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2/7/20

Off-grid Modern Prefab House Winters With Prefab Home Construction Project Updates

Enjoying winter in our modern off-grid prefab home.
Greetings from our modern Off Grid Prefab House!

Ugh, right now we all have colds.
No one feels like doing anything, going anywhere... which is a great time to talk about off-grid food storage. Because who wants to drive down the highway 30+ minutes just to get to the grocery store?

Plus, when you're sick, ethically, you shouldn't.
Stay in bed!

So. After I publish this post, I'm going to crawl back into bed and let the kids take over awhile. At least we don't have to drive, we have everything we need, here.

How much food do you have on hand? A week? 
Why not three months?

As uncertainty nears (like snow/hurricanes / weather systems, for example) I make sure we not only have our usual stores but double check to have extra, for extra weeks... and to not forget to store up food for our animals, medicine, extra toothpaste / deodorant / shampoo / detergent... and TOILET PAPER...

Likewise, this time of year especially I always have a "living off-grid with the flu" plan: it may be unsightly, but that pile of wood by the back door ensures that if I get ill (although now, with teens, they could certainly keep the house running, but what if we all get sick?), I don't have to travel to the woodshed for wood and have three days to rest before having to head out.

So during approaching weather/flu season, ask yourself: do you have enough on hand where you can then just allow yourself to go to bed and be sick? Or if the hurricane fells trees across the road and you're stuck? (Pro tip: Country people put chain saws in their cars before heading out after storms.)

And with that, I will now pass you on to our client in the Northwest, while I crawl in to bed.

Prefab House Construction Update on the Wolftrot- A Modified Dogtrot Mod from Green Cabin Kits in the Pacific Northwest!

If you recall, they heavily modified our Dogtrot Mod from GreenCabinKits.com, from this...
...to this:
The husband is an engineer, and here are his words.
"We are making progress on the house, through at times it goes in fits and starts.  Last time I wrote we had the basement in place.  The floor quickly followed and then it rained.  A lot.  Then the crew put the SIP walls up.  And then it rained.  A lot more, to the point where we now have WolfTrot Pond in front of the house.
Copeland's note: Ok not this pond. This is the lake in front of their house, the real lake.
When the builders needed more dirt to complete back-filling around the stem walls I said they could take more from beyond the level area we'd made anticipating a garage being sited there.  The plan was for them to increase the size of the already level area.  Of course, they cheated and took more where I suggested but cut deeper, leaving a shallow area where rain water collects.

Putting together the SIPs!
The SIP roof was installed and the builder decided we needed a 'cool roof' under the metal roof as the slope is 1:12.  This entailed completely covering the SIP OSB surface with waterproof material, then installing battens with more sheets of OSB layered on top of that, followed by more waterproof covering material.
...

Now the entire house shell is completed and as I write they are finishing installing the metal roof.
Roof is on! Now for windows and doors!

We had originally intended to use steel siding for the walls but that has had to be dropped.  The original metal roof supplier that our builder was familiar with offered steel siding too but we found it was really roofing panels that were mounted vertically on walls which we felt looked too industrial.

Our builder was recommending Hardie Planking which I felt was not ideal despite their being considered recyclable materials.  Cement and fiber may be recyclable but are not CO2 friendly.  I searched around and found that there is a dearth of steel siding available but succeeded in eventually finding a source here.  We decided to use their roofing panels as well as the Dutch Lap siding.
...

But all told, we're okay with how it's gone in general.
We're looking forward to this stage being completed(...).
Then we can get down to construction the remaining interior stud walls and installing the plumbing and wiring.  At this moment I'm anticipating doing much of that myself.
...
Beautiful M!!!!

We've been waiting for the local utility company to come and install a new power pole where they want to situate the transformer for our property.  The request was made over three months ago and we're still waiting.

If I thought we could still afford it I'd go straight to a solar configuration but that will require a standby generator and batteries too.  There is no natural gas supply nearby so I would have to either install a propane or diesel tank for fuel for the generator.  Propane pricing can be more volatile that diesel and diesel is more energy efficient but the generators cost more as well.

Windows going in on the passive solar modern prefab house!
I scheduled a visit by a solar contractor but he never showed up!
He also never returned my calls after that.
(...) 20-30 years ago you could get anything done with a few phone calls.  Today it seems like pulling hens teeth to even get someone interested in doing anything.  I estimate that less than 10 percent of the contractors I asked for quotes have even bothered to respond.
TTFN.  P.
And that's the latest from Wolftrot, a Dogtrot Mod heavily modified in the Northwest.

I am deeply grateful when clients send updates, as it seems, more often than not, that they don't.
HOWEVER I understand all to well these days writer's block and the reluctance to type out anything!
I resolve to check back with others soon.
I do know that the Austin project has sold her lot, but don't know if the project is in hiatus or for a better location. This winter the architect made a round of changes, but I have not heard more.

So back to our own life, off-grid, in a modern prefab house from Green Modern Kits.

We continue to make a farm kid out of the "I'm From The 3rd Largest City In China" teen.
The two other teens
played a joke on him
which somehow involved
a chicken.

NO CHICKENS IN THE HOUSE!
An introduction to chickens, and chicken handling, followed.
But not in the HOUSE, kids! Geez.



At the Amish auction, he learned to load hay.
He learned the beauty of
all kinds of junk food in country stores.
To my organic chagrin.

Over winter, we headed back-and-forth into the city, and I did my usual temperature comparisons of outdoors vs. indoors-in-the-prefab-house-that-hadn't-been-heated-in-days.

In Virginia, our average temperatures in winter are in the 20s-40s. I have never arrived, after days without heat, to the interior of the prefab house in the 40s.

Usually in real winter weather, when I arrive in the prefab home after night after night in the 20s, I find it in the mid/high 50s. I fire up the cookstove, and it takes awhile, I don't turn on the radiant heat or fans to blow it even or anything; but the temperature rises to cozy soon enough.

When I arrive, I like to walk around the prefab home with my little laser temperature reader and sniff for any indication there are leaks in the door frames or windows. So far, after all these years... no.

In the following pictures, I fell asleep super early and let the cook stove burn out for a night when it was 14 degrees.

If you fell asleep in YOUR house tonight, with no heat, and it was 14 outside, to what temperatures would *you* wake? 

I like to walk around the prefab with my little laser temperature reader after nights like this and see. It's certainly not toasty, but it's certainly not cold. (After this I lit the fire and then I was toasty with hot coffee and a beautiful day!)
Look closely in these pictures and you'll see the laser point on the wall.
Laser pointer on the art, now. Temperatures in this test were 59-64 I think.
Fluctuation due not to insulation
but to what rooms were semi-closed / height
(I did not have fans running, either.)
Did I mention it was 14 degrees?!?






Winter at the off grid prefab house has been pretty gray this year.
Lots... and lots... of gray.
Keep it colorful with friends!
That's why this time of year is Visitin' Season.
When it's gross and gray, I make a big pot of stew and invite friends. As much as I want everything in place and tidy at the prefab house, these concrete floors were made for friends and dogs and romping...

Happiness is a sink full of dirty dishes after a great evening.
A messy kitchen = remnants of good times.

TTFN...!
Ta
Ta...
for now
from the off-grid prefab home.

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