I’ve lived all my adult life in rented accommodation. No problem. I’ve enjoyed being able to move when I want to and play in the spaces I lived in.
- what can I afford?
- do I want to build, buy, renovate?
- where do I want to live?
- whose gonna give me money?
- what kind of home do I want?
- if I don’t get the money will I end up homeless when I’m really old? That’s the 3am scaredy voice.
All the decisions I make in my life – be they business or personal – are guided by core values. These values drive everything I am and act as a lodestone for my life. It helps me sort through all the challenges and opportunities that present themselves – when to say no and when to say yes. Here they are:
- Deep respect & enjoyment of me, others and the environment.
- Play, fun, relax, humour. This is the only life I’ve got and I choose to enjoy it – even (and particularly)when the issues are intense, complex & frustrating. I think I just defined the home hunting experience.Perspective is a good thing.
- Beauty in design and execution. I am passionate about the power of beauty and the senses in all aspects of my life.
- Creativity in collaboration. I love what happens when people with passion & commitment get together.
- Ethical living. I try to be aware of the consequences of my actions.
- Share information. I’m a great believer in the power of info sharing.
- Connect people. I really enjoy linking people together. The synergies can be unexpected, entertaining & magnificent.
- Invest in people’s dreams. I deeply believe that we all have amazing inner power.Part of my purpose is to encourage and support people as they try and connect to that power and realise it in the world.
- Small works for me. I choose to work & live on small scale. I don’t want to be global or speak on stage in front of 500 people (although I have done that!). Small & quality can still have ripple effects.
- Listen to both my intuition & my mind. Oh yeh, and the very clear signals my body gives me. I create a lot of time & space to allow all the parts of me to have conversations – and then I make my decisions.
So, all those values will critically inform the decisions I make about the home I want.
Money honey– both the great constrainer and the great liberator – depending on how you choose to view it. In my case I have been told by mortgage people that because of my age they will only lend me a certain amount of money. I was disappointed at first and went into a kind of ‘I’ll never be able to have my own home’ mood. Thankfully, that lasted a very short time and I moved to the belief I work best in – that there are a range of solutions and I just have to get creative.
So, I now see the (relatively) small amount of money that I can access as an amazing opportunity to be creative and live my values. Kind of being creative inside the box.
If I take my values and apply them to this fantastic opportunity then this is what I’m starting to come up with:-
- I want to build a home that is small, beautiful and environmentally sustainable close to Ballinamore
- I will have a mountain of fun as I research the whole process and invite people to be part of my Home Help team
- I have a number of friends with design; architectural and environmental skills that I will invite to pay/barter the development of my home. I will also attract strangers who will offer their time & skills when I need them
- I will document the process of developing my home and share it online
- I will invite/attract creative and ethical people who will support me in the development of my home
I have spent a great deal of time online researching load of stuff on homes – from sustainable design to land available around here to what financial support I could get. Last night I wandered online until around 1am and found some fab sites which I’ll share with you in a sec.
As I was writing this blog the phone rang. It was the environmental education officer for our county. I had sent a number of enquiries to their housing and environment section and she was replying. We had a great conversation about programmes and funding they have for communities (adopt a road; education sessions; composting programmes; adopt a bring bank; etc).
I want my home to be part of a sustainable community and the only way that happens is thru partnership and real collaboration between people and the organisations that represent them. And, if you don’t ask – you don’t get. So, I now have some idea of ways I could be part of local efforts to create a sustainable community where I will build my home. I have also created a connection to a person – and we can be of real benefit to each other.
OK – here are a few really interesting references on solar/passive home design as well as small house design. And might I say – I’m tickled and proud of myself for working out how to do weblinks in my blog. A small step for techie bloggers – a huge step for Liz. Also, this whole process is a fab example of the power of technology and the internet – and how it connects people and provides information to help make big decisions.
The Appalachian State University developed a free handbook on affordable passive solar homes. Really interesting and it just brings all the key concepts together. Takes a while to download but worth it – have a cup of tea.
This site is a kind of meta site on passive and solar home design. Heaps of links to sites that provide plans, stories and even videos of design.
Cornell University students developed a video that show their house design entry into the Solar Decathalon. Nice video with a young male student who did a pretty good job of describing the sustainable design elements of the building – in spite of the background noise – and I’m sure his mates making faces behind the camera.
This video is of alternative homes in the San Fransisco area. I looked at yurts; boats; containers; and Michelle Kaufman’s designs. Really interesting to see the options rather than just reading about them. It also shows Jay Shafer’s tiny home of 100 sq feet. Jay has pioneered a lot of small home design and is part of the Small House Society.
And don’t we all love stories with pics. I really enjoyed reading the why’s and hows of the small houses/workshops these people developed. Well done the Tiny House Company. The Country Plans company also shows owner/builder stories with pics. I’d love to be able to have a real part in building my home and I will – just got a heap to learn. Luckily I have some very good friends who can help me – and I do know my chosen limitations. I’ll open the champagne and keep the team spirit high as others clamber over the roof – although I am a very good house painter and can do small DIY stuff under supervision – even have my own power tools!
Closer to home here in Ireland, there are a range of helpful sites. Sustainable Energy Ireland provides information and grants for people wanting to build sustainable homes. Construct Ireland is an excellent mag on everything to do with sustainable construction. There are heaps of other sites and any search using green building; sustainable; home etc will bring them to you.
Last and definitely not least – I want to mention my favourite ecological architects Solearth in Dublin. Brian O’Brien is a dear friend and his firm walks the talk folks. The site is full of interesting information including examples of their work in civic mixed use; residential and urban and community design.
My mission (should I choose to accept it – and I do) will be to design and build a small, passive, sustainable & beautiful home – with the help of my friends and fab strangers I have yet to meet – in the Ballinamore area by early 2008. There, I’ve clarified the dream, stated my values, and set a clear time for it to become a reality.
Naming and clearly speaking/seeing/feeling the dream will be a great help when I’m stuck in the trenches of developing my home. On the days when I wonder ‘what the hell am I doing?’ – I’ll know why and how and who.
Writing this blog has really helped me clarify what I want in a home.
Don’t know about you – but I’m excited. Thanks for listening.