The new American Dream: 100K(+ 20) | Starter Home

Reward Wall Systems by ahodgson
September 17, 2008, 6:37 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: ,

Reward Wall Systems are used in conjuntion with cast-in-place concrete.  Similar to building blocks, the polystyrene is tied together with plastic pieces and can be used above or below ground.  Its thermal properties are pretty significant (up to 32+) and it wont rot or mildew.  Different combinations and sizes of blocks allow your design to be pretty flexible.

Pumping Concrete

Rainwater Harvesting by ahodgson
September 3, 2008, 7:16 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: ,

This system is mainly based out of Texas, but if it can work in Texas, it should be feasible here.  As you navigate the website, you can find initial cost estimates, frequently asked questions, and a catalogue, as well as some success stories.  This website is very thorough….and Chicago gets 33 inches of rainfall annually, by the way.

Concrete Pontoons by ahodgson
September 3, 2008, 7:13 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: ,

If you checked out Water House from the GRC, you could see that there are various ways to keep your water house afloat.  The seemingly cheapest way is to build your home on a concrete pontoon, instead of drilling foundations underwater.  Solent Marine is a manufacturer that does modular systems, but has also done specialist work for homes.  Apparently they have just developed a pontoon system that glows in the dark, so you never lose you footing.  Aquabase Construction, a UK-based design and manufacturing company, has done a lot of work for floating homes, using concrete pontoons and floating ferro-cement structures.  One of their larger structures is a five-bedroom home on the River Thames.

Radiant Heating by cyu14
September 3, 2008, 5:16 am
Filed under: Material/Building Systems | Tags: , ,

The most common radiant heating systems consist of two types: hydronic and electric. Hydronic radiant heating systems typically utilize a gas boiler to heat water and an electric pump to circulate heated water throughout the floor area.  Electric radiant heating uses electric heating elements within the floor. Electric systems are usually less expensive than a hydronic system to install and do not require the installation of a boiler. However, the overall efficiency for electric does not compare to a hydronic system  -generating heat from a power plant requires more energy than using heat directly from a liquid source.  Additionally, electric systems cannot be paired with a geothermal ground source loop. Electric systems are most efficient when used in a smaller space such as a bathroom or kitchen. (Wikipedia, Under-floor Heating) On average, a hydronic system can cost as little as $2/sq. ft. An index of radiant heating information, installation and pricing can be found at the Radiant Design Institute website. Diagrams, manuals and cad drawings can be found through Warmzone.

Dominus Estate Winery by cyu14
September 3, 2008, 4:26 am
Filed under: Material/Building Systems, precedents | Tags: , ,

 Dominus Estate Winery, located in Napa Valley, was the first U.S. project built by the Swiss duo Herzog and de Meuron.  Completed in 2001, the winery is difficult to access -no visitors are allowed. The exclusivity of the winery adds to the mystery of the building itself. Composed of gabions of three different stone sizes, the winery blends easily into the surrounding landscape and sprawling vineyards. In additon to the ready availablity of stone from the nearby American Canyon, the use of gabions was derived from practical criteria -moderating the temperature changes within the valley.

Beer Bricks by joelzook
September 2, 2008, 10:42 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags:

I thought this was funny. Didn’t work out, but still a good idea.

Read More

Gabions by cyu14

Typically used in retaining walls and for erosion control a gabion is definited by the Merriam-Webster dictionary as “a basket or cage filled with earth or rocks and used especially in building a support or abutment.”  First used along the Nile thousands of years ago by the Eygptians, the first gabions were constructed with woven reed baskets and stones. These earth ‘cages’  provided protection from flooding and erosion caused by the Nile. Commerically available gabions were introduced in the mid-nineteeth century, and except for advances in welding and cage construction, the gabion retains its rustic appearance and straightforward use. (


Although gabions are traditionally filled with gravel or rocks, the use of recycled construction materials has become a common, cost-effective and sustainable practice.  On average, gabion systems can be as inexpensive as $20/sq. ft.  Additonal information and specifications on modular gabion systems can be found at