf of your resume to rebecca@simpleconstruct.net  Please no phone calls.

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Trying to building your dream natural home? Make your Guest House your Best House

The idea of living in a high-performance, natural home has been calling to you but you…

cozy straw bale artist's studio
An adorable strawbale studio

… haven’t found build-able land where you want to live.

… can’t cover the cost of buying land and building a house.

… don’t want the hassle and expense of selling and moving.

… can’t afford to live in one house while you build another.

… have concerns about the sustainability of developing land.

So what can you do?

If you own a conventional home but have been dreaming of a beautiful, non-toxic, super-insulated natural home, here’s a strategy we’d like you to consider: make your Guest House Your Best House!

Stay right where you are, have us design and build you an amazing natural guest house in your backyard while you live comfortably in your current home, then move into it! You can then legally rent out the old house for extra income or keep it as a guest space or future caregiver’s quarters.

Floor plan for a 1200 sq ft strawbale home, © Simple Construct 2018

You may have looked into building a guest house before and were discouraged by the limitations. But many of those regulations (and fees that went with them) were recently revised. The new state-wide Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) regulations that went into effect here in California in 2017 override local ordinances and allow most homeowners to build a detached “granny flat” ADU of up to 1,200 sq feet no matter how small the main house is. ADUs used to be limited to 50% of the size of the main house, so if you had an 800 sq ft house, the largest ADU you could have built was 400 sq ft. Not anymore! As long as you can meet the setbacks and other requirements, you can build an ADU as large as 1,200 sq ft in most jurisdictions. That’s not tiny,* that’s a 2 bedroom house with closets and enough room for a separate kitchen, dining table, and living room.

So if you own a home and like where you live but not what you live in, contact us to explore whether a high-performance natural ADU is right for your situation.

~ Rebecca & Mike, owners, Simple Construct Naturally Healthy Homes

* If you are interested in Tiny Houses, one aspect of this legislation that hasn’t gotten as much attention is the new minimum size allowed. Previous regulations governing the minimum size of rooms meant that the smallest you could legally build a house was between 400-600 sq ft, depending on interpretation. This new legislation drops that to a minimum of 150 sq ft for an ADU. That’s a Tiny House! A legal, rentable Tiny House.

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Tiny Houses are now legal in San Diego, just ditch the wheels

People are understandably excited about the new Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) regulations that went into effect last year here in California that override local ordinances and allow most homeowners to build a detached “granny flat” of up to 1,200 sq feet no matter how small the main house is. ADUs used to be limited to 50% of the size of the main house, so if you had an 800 sq ft house, the largest ADU you could have built was 400 sq ft. Not anymore! As long as you can meet the setbacks and other requirements, you can build (and legally rent out) an ADU as large as 1,200 sq ft. That’s not tiny: that’s a 2 bedroom house with closets and enough room for a separate kitchen, dining table, and living room.

But some of us are more interested in tiny. One aspect of this legislation that hasn’t gotten as much attention is the new minimum size allowed. Previous regulations governing the minimum size of rooms meant that the smallest you could legally build a house was between 400-600 sq ft, depending on interpretation. This new legislation drops that to a minimum of 150 sq ft for an ADU. That’s a Tiny House! A legal, rentable Tiny House.

A beautiful Tumbleweed Tiny House on wheels ©Tumbleweed Tiny House Company

When you say “Tiny House,” most people visualize one of those photogenic models on wheels. Tiny Houses have become a phenomenon, a movement – maybe even a bit of a fad – and they are almost always shown on wheels.

Personally, I’ve never understood the need for wheels… except for being able to move the Tiny House if you get caught in the gray area of where you are or are not allowed to park a Tiny House on wheels.

A Tiny House on a foundation © Simple Construct

The wheels are important to some people, representing the freedom to go wherever they want to go. But I wonder why moving easily is a goal. What about building community and putting down roots? And is it really that easy to drag a miniature house from place to place and negotiate finding water, electricity, and a place to put the wastes? With wheels, the questions are “Is it an RV or a mobile home?” “How does it connect to the necessary services?” “How does it connect to the ground in an earthquake or hurricane?” To some people, the wheels are the solution to the problem but to me, the wheels can sometimes be the problem.

If you are one of the people willing to let go of that one aspect of Tiny Houses as they have come to be known – the wheels – you can rejoice in how much more realistic and legal and likely and doable they have just become thanks to this awesome new law.

Yes, the house will need a foundation and sewer (or septic) and water service and electrical service. But the upside is that you’ll have a foundation and sewer (or septic) and water service and electrical service. You will no longer be limited to what you can fit on a trailer or what is light enough to be towed, a consideration that usually precludes the use of most natural materials. Yes, you will need to own land (or make an agreement with someone who does). Yes, it will cost more to have this infrastructure but the upside is that you will have that infrastructure and you will have the legal right to live in or rent out your Tiny House ADU.

Although this specific legislation only applies to ADUs (a second unit built on a property with an existing house) the tide of the building code and zoning ordinances is shifting towards supporting smaller, less consumptive housing. Many jurisdictions allow new, stand-alone construction as small as 600 sq ft, some as small as 400 sq ft. So if an ADU isn’t right for you, contact us to explore building a Nearly-Tiny House. Or maybe a Nearly-Tiny House with a Tiny ADU!

Our company designs and builds high-performance, natural homes of all sizes. If you are interested in a non-toxic, super-insulated Tiny House, an ADU, or not-so big-house, contact us to talk about the exciting possibilities for your property. Please note that our company does not design or build ‘code minimum’ buildings: if you are not familiar with the concept of natural, high-performance building, please spend a few minutes looking around our website to see if we are the right design-builders for you.

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