Moving soon… I’m ecstatic!

Just talked to Dennis (Bob’s son, the seller) and he’s willing to let us rent while in escrow!  Since escrow isn’t scheduled to close until the end of April, and pruning in the vineyard needs to get done early to mid March, he said he wouldn’t mind if we moved in asap.  I told him our current landlord deserves a 30 day notice since we’ve been living there for 7 years. So, it looks like we’ll be moving in the next 30 days!  I can’t tell you how excited I am to finally start a new chapter in my life.

Dave (my husband) is pretty anxious, too.  I’m pretty sure he’s looking forward to starting the big organic garden as soon as we get moved in, so we can get certified to supply his restaurant with our own local & organic produce.  Takeables is mostly a take & bake restaurant, but we are becoming known for using only local and fresh ingredients in wraps, stromboli, calzones and other baked goods like mini pies and muffins.  Dave makes extra effort to find his ingredients organic and non-gmo, too!

Enough about that, this blog is about the Earthship and our plans to build it on our new vineyard property…

I’m posting a pic below of the satellite view vs. a mock up of what I would like to see happen in the next 2 years (stretching it out).  Feel free to comment here or on my Facebook page link to this post.

I have started looking for donations of old sheets, pillowcases and woven polypropylene bags.  The bags can be from dog food, cat food, etc.  We’re looking for large plastic bags that look like they are woven… you’ll know em when you see em!  I want to build my mom an earthbag/cob greenhouse as a practice project.  Her and I have collected 6 free shower doors, and several windows we found on craigslist and from her friends; we now have enough glass to complete the greenhouse!

For our house, I found a cool earthbag post a while back where this gal used old sheets sewn into large tubes the same size as the tubular (continuous) earthbags you buy commercially from CalEarth.  From another vendor named United Bags, I can buy 1,000 mis-printed rice bags that are 18″ x 30″ for only $250… but who wants to spend needed cash on that method when you can use your sewing machine to sew together old donated sheets to get the same results?  Beside that, the cotton or other material they are made out of, to me, sounds greener than using polypropylene.  So, hit me up if you have something we can use that you cannot!  If you need to ship it to me, I have a FedEx account you can use to ship it on my dime!

I’m looking forward to keeping things posted on our progress both here and on my Facebook page.  Thanks for reading and watching our progress!


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Relocacting the Earthship Plans

Here’s a fine example of how “when one door closes, another opens”…

My good friend and long-time customer Bob Hooper passed away on Dec. 20th at the age of 76.  He was the owner/winemaker at Intermountain Vineyards & Winery just east of Redding off 299 (about 2 miles before Bella Vista).  Bob was the only bonded winery producing fruit wines in the region, and he had about 15 different varietals from Sweet Blackberry to Pomegranate and Fig wines.  I did a lot of printing at my print shop for Bob, along with all the labels on his wine bottles… I’m really going to miss him, his big heart and skinny hugs (he was just skin & bones, I was always trying to feed him from my husband’s restaurant).  After Bob’s passing I met with his son who was in charge of his estate, and he told me that he really wanted to see it carried on, but he wasn’t able to because he is so tied to his job & life in Fresno.  I told him about our endeavor with the land on Lilla Lane in Palo Cedro, and how I recently found out that the land was zoned in a way that prohibits any structure from being built on it.  That’s right: I recently discovered that the land on Lilla Lane is zoned F-1.  In Shasta County, you are prohibited from constructing any residential structure. Fabulous, right?  No wonder our 45 day escrow has been over 90 now, the seller can’t even legally sub-divide it if I understand the rules correctly.  So, at the end of this month (January) Dennis is going to be up in Redding, and we are to meet up to go over all the necessary details about us buying the property on Intermountain Road.

I can’t express how much it hurts to lose a friend, but at the same time feeling extremely thankful and excited about the opportunity we have in front of us.  We’ve been throwing the idea around for a long time about making our own home-made fruit wines because we love Bob’s wine.  We already make our own beer, so it’s something we’ve been wanting to try.  On top of the wine business coming at us, the 5 acre property has an established garden, 12 sheep and 2 dogs.  We will be adopting the animals, and although I’m nervous about having dogs (because I haven’t had a dog since I was a kid), I’m anxious to start utilizing the resources the sheep have to offer.  I plan on making cheese and harvesting the wool to sell to local artisans.  Dave has been waiting for the opportunity to grow his own certified organic produce to supply the restaurant, and with the south facing hill on the property, I am certain we will be able to build the earthship and have a year-round producing garden in the indoor area of the south facing windows in the eartship.

So I guess the old saying is true, when one door closes, another opens. Our door to the Lilla Lane property with creekside frontage turned out to be bunk and that door has closed; so I will take my escrow deposit and put it toward the down payment on the Intermountain Vineyards & Winery and we will learn the grape growing & winemaking business.  I’m glad Bob left an apprentice to help us with all of it, I can’t wait to start working with Cindy!

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Super depressed. Had to use the savings today to cover bills :'(

This sucks. I had $900 saved as of today. Then I went and checked my account balance at the bank, if I didn’t deposit the money I would have gotten $180 in n.s.f. fees because I had 6 transactions coming in that would have each cost me $30 in fees. UGHHH!!! I am just so sick right now. I feel like crawling in a hole.  The only plus out of me going to the bank with all that cash to deposit is me telling my sob story to one of the tellers.  She said she heard I had my ’68 bug for sale and her husband was interested in it.

So everyone (or anyone who might be reading this), please cross your fingers and think positive thoughts for me that I sell that bug for $1,500.  Then I will at least be that much closer to my goal of saving $5,000 for the down payment on the land.  I hate this feeling of wanting something so bad, and being so close to almost having it. I just am so tired of living in the city and commuting out to the country to my job. I want to live out here so bad, be off the grid and have my farm.

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Getting closer to my goal for the down payment!

I’ve been saving every 20 dollar bill I get from doing business every day at my little print shop.  I’m excited to say I am only $4,360.00 away from making the rest of the down payment.  I am still worried to find out how much the closing costs are going to be, though.  I’ve never felt so much anxiety over something… well, aside from being in the delivery room during my son’s birth.

I have had several people from my craigslist ads comment to me via email about the earthship.  Comments like, “you’re a shasta county pioneer” and such.  I am still freaking out about permits and all that stuff.  We have to extend the dirt road to get into our property, and the grading permit cost is kinda crazy.  I can’t find a guy who will do it without a permit, either. ugh!

Why must we as citizens give into our local government and let them rape us of our hard earned money just to get permission to do something on our OWN properties?  I mean, we own the land (along with Mother nature), so why in the world must we PAY to get permission to do something?  This is something I never understood growing up on a rural farm in the middle of nowhere, and at almost 40, I still don’t get it.  Then during and after our project, we must again PAY an inspector to come out and make sure we did it properly. I mean, WTF… really???

Well, +++ positive thoughts +++

I am closer to my goal, and I’ve learned that the closing of escrow wont be until around November 15th… so I have a bit more time than I originally anticipated.  I’ve also been given an old motorhome for Dave & I to stay in while we are building; so now I am on the lookout for another small RV or even cab-over-camper for Bo to stay in.  He really needs his own space, and what 16 year old boy wouldn’t?  So if you know anyone getting ready to scrap a camper or RV, please contact me!

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Watch “Earthship: Temperature Control, Corner Cottage” on YouTube

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Fees, Fees & More Fees!

So I downloaded all of the different packets listing all the fees for this and that from Shasta County. The Building Division has this pdf available for download (see table below).  If you apply for a building permit, they base the fee on the square footage of the building.  Kinda smart, but— your application is only valid for a certain period of time.  So if it takes you longer to build than you anticipated and your permit expires, you have to pay the fee all over again!  What?!?

The more I dig on how to keep myself legal on this project, the more I realize how the whole idea of having to have acquire a permit for anything is completely capitalistic.  It’s no wonder why there are so many un-permitted structures around this county.  The fees and permitting processes are insane!  Below is a table on the fees based on square footage.  Now, this is just for the permit to build something.  These fees don’t include all the individual permits for plumbing, electrical/solar, grading, roofing, inspection (yes you have to pay the inspector to come out even though they require it be inspected)… the list goes on!  I don’t know what I’m going to do.  The fees and permits are going to exceed the cost of our building, that is one thing I can count on.

My worries about the permit fees are outweighing my worries about creating a shelter to live in before winter really sets in around December.  I was hoping to move onto the land in an RV shortly after escrow closes so I could live rent free until we have to make the first land payment 6 months after escrow closes; but I also found out you have to pay for a permit to park an RV on your property even if you’re not living in it.  So all these people around the county who are living in RVs on their land are in violation?  What the heck?  It’s so frustrating!

Building Permit Applications — RESIDENTIAL FILING/PLAN CHECK FEES – 2012
See “Processing Your Permit Application” at the Building Division Web Site for refund information on how long your application is valid.
up to 600 = $434  |  601 – 800 = $510  |  801 – 1000 = $604
1001 – 1200 = $690  |  1201 – 1400 = $765  |  1401 – 1600 = $833
1601 – 1800 = $904  |  1801 – 2000 = $970  |  2001 – 2200 = $1036
2201 – 2400 = $1108  |  2401 – 2600 = $1175  |  2601 – 2800 = $1240
2801 – 3000 = $1308  |  3001 – 3200 = $1368  |  3201 – 3400 = $1444
3401 – 3600 = $1511  |  3601 – 3800 = $1575  |  3801 – 4000 = $1648
4001 – 4200 = $1715  |  4201 – 4400 = $1782  |  4401 & up = Call

OTHER (SQUARE FEET) — Living Additions
250 – 400 = $295  |  401 – 600 = $434  |  601 – 800 = $510
801 -1000 = $604  |  1001 – 1200 = $690  |  1201 – 1400 = $765  |  1401 & up = Call

Garage Converted To Living
up to 400 = $210  |  401 – 600 = $295  |  601 – 800 = $380
801 -1000 = $455  |  1001 – 1200 = $518  |  1201 – 1400 = $575  |  1401 & up = Call

Garages / Misc Buildings / Additions
up to 400 = $164  |  401 – 600 = $221  |  601 – 800 = $289  |  801 -1000 = $344
1001 – 1200 = $392  |  1201 – 1400 = $441  |  1401 & up = Call

Patios / Carports Decks / Additions
up to 400 = $106  |  401 – 600 = $125  |  601 – 800 = $144
801 -1000 = $166  |  1001 – 1200 = $183  |  1201 – 1400 = $202  |  1401 & up = Call

Mobile/Manufactured Home Filing Fee:
Installations = $114 – Foundation Systems and Chattels = $156
Swimming Pools/Spas = $90

Private Bridges
Actual plan review hourly rate cost, as determined by the Director of Public Works.
Commercial Filing/Plan Review fees
The fee depends on the building. To calculate a filing fee the following information is needed: Occupancy group, type of construction, square footage and estimated valuation.
Building Permit Fees:
After the building plans have been approved, permit fees must be paid before the building permit can be issued.

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Escrow Deposit Raised! Worry time begins…

Whew! I finally got enough “extra” money pulled together to make the escrow deposit of $1,000 today!  Monday morning I will be taking my fine self down to the title company to make the deposit.  The title company says I now have a couple weeks to do all of our “investigating” on the land to make sure it’s suitable for everything we want to do… which is silly, because if it wasn’t suitable I wouldn’t even have been interested in it in the first place, huh?  I suppose that investigation would include a perk test, soil test and perhaps getting the report from FEMA where the 100-year flood plain is, since the western border of the property is all creek frontage. Cow Creek turns into a river during the winter, but lucky for us when you stand at the edge of the creek on the land you have to look about 10 feet down a cliff’s edge to see the edge of the water. (see photos)

The title company also told me I can have the land appraised for a $350 fee, but I have been talking to a lot of realtors in Palo Cedro and they all have assured me that I’m paying a fair price for the land. They say that having the creek frontage adds value to the land, yet I still feel like I am about to jump into a swimming pool full of sharks.  I’m so nervous, but I guess this is how everyone feels at this point in making a big life-changing purchase.

My next step is to follow my engineer’s advice and contact Nader Khalili (the California based architect who specializes in earthbag building), to find out how to get all of our permit applications approved.  Mark Darnall (my engineer) suggested I contact him because he’s in California and has done plenty of buildings to suit the “code”, so he would be able to direct me with what verbiage to use and possibly provide me with structural drawings to show the Shasta County Building Dept.  No matter what, I want to make sure that our building is approved by the county and I’m not breaking any laws… which I am not too excited to comply with.

One thing that stinks is I really wanted to do all of this without having to pay for all the ridiculously expensive permits, inspections, etc; only because my biggest fear is being denied of my right as a human to build my structure with earth, and live on my land without being bothered by legal processes.  Just the permit to grade the driveway is  over $1,300.00.  Then there is this ridiculous “Application Fee”… you have to pay a fee to apply for a permit at the same time you pay for the permit?!?!  My husband is atimate that I go through all the right “legal” processes.  I’m worried about the inspections because all 3 of my neighbors have un-permitted structures on their properties right in plain sight. I’m worried that when the county comes out to inspect my stuff they are going to look over their shoulder and see that the neighbor has “this” or “that” and then he fines them when he was only out there to inspect my stuff… then my new neighbors hate me. Ugh… the worries!!!

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My first donation!

Thank you so much to Ed & Virginia Phelps for donating to Phase 1: Securing the Land!!! Your names will go on the Sponsor’s Monument after the Earthship is completed! If you would like to be on this monument, please consider any amount and donate to our cause thru PayPal.  Click on the link below. Thank you for your consideration!

Donate Any Amount to Our Endeavor!

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My Pinterest Board

I have been collecting images on my Pinterest boards for ideas and visions on what I would like to see in our Earthship.  The board I’ve titled “Cob Home Ideas” has a lot of all 3 elements I’d like to see go into our home.  Earthbag framing, cob plastering as well as rammed earth tire walls (mostly for butresses in my design).  I would love it if you took the time to check out my Pinterest boards, and if you would like to leave me a comment here, please feel free.  We are still in Phase 1: Securing the Land with a down payment.  I have until Halloween to raise $6,000. If you could even donate $5, that would help! Please use the Fundraising link at the top/right of the page to donate via PayPal.  Thanks for your consideration!

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Welcome to our little blog, we will be posting progress on our venture in building Shasta County’s first Earthship. An Earthship is an off-grid, self-sustainable home that is built from recycled materials and the earth from which it stands on.

My name is Joey, along with my husband Dave and my son Bo, we hope to be a part of environmental, architectural and local history by following the methods laid down by such builders as Michael Reynolds, Owen Geiger and Nader Khalili for our rammed earth and earthbag based home.  For other elements of our Earthship we will be following ideas from cob builders such as Ianto Evans and Becky Bee.

Since we are currently in the “secure the land” phase, we need your help.  We have until Halloween 2012 to raise $6,000 for the down payment on the 5 acres along Cow Creek in beautiful Palo Cedro, California.  After the 45 day escrow period, we will have 6 months before we will have to make our first land payment, just enough time to get the main part of the house built so we have shelter to live in while we finish the building.  The goal of living in an Earthship is having financial freedom. We will be producing our own energy through solar, providing our own water with rain-water catch systems as well as a small well on the property.  Our greywater & sewage treatment facility will be on-site as well.

To get more familiar on what an Earthship is, and how it works, I encourage you to watch the full length documentary featuring Michael Reynolds here <–click!

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