-----In 2004 we bought a falling-down house and 30 acres. This blog documents our progress-----

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

update on house planning

I haven't posted for ages, mainly because work has been so busy. But, we're at least one step forward on the house planning. Based on the mega brief I wrote back in December, Eric prepared a summarised version which was his own interpretation. Last week we spoke on the phone for about 3 hours (2 separate calls late at night!). Dave and I gave him our feedback and answered questions.... mostly it was all OK but there were a few things that we were worried had been misinterpreted or been given too much emphasis. Eric is now incorporating that into a revised version... and after that he starts drawing! Hopefully that means that in a month or two we'll have the first set of drawing ideas to look at, although there's no rush.

One of the most important things we discussed was the utilities. Here are Eric's comments from an email:
"Two things jumped out as issues to consider early on. One is the idea of
using solar power instead of mains. (We lived for five years out in the
bush with solar power.) Some of the things on the wish list look a bit
ambitious with solar power system unless it is a very big one. Big loads
like air conditioning and dryers are difficult, and small continuous
loads like recharging batteries are surprisingly troublesome. We can
discuss it more later.

Also, dry composting toilets need to be treated very kindly. They like
to be on the north side to get sun to heat the chambers. This starts to
set the location of the bath area. Also, whereas with flush toilet
systems, a second toilet is simply the cost of the toilet and some
plumbing, two composting toilets generally requires the set up of two
full systems. I really like the aerated treatment plant systems because
the water id reused, and there is very little tearing up the ground for
absorption trenches"

After our phone conversation we decided we'd look into wind power as well as solar, and also reconsider whether to connect to the mains or not. Apparently if you can connect to mains for less than about A$20-25,000 it will be cheaper than solar in the long run, once you take into account cost of replacing batteries in 10 years, etc. And of course, you can still have some things solar, eg solar hot water system. We also changed our mind on the toilets and are going to go with Eric's recommendation of an aerated treatment plant system. It means we use water to flush the toilet but it is all recycled so we'll be able to have the cleaned water to go on the garden (onto anything but vegetables apparently). Also it means that we can have more than one toilet... the problem with the dry composting toilet is that if you want to add another one it is the same cost as for the first; whereas with normal plumbing the incremental cost is a lot lower.

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