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1) Buy a large brick one-story warehouse
or factory with the roof caved in -- very
cheap at sheriff's sale.
2) Clear out all the debris from the roof
and interior partitions. Now you have an
oversized city lot surrounded by a high
brick wall (probably with a nice big
and a nice concrete slab under
the whole thing.
3) Build rooms around the perimeter
stuccoed straw bale construction (see
//www.strawbale.org). Very cheap, very
warm in winter, cool in summer and you
need to build a foundation because of
the existing concrete slab floor.
4) Waterproof the courtyard walls to the
interior floor level (2 feet or so above the
slab leaves room for a crawlspace and is
deep enough for a decent garden). Break
holes in the concrete of the courtyard in
places where you want to plant trees.
(Small trees, of course. Fruit trees
espaliered on a south facing wall would
nice). Fill with topsoil (quite cheap, don't
need to worry about lead contamination
on most urban lots with pre-1978
structures) to the level you waterproofed
Built within a warehouse. [bristolz, Dec 04 2004]
||There is a somewhat secretive dinner club in Seattle, The Ruins, that is a woodframe structure with gardens and courtyards all built within an older brick building that was, before it was hollowed out, probably a three story building. It is a wonderful establishment with whimsical decor, great food and ambience. You'd never know it was there by looking at the exterior.
||I doubt, though, that any city property this size, sheriff's sale or not, is a bargain in the absolute sense. In Seattle, it'd be in the millions almost regardless of where it is in the city.
||I plan on building a little a cottage in Daniel's courtyard...
||But Bristolz, in Seattle you'd pay $250K for a 1 bedroom condo. In Philly, it's actually totally doable...