Solar Project: The Wilson House

Photo Journal Contents

Notes on the construction - November 20, 2000
We are still heavily involved in construction - at this point, the basement is in (concrete block construction, for purely economical reasons), and the concrete floors in the basement and main floor level. Some of the posts and beams are up, and work is continuing on the post and beam construction. Once the roof is on, we'll start the straw bale work (which will hopefully start in January). We're planning to move in in the spring.

We will indeed be using passive solar heating and radiant in-floor heating. The heating system for the concrete floors has been installed. As a backup (for those bleary winter days) will be high-efficiency wood burning stoves, one in the basement, and one on the ground floor. We'll use some electric hot-water heating (hopefully minimally).

We will use solar electricity also, and are connected with the hydro grid, so that we will actually feed into the hydro grid when it's sunny (the meter runs backwards, but unfortunately, not past zero!), and if we run out of our own power, we can use hydro power.

We will be using composting toilets, but in order to comply with the building code, we have to have a septic system, and we need one flush toilet to ensure that the septic system operates properly. We would like to get into grey water use, but are not able to at the moment (hopefully for the future).

As for books on straw bale, we have lots, I'll e-mail you a list from home. One very good book I am familiar with is "Straw Bale Building: How to Plan, Design, and Build with Straw", by Chris Magwood and Peter Mack. I've met Peter, who is from Ontario, and very knowledgeable about straw bale. We also have "Straw Bale House" by Athena Steen, Bill Steen and David Bainbridge. Another is "Building of Earth and Straw: Structural Design for Rammed Earth and Straw Bale Architecture", by Bruce King. We subscribe to "Natural House", which is a pretty good magazine that covers all sorts of issues around natural homes. It's available at most magazine stands (e.g., Chapters, Indigo).

Martin Liefhebber is the architect who designed our home, and is consulting on the construction. Our builder is Colin Richards (C & R Construction), who has 30 years of construction experience, though he's new to this type of construction (and very interested). Both Colin and Martin are excellent to work with - knowledgeable, creative, practical - and they make a great team.

    Copyright 2000 John Wilson