Thursday, April 18, 2019

Like a Broken Record

We've got to talk about smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.  Really.  Almost to a T, every property we sell needs updated alarms/detectors.  And almost to a T, the sellers truly believe their property has up to date devices.  If this is the case for folks who are paying attention (or think they're paying attention),  imagine the state of detectors in properties where folks aren't thinking of selling.

Please, please, please check your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.  These devices are relatively inexpensive, and save lives.  If you are in a rental either check, or ask the property owner/manager to check and provide proof of up to date devices.

Here are the State of Oregon requirements.  The City of Portland has more rigorous requirements (I believe Eugene may have the same requirements as the City of Portland).

Carbon monoxide detectors are required if: there is a combustion device in the property, or an attached garage.  Think of combustion devices as anything that burns, or has a flame; gas appliances (including gas clothes dryers), gas hot water heaters, fireplaces, wood stoves etc.  Properties that are all electric, without attached garages, do not need carbon monoxide detectors.  

The smoke detector/alarm rules are too specific for me to summarize.  But here are a few tips.  If your home has devices that are hard wired, meaning they draw electricity from your electric service, not from a battery, replacements should also be hard wired.  And hard wired devices should have a battery back-up in case your electricity is off. Non-hard wired detectors/alarms must have a 10 year battery.  All smoke alarms/detectors should be replaced at least every 10 years.  All of them. They have a life span, and can be ineffective after ten years.  

I know you think yours are in order.  I know you are sure you just replaced those a few years ago.  Humor me.  Please check.  And get in touch with me if you have questions.  I won't know all the answers, but I can sure help find them!

Friday, April 5, 2019

A different kind of landscape wall

I've been watching this wall come together while on our daily dog walks.  The workers have been filling these bags with soil, and carefully placing them.  What the heck?  I've seen walls I think were made this way on highways and freeways (maybe those were just bags of concrete?), but hadn't seen a smaller scale wall up close.

These bags are called earthbags.  They are used for a variety of construction projects, from retaining walls, to houses.  Depending on the use, and height of the structure, the filling of the bags can vary; rocks, gravel, soil etc.  In general, the structure is then coated with a think layer of a plaster-like substance to protect the earthbags from damaging ultra-violet light.

In doing a bit of research (thank you google), I found a whole building method and community, reminiscent of the earth ships of yesteryear.  Earthbag construction is kind of like cob construction.

These folks in my neighborhood don't plan to coat the wall; its not that high, and while doing some retaining, isn't bearing a lot of weight.

The earth bag system, while kind of cool in the city, is a great idea for remote projects, where delivery of other building materials could be tricky and expensive.  Filling earth bags with material found near or produced at a remote site, is far more sustainable than trucking materials in.

The California Institute of Earth Architecture seems to be an authority on this type of construction, and does sell materials, along with books, online classes and workshops.