Pod living

dream house w/attached office

Earlier this year I drew up plans for a dream house. We seemed on the brink of acquiring an acre and a half very near where our trailer is now, next to two sets of in-laws. I read obsessively about passive solar, kitchen ergonomics and earthships. We visited locals and I revised my drawings daily.

dream kitchen sketch

The land, it turned out, was not (yet) for sale, and with Nathen working full time we knew we wouldn’t have the time to start building right away anyway.

Around the same time, I got concerned about water. Plenty of places that call themselves deserts get 10 or even 20 inches of rain a year. Joshua tree gets about 4. If you haven’t thought about rain in inches much, those four inches could come down in 4 torrential hours. PER YEAR.

weather station screen

Half way through the August rain event, our weather station registered .54 of an inch.

Because of some questionable uses of our local aquifer, Joshua Tree has recently started buying water from Northern California, via the California aqueduct. Aqueducts are huge energy consumers and don’t contribute, generally, to a strong sense of water security.

Given all that, does it even make sense to put down roots here? Am I ready to make that leap? 

So I temporarily put away the idea of home-building. But here we are, and the need for a more functional home didn’t go away. Recently I’ve been thinking that my dream house, under the circumstances, might not be a house so much as a series of pods.

pantry/trailer aerial

Nathen putting a new roof on the pantry, where our fridge and chest freezer live.

Pods are a way of meeting our shelter needs while turning the idea of a house inside-out (or rather, outside-in). A pod-based design allows building in stages, as time and resources permit. It allows experimentation with materials. Pods are also potentially moveable if we end up with land nearby. And local building code allows for 100 sq ft sheds (eg, 12′ x 8′) without permits.

bathhouse aerial

The bathhouse, with Grandpa Bob’s trailer off to the side.

The bathhouse and pantry are already useful pods. My sewing RV is too. Each of those can be improved, aesthetically and functionally. The next pod on my wish list is a sleeping pod. The trailer is hot in the summer and cold in the winter. Building a little, well-insulated room that fit just our bed and clothing would also take a lot of pressure off the trailer: the area that is now our bed could become two couches with a hallway between them, which would give us somewhere to sit other than the kitchen table.

We converted two single beds with an aisle between them into a king-sized megabed, which we have to crawl over to get to the closet on the other side. It's worth it.

We converted two single beds with an aisle between them into a king-sized megabed, which we have to crawl over to get to the closet on the other side. It’s worth it. Pictured here is the shaker peg rail we installed to hang our curtains and “bedside pockets.”

So here is the plan, as of today:

pod plan v5

“Inertia” and “Tioga” are names of RVs (guess which one drives?). South is to the right – most of the structures have a long side facing south, for solar gain in the winter.

And here’s are two books that have inspired my pod-homestead thinking:

 

 

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