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Creative, Affordable, Durable, Sustainable, & Adorable ADUs in California

Posted on February 21, 2022. Filed under: Accessory Dwelling Units, ADUs, AirBnB, Building, Construction, First Time Buyer help, Homeownership, Informed Investor Alliance, Los Angeles property, Los Angeles Real Estate, Making Life Easier, Orange County Real Estate, Owning Despite Student Debt, Real Estate Stories, Renting, Summer fun | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

Cal Earth inspirational workshops and hands-on classes offer a new way to build real estate

Today we took a field trip to the Cal Earth build & test site in Hesperia. This educational builder camp sits in Hesperia, CA because it has extreme heat, freezing cold temps, and is on a fault line. Additionally, Hesperia experiences flash flooding & washes, so it makes for a perfect test ground.

Superadobe buildings are Seismic & earthquake proof, fireproof, flood, & wind proof. They can handle snow loads and pressure. They don’t need rebar or concrete to build. They look super creative & flowy, but they are actually extremely structurally sound.

Many of the test structures at the Hesperia Cal Earth site are not maintained on purpose to see how they stand the test of time. This school has truly been built out by its students, and the first structure built in 1990’s is still standing today. It was such a fascinating experience!

Meet the Superadobe

If needed for refuge or quick builds, these structures can pop up camp in just a couple days. ‘Water village’, pictured here with Cal Earth volunteers Giovanni & Marco, is an on-site example of a cluster of single room homes, built to serve as a replica of what an actual refugee community might look like. Although designed to be temporary housing, this little village has been standing for the last 20 years.

Since superadobes are so durable, they can also stand the test of time for single family builds. Don’t feel like buying a ‘cookie cutter’ tract home? Cal Earth Institute offers preapproved plans – if you sign up for one of their workshops you’ll get a copy 😉 Of course, this is a part of the reason why we went. What’s a workshop without implementation?

We’d love to hear in the comments if you know anyone who has built a superadobe, or if you plan to build one yourself.

What Makes an Adobe Home a Superadobe?

Nader Khalili is the inventor & architect from Iran, who used to build skyscrapers for a living in Los Angeles, but he wasn’t fulfilled. He discovered Rumi, & changed his direction into sustainable building. 

Not long after, Nader invented the ‘superabdobe’; which is a permanent Adobe structure. Rather than a traditional Adobe that cannot withstand a natural disaster, Superadobes are much more durable. Nader has since moved on from this realm, but his vision lives on through Cal Earth Institute.

Khalili loved biomimicry, mimicking designs and structures from nature. His designs include the ‘Seashell dome’; ‘Reptile walls’; and the ‘Koala pouch’. Not everything was biomimicry, however. The dome-obsessed architect also incorporated roofless domes for high heat; apses, and pottery domes.  

Supply List to Build a Superadobe ADU

I loved how easy the supply list was. These were things that even I could carry, and didn’t need a huge truck to transport.

  • 4 pt double pronged galvanized barbed wire; 12-14 gague thickness.
  • 14 inch diameter bags to make 12 inch walls, just FYI you lose some width when you fill the bag with earth.
  • Need coffee cans, or gallon buckets, depending on width of bags.
  • Shovels,
  • Tamper,
  • Wheelbarrow,
  • Scissors or knife
  • A cement mixer or electric mixer makes things go way quicker.
  • Level
  • Wire cutters
  • Water source

Want the FULL supply list? That’s still super short? Just TEXT “Cal Earth Supply List” to Angie at 949-338-7408.

Another thing that’s really neat is you don’t have to build a shelter at all with the earthbags from Cal Earth. You can build benches, stairs, planters, pools, fountains, fences…an Amphitheater for your Hipcamp…or whatever flowy and functional structure your mind conjures up 🙂

Pictured right is Daniel & our new Cal Earth workshop friends practicing with with the tamper. I can just see his wheels turning about what the next Flower Den Superadobe Retreat will look like – stay tuned, LOL!

Tips For Building a Superadobe Structure

A fun fact about superadobes is the heat transfer from outside is only at about one inch per hour. It won’t get too hot or too cold over the 12 hour daylight or nighttime hours. Not only do adobe’s prevent heat, they absorbs it, so that warmth slowly transfers inside to keep you comfortable at night. 

Our first tips are about measuring and prepping properly for your fill:

  1. When laying barbed wire, measure from the center of your bag, and add 2 extra feet.
  2. When measuring for bag, walk the perimeter of the circle, and add 3 feet before cutting.
  3. Fold long bags in half & mark the middle. ‘Cuff’ the ends so plastic doesn’t fly all over.
  4. Partially flip bags inside out from each side, this makes them easier to fill. Be mindful to ONLY fill one side at a time.
Superadobe’s can be open air or include windows. Here’s a sample of a Superadobe kitchen, built in 2007. This model uses standard windows, but you can also get creative with upcycled glass bottle or ceramic windows.

More Pointers for a Proper Adobe Build

Since your main ingredient is earth from the land you’re standing on, you’ll want to ensure you’ve got the right mix. As you’ll be investing a lot of sweat equity, make sure to do a soil test before building to know how far you’ll need to go down in the earth to get past the living matter. It was stressed multiple times, make sure no living matter or roots are in your mix. Rocks bigger than your palm need to go too. If you can close your hand around it, then it’s fine, but larger than that should be tossed from the mix. Don’t worry though, it’s very forgiving to make the mix – there are adobe and superadobe structures across the world, & in all different types of terrain.

The tips kept flying fast at our one day workshop; I caught as many as possible. Figure they are best served here as bullet points:

  • Keep everything dry & well ventilated if you are building in a wet area.
  • Thickness of the wall depends on diameter of the build.
  • Stabilize to resist erosion in flood zones, plan French drains & diversion. Your french drains can even be designed to water the landscape 😉
  • Plan where the furniture will go before you start to build because a lot of it is built in; remember most furniture is square.. and there will be limited to zero squared angles in an adobe build.
  • In case you’re only reading the bullets here, reminder to never use the top 1 ft of soil. Dig deeper to get to the inert materials like the sand, gravel, clay & silt.
  • Orient windows south. Create & plan ‘Wind scoops’ facing the main direction of breeze in summer.
  • PVC pipes, ceramic tubes, or even recycled bottles can be used for windows. Check out the custom ceramic windows pictured here. 
  • If doing radiant heat in floors, insulate under first!
  • Utilize rocket stoves for simple heat sources.
  • By the time you build up, its already compacted.
  • Plaster right away, but don’t lay it in too thick, or else it may crack.
  • Mesh or chicken wire is recommended to prevent cracking.
  • Waterproof paint in wet areas.
  • Note that limewash interior is anti fungal.
  • If the bag needs to move, lift & pull. Don’t push.

Super Adobe Construction Made Simple

In essence, 4 main ingredients can build a pretty badass house. Sandbags, barbed wire, earth, & stabilizer. So easy. Sandbags can be made from polypropylene, hemp, or jute fiber. You can use long bags designed for adobes, or, just normal sandbags might work best if you’re doing the build with only a couple people. Stabilizer is added in the bag, like lime or plaster. From there, you’ll just cover the bags from UV rays and the elements while you build with a tarp, and you’ll be good. Note that jute might mold or rot, so it’s not recommended to build with it in winter. Supposedly jute is better for short term structures. The barbed wire acts as a velcro or glue between layers of bag and prevents the building from laterally sliding.

It seemed like the toughest part of the day was ‘completing the circle’ – which was the act of finishing each circular level on the stem wall. (That’s the straight vertical wall) It wasn’t difficult so to speak, just a process of folding both ends away from you, after propping the bag up with your feet (known laughingly as ‘bag wrangling’). Once the ends are properly sealed, you meet them up while keeping a tamp as a buttress at the seam. Then tamp the edge a bit so water goes out not in, with a slight angle to the outside. You can literally hear when the earthbags are tamped to correct compaction, the sound is louder and almost echos.

Additional important building techniques include a spring line for keeping the dome structure and trajectory of the dome even, and a compass to guide with proper perimeter and height. All these things were hand created with various tools and scraps we had on site!

Some Challenges Surrounding Superadobe Plans & Builds

No good thing comes without hurdles. In our current days of ‘buying a template ADU off Amazon’, the custom adobe build can face opposition.

Because the design elements with Superadobes are endless, it causes city officials to scratch their heads a bit. Designing these structures to easily follow the contour in the land and mold to the topography makes each one super cool, and super unique.

Let’s be honest….building officials are used to templates and squared angles. They don’t always understand domes, arches, and curves; and they aren’t extensively educated about them in the field. Confusion and inspectors don’t mix, so this means they can tend to deny the plans for your dream adobe without the proper education.

There was a point in time when Cal Earth had pre-permitted build plans, but alas, codes are everchanging… and they need to update permits. Feel free to donate time or funds to help Cal Earth get to the point of offering preapproved plans again.

Our Action Items to Support Superadobes

Locally here in CA, I’m going to see if we can get the City of Santa Ana to approve something. As Orange County’s epicenter, Santa Ana already has a ton of ADUs. Plus, many of the lots are flat with ample space for an additional small structure. And… my partner in life, Daniel, plans to talk to the building department in Sedona, AZ. We know Taos, NM is friendly to superadobes and green buildings; and would love it if you comment other adobe friendly build areas for the fellow nomads reading this blog 😉

In the meantime, one potential workaround with your city or HOA, depending on which one you’re in, is the umbrella of California’s statewide ADU law passed in 2020, SB 13.

How to Spread the Word about Superadobes and Get Involved 

Of course, social media awareness always helps! You can follow & support Cal-Earth’s initiatives on Insta or Facebook. It also helps if you sign up for one of their affordable and educational hands on adobe building workshops.

If you’re inspired or thinking of building an ADU in Orange County, reach out, I’d love to come do a video tour whether you’re in progress, or have the finished adobe complete. Thought we could wrap this post up with one of Cal Earth’s favorite quotes from, you guessed, it, Rumi:

“The Earth turns to gold, in the hands of the wise.” – Rumi
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You’re Invited to Homeownership Day 2022 – Achieving Through Real Estate

Posted on January 17, 2022. Filed under: Accessory Dwelling Units, ADUs, AirBnB, Client Appreciation events, Conventional Loan, FHA loans, First Time Buyer help, Home Seller Tips, Homeownership, Homeownership Day, Informed Investor Alliance, International Properties, Lenders & Loan info, Making Life Easier, OC Home Fair, Orange County Real Estate, Property Mangement, Real Estate Stories, Renting, Selling for top dollar, VA Loan | Tags: , , , , , |

January is always an ideal time to circle back to our roots, to review our long term goals, and realign with our True North. It’s a fresh new year, and anything is possible. Many people are taking a look at what needs to change, and if 2021 is any indication, we are still switching up the way we live and work in light of all that’s happened the last couple years.

As we saw people quit their jobs and aspire for extraordinary things in the year of ‘The Great Resignation‘, we also saw a huge shift in housing needs and requirements. People ‘quit’ apartments & condos, and opted for single family homes with yards. Families upgraded living space, as employment and schools had extended virtual runs. Change is still happening everywhere, and home is at the center of it all.

Homeownership Day education has been opening doors for renters, homeowners, and investors for 10 years.

With so many people wanting a new environment at the same time, the demand for housing across the country reached record heights and the bidding wars began.

This is just one of the many reasons we offer Homeownership Day on a yearly basis; things always seem to be moving fast when it comes to housing, and it’s important to stay on top of the current trends to be most successful with your real estate.

Achieving Through Real Estate

The 2022 theme for Homeownership Day is ‘Achieving Through Real Estate’, and all are invited to this free virtual event on January 29th from 10am-1pm PST. Homeownership Day is designed to be inclusive for all humans – from renters curious if they can purchase property all the way through investors looking to sharpen skills and knowledge. Our program changes up each year so you aren’t hearing the same information, or outdated perspectives.

The program is brought to you in bite-sized 30 minute educational sessions, so you can get a variety of information on today’s important real estate topics. We know you’re busy, and this event is designed to bring about awareness and build relationships with the right community to accomplish your property goals.

Challenges in the recent market have been lack of inventory, bidding wars, discrimination, sharp price increases, loan / appraisal turnaround time, and more. Sessions for this year have been based around these challenges, and offer help to overcome today’s specific real estate market hurdles.

For this year’s specific sessions and offerings, click here:

https://homeownershipday.com/sessions/

If you’re looking to achieve great things with real estate, please join us and register:

Homeownership Day Online Event
January 29th, 2022
10am – 1pm PST

https://homeownershipday.com/sign-up/

Expect to be inspired with some innovative ideas and fresh perspectives. This is not your average real estate event.

In case you’re wondering, Homeownership Day will never try to pressure you into buying or selling real estate. The speakers have all agreed not to ‘pitch’; only to educate. This event is a public service that is put on through multiple outlets, so you’re never getting pigeon holed into the opinions of one particular corporation or company. Our speakers are industry experts, all hand selected with care, and our goal is YOUR success.

This year’s main sponsors are NAWRB & Vow2Save – both entities creatively serving the real estate ecosystem.

It’s my personal opinion that when we are all successful with real estate, we can focus on what is most important in life – the people and the places we love. If there’s a topic you would like to see covered at a future Homeownership Day event, please comment below so we can help you on your journey.

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Looking to Buy or Sell a Home? See You January 18th!

Posted on January 10, 2020. Filed under: First Time Buyer help, Home Improvement Ideas, Home Seller Tips, Homeownership, Homeownership during divorce, Making Life Easier, OC Home Fair, Organizing, Renting |

8th Annual OC Home Fair 

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Looking to buy or sell a home? Investment property? Just curious about becoming a homeowner? Renting and want to own? WE have an event for you! 

The Southern California Home Fair is a *FREE* community event designed to provide home owners, home buyers, renters, and seasoned investors with free, personalized and comprehensive information from some leading experts in real estate! Attendees can choose from a variety of relevant topics including: hassle-free home buying, investing to be an automatic millionaire, buying a home under your business umbrella, and much more. Below are 5 OC Home Fair highlights. 
The Southern California Home Fair is next Saturday! Join us next week, January 18th at the 8th Annual OC Home Fair and experience Homeownership Day.

5 OC Home Fair Class Highlights

#1 Easy Tips to Improve Credit 

#2 Finding up to 90K to Buy Your Home – Down Payment Programs

#3 Real People – Real Estate Success Stories

#4 How Student Loan Debt Can Fit Into your Home Buying Picture

#5 Home Buying 101 – Pre-Purchase Counseling

View the full class schedule list here.
homeownership-day-2016

Click here to register, just enter your information and select the class you want to attend!

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Ringing in 2019 with Real Estate Goals

Posted on January 11, 2019. Filed under: AirBnB, Buying in Spain, Divorce, First Time Buyer help, Home Seller Tips, Homeownership, Making Life Easier, Orange County Real Estate, Renting, Selling for top dollar, Selling your home fast, Vow2Save Orange County Real Estate Registry | Tags: , , , , , |

Dream Big, Set Goals, Take Action Chalk Drawing

What will your 2019 look like?

We have some big goals for 2019 – one of them being helping our clients achieve their real estate new years resolutions! Whether it’s buying internationally or crowdfunding a down payment for an engaged couple, we can help you accomplish them all. Every year our whole team writes down their goals for the new year and we try to help each other accomplish them. This year, we want to do the same with all of our clients. Writing them down and being able to cross them off when they are accomplished really makes you feel good and it will make us feel good to be able to help you do that.

AskAngie Team’s Goals

Our team has a few things were really excited for this year! This year we plan to really grow our Vow2Save program. We are looking forward to helping a lot more engaged couples crowdfund a down payment so that they are able to buy a home after their wedding. This has been a goal of ours for a few years, and after a lot of work in 2018 we know it is really going to be taking off this year and we can’t wait to see the things it can do for people! We also plan to travel more this year in order to have the best information in helping our clients buy overseas. Last year we went to Spain and met with Realtors there, but we want to be able to do that in many more countries.

2019.jpg

So much more we can do for you!

If you need help selling or buying a home after a divorce or identifying a good AirBnB investment we can help with that and everything in between. We have various services that we are experienced in. Another goal we know some of our clients have is to stop renting and own their first home and we are so excited to help many people achieve that this year especially with the current rent prices in OC. We can help you figure out what your home is worth and how you can sell it fast and for top dollar! We truly value our time with our clients and being able to help them grow their real estate profile and accomplish their goals. If you have any questions or want to share your goals with us so we are better able to  help you please fill out the form below or contact Angie at 949-338-7408!

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Owning vs Renting in OC

Posted on September 15, 2018. Filed under: First Time Buyer help, Homeownership, Making Life Easier, Orange County Real Estate, Renting | Tags: , , , , , |

Buy-versus-rent-a-home-keyimage.jpg

Are you struggling with the increase in rent here in OC?

Most people are having a hard time staying in one place with the increase in rent for current residents every year. The Orange County Register posted that Orange County rent is up $73 a month or 3.8 percent year over year in May of 2018. There is no rent control to help current residents stay closer to their going rate after living there year after year. We have been renters before and understand the struggle of paying so much every month for something that isn’t actually yours. In reality you could be paying around the same amount every month to own a home. Believe us, it feels a lot better to make that payment every month knowing that you own your home. It doesn’t look like the price of rent is going to decrease anytime here in Orange County so now is the time to get yourself your own home.

Benefits of Homeownership

There are so many more benefits to homeownership other than just having something of your own. Most people don’t realize how affordable owning a home really is, down payment options are as low as 3.5% currently. We often think about how expensive it is to own our home, but do we ever consider how expensive it is not too? Throwing all that money away on rent every month adds up to such a high price on something you don’t even get to keep. While owning a home you are building equity which helps you have a better plan for your future. You also save on your taxes if you’re a homeowner so really, owning a home makes you some money every year in equity and tax savings. You are no longer tied to a landlord who can raise your rent or change things on you at the end of any lease and your family has a stable home to live and grow in. However, we think the best part of homeownership is the pride you feel knowing you worked hard for something that is all your own.

owner

Rent vs Own Analysis

To help you more visualize why owning is more beneficial than renting we created a rent vs owning analysis based on a rent of $2500 a month or buying our current home on the market 16555 Sell Circle . Let’s say you had a down payment of around $10,000 and got a loan for $515,000 for the rest of the payment, with a 4.875 interest rate. You pay HOA fees of $360 a month, but you also get a tax benefit from owning a home. This is the amount you’d be SAVING to own instead of renting! Many people think they can’t afford their own home, but they definitely can! We would love to help you put together one of these for your own situation to help you see the difference in your life if you were to buy a home!

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If you are interested in seeing your rent vs own analysis or if you’re ready to find your home contact Angie at 949-338-7408!

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    Orange County, CA Real Estate for hip first-time buyers and investors. Plus, fun things to know and do in OC.

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