by Anita Sands Hernandez

A mountain man I know from the Homesteader's  List is building a house in Montana out of 'found stuff'. Free stuff. I asked him how he did it. He said: Well, you ever watch show JUNK RAIDERS? That Canadian Cable show is on ION TV, a freebie channel that I pick up with my digital converter box. It will show you how a big city yields old stoves, chairs, double porcelain sinks, unchipped, $450 new, all of it toally free on the street. Also pipes, well just about everything. That's to furnish the home but I can also BUILD the home itself out of found items. Risers get torn apart for wood or used to hold poured concrete. But I use Rocks primarily.  My basement long wall is on the south side.What do you build over that basement space? Stonework? In the south, I know it would be some open lattice for breeze, but where we live in the frozen north, ours is stone. Yessir, Stone. Well STONE abounds at mountain bottoms. Usually for about a mile around any mountain you'll find great stones of all sizes.So I pick up a few truckloads a week.

"Now, the house will be enclosed with a green house off to the southern side. I build the base or foundation of the greenhouse and the main house with  straw bales. That's right, a great insulated wall. (I use bales between posts mind you and the result is seriously stuccoed.) Cost? Minimal in some states though Texas with its drought.. cost isn't low. SEE THIS SITE:

"As for Kitchen cabinets? Give every contractor's truck a nice note, "Sir, I'll pick up your torn down kitchen cabinets from Demolitions, give me a call. I'm furnishing a mountain home. Will pay in dollars and tip you with fresh trout". Signed, your name, phone, mountain village mail box number, email, etc.

"I  also dumpster dive for hot water heaters. But aren't they mostly broken, I say? Well, I use them under glass inside, for solar heat storage. The heat storage will have sensors that will run dumpster dived muffing fans (12 volt fans from PC power supplies) for keeping the green house up to temp. There will also be the option to circulate house air with the water tank storage using the same style muffin fans." When he wrote me this, there were no camera phones, digital was in its infancy so I have to imagine a line of these big babies as SOLAR HEAT storage. Does he mean inside the basement? Near southern windows? That ain't too pretty. He never sent me a graphic. Well, he was ninety at the time, now passed on to that trout river in the sky, so can't ask him. I googled the concept.
Well, you better not live on a life fault as if one of those babies slides off your roof onto your kitty cat! slam sandwich! So that didn't look right. I went to Mother EARTH NEWS and found an article and illustrations of how to rescue old water heaters and take care of your hot water needs:'

Boy, we really live in the age of the freebie since this Internet thing appeared.

So now I try to follow his text, which I stored from his email. "The south wall of the "house" part," he went on, "the up stairs main living area, will get flat black sheet metal roofing attached, then glazing over that (dumpster dived up some terrific, sliding glass doors) such that I can circulate house air over the black sheet metal (the inside wall will be straw baled and stuccoed) and get heated up and brought back in to the house via 4" square wooden duct work built in to the bales and the collectors. This will eliminate the idea of siding, produce energy and it is fireproof. And yes, the place may as well be the frozen north in the winter. One morning after xmas, I woke to a sense of the living room being rather cold.

A look at the thermometer said something like 12F. Then I realized I could not hear any sound from the wood stove, no random crackling. Switch the thermometer to inside reading: 32.5F Get up butt naked, start fire in stove, go back to bed for half hour, wake up toasty. Room is in the 70's. A few nights in Feb it went to just under 3F outside at night. First time I have ever been in temps that cold. But there is a plus side to ice. We chip the lake and fish trout year round, so fly on in. We'll do a trout bake!"

(I had too many cats needing hourly feeding, couldn't do it.)

NOW if you're one of the softer, three little pigs, Read ABOUT BUILDING HOUSES with STRAW BALES

PS. FURNISH your home the same way. THE DUMP. When you are tempted to shop for a new washer, dryer, stove, fridge or any metal appliances FIND A "I BUY METAL TRUCK" on the streets. I have a veritable appliance market next to a shady tree on my south fence curb where a huge truck labeled 'I PICK UP METAL' is parked. It's a portable "storeroom" and every few days this old guy named Carlos comes in his other, smaller truck and loads in a ton of heavy stuff he's just picked up. Every few days a used fridge comes and goes. Carlos says they all work perfectly --just rich people upgrading to the  new solid steel finish. Carlos only wants 25$ each, junk metal value. But no installation included. This gave me an idea. FIND YOUR LOCAL METAL PICK UP GUY as they have a ton of appliances and his phone number is generally on his truck. You speeka da Espanish? Muy necesario! UD ES EL JUUNKMON?