Prairie Creek Electric Farm - prairiecreekelectricfarm
House Construction in Progress
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Hey, glad you dropped by. This website has construction design and progress photos of the house I'm building on my farm near Lineville, AL. If you're not from around here, that is in the hill country of East Alabama where I grew up. That's about 1/2 way between Birmingham and Atlanta on the south side of the Talladega mountain range with a view of Mt. Cheaha which is the highest point in Alabama and in the U.S. south of the I-20 interstate.
The house design took place over many years of collecting ideas, technologies and techniques. It had to be simple to minimize cost and labor since I'm building it myself. Several ideas for the house came from the Department of Energy's Solar Competition that takes place on the D.C. Mall every other year. The DOE website provides the full blueprint package of each entry for download.
The entire house is made up of 12x12x12 foot boxes or cubes, 14 in all, a little over 2,000 sq. feet. I build one cube, then attach the next cube. Then that cube is customized for it's function, kitchen, great room, bathroom, etc. The basic construction is the same thing over and over. I should be pretty good at building cubes after 14. The great room with the pool table is a combination of 6 cubes for a 36 x 24 foot area. If you look at the projection of the front of the house, each section with two windows is one cube. It's an extremely strong design similar to what was used in silver mining operations in the 1800's around Silver City, NV. They used cubes to support the mine shafts.
Next year after the last cubes are in place, I'll start on phase 3, the underground parking garage which is cut into the ridge behind the house. That has a large workshop, parking spots for 8 vehicles and a storage room. I haven't uploaded the computer view of that. Coming soon.
Yes the house does look a lot like an office, warehouse or as one lady visitor put it, "an upscale bar", but I like the simplicity, brick, exposed beams, wood/paving stone/tile floors, lots of glass, open space, some laminated wood walls to break up the brick and heated floors.
I hope to have the first 9 cubes closed in with a roof by Feb 2013. (made that) and be living in that part of the house by April 2014. The remaining cubes and the in-deck swimming pool are to be in place by the end of 2014. I'm slow but I work cheap.
If you have a question just post it in a comment section and it is sent to my email.
First question I usually get is where does the name, "Prairie Creek Electric Farm" come from? The large creek that runs through the property is called Prairie Creek. My grandfather Miller did row crops and then dairy cattle on the 70 acres as I was growing up. I learned to drive on his tractor when he would let me plow. I now lease the pastures out for hay cutting. But my goal is to produce enough electric power with solar collector arrays and 2 wind turbines to meet the power needs of the house. And feed the excess power generation back into the Alabama Power Grid for credit. Then at night the house pulls power from the grid. So the farm will harvest electricity. The other part of the name is to honor my dad, Theron Roberts who worked for the Alabama Power Company for over 40 years. He never had the opportunity to attend college but he was one of the most brilliant people I ever met. He taught me how to use my hands and brain to build things. That is the basis of the name. (see the "Solar/Wind Power" tab) for additional info.
One other concept that came into play with the house was to be able to survive an EF-5 tornado and still be habitable. These features are not fully incorporated in the computer views yet. But the roof will have "Flow Fences" and spoilers similar to airplanes I've flown. These are to kill the lift that the high winds of the tornado produce flowing over the roof. That is the force that lifts the roof off a house. Similar to an airplane wing. The house is situated in a 12 foot deep cutout on the north slope of a ridge. This creates protective banks on 3 sides. The house has extensive glass on the north side facing the pond, so in order to protect that, the house has 1 foot thick shutters that cover the entire 3 sections of the north wall. These "super" shutters are raised and lowered by hydraulic pistons controlled by the house computer. In the raised position they become the roof of the deck.
Beginning of 2013
I have the rafter support section over the North end of the great room in place. This coming week depending on the rain, I hope to get the remaining rafter supports over the south end of the great room in place. Then by next week or 1st of Feb. cover the remainder of the roof with OSB panels.
First week of October
Things are progressing. Last week I finished pouring the concrete footings for the outside walls. Added the 4 columns on the North side facing the pond. Two of those are those are at the full 8 foot height, the other two should be complete when I can add the scaffold for that section. Have almost all of the concrete block walls up to the 5 foot level. I have to pour the core concrete, add the 1/2 inch rebar and finish covering with Surface Bonding Cement before I can move on up to the 12 foot level. About 300 more concrete blocks to add. I have about 375 in place last count.
Thanks for everyone asking about my leg problem last week. Much better this week. I've been slowly trying to build back up to close to what I was doing normally before the problem.
Down with leg/hip problem
Not able to work since Friday due to a problem with my hip/leg. Couldn't walk on Friday. I had gotten off and on the tractor all day while bush hogging. That puts a strain on my hip to raise the leg up high enough to clear the seat when getting on and off.
First week of August
Taking a break for the first part of August and heading out to Tucson, AZ. Be out there for about 2 weeks. Then start on the foundation and frame for the next 6 cubes. I have a major revision to the house plans which I'll be working on in Arizona between explorations of local attractions. Maybe by then it will cool down in Alabama a little bit.
1/13/2013 4:50:56 PM - 002034995499
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8/26/2012 3:09:17 PM - 002034995499
Three bed rooms. One loft bedroom on the top of cube one, that's where the stairs go to off the great room. The other two bedrooms are along the back (south) wall, one next to cube one, then the master bath room and then a bedroom on the southwest corner. I'll add a floor diagram to the photos.
8/26/2012 12:50:40 PM - 005084357112
How many bedrooms and their location?
Pictures & Videos
3/9/2014 6:34:35 PM