Monthly Archives: November 2012



Posted on November 7, 2012 by

This is another status update…


Lately, I have been getting quotes on plumbing related things and learning a lot about Solar Hot Water…  I haven’t had time to do the page justice yet, but here is the start of my Solar Hot Water page.  I have seen that there are many ways that these systems are put together in terms of connections between the solar array and the hot water tank and between the hot water tank and the backup heating system…  Many of the ways seem like terrible ideas, but I will talk about that on the separate page.

We have also updated our well quotes and things seem to have gone up by 20% over the past year.  Now that I have an actual site plan, I planned to put the well quite some distance from the house, but apparently that is not a good idea and I will need to find a closer location.


Today we had our 3rd face to face meeting with the engineer.  It was our first since our G8 summit (which I thought I had written about, but I guess I didn’t) 5 months ago.  I have offered to meet many times, but they have not been interested.  I think our architect prefers to stay between his customers and his engineer, or perhaps they didn’t think I would help, or perhaps they didn’t have time to meet with me.  What ever the reason, I really think this separation has wasted a lot of time for this particular engineering intensive project where I could have helped a lot.  The project was supposed to be done already, but it feels like we are just getting started with the engineering.

Anyway, we had the meeting to get on the same page.  I had been asking questions over email for months without any answers since July.  We asked for the meeting because the 5 pages I have received so far showed that the engineer was not getting or not understanding the long and detailed emails, ppts and other documents I was sending.  He appeared to be designing the steel arches to carry the full weight rather than seeing it as support for the rebar and Shotcrete, which would ultimately carry the full weight.  Plus, as he put it, he had made the design even more “robust” than it needed to be.   The problem for me is that his more “robust” design would cost many times more to build, to the point where it might break my budget and prevent me from moving forward with construction at all.

Rib support drawing

The Engineer came up with this design to support the inside end of the ribs. It was different than I had originally planned, but would allow me to setup the ribs before the shotcrete work began, which might save a lot of hassle, even if I had to pay a bit extra for the post. We also talked about adding some holes thru the vertical portion so we could thread rebar thru and better tie these into the central column of the home.

At the meeting, I asked if he had considered the dimensions of the steel and rebar shown in the example plans that I had sent him back on May 4th.   These were fully engineered plans for a similarly constructed earth sheltered home that I thought he could use as a reference; but he clearly didn’t recall seeing those at all.   This was frustrating because I have been referring back to those in many of my emails and he never even replied to ask what I was talking about.  He also didn’t appear to have looked at any of the ppts of construction photos I had sent him that showed the kind of arches and assembly process I was talking about.  He did have a print out of my most recent sketches, and that helped with the conversation.

I had brought in a list of topics to discuss.  These had been building up for 4 months and we went thru them one by one.  It only took about an hour.  He said that he would “revisit” what he had done so far with my smaller sized arches, rebar, etc. as shown in the other engineered drawings, but of course, he will need to prove out the math himself.  That sounded reasonable to me.

We also talked a little about some other aspect of the design that he was struggling with (the overhang off the front of the house) and I told him he could simplify the problem by adding pilasters on the outside that took the weight off the curved wall completely.  Hopefully he saw that as an example of how I could help simplify future discussions…  We will see.

Most importantly, we talked about needing to get all the drawings done in the next 3 months or so.  They agreed it would be “no problem”.



I expect we will reach 5000 all time visitors this week (since June), last week alone we had 416 visitors…  Not bad considering I have hardly told anyone about the site.  I will start talking about it after the pages get filled in better or maybe not until we are actually ready to break ground…  I got a deal when I started my site to get 100$ worth of Google Adwords that I can use when I am ready.  Google Analytics tells me that the most popular search term used to find my site is still “The Hobbit” (brought in 135 visitors since June).  A search for “Earth Shelter”, my main focus, was only in 6th place and “Earth Tubes” were in 8th place.


Eye Candy

This is the part of the show where I just dump a gallery of pics I have been looking at or making lately…