We are posting a video update on the CEB flex fab workshop addition, plus news on the first Hexacube solar cubicle that we built in the short time that Nate and Ama were here on a visit. There is interesting information on our newly built stove – a hybrid wood/oil masonry stove with hot water heating and cooking surface.
The interesting point about the Hexacube is that it seems to be a solution for quickly-built, on-demand housing – if we want to house Dream Team 30 at Factor e Farm while we build a Solar Village as a team. The Hexacube is extremely simple to build – 6 identical panels are put together into a structural whole. The Hexacube is entirely modular, and even stackable – so we could stack multiple cubes in a ziggurat configuration. We compare the Hexacube to the Hexayurt in the video.
Privacy, warmth, wireless internet, and electricity. What more would one need to build the world’s first replicable, open source global village for real?
Read the video transcript below.
Hereâ€™s an update on our building adventures. Weâ€™re finishing up the Compressed Earth Brick (CEB) workshop addition â€“ and getting ready to start building our CNC torch table there for making more CEB presses.
The last that youâ€™ve seen was the windows being installed. Since then, weâ€™ve built an inner utility room.
First, we drove the tractor inside to carry the 1600 lb battery bank. That went smoothly, though the tractor was almost hitting the ceiling because we did not dig out the floor yet.
Now thereâ€™s a water pressure tank in there, a shower space â€“ to be framed up, plus the stove system. Thatâ€™s a story in itself.
Itâ€™s a CEB masonry-encased wood stove. It has a Babington burner on the back side. The Babington burner has a cooking surface. Thereâ€™a hot water tank inside a CEB enclosure â€“ so it can be heated by the stove in winter or the Babington in the summer. Thereâ€™s a common chimney for both the stove and Babington.
In any case, this is the only dual wood/Babinton cooking, water heating, masonry stove that we know of on this planet, if not the universe. We plan on adding further heat exchangers so that we could run a steam engine for electricity generation when we using the stove for winter heating.
So thatâ€™s as close to a true masonry stove as we got.
We also did some plastering inside, put in a glass door.
But we need to build ourselves some more housing for our budding village. Weâ€™re looking at expanding the population to 30 by yearâ€™s end. So the most economical year round solution turns out to be the Hexacube.
Itâ€™s modular, industrial, quick, and simple. Itâ€™s 6 standard framed panels â€“ 8×8 feet in size – with 2×4 lumber and Oriented Strand Board (OSB) faces. Itâ€™s got R13 insulation inside, and it takes about a day to build with a team of 4. Even 2 strong people can move a panel by hand. The panels are light enough so that 4 people can move them into place â€“ even the roof. For the roof, we did take off the OSB on one side to reduce the weight a little, as we had to lift that last panel over our heads.
We screwed the panels together with 2x4s and 3â€ drywall screws on each of the 12 edges. The whole structure can be taken apart into panels readily, and moved or modified. We can make several cubicles, and even stack them into a ziggurat configuration. These panels are structural, so this is a move above temporary housing â€“ into housing that lasts on the order of decades.
The solar cubicle rests on cinder blocks, and itâ€™s insulated on all sides. The total cost is $380 without the stove. We used driveway sealer for paint â€“ we found out that itâ€™s the only type of coating that can be applied quite easily in near-freezing and even freezing temperatures â€“ as opposed to paint or tar. The driveway sealer remains quite fluid in cold temperatures.
We put in a little army stove, lined it with CEBs, and lined the wall with aluminum flashing.
The Hexacube solar cubicle proved that we can build on-demand accommodations â€“ in about a day, at about $6 per square foot. This is just standard construction â€“ which is fast to build â€“ unlike natural building.
We expect the solar cubicles to be the transitional housing as we build our Solar Village from Compressed Earth Bricks and local lumber.
Hereâ€™s a comparison of the Solar Cubicle to the Hexayurt. We call the solar Cubicle a hexacube in reference and deference to Vinay of the Hexayurt.
Well, for our purposes â€“ the Hexayurt does not do a good job in winter. Nick was cold in there, with a stove â€“ when it was 20F below 0. The Hexayurt as we built it from OSB – has no floor, no insulation, and is more or less a temporary structure.
All in all, the advantages of the Hexacube are: basically a permanent, modular, stackable structure, twice as fast to build as the OSB Hexayurt, with minimal site preparation. The The disadvantages are that it has about half the usable floor area for a similar cost. It is not easy to insulate a Hexayurt because of its corners. If you use the cheapest insulation, fiberglass â€“ youâ€™d essentially have to frame up the entire Hexayurt, which becomes too expensive in time and materials. On top of this, the Hexayurt has no floor. So weâ€™d recommend the Hexayurt for wind-sheltered, dry, warm areas. In windy areas, the Hexayurt would have to be tied down, which we did here with some stakes at the base.
So the Hexayurt lives as a good summer structure.
Tune in next time for further adventures, at Factor e Farm.