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
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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
The idea of living in a high-performance, natural home has been calling to you but you…
… 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.
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.
*** PLEASE NOTE: Our company does not build Tiny Houses on wheels, prefab or modular homes, or code-minimum homes. We design and build high-performance natural homes of all sizes. If you are not familiar with the concept of high-performance natural building, please spend a few minutes looking around our website to see if we are the right design-builders for you before you call or email. If you are interested in a non-toxic, super-insulated Tiny House, ADU, or not-so big-house on a foundation, we’d be happy to talk with you about the exciting possibilities for your property. ***
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.
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.
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.
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 27 in the world to achieve this certification through the International Living Future Institute, 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 Net Zero Energy Building Certification (now Zero Energy), the Living Product Challenge, and the Living Community Challenge.The ILFI NZEB certification draws from the Living Building Challenge and is a highly rigorous and regarded standard in its own right.