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Old 01-30-2013, 06:21 PM   #15
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23 years ago, we did what you're getting ready to do.

Some free advice: Whatever you get, get it used. There will be all kinds of tweakers and other morons prowling the property to try to take whatever they can get away with. Things like the aluminum propane tank cover are wonderful targets, for instance. And anymore, a house going up seems to attract this kind of low-life just like an entry to a warm, covered space attracts rats up here.

We bought a used motorhome, what was then called a "Party Model", to live in. For us, there were County regulations regarding temporary structures (trailers are in this) for permanent habitation. Having the thing moveable under its own power got us around those.

The BUSOB (Big Ugly Son of a Box) gave us some stretch-out space at the end of the dual work day - regular work, then work-on-the-house work. Plus, we could take it down to the local dump station weekly to empty it. The motorhome also took a lot of abuse from the subs tromping in and out to use the phone. (NOT the john...) We made sure that having a Kaibo delivered and a maintenance schedule was #2 on our list (sorry, just couldn't help making the joke). Having us onsite during the entire construction process cut all the thievery down to just one single item.

We did a lot of the work ourselves. But our MINIMUM grade up here on the side of the mountain is 6%, so building a garage then the house was out of the question, as the house was to have an attached garage as part of the design. The only place to locate any garage (within reason - access to power, the well) would have violated code for having a storage structure closer to the road than the main dwelling. So, out in the upper meadow it was!

Build yourself a REALLY stout structure that locks securely to store tools and supplies. That should be your first item of business even while your foundations sub is beginning work. Then you'll have it throughout the entire job. If you plan the openings (like internally-barred, wide-swinging doors to it) right, you can set it up so that major-size items can be delivered to it while waiting to be installed. Stuff like shower stalls, tubs, and such. This allows you to buy these things when you see a sale, not when you need them NOW. Get extra keys made for the subs, demand them back as part of job-completion. Otherwise they pay for the lock that you'll have to be replacing. Most subs will gladly help you out with this; they'll like to have a good place onsite to store this job-related junk while they come and go on a daily basis.

Wow, it's been a good long time since I've had to think about this, I might come up with some other stuff for you. Oh yes, and as you go, TAKE PHOTOS. They're invaluable for remembering where pipes run in the walls and so on.
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Old 01-30-2013, 07:33 PM   #16
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@steamguy wow thanks so much for the great info. If you think of anymore I'm all ears!

I've gotten so much more useful info than just "why Airstream"! Awesome.
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Old 01-30-2013, 08:56 PM   #17
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Another building material option for you to explore is rammed earth. I don't know if it's taken ground where you are, but we've seen it used around my neck of the woods with great success.
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Old 02-01-2013, 01:43 AM   #18
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Another building material option for you to explore is rammed earth. I don't know if it's taken ground where you are, but we've seen it used around my neck of the woods with great success.
The 'superadobe' / 'bagged earth' I'm looking into IS rammed. Not sure of the technical definition though.
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Old 02-01-2013, 11:26 AM   #19
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I think that super adobe/bagged earth construction relies upon earth filled bags and their construction is similar to coiled pottery, while rammed earth takes soils, clays, lime and gravel and builds walls out of these materials with compression. I think that what you are describing is very different from what I'm thinking of. Here's a local TV show that did an episode on the method:

Rammed Earth with David Suzuki - YouTube
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Old 02-01-2013, 11:42 AM   #20
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One of the airstreams on Arlotte was used for that purpose a 29 foot ambassador. We are architects and designers as well so the airstreams just seem to fit a cool kind of bill. Swing by San Gabriel if you want to have a look
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Old 02-01-2013, 11:48 AM   #21
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One of the airstreams on Arlotte was used for that purpose a 29 foot ambassador. We are architects and designers as well so the airstreams just seem to fit a cool kind of bill. Swing by San Gabriel if you want to have a look
That is supposed to read "our lot"
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Old 02-01-2013, 01:01 PM   #22
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I think that super adobe/bagged earth construction relies upon earth filled bags and their construction is similar to coiled pottery, while rammed earth takes soils, clays, lime and gravel and builds walls out of these materials with compression. I think that what you are describing is very different from what I'm thinking of. Here's a local TV show that did an episode on the method:

Rammed Earth with David Suzuki - YouTube
Thanks for the tip!
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Old 02-01-2013, 01:02 PM   #23
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One of the airstreams on Arlotte was used for that purpose a 29 foot ambassador. We are architects and designers as well so the airstreams just seem to fit a cool kind of bill. Swing by San Gabriel if you want to have a look
How long did you / have you lived in it? Any downsides to living in the Airstream?
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Old 02-01-2013, 01:02 PM   #24
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Friends of mine have parked an old 34" AS on their piece of land in Northern Ontario while they are building their off-grid home. The've installed a wood burning stove for heat and a composting toilet so they don't have to worry about waste.

They too have two young kids and love the experience. So much so that they've taken design ideas from the trailer and have incorporated them into the house.
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Old 02-01-2013, 01:05 PM   #25
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Friends of mine have parked an old 34" AS on their piece of land in Northern Ontario while they are building their off-grid home. The've installed a wood burning stove for heat and a composting toilet so they don't have to worry about waste.

They too have two young kids and love the experience. So much so that they've taken design ideas from the trailer and have incorporated them into the house.
Wow great report and great ideas Andreas. Thanks.
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Old 02-01-2013, 02:16 PM   #26
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I would highly recommend you purchase a "park" model instead of a regular travel trailer or 5th wheel. Park models are much cheaper than either of the above as they are not reall built for constant travel but for living. Most are the same square feet as the larger 5th wheel trailer but have much more usable space and more like "mini" home. They do come with a tandum axle and can be moved in and out but not meant for long distances. It should be easier to sell and also can withstand the rigors of local permits since it isn't a travel trailer.

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Old 02-01-2013, 03:49 PM   #27
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We bought our Airstream with the primary intention of parking it on land we own so that we could enjoy the land without rushing to build a house on it. We picked an Airstream because we tend to hold onto vehicles as long as possible and wanted one that could be at least partly recycled.

First we started making it roadworthy to get it to the land. And then we did a shakedown camping trip...

Long story short, we do still spend 2-6 weeks each summer in it on the land, but we've also been all over the west and are planning more and farther trips. The more we camp in it, the more we love the feel of the rounded interior and the improvements we keep making on it. Keep your options open. Get an Airstream.
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Old 02-01-2013, 03:58 PM   #28
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Thanks for the great feedback!
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