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Discseven's Avatar
 
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Any off-gridder, architect, home builder in CO? Need your insights ~~~

Am looking to build home in CO away from any town and wondering what ramifications are. Power? Water? Solar? Waste? Permits? Tax incentives? Etc...
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Old 01-05-2019, 08:57 AM
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canna change law physics
 
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If you need off-grid power, PM me. We build hybrid solar energy systems. Lots of options, depending on your needs.

Water, you'll need a well.

Permits: You may need a building permit from the county, but usually minimal standards outside city limits

Suggestions:

Design for passive solar heating/cooling. Mostly, you want south facing windows with an extended roofline. This allows direct sun in the winter, but only in-direct in the summer. For a more "extreme" you build a greenhouse/solarium to the south which collects warmth in the winter. You then circulate air from there to the house and to "thermal mass". These days, it can all be automated. You will want a "backup" heating system for cloudy days.

Add "super insulation". Instead of 2x4 framing, go with 2x8 or 2x10. Then insulated the walls with spray-foam. Do the same in the attic/ceiling. This makes the house "tight" and super insulated. You will want to add in an air to air heat exchanger to allow fresh air into the house, without heat loss. There is a 9000 sq-ft house recently built here in Houston like this. They only use 9 tons of air conditioning! My house is 3400 sq-ft and needs 7.5 tons.

When buying a heating/cooling system go Variable Frequency Drive AND geothermal. Instead of a normal condenser, the condenser uses glycol which is circulated into the earth or a water source. These are EXTREMELY efficient.

Hot water heaters, again, use the heat pump type on tanks. The heat pumps are very efficient, especially if also geothermal. I would also install a solar "pre-heat" on the hot water. All of this will minimize the actual electricity you need.

For cooking, I suggest putting in propane. Electric cooking sucks anyway...

James
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Old 01-05-2019, 09:17 AM
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I saw a documentary on PBS or something like that for an off-grid sustainable home. It was really interesting. I think they called it an "earthship home." There's a guy/company that provides plans and builds them. I think he had a small regular crew but then also usually the folks that were going to be living in them helped build them and other folks that wanted to learn about them or eventually build their own would also help.

It was pretty cool. They built it on a south facing slope of a hill. They used packed earth in old tires for the walls (but you didn't see the tires once it was complete). The top of the home was a water collection system and a bunch of water tanks. The south facing wall was designed to provide some light and heat (windows) but, I think it also had solar power. The south facing wall of windows also incorporated an area for a garden. Once completed, the inside didn't seem much/any different from any other home. They seemed to have full conveniences. I think it also had some sort of generator for power in addition to the solar.
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Old 01-05-2019, 09:55 AM
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Where in CO?
Old 01-05-2019, 10:06 AM
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I would definitely go with a water collection system that allows water on a metal roof to be channeled through a gutter system into 275 gallon IBC tanks (the ones with the cage around them).
This water could then be treated, and filtered.

As far as waste, composting toilets will alleviate the need for a septic system, and any grey water could be used in a green house, or garden'

Colorado has many full days of sunshine, so solar panels, into a controller, through a series of deep cycle batteries, into an inverter to get 110 volt AC, would be the most efficient, and may still qualify for some government grants.

If you have a supply of firewood, and are building a home, you can do a "cordwood" design where the walls are actually built with split seasoned, firewood, laid horizontally with the cut end showing, surrounded by an inch or two of mortor. (cut to whatever thickness you want the walls to be).

I would also build a rocket mass stove into the design for efficient burning with much thermal mass.

Last edited by ckelly78z; 01-05-2019 at 12:09 PM..
Old 01-05-2019, 12:02 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by red-beard View Post
If you need off-grid power, PM me. We build hybrid solar energy systems. Lots of options, depending on your needs.

Water, you'll need a well.

Permits: You may need a building permit from the county, but usually minimal standards outside city limits

Suggestions:

Design for passive solar heating/cooling. Mostly, you want south facing windows with an extended roofline. This allows direct sun in the winter, but only in-direct in the summer. For a more "extreme" you build a greenhouse/solarium to the south which collects warmth in the winter. You then circulate air from there to the house and to "thermal mass". These days, it can all be automated. You will want a "backup" heating system for cloudy days.

Add "super insulation". Instead of 2x4 framing, go with 2x8 or 2x10. Then insulated the walls with spray-foam. Do the same in the attic/ceiling. This makes the house "tight" and super insulated. You will want to add in an air to air heat exchanger to allow fresh air into the house, without heat loss. There is a 9000 sq-ft house recently built here in Houston like this. They only use 9 tons of air conditioning! My house is 3400 sq-ft and needs 7.5 tons.

When buying a heating/cooling system go Variable Frequency Drive AND geothermal. Instead of a normal condenser, the condenser uses glycol which is circulated into the earth or a water source. These are EXTREMELY efficient.

Hot water heaters, again, use the heat pump type on tanks. The heat pumps are very efficient, especially if also geothermal. I would also install a solar "pre-heat" on the hot water. All of this will minimize the actual electricity you need.

For cooking, I suggest putting in propane. Electric cooking sucks anyway...

James
A banquet of ideas... Thanks James. PM sent. Let's talk.


Quote:
Originally Posted by masraum View Post
I saw a documentary on PBS or something like that for an off-grid sustainable home. It was really interesting. I think they called it an "earthship home." There's a guy/company that provides plans and builds them. I think he had a small regular crew but then also usually the folks that were going to be living in them helped build them and other folks that wanted to learn about them or eventually build their own would also help.

It was pretty cool. They built it on a south facing slope of a hill. They used packed earth in old tires for the walls (but you didn't see the tires once it was complete). The top of the home was a water collection system and a bunch of water tanks. The south facing wall was designed to provide some light and heat (windows) but, I think it also had solar power. The south facing wall of windows also incorporated an area for a garden. Once completed, the inside didn't seem much/any different from any other home. They seemed to have full conveniences. I think it also had some sort of generator for power in addition to the solar.
Saw that a while back Steve. Great documentary! Am going to see if it's on YT.



Quote:
Originally Posted by 911boost View Post
Where in CO?
Not entirely sure yet Boost. List of wants goes something like this... Near small airport to sailplane out of. In the mountains. 30 to 45 minute drive to good skiing. Outside of town. Several sloped wooded acres with range in distance.
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Current: '80 Silver Targa w /'85 3.2
Prior: '77 Copper 924. '73 Black 914. '74 White Carrera. '79 Silver 930. '79 Black 930. '79 Anthracite 930.
Old 01-05-2019, 12:20 PM
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^^^ Better chance of finding that....in Miami .

Interesting thread....keep it public if ya don't mind....

red-beard needs the exposure too....elections just around the bend.
Old 01-05-2019, 12:29 PM
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Cool project, I've been tossing around something similar. Someday.

Quote:
Instead of 2x4 framing, go with 2x8 or 2x10.
Another option is standard 2x6 framing with a disconnected 2x4 cwall on the inside. You can really pack in the insulation and also stop thermal bridging, framing sucks at insulating, since the framing members dont line up. Lots of 'building science' to look into when its time. As said, try to take advantage of everything mother nature offers and use it to your advantage. Its pretty amazing how much the sun can heat a place with good windows, some thermal mass and proper structure placement on the lot. Wind breaks with the right native trees, solar hot water on the roof, overhangs, soapstone wood stoves ...

really interesting stuff once you get into it.

Good luck!
Old 01-05-2019, 04:12 PM
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canna change law physics
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by VincentVega View Post
Cool project, I've been tossing around something similar. Someday.



Another option is standard 2x6 framing with a disconnected 2x4 cwall on the inside. You can really pack in the insulation and also stop thermal bridging, framing sucks at insulating, since the framing members dont line up. Lots of 'building science' to look into when its time. As said, try to take advantage of everything mother nature offers and use it to your advantage. Its pretty amazing how much the sun can heat a place with good windows, some thermal mass and proper structure placement on the lot. Wind breaks with the right native trees, solar hot water on the roof, overhangs, soapstone wood stoves ...

really interesting stuff once you get into it.

Good luck!
Exactly. I took a solar engineering course in 1987 and the focus was on passive solar and solar water heating, because PV was far too expensive to even think about...
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The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the engineer adjusts the sails.- William Arthur Ward (1921-1994)
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Old 01-05-2019, 04:27 PM
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Clean slate build using wood heating I'd consider a Kachelofen, a larger built in masonry heater.
You can even have the stove door outside, no mess inside, one less times handling each piece of wood. Thermal mass heating, heats up 24hs after going out, no wild room temp swings, common in northern europe gaining acceptance in NA. Many configurations, I've seen whole wall, heated benches, things like stairs built in...it's worth researching.

I can heat my house with my propane wood stove in the basement and the gas fireplace upstairs. After free firewood, propane is the rural easiest, cheapest buy in heat/cooking source and unless you don't have a driveway you can get propane. You can even get a propane fridge.
In a power outage I lose the fireplace AC fan, but it still works as it runs on 2xAA batteries. I only got a backup generator this year after living 22 years in the sticks, because I always had heat and a stove.

I have AC so I also use a couple mini-split heat pumps as much as I can.
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Old 01-05-2019, 05:51 PM
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As someone that has recently moved to CO, let me give you the following suggestion: find a local realtor, architect, and builder to help you out. I have no idea what your budget is but everyone wants what you listed for location so a realtor will help. The architect will help with the design process and legal steps. For example, water rights are crazy around here. And the builder will be the one building it and working with you on material availability and manual labor availability.

I'm not trying to kill your dream, but you definitely want to get the right groups involved up front, just like anywhere else in the country.
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Old 01-06-2019, 10:23 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ckelly78z View Post
I would definitely go with a water collection system that allows water on a metal roof to be channeled through a gutter system into 275 gallon IBC tanks (the ones with the cage around them).
This water could then be treated, and filtered.

As far as waste, composting toilets will alleviate the need for a septic system, and any grey water could be used in a green house, or garden'

Colorado has many full days of sunshine, so solar panels, into a controller, through a series of deep cycle batteries, into an inverter to get 110 volt AC, would be the most efficient, and may still qualify for some government grants.

If you have a supply of firewood, and are building a home, you can do a "cordwood" design where the walls are actually built with split seasoned, firewood, laid horizontally with the cut end showing, surrounded by an inch or two of mortor. (cut to whatever thickness you want the walls to be).

I would also build a rocket mass stove into the design for efficient burning with much thermal mass.
You donít own the water coming off your roof in CO so thatís out.

The farther you are from civilization the more reliability becomes dominant. Hail, heavy storms and lightning, extreme low temps are the dream killers for most of the ideas presented here. Only guy I saw made it work well lived on a mountainside above tree line and used the water coming down to charge up a huge bank of batteries. But even then he got tired of the constant maintenance and inability to leave the property lest his batteries freezes up etc. He sold it after a few years.

I would get the best stove out there and a really good pair of chainsaws. Learn the art of candle making. Get a red union suit to wear all winter. Forgo needless high tech where possible and revel in your own ability to survive.
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Old 01-06-2019, 10:37 AM
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Colorado prices have gone through the roof.
Best bet is North Dakota.

Funny story. Many years ago (1970's) I picked up a hitchhiker on my way back from Denver to Gunnison. A young guy from Florida. So he's looking out the window when we were going through South Park or somewhere and he says "Why are all these fences here? I thought this was the wild west?" Nope, not really. Colorado has always been the playground of the wealthy out of state people. Texans, Oklahoman's, Californians... They all want their piece of it. It attracts them for some reason.
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Old 01-06-2019, 10:49 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Discseven View Post
Not entirely sure yet Boost. List of wants goes something like this... Near small airport to sailplane out of. In the mountains. 30 to 45 minute drive to good skiing. Outside of town. Several sloped wooded acres with range in distance.
There's plenty of small airports for you;

What are your needs as far as LARGE AIRPORT?

If you don't need large airport too much you're going to have more options and you won't need to bring the dumptrucks full of money.
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Old 01-06-2019, 03:20 PM
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Old 01-06-2019, 04:07 PM
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I like this one. Just a tad more than 45 minutes to ski at telluride. Not far from
Moab for off-roaring mountain bike adventures, canyon lands, arches. Great roads to go ripping around in the Porsche.

Montrose has an airport as does telluride. Telluride is in my opinion on of the best ski areas in the state.

https://www.zillow.com/homedetails/Tbd-Thunder-Rd-Norwood-CO-81423/2102403233_zpid/

As others have mentioned it’s all about water in Colorado.
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Old 01-06-2019, 05:04 PM
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Water issue you mentioned Jeff... I looked into that. It's unfathomable how complicated the water laws are in CO. Rainwater Collection in Colorado - 6.707 - ExtensionExtension

Craig... I've looked into prices and some places seem reasonable while others are through the roof. Am open to looking elsewhere. Only reason for CO is I've driven all around the sate over the years---I like it. Been through Utah and New Mexico too.

Wonder if your thinking boatlife being off the grid Bob? I've been on & around the water, palm trees and in the tropics since '74. Had my fill. Years go by without the change of seasons... one year blends into the next.

No large airport needed Gogar. Only need it for sailplane. Winch launcher. If I have enough property... could put runway and winch in. Not sure that;s legal. Will speak with CO sailplane association about.

The 160 acres are nice Rich. I haven't looked in the SW corner yet. My budget is more like 30 acres. Think with enough $$$s put into solar gear and wind, power would be taken care of.
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Current: '80 Silver Targa w /'85 3.2
Prior: '77 Copper 924. '73 Black 914. '74 White Carrera. '79 Silver 930. '79 Black 930. '79 Anthracite 930.
Old 01-10-2019, 06:18 PM
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From input here and delving into the pros & cons of genuinely off gridding it, I've found what floats my boat and what doesn't. In my simplified perspective, to off grid one must attend power, water, food (livestock or caught proteins and garden) and waste capture & recycling. There are two dark spots for me. Killing & butchering raised livestock. Dealing with waste capture and recycling. Power, water, and hunting I can deal with.

Isolation is another downer but not entirely. Not oddly to this crew but surly to some is my interest in being able to receive shipped parts and have relatively nearby retail hardware facilities. Looking at land prices throughout the Rockies, the further from civilization one gets the lower land costs naturally are. Water... it's an odd thing that rainfall is under government rule. Solar too. Waste too.

Taking what I know now into consid, what appeals to me is getting land on the outskirts of a small mountain town where rules and conditions allow for a passive home to be 100%+ solar & wind powered. Am still researching water rights in CO, MT, WY, and ID as well as sun days and wind averages in certain locations in all these states. Point being to land somewhere and... not regret it.

Planning and building a passive home seems a no brainer---is matter of finding right architect and material resources. Where I'm at in this journey, deciding where to plunk down is most complicated decision.

Most inspiring detail to date... $8 annual tax on 30 acres in CO. That, in itself, is very appealing.
__________________
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Current: '80 Silver Targa w /'85 3.2
Prior: '77 Copper 924. '73 Black 914. '74 White Carrera. '79 Silver 930. '79 Black 930. '79 Anthracite 930.

Last edited by Discseven; 01-13-2019 at 08:10 AM.. Reason: SP
Old 01-13-2019, 07:48 AM
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+1 Red Beard.

In the mid 80's I was installing Water Furnace geothermal heat pumps in Canada. The unit installed in my brothers house is now 34 years old, has run flawlessly and costs next to nothing. My .02.
Old 01-13-2019, 10:02 AM
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Not true any more. http://extension.colostate.edu/topic-areas/natural-resources/rainwater-collection-colorado-6-707/
Quote:
Originally Posted by manbridge 74 View Post
You don’t own the water coming off your roof in CO so that’s out.

The farther you are from civilization the more reliability becomes dominant. Hail, heavy storms and lightning, extreme low temps are the dream killers for most of the ideas presented here. Only guy I saw made it work well lived on a mountainside above tree line and used the water coming down to charge up a huge bank of batteries. But even then he got tired of the constant maintenance and inability to leave the property lest his batteries freezes up etc. He sold it after a few years.

I would get the best stove out there and a really good pair of chainsaws. Learn the art of candle making. Get a red union suit to wear all winter. Forgo needless high tech where possible and revel in your own ability to survive.
__________________
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Bob
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Last edited by group911@aol.co; 01-14-2019 at 05:58 AM..
Old 01-13-2019, 08:05 PM
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