Last revised: 27.May.06 22:49

First started on September 15th, 2001; this document is the composite design specification for InnerLodge.  InnerLodge will become our new home, our family’s home base, and will become the center of the Bleher family keep.  InnerLodge is designed for the long term.  It’s designed to outlive those presently living, and to provide for our combined family’s needs for the foreseeable future and beyond.


This document will become the basis for the design and building of, InnerLodge.  It will become the entire written record to be left to my successors.  This document will subsume the entire process and details relevant to the creation of InnerLodge.  As it matures, it will contain specifications and details of everything including the actual construction prints.  It is my hope that those entrusted to care for InnerLodge will be able to perpetuate this document across the inevitable changes the future will bring as to manner and process of storage and viewing.

While InnerLodge is a thing at a specific point and place in time and space; it is, if nothing else, an expression of life.  Living and life are not a destination; they are instead, a journey.  As with all journeys, they begin with a single step.  I begin this journey by entering an ad hoc list of points, features, and considerations.  The purpose of this exercise is to capture each thought and concern as it is discovered.  By listing them here, we can begin the process of adding it to this specification as time and information permits.

A further purpose of this document would be to capture the essence—the spirit and body—of InnerLodge.  Our family keep is to become the center of our existence on earth.  InnerLodge will become our home, our refuge, our place of safety, and a place where the family is always welcome.  It will also be a place of recovery, a place for the expression of personal spirituality and the arts, and a place wherein each of us can find the “person within” us all.  In short, it will become our center.

Design Goals:

While the actual design goals will vary as we zero in on the final building, here is a list of my initial goals:


Although the actual site hasn’t yet been determined, we have regretfully decided that the great American southwest isn't going to be it anymore.  As this information gets resolved, this section will be updated.

The Process:

Much of the building technology in use today owes its heritage to past cultures.  Our ancestors worked independently to establish human habitats, which met the challenges and demands of a varied environment.  Concepts such as insulation, “thermal mass”, and passive solar heating and cooling have been employed to help ameliorate temperature extremes in ancient Middle Eastern cities, historic Native American centers, and more recently in Mexican adobe construction.

The original design for Innerlodge was given in terms of using the "Pumice-crete" system popularized by Scott McHardy of Taos, New Mexico.  But, the march of time and the reality that building such a monolithic "Taj Mahal" would be a major segment of my life has been bestowed upon me.

That design called for 5 or more years of slavish devotion to getting this project done.  At 3-stories (2 + basement), this behemoth wouldn't be livable until it was completely finished.  Mostly because the physics of gravity require that one starts at the bottom and finishes at the top.  That meant that the entire building wouldn't be habitable until the final nail was driven into the roof.

Reality intruded and necessitated a change of plans.  Consequently I have set aside the "Pumice-crete" concept and have decided to explore a building system similar to the one being used successfully today by TriDiPanel or Green Sandwich Technology (among others).  Although I plan on using a somewhat different structural concept; theirs are valid, working methods, and a good place to start.

The problem with the original concept was that the entire 3-story, 7,000 sq. ft. building had to be finished in order to gain any benefit from constructing it.  That schedule was laid out to take 5-years or more.  As anyone that's done such a project can tell you, those kinds of plans ALWAYS run longer than scheduled!

I'm going to be 60 next year.  I want to enjoy the fruits of the labor needed to breathe life into this project.  Less likely to have the prospect of a couple of decades to finish this little project, I decided to change to a more favorable metric.  Instead of a single, large, monolithic structure, I've decided to create 9 or more smaller, more easily constructed "out" buildings.  Click here to see a schematic layout.  Using a TriDiPanel like concept, I plan on making as many of the smaller units as I need to meet my needs.  Click here to see more about the details.  Where or whenever I find the land I seek, the first thing that goes in will be a slab for parking the trailer.  Next will be water, sewer, and power--to at least service that slab.  Now we can live there while we build our family keep.

General Description:

After the slab, the next thing to be built will be what we're calling a "mini-suite".  Much like any small luxury hotel or motel suite, it means a small, 2-car garage sized building that encompasses an entire, spacious bedroom, full-bath, a sitting area, and a small (read: primitive by my standards) kitchenette.  While the exact layout hasn't yet been defined, this should be around 4-500 ft2.  This would give us a place to put our bed and live outside the trailer while we build the rest of the lodge.  The first such unit will be ours.  That unit will be at the "3-o'clock" position facing east...into the rising sun.  Because *that* is what I want to see first thing in the morning.  I want to be awakened by the sun.

However, after reviewing the initial building plans, I may opt to build a 22X44X15 high workshop area.  This would permit us to have an enclosed and sheltered area in which to work.

Next, we'll build the hub of Innerlodge: the core of our day-to-day lives: The Family Complex.  This unit encompasses the family/living-room, kitchen/dining room complex.  Although not yet finalized, this unit will most likely be octagonal (as opposed to square or round); and will become the core of the way we live.  For us, the kitchen and dining area is where we congregate and mix.  Consequently, this area deserves the most exquisite of care.  The fireplace/living-room area will be the north wall, and the kitchen on the south wall.  The dining area, as the most important place in our lives, will be under the exact center of the building.  In addition to that there will be a bathroom and a pantry/storage area.  This unit will become the center of both the complex and our lives.

After this unit is built, the next unit will be the "wet room".  This will be a combination of power room and water processing room.  That means that it's ideally suited for becoming the laundry room.  In addition it will host the Jacuzzi, sauna, steam-room; and, if possible, a pool-room adjacent to a pool (if we have one).  If one were to view the lodge complex from overhead, the main complex would be at the center, and our suite would be at the 3 o'clock position.  This room would be at the 7:30 position.  The 6, 9, and 12 o'clock positions will be reserved for more family quarters (mini-suites).  That would cover the kids and any 'in-laws' or any other family members that might show up.  All of the individual units--except for the central complex--will be based upon the layout and design of the original mini-suit.

Other buildings will be "The theater", located at the 4:30 position.  This will be a purpose built TV/theater watching room.  A full projection 9:16 theater system with 7.1 surround sound will inhabit this unit.  This will be the only function for this unit.

The "recreation center" will be at the 10:30 position.  This will put noisy children as far as possible from the main suite so they can have fun and be as noisy as they want without disturbing the old folks.  The rec center will be on the same form-factor as a mini-suite.  Except that it will be double-sized and have no interior walls.  I intend to put a ping-pong table as well as other recreational devices therein.

Located at the 1:30 position will be the library/chapel.  This room will be for reading and quiet meditating.  It will also house the family museum and display facility.  Only quiet activities will be allowed therein.

The main purpose of building the lodge like this is to be able to build it incrementally, out-of-pocket, and as each part is needed.  Each section will be connected with the others via a walkway.  Depending on the prevailing climate, some or all of it may or may not be covered.  A separate, stand-alone garage is contemplated, as is the possibility of building the garages below each mini-suite.  Site geography will be the determining factor in that regard.

There are many reasons for building in this manner.  It's quite cost effective!  Quick (a few weeks to build any one unit).  And extremely strong.  These buildings will be built of a concrete over EPS foam core.  They are inherently leak proof, bug proof, mildew proof, fire proof, tornado/hurricane proof, earthquake and just about any other natural disaster proof--even bullet proof.  In addition, they'll be easy to heat and or cool.  The concrete interior surface will stabilize temperatures, and the foam shell will insulate at a higher "R" rating than any other building system currently in use.  But the best part will be that while making up the foam and metal mesh sections will take some time.  Assembling and coating them with concrete to make them weather tight should take only a few days!  Obviously larger structures will take longer.  The rec room may well end up being 2-stories tall and double-suite long/wide.  But it still won't take much longer to assemble and weather-proof.

Each unit will have gravity driven solar hot water collection panels and storage.  This hot water will be fed through an "on-demand" gas-fired backup heater, and some of it will be circulated through the hydronic heating system embedded in the insulated slab.  In addition, intercom, LAN, phone, 120VAC, 12VDC, and a radio/TV cable connection will be routed to each building.  The rec-room as well as the main entry will have a closed-circuit monitor connection to the family room for security.

Other Units and Services:

Listed here are a few of the other buildings or facilities that we want to build: