Transforming A Suburban Property: Early Projects


| 12/18/2014 11:30:00 AM


Tags: permaculture, edible landscaping, Jan Spencer, Oregon,

Transforming this suburban property has been one of the most satisfying and creative adventures in my life. No need to go anywhere. Making big changes was the plan from the beginning, 15 years ago, when I bought this quarter acre property with a modest 1,100 square foot mid fifties suburban house. If I reincarnated as a house and suburban property, this would be it.

The previous blog provides an informative overview about re purposing suburbia - turning a land use liability into a social and economic tool for a greener way of life. Suburbia has much to offer for taking care of more needs closer to home – food, energy, water, culture, creativity. There are already many pioneers on the suburban frontier and future blogs will include profiles describing some of them. Not all suburbia is created equal but just about every property and neighborhood has surprising assets to work with. This blog will describe some of the projects here at my place, more or less in the order they took place. The reader will easily find many photos on my website, that show what these projects actually look like – look under the “On Site Features” tab.

This property, two miles northwest of downtown Eugene, Oregon is flat. Its a rectangle with its long dimension north to south. The house is longer east - west and the back yard is on the south side of the house. The quarter acre has great solar access and the soil is good.

First Major Project

A friend and I turned the one car garage into a living space. This was a simple remodel. The open north end was closed in by an insulated wall with a door. The south end was cut open to install an eight foot slider for solar gain. Surprise to me, cutting through the painted wooden siding, I found immaculate red wood. Fifty years old and beautiful straight grain. Perfect condition. We built a wooden deck elevated several inches above the concrete floor in the garage and laid rigid foam insulation over the concrete. The west wall has several windows, was insulated and the ceiling was insulated.

Reclaiming automobile space made this a three bedroom house so I could rent both the other two bedrooms. Since then, the remodel has been paid back many times. Now I live in a passive solar detached structure I built behind the main house so the garage remodel is now rented which will eventually pay for the detached structure. More on the newer passive solar structure in a future blog but safe to say, a house can be a very useful working asset for making income.

garage remodel




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