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I've been sounded out about whether I would be willing to devote part of one of the vast decaying outbuildings of the house for a "hammer mill" to make cellulose insulation, which is a pretty keen idea that would help a lot of people-- that is, some tens or hundreds of people -- in my town.

So the questions:

1. Will it pay to maintain the roof?

2. I'm lucky in that zoning is good, but what about permitting?

3. Will my taxes go up?

4. Insurance, and all the other questions of liability.

And so on .....

No votes yet


Submitted by ohio on

Edits added.

Hammer mills are loud. They have hammers, hence the name, so whether there are permitting issues or not, you may piss off your neighbors big time trying to run a fricking hammer mill in your backyard. Add to it a gas engine to get the thing running---loud. Really loud.

Edited to add: Permitting issues are local. Call your local people to find out. If you need a permit to rent out a shed, you will have to pay for the permit. You will pay taxes on any money you bring in as rent or profit or any other compensation.

My guess is that yes, you will need insurance and your homeowners will not cover if someone gets hurt or something gets stolen. But your ins agent will know.

Cellulose insulation requires flame retarded chemicals or if a spark gets into it, well, you won't have to worry about being warm for the next few hours. Boric acid and borax as I recall are the chemicals of choice. They also protect from certain insects. Shipping in the chemicals will cost dearly.

Edited to add: I bet EPA and OSHA will want to know if these chemicals are being stored or handled on your property. If there's a spill, you are liable for clean up. Just hope it doesn't contaminate the soil or water.

But I don't know anything. So good luck.

Submitted by lambert on

Thanks. That's a reality check. Sounds like a good idea in general, but perhaps this particular technology isn't the ideal.

Submitted by hipparchia on

liability, chemicals, fires, epa, osha, zoning, ... ohio pretty much hits all the issues that i was going to mention

Salmo's picture
Submitted by Salmo on

Ohio is right, but too brief. You are contemplating a project that will create a significant industrial operation in your backyard. That might not be a bad thing if you have a a lot of back yard located in an area that can accommodate it. There will be trucks in and out. Raw material (mostly newspapers, but some liquids too) will have to be received, stored, and then transported to the processing facility. The processing facility will require significant power (and if powered onsite - significant quantities of fuel). It will generate noise and dust (and cellulose particulates are not benign). The product will have to be packaged, stored, and then transported off site. All this will include a business component, with parking, office space, etc.

Your code enforcement officer, the tax assessor, and your neighbors will notice. There will certainly be local and state permits required, both for construction and for operation.

There are significant risks - dust explosions (for example) are a real concern. Most hammer mills are installed with blast walls and blast doors, intended to protect places where people are and direct the force of the blast away to places where people are not, because designers presume that explosive conditions will occur. I have toured plants where people were killed because the blast happened unexpectedly.

You note that there are significant economic and societal benefits to doing such a project. If those who approached you can actually make it work, you should be an enthusiastic participant. BUt don't let those benefits make you skip the hard nosed assessment first step.