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Mission: From zero to house by October.  RSS feed

 
Jesse Jordan
Posts: 9
Location: Sudbury, Ontario
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Hi there Permies,

I've been lurking for months, but have only registered as of recently once my project started getting a lot more serious. I'll start with a brief summary, then explain in detail later on.

Essentially, I have a plot of land, hundreds of tires, free access to construction equipment and vehicles (including a wood process plant, various diggers and movers, cement mixer, all that fun stuff) easy access to straw bales, and no building code restrictions on the land that we're using. The lease for my current home would need to be renewed in October.

My goal is to build a hybrid earthship using rammed earth tires for a foundation and lower wall courses, with earthbags and perhaps straw bale walls, whatever roof ends up being most efficient (see: cheapest). The foundation would be resting on bedrock on a hilltop (yay northern ontario!), and I'm thinking a mix of rainwater catchment with water pumps from one or more of the nearby springs (which I also plan to install pico hydro generators on for some power - I intend to install solar panels at a later date). I plan to heat it with a rocket mass heater (I intend to build the Bonny Convection Bench from Ernie and Erica, people that I've seen around here!) while also having some passive solar action via the greenhouse I'd like to have.

The reason for feeling the need to include a rocket mass heater along with probably straw bale in the walls is that I'm in Northern Ontario, outside of Sudbury. It gets COLD here. We had a week of -40 or worse last winter, and I don't intend to freeze to death in my eco house

So, in short, I'm looking for the best advice, instruction, guides and information possible to see if I can make this project a reality.

 
R Scott
Posts: 3358
Location: Kansas Zone 6a
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Ramming tires takes time and manual labor. You can move dirt with heavy machinery, but there are only a couple tire ramming machines out there. That will probably be your weak link for the timeline unless you have lots friends.

Building with straw bales is fast and easy. The hard part is the logistics of the bales (they don't stack compactly like studs and drywall), especially in the rainy season.

Getting a lime plaster on in time to cure before first freeze may be a little tricky, too; but there are other options such as concrete based stuccos or temporary tarp protections for over-wintering.

 
Jesse Jordan
Posts: 9
Location: Sudbury, Ontario
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Fortunately, I do have a few friends interested in helping out. That being said, once I can draft up a final plan, I intend to try and recruit as many volunteers as possible, haha!

And I don't plan to use too many tires. The rocky ground that I have in mind is somewhat uneven, so I'd essentially create a level floor/foundation using the tires and concrete, as well as do the bottom few courses for the walls.

What I'd like to do from there is switch to straw bale for the remainder of the walls, and essentially cover everything from there. I'm not sure if that's even do-able, but I can't see why it wouldn't be. If anyone knows better, please let me know, haha!

 
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