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.
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:
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.
The straw bale buildings we helped build for the Deer Park Buddhist Monastery in Escondido were nominated for an Orchid award in the 2016 “Orchids & Onions” by the San Diego Architecture Foundation.
“Deer Park Monastery- Nun’s Residence
The form—based on a traditional Spanish Hacienda embracing a central courtyard with plantings—encourages togetherness and provides opportunities for interaction between residents. Covered walkways extend the living space outdoors, taking advantage of our temperate climate and integrating awareness of the natural world into activities like walking to the shower. All rooms are accessed through the central courtyard, helping eliminate the expense and space requirements of interior hallways.
The detached buildings help enclose the courtyard, providing a sense of protection and defining the core of the residences. This arrangement allows Deer Park Monastery to build within the existing pad and provide fire department access without building a large road around the buildings. This design also allows for phased construction that can help meet the project’s current budget, while being mindful of possible future expansion as funds allow.
Thick strawbale walls and operable windows provide thermal comfort for the buildings atop the hill which receive plentiful daylight and breezes. A beautiful garden setting incorporating existing cypress trees and views to the rest of the monastery will make this new residence a comfortable place to visit and live.
NATURE-CENTERED DESIGN FEATURES
Sensitive siting in the area of existing buildings and roads minimizes the impact on the natural surroundings.
Passive solar design lets the sun help heat the space and uses shade to stay cool. This helps reduce the need for mechanical systems and electricity.
The narrow footprint along with operable windows optimizes daylighting and natural ventilation.
Indoor / outdoor living is encouraged by covered walk-ways and central courtyard.
Super-insulated strawbale walls repurpose agricultural waste as a building material and provide comfortable, quiet interiors.
Plastered bale walls provide thermal mass, passively maintaining interior temperature
A metal roof with recycled steel content limits solar heat gain through its reflective finish.
High-efficiency glazing reduces heat gain
Fire-resistive materials provide durability along with timeless beauty
Rainwater catchment and greywater re-use supplies landscape irrigation.”
Join us at San Diego’s Greenest Home on Saturday, November 12 from 10 am – 3 pm as part of the San Diego Green Building Council’s annual Green Homes Tour.
This is the 4th year we’ve shown a home in this unique tour that has sites all over San Diego County and it’s a great way to get to see a wide variety of green home options all in one day.
Our site, the Fallgren Naturally Healthy Home, is a 2 bedroom, 1 bath, 1600 sq ft straw bale home completed in 2016. With superinsulated straw bale walls, passive solar orientation, modest photovoltaic array, and efficient systems, this home is on track to be certified Net Zero Energy Building by the Living Building Challenge.
With its Old World feel and high-performance, it’s an inspiring mix of the best of both worlds. Passively warm in winter and cool in summer, this home stays comfortable even when the power goes out. Featuring natural materials such as straw bales, clay plaster, adobe block, reclaimed wood and non-toxic finishes, we believe it may just be San Diego’s Greenest Home! Why don’t you visit and judge for yourself?
Because of the remote nature of this site, we will be organizing carpools and may provide a van shuttle if there is enough interest. Check back here for more info.
Sunday, September 11th, noon-3pm, The Wakeham Project, Solana Beach, CA
A rare opportunity to tour a straw bale house under construction! Come talk with the builders and check out how the straw bales go together to form the walls in this 1600 sq ft, two-story straw bale home designed by Hubbell & Hubbell Architects. This is the only time this job site will be open to the public until the project is completed, so don’t miss it!
September 22 – As part of the 2015 San Diego Green Building Conference, architect Drew Hubbell, Project Manager Ed Earl, and I (Rebecca Tasker) will be presenting Building Zen, an overview of the nearly-completed 6,000 square foot straw bale nuns’ housing at the Deer Park Buddhist Monastery. Join us to hear about this unique project and the experience of bringing mindfulness to the design and construction process. This full day conference has an interesting and diverse line up of speakers.
Rebecca Tasker, general contractor and co-owner of Simple Construct, will be giving a talk about straw bale building and clay plaster on May 25 at Olive Branch Green Building Supply in North Park San Diego. More details here: http://www.olivebranchgbs.com/Site/Speaker_Series.html
Athena and Bill Steen are well known pioneers in the straw bale and natural plaster world. A few years ago, we had the opportunity to spend a week with the Steens at their amazing homestead in Arizona studying clay and lime plaster.
Here, Athena shares a recipe for making your own finish clay plaster to go over drywall.