"Alternative Building" near citiesgreenspun.com : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread
Does anyone know anything about owner-building with alternative structures close to cities? Exactly how hard is this to do? This has been our plan: getting a mortgage for some land just outside the 'burbs--building a temporary home on the property while we still live in our apartment--drawing plans for a small cabin to eventually add on to--getting plans approved--then just building. After some time, my wife and I have discovered that that might not be so simple--either to get a decent mortgage for vacant land, or satisfying the building codes or whatever involved, especially in the country-suburbs intersection. We want to hand-build our own home out of logs, cordwood, or recycled materials. We want to use wood heat, a composting toilet, catchment water system, solar electricity--all that stuff. I've called the inspectors, assessors, building depts., etc., and no one seems to know how to answer my questions, at least not in a way I understand. All we know is that building restrictions get tougher the closer you are to cities (and I'm talking about Cincinnati, OH by the way). Has anyone done this, or is this something we should probably just forget about?
-- Brian from Cincinnati (email@example.com), December 07, 2001
You seem to have answered your own question. The closer you are too cities, the stricter the building codes will be. While I do not live within the city limits, the part of my farm north of Blue Creek is within their planning district. I fall under their codes north of the creek. South of it I could build anything, any way I wanted to.
-- Ken S. in WC TN (firstname.lastname@example.org), December 07, 2001.
Brian Try to buy a home that is already here a trailer or a run down home get a permit for a barn all that they inspect is the frame if you are building it your self. Then after that do what you want to do so it will be the nice barn or so they will think it has worked for lots of folks all over Indiana. Indiana Country friend Jack Bunyard
-- jack bunyard (email@example.com), December 07, 2001.
BRIAN....YES,THE CLOSER YOU TRY TO BUILD NEAR CITIES THE MORE RESTRICTIONS YOU WILL RUN INTO.ON MY BOARD WE CALL IT "SNOB ZONING".PLUS IF YOU TRY TO BUILD IN A SUBDIVISION EXPECT THE LOCALS TO PETITION YOUR STRUCTURE.THEY BUILT THEIR YUPPY STYLE HOMES AS AN INVESTMENT AND YOUR ALTERNATIVE BUILDING MIGHT HURT THEIR RESALE. OR SO THEY MIGHT THINK.CHANCES ARE THERE WILL BE SOME COVENANCES IN THE SUBDIVISION TO BLOCK ALTERNATIVE HOUSING. WHAT WILL PROBABLY COME OUT ...IS THEY WILL ASK YOU TO SUBMIT ARCHITECTURAL DRAWINGS PLUS REQUIRE AN ENGINEER/ARCHITECT TO STAMP THEM AS WELL.THIS IS THE WAY INSPECTORS CAN PASS THE BUCK.ONCE THE ENGINEER/ARCHITECT STAMPS THE PLANS THE COUNTY IS OFF THE HOOK. THE THING TO DO IS TRY FIND SOME OTHER CORDWOOD HOMES IN THE AREA AND SEE WHAT THEY DID.IF YOU HAVE AN ENGINEERING SCHOOL OR ARCHITECTURAL SCHOOL IN YOUR AREA.THEY MIGHT GET SOME STUDENTS TO DESIGN IT FOR YOU AND THEN THE INSTRUCTOR STAMPS IT. THERE ARE SOME CORDWOOD HOMES BUILT IN TOWNS.BUT THERE IS A LOT MORE B.S. INVOLVED IN BUILDING THERE.
SOME BUILDING INSPECTORS HAVE ASKED FOR THE FOLLOWING.
PROOF IN HURRICANE OR TWISTER ZONES THAT THE STRUCTURE CAN WITHSTAND 110 MPH WINDS.[IF MOBILE HOMES CAN PASS SURELY CORDWOOD THAT WEIGHS ABOUT 928 LBS PER LINEAL FOOT FOR A 24" WALL SHOULD PASS] R-VALUE....NO MATTER WHAT VALUE THEY PUT TO WOOD.CORDWOOD SHOULD PASS BECAUSE OF THE 24" OF LOGS.SEEING AS CONVENTIONAL LOG BUILDINGS CAN PASS WITH ONLY 6" ALLOWED FOR OVERLAPPING LOGS. FIRE RESISTANCE....CORDWOOD HOMES THAT WERE BURNT WERE ALL REBUILDABLE.[SOME HAVE SURVIVED FOREST FIRES WITH NO DAMAGE]THE ROOF AND INTERIOR WALLS WOULD HAVE TO BE REPLACED.BUT THE CORDWOOD WALLS HOLD UP VERY WELL.BUT ANY INSPECTOR WITH HALF A CLUE SHOULD KNOW THAT LOGS ARE LOW RISK IN FIRES AND THAT JUST LOG ENDS SHOWUING WOULD BE HARDER TO BURN.PLUS WITH BORATE TREATMENTS THE LOGS ARE SAFER AGAIN. 
THE BEST THING TO DO IS TRY AND FIND AN INSPECTOR THAT IS ALTERNATIVE FRIENDLY.THEN BUILD IN HIS AREA.
HAVE LOTS OF BOOKS ON CORDWOOD TO SHOW THEM. TAKE CORDWOOD TRAINING.[THEY LIKE TO HEAR YOU HAVE SOME ACTUAL TRAINING.] EVEN HELP SOME ONE BUILD ONE AND HAVE PHOTOS OF YOU WORKING AND THE COMPLETED STRUCTURE. THEY MIGHT REQUIRE YOU TO BUILD POST AND BEAM...THE ENGINEERS CAN CRUNCH THE FIGURES TO PROVE ON PAPER THAT THE ROOF CAN STAND UP.POST AND BEAM ISN`T STRONGER THAN A LOAD BEARING CORDWOOD WALL.[ BUT THERE ARE NO LOAD BEARING CAPACITY TESTS FOR CORDWOOD FOR THE ENGINEERS TO WORK FROM YET] I`M TRYING TO GET CORDWOOD NOTEABLES TO START AN ASSOCIATION.THEN PUSH FOR CODE ACCEPTANCE.PEOPLE ARE TRYING TO PUT OUT A CORDWOOD PLANS BOOK NOW.I`M TRYING TO DO A SET OF PLANS NOW TO SUBMIT FOR THE BOOK.[THE BOOK WILL BE 1-2 YEARS OFF PROBABLY] I`VE STARTED A DIRECTORY FOR ALTERNATIVE FRIENDLY ENGINEERS AND ARCHITECTS FOR ALL OF NORTH AMERICA.BUT I DON`T KNOW OF ANY FROM OHIO.
DROP BY MY BOARD AND LEARN THE BASICS.SOME MEMBERS WITH A LITTLE READING THERE HAVE BEEN ABLE TO STAND OFF QUESTIONS FROM INSPECTORS. IF YOU SEEM TO KNOW YOUR STUFF THE INSPECTORS GET MORE COMFORTABLE WITH YOU.
READ MY CORDWOOD NEWBEE PAGE UNDER THE BOOKMARK SECTION.CHECK OUT THE PHOTO ALBUM THERE AS WELL.FROM READING MY NEWBEE PAGE YOU WILL BE ABLE TO JUDGE AN EXPERTS WORK AND KNOW IF THEY EVEN DID IT RIGHT.
CORDWOODGUY PS:IF THE AREA YOU BUILD HAS SEWER AND WATER YOU WOULD HAVE TO CONNECT.OR THEY MIGHT ALSO REQUIRE A SEPTIC FIELD OVER THE COMPOSTING TOILET.SOME AREAS ARE BANNING WOOD HEAT.
-- CORDWOOD (firstname.lastname@example.org), December 07, 2001.
Good plan bad place. I am a real estate broker in Ohio, in a town about 3 hours East of you. Perhaps I can offer a few suggestions. First you mention getting a mortgage on land. This is NOT commonly done in the mortgage lending community. So you will probably need to find a seller who will "take payments" for the property. This is called seller financing.
Now for building codes and restrictions. Ohio has a state building code. This is supposed to be in effect statewide. Now the state "powers that be" have seen fit to assign the process of inspection and compliance to the individual counties. Some counties in thier quest for infinate thrift have found it a good idea to have no budget for building inspection. The net result is that you can find some counties that have no local codes and no building inspector. Some counties do not even require building permits (not too many).
Quickly stated you are probably 100 miles too close to Cincinnati, and 100 years too late to do what you want to do. Now that said you can still do it. It will however be a bit more difficult.
The suggestion that you find a homesite that is already established is an excellent one. A house that is not livable, burned down, a mobile home site, etc. will be a place to start. Some utilities may already be established there, like electricity hook up, a well or spring, and perhaps a septic system. You could start from there. If no buildings at all exist I would suggest a temporary electric hookup. Tell them you want to build a garage. Move in and proceed. The less that people know about what you are doing, the better off you will by...Best of luck.
-- Ed Copp (OH) (email@example.com), December 07, 2001.
Thanks everyone for your very helpful suggestions and information, and sorry if it seems like my last few posts have seemed to be asking the same question in different ways. I'm just trying to find as much first hand information as possible. Your input really helps though, and now I think we have a clearer idea of what to do and not do. Thanks again!
-- Brian from Cincinnati (firstname.lastname@example.org), December 08, 2001.