The first house was made out of Rastra block. Rastra is concrete and styrofoam balls formed in to blocks with hollow centers. Once the walls are stacked concrete is poured down the holes to unify the wall. This kind of wall has a higher insulation value than plain concrete block. I'm not going to go in to the technical details, you can look that up yourself.
The owner installed solar panels on the roof which generate enough power for heating and cooling. They had a neat wall mounted air conditioner (I forgot to take a picture. It mounts high on the wall and only needs a very small vent, unlike the window air conditioners that have to be half way outside. (That would be perfect for my shed house)
The picture above shows the Rastra block in their storage room. It can be covered in wallboard or painted.
This house also used Rastra but the neat thing about it was the polished concrete floors and the concrete countertops. I like the concrete counter tops and they are cheaper than solid granite but I think if I build a house I will use granite tiles for my countertops.
This house was brand new and for sale. The project was a downtown in-fill development. The architect used adobe blocks that were left exposed on some walls. It was a very nice house. They used Brazilian quartz for the countertops! Definitely out of my price range. I think the price was around $700,000.
This one was spotlighting water saving techniques and xeriscape. They made there own 500 gallon water collection tank and connected it to their gutters. Then they dug large basins in their yard and filled them with mulch and planted fruit trees and vegetables.
The rainwater is directed to the basins to water the plants. They also use their laundry water to water the plants. They added 2 other pipes to their laundry plumbing. One went to their peach tree, one to their apricot tree and the other to the sewer when they didn't need any extra water. They also bought special laundry detergent so that the plants did not get too much salt. Digging basins for my garden and fruit trees is something I would really like to do. Maybe next year I will rent a bobcat tractor and do some digging.
This house is built with strawbales. It has a living room and kitchen with one bedroom and a bathroom downstairs and a loft upstairs that is used as a second bedroom.
The ceiling is very high making it feel like a much bigger house. The owner used natural plasters inside and did most of the work herself with some help from friends.
This is her solar hot water heater. Basically a black tank under glass.
The floors are a mix of clay and linseed oil. I don't remember all of the ingredients but they were as hard as cement and very natural looking.
The outside is covered in an earthen plaster as well. The wood peckers enjoy pecking holes in it. She said she will have to apply a layer of stucco to discourage the birds.
Those are the houses that I saw yesterday. I saw more houses today but I haven't downloaded the pictures yet. I wish I had another day off of work. My weekend flew by.