Posted in Behind the Scenes, Progress

The Walipini Project

I’m starting progress reports to both share information as well encourage myself to keep this project moving forward. Hopefully in the future, it will turn into a status update after we build it.

History Behind the Project:
– I first read about walipinis on Treehugger a while back. Knowing I’d eventually want to buy a forever home in Mass, I thought it might be a good method to extend our 179 day growing season.

– We moved here in spring of 2016, and bought our home on March 3, 2017. While house hunting, one thing on my want list was a backyard with reasonable south facing exposure for the walipini. My thinking was if we did get any neighbor resistance, it would be less likely in the backyard.

– Although our urban plot of land is very small, the orientation is near perfect (SSW), and the shape of the house along with the cellar stairs exit had promise as well as to placement. (Door area seen on the left side in the listing photo below.)  The neighboring trees to the south and west are all deciduous.

I'm a lazy gardner, so a walkout direct from the house would be perfection.
The left rear that’s recessed, incorporating the cellar exit, is where we hope to build a Walipini.

– I am a lazy gardener.  I don’t mind doing a decent amount of work to get a project going, and the idea of building the walipini so I can step right into it during our snowy winters from our cellar was too delicious a prospect not to research further.  Not only would the house help insulate and wind break the north side in winter, but the walipini might help with heating our SW corner office where we spend a lot of time in colder months.  I knew there would be moisture and air circulation considerations, and that is part of what I’m looking into now.

– I am also researching various methods of assistive heating of the walipini itself by building a compost pit along a portion of the walipini.

– There are other aspects I’m still researching, and I’ll get into those over time as time allows.

Recent Progress:
– I have looked into the local code as it pertains to outbuildings because the code only seems to consider them outbuildings, even though my current plan is to build our walipini as an addition.  There’s a certain size I need to stay within (200 sq.ft.) before the town will make a big deal about it and consider it a commercial addition to our property because they assume a certain size greenhouse will only be for commercial use. (I may eventually try to start making some funds from our gardens overall, but that’s a further down the road possibility.)

– I’m also trying to find possible code related rules regarding additions, in particular because ours will be a permanent above and below ground addition.

– I’ve been loosely sketching the footprint, as well as possible heat sinks and water containment.  Now that I cleared off my drafting board, I hope to start working a scale drawing for a base that I’ll use and adjust over time.

– I’m also looking into various water catchment/retention systems, such as dry cisterns and water wall insulation methods filled by run off from our roof.  Our roof currently is asphalt shingles, but we hope to put in a metal roof within 5 years, mostly because the last update to the rear side of the roof is just about needing a replacement anyway within that time frame.  I only yesterday started specifically looking into sand filtration systems for the possible dry cistern.

Moving Forward:
– I will keep researching about greenhouse add-ons as to building science and how much, if any, town code relates to such.  I have found one thread on the permie site I haunt about moisture considerations with an add-on greenhouse where I’ve learned very useful bits to consider.

– This project also ties into overall plans in the works (and some started last year) as to regrading around the house, as well as possibly adding a dry creek bed with swale underneath for the 5′ strip along the west side of the house that will lead into a rain garden on the upper portion of the front yard.  All these aspects I’ll post about later.

– I need to decide whether to regrade for the short term in that area, and later start digging down for the Walapini.  I’m not sure if we’ll have the budget for the structural aspects this year, and don’t want an uncovered pit just sitting right next to near a third of our rear foundation even if we do install guttering and a rain barrel on the roof in that area (we currently only have a gutter one the longest edge of our front porch, where we put our first rain barrel).  We still have other new old house expenses that are higher priorities (like the ongoing process of adding insulation to our attic that had none at time of purchase.)

I think that’s the dead basics for now, please stay tuned over time as I report how things are coming along.  Feel free to post questions and tips in the comments, and I’ll try to respond to them in a timely fashion.

The Walipini Project

Part 1 – Introduction
Part 2 – Code and lists
Part 3 – Follow up call from the Building Inspector

Care to share thoughts on this?