Guest Post by Douglas Burch
Attached are pics of my micro-mini Hawaiian style house. I built it and incurred only $6,600 debt on top of the $3,600 income I received over a ten week period. That included my cutting paths through the jungle for survey, getting a D9 bulldozer to do the site preparation ($2,100) materials and $400 outside labor by the invaluable Robbie Villanueva who basically tore up my plans and became the architectural consultant that defined the house.
The post and pier construction keeps the house up off the ground (300 inches of rain per year) and doubles the floor space by making a utility space underneath (5 feet 2 inches but we should have made it 6 feed or more!) and allows the house to “walk” during the frequent quakes. In Hawaii posts for awnings and porches are never attached to the slab so the whole thing doesn’t tear itself to pieces when the wave passes through the ground. The overhand is 2 feet to keep rain off the walls and provides 288 square foot of rain collection for a catchment water system.
The most interesting aspect to me was the roof. Instead of joists that go the length joined by stringers it has a style I believe is imported from Japanese construction. The 2 x 4 x 12s are run 2 feet apart and nailed flat! Then another run is done perpendicular to that in 2 foot spacings. The roof is incredibly strong and gives you a liberal 3.5 inch wide target for your roofing nails. The tin roof is my favorite thing and it is only slightly pitched because as Robbie said “How the hell are you gonna get up there and work if it is sloped 45 degrees?” Access to the roof is important due to rain gutter issues, solar gear, and painting to protect the tin from the very, very acid rain from the volcano.
The floor is 2 x 8s on sixteen inch centers with 3/4 ply, the walls 1/2 plywood with 2 x 4s on 24 inch centers. Basically, Robbie got me twice the floor space I had planned on with a purchase of the porch roof and some more flooring. I was going to build an 8 by 8 foot room and stop there.
The building is like many other in the neighborhood that have survived all the rain, earthquakes and hurricanes thrown at them. It is a freehold building licensed as an “agricultural outbuilding.” It is a green house, man, see, it is green! After camping in a large tarp tent with 40 inches of rain falling each week, the sound of rain on that tin roof was the most wondrous and soothing thing ever. I plan to be a self sufficient hippie farmer and have a pirate ship in Hilo bay and now I am on my way.
P.S. I want to found the Adult Tree House Builders of the World Society. Our goal is to make it legal to build ANY structure you wish on any piece of land, say an acre or more, without any interference, inspections, fees or government bullshit and live in it as you will. The deed restriction would be that when you sell the property you have a big keg party and burn it down so the government doesn’t have to worry that you are endangering some unsuspecting buyer. Feel free spread the idea, but cite Vitus The Mad ™ Vitus S. Douglas Burch as the founder.