Microhouse 2013 Discussion

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Jacob and Ace

from New Frameworks natural builders:

I was just at a conference in Ontario where I was able to get into conversation with a colleague who is doing CEB work with a commercial press he bought about 7 years ago. He's found good ways of integrating the technology into cold climates, using the CEBs for interior structural wall and wrapping the exterior with straw bales for insulation and finish. Quite intriguing, and it was really helpful to get a more clear sense of the scope of the process and additional materials required (hammermill, mixer, loader, soil storage infrastructure). I've discussed just briefly with Ace and Ben, we are all really interested in integrating this technology into our practice and collaborating with you sounds like an exciting way to proceed. We've got a lot to discuss internally concerning our time commitments this summer - a lot of projects are already well in the pipeline - but the schedule hasn't been completely set. We're having a meeting next week to block out the schedule for the season ahead, and I thought it would be helpful to get a more clear sense of your proposal. To that end, a few questions:

- Do you have a specific project/client in mind, or are you looking for us to find a client/project? My understanding from your email is that you will provide the machine and construction plans, and we'll find the client and execute the build-out. Is this correct? - Where is the machine now, and would you be able to transport it and train us on its use? Any other documentation/support on how you've worked with the press? - Can you provide your experience/feedback on your process of working with CEB press? We'd be looking at needing to set up full site infrastructure (mentioned above) and develop a recipe, and need to consider that overhead in both time and equipment in our commitment to the project. I saw the manufacturing video, very impressive. As builders, we would be interested in your experience of working with the completed machine. - Do you have a specific time frame in mind by which this project would need to be completed? If we find ourselves too busy to execute this within the upcoming building season, but commit to lining up a client and doing a build-out for the following season, does that interest you, or are you looking for a commitment for this year?

More questions to follow as we explore further, thanks for your replies.

In other news, at this same conference I presented the prototype of our in-wall temperature/humidity sensors. Running on Arduino, planning on pulling an open source patent in the near future (need to educate ourselves on what that actually looks like), moving into beta testing in the next couple of weeks. I'll continue to keep you posted of those developments.


We are your clients. We provide you with a working brick press and tractor.

You provide complete blueprint and documented build procedure of house prior to the build.

We approve plans and you source materials from IKEA and big box store for lumber and utilities.

You arrive on site and we train you in brick press, hammer mill (for insulation), stucco sprayer and soil pulverizer operation.

House foundation, 400 sf, walls, roof, stucco, in week's time. Modular mechanical unit prepared, wiki house roof modules prepared, bricks pressed by you. We offer 1 full time intern as an assistant, videographer. We provide 6 people for the 2 days of brick production/laying, so we build walls via drystacking (ie, inter brick layer moistened only). We will have second brick press available as backup. We will have second tractor/pulverizer available as backup.

Prior to build, all materials are shipped on site. You coordinate with our site manager. We draw up a careful build procedure prior to the build, and OSE approves it based on our ergonomics experience. You coordinate with our video team on specific daily tasks so they understand and capture all video for an instructional.

Note that the only construction plans are on the wiki. You would have to provide full detail drawings as part of Build Procedure Documentation.

The timeline is for this building season, likely July.

We could offer the machine to you at cost of materials, $4k. You would be responsible for shipping the machine back to your home. The machine does not come with a power unit.

The value that we are offering to you is $5k (we sell machine for $9k). Plus, we are including training on all of the machines. You are providing 3 weeks of design work and 1 week of build.

We could also offer to pay you outright for your design-build services, instead of offering the brick press.

If you cannot do this this year, please recommend someone else.

We are looking for collaboration with you as a pilot project for training builders ( you) to build with CEB.

We would like to invite you back on the future as a Permaculture Design Course teacher for CEB construction, if you are interested in contracting with us in the future. Working with us here would open up this option.

In the meantime, we are all learning together, and using your services as a general contractor design-builder.