For those of us who have a home, we all have a good understanding of what it costs to own one. In this post, I wanted to explore the outputs of a home and what we can do to make our properties more of a permaculture home than a conventional house.
A few of the basic costs of owning a home would include:
- your mortgage
- property taxes
- property insurances
- home warranties, maintenance fees and repair costs
Since we know those inputs all to well, let’s focus more on the output side.
Shelter and security
Perhaps the most basic output we get from our home is to have a place to rest, safe and secure from the rest of the world. We can reasonably expect to have our properties stored, maintained and safe from theft. This is a basic human need and so must be accounted for.
A house becomes a home as we invest ourselves into it. The experiences and memories we have in the house over time will shape our impression of the home, and will also shape us. This takes work. If we are intentional about these experiences, we can lead ourselves to have more positive outcomes: better home and better selves.
A home allows you to function in society
Without a doubt you need a home so you can function in society effectively. You have to be able to take care of yourself, nurture yourself and then come out onto the world and share parts of that growing self. These include being able to keep a job and contributing to the economy. It can be learning a new skill and sharing it with coworkers over a chat, or just you studying up to get a better job, or it can be a more philosophical growth that you can share with your local community.
The home allows us a base of operations where we can check off the basic roles we have in society and grow from there. The more inspired and accommodating a home is for these goals, the more it will nurture us.
Build a better future
I already hinted at this in the previous example – but I think it is so important that it bears pointing out. The way we set up our homes come back to benefit us: it can slow us down, make us effective and inspire us. It can bog you down with the routine cleaning up the mess tasks at home. On the opposite side it can allow you a more purposeful Saturday that you can spend in the yard relaxing under the shade of a tree you planted.
So far, we have talked about benefits of a home from, I guess what I might call an architect’s perspective. These are outputs we get from a well functioning home-not just a house. Let’s not forget the tangible benefits and yields we can add to a permaculture home.
If you have a yard-definitely worth considering a garden. This converts your lawn expenses into food. The benefits of this are many-from your emotional, psychological and spiritual health from working in the soil and growing life; to your physical health from eating highly nutritious food and working out in the sun and nature.
Honestly I have not had great success in gardening here in Texas. I’ve reduced down to one garden bed for annuals to experiment on. I have some preliminary plans to grow food indoors which may get me unstuck. Maybe a season of productive growth indoors will inspire me to go back outside and redo the rest of the garden beds.
It has become easier and easier to store rainwater. Most stores sell rainwater harvesting kits. Make sure to have an end in mind of what you will use the rainwater for. If this is for irrigating plants or supplementing your pond-plan ahead for it. I know I had an unexpected benefit from harvesting rain into an IBC where we basically fixed an excessive drainage problem. The gutter and downspout locations, as it turned out, were undersized. Excess rainwater from the roof would overflow the gutter and pond outside the wall and flood into a part of the garage. Adding the IBC acted like a detention pond-it added extra downspouts which helped keep up with the outflow from the roof-and the water had somewhere to go instead of ponding into the garage. Adding this IBC solved an earlier perceived need for a trench drain-and resulted in us being able to store water rather than just letting it leave the property.
If you have access to a well, then even better. You have a near endless supply of water.
Store solar energy
Solar panels have become more affordable and more efficient than before. Kits are available if you want to take the DIY route – which I would prefer myself. I know most homes install these on roofs, and that may make some people think twice due to their roof warranty, access, etc. I would say be open to installing in other locations if that is what is restricting you. If it makes sense to your plans, consider adding these to make your home more resilient. As we say in permaculture, we want to capture and store energy.
I am repurposing said unsuccessful garden beds into some nursery space. Hopefully something easier to maintain and will have multiple purposes. I may sell these, or maybe just end up planting them instead of purchasing from the store. Either way, I would have saved money and gained some profit. Having a nursery has always been an appealing side hustle to me. Hopefully this spring I will have thought through my previous problems and prepared better for my plants.
Obviously there are plenty of other ways to produce income from your home. Some we have already discussed in other posts, like renting out some of your space for storage or AirBnB. Definitely consider using the home as your base of operations for your business. If you are selling home made candles or bbq rubs, or roasting coffee-these all fall under the same concept. If you are doing a service oriented business like mine, the same applies in this remote-work world.
I tried to list some things a home (not a house) can provide for us. It can nurture us on deep personal levels and we can yield profit from it. We can store and reuse energy from it. It can be a vehicle for us to strengthen our communities and neighborhoods.
I am not trying to build a comprehensive list of what outputs can be made and how to make them. I am simply offering a perspective into it. The yield we can obtain from our homes vary in many different forms. This blog is an effort in that direction too. I am building a business using a space in my home to learn, to absorb information and then put it out for use. My home is nurturing a pursuit and allowing me to become a better version of myself – to yield benefit to my family and my community. I hope this has been a good conversation with you and that you find new perspective into making your home more inspired, purposeful and intentional to the kind of life you want for yourself.
Alt-Ark‘s goal is to make architecture more permaculture. We seek to empower the creation of forever homes that families can design to match the lives they choose.