After decades of dreaming, years of research, several hands-on workshops, meetings with architects, contractors, structural engineers, and weeks of drafting, it finally happened – we broke ground today.
Lee from Catron Concrete arrived this morning with his tractor and laser-level and he carved a level rectangle into the virgin earth. Ground never before disturbed by man, ground used for thousands of years as a neutral Native American hunting ground and later as pasture for grazing cattle is now being prepared for building.
Next week Shawn will arrive to help set up the foundation lines, then Lee will return with his tractor, trench out the foundation, fill it with stone; this is a rubble-trench foundation. Then we will frame out the piers and footings and, with some trepidation given the impact it has on the environment, we’ll pour concrete into those frames.
After that, Doug, who is a “friend of the ranch” and who assembled our first steel storage building, will again help assemble the steel supports and roof of our beautiful new lodge.
Once the roof is in place, then adobe and straw bales will be delivered and stored safe from the weather, and the walls will be built.
Then salvaged windows from Habitat for Humanity currently in the storage building will be installed, a reclaimed solid-wood door from the 1920’s, as will a one-hundred-and-four year old claw-foot tub from Laguna Beach, and one-hundred year old vegas salvaged from a demolished local motel.
Adobe floors will emerge shiny and soft from the abundant local clay as will earth plastered walls.
Unlike the log-cabins and “double wide” mobile homes that sparsely dot the landscape, the Cielito Lido Ranch lodge is an eighty-five percent recycled, zero-energy building.
That means that, via careful alignment of the building, use of solar heated adobe, and strawbale walls to hold in the heat, the lodge should require no heating.
This means that in summer, thick insulation, high ceilings, ceiling fans and controlled shade will keep the lodge cool and comfortable without heat-pumps, HVACs, or any kind of compressor based air conditioners.
And, because of the built-in solar panels and wind-turbines electricity will be free and abundant.
And finally, thanks to gray water systems, vermiculture systems, and composing there will be no sewage to flow into a river or ocean, or to be pumped from a septic tank.
Is it really possible to live comfortably virtually for free? To kiss goodbye to utility bills forever? Absolutely – and this building is physical proof we hope will inspire many people – maybe even you!
Today we broke ground, to erect this building – a building that definitely breaks with tradition.