Monday, July 23, 2012

Tour The Epic Sustainable Home That California Is About To Demolish



David Hoffman, 67, spent the last 40 years transforming his Lagunitas, Calif. home into a model for modern day sustainability.

The epic renovation included a 30-foot hand-dug well, an earthworm-powered plumbing system, a fully-equipped tea house and dozens of other structures designed and built by Hoffman himself. 

There was just one problem with his vision––he never got the proper building permits.

After a decades-long battle, county officials have given Hoffman until Aug. 1 to level everything down to the bricks and pay a $226,000 fine. 

"I never felt like I owned this property," he told Business Insider. "What I'm building, what my motivation was didn't really involve me as much as a showcase or model of sustainability."

We caught up with Hoffman and asked him to take us on a virtual tour of the home that's stirring up so much controversy. 

Here's a bird's eye view of the property, which Hoffman bought in 1973 for a mere $38,000. "Back then, you had your choice of house," he recalls. "I bought a half acre from next door for $500. That person had gotten it for free." On the left is his prize tea house. On the right, the home where he and his wife, Bee, live. His workshop is underneath.

Photo: David Lee Hoffman


The property's surrounded by Douglas-fir trees, many of which were used for lumber. "When I first moved here, it was very rustic," he says. "Half the houses were empty and you could pretty much do whatever you wanted out here as long as you weren't bothering anyone."

Photo by David Briggs

There are some 30 structures on site, including a hand dug well that uses a solar powered pump to refill itself; a solar-powered shower; a rainwater pond; and an outdoor toilet.

Photo: David Lee Hoffman

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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