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Martin Essary
Posts: 10
Location: SW Missouri
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Anyone have any ideas about how to make a water cistern instead of buying 4 of the 1700 gal. plastic cisterns?

In the first ES books they talk about building your ES with little cost as possible and they had an indoor cistern.
It seems they have abandoned this approach.

I bought the latest E-Books from EB and did a quick cost analyses of the first stage: tires.
Just the cisterns, insulation & culvert tubes would cost approximately $14K.

If someone has any ideas about how to replace the items I would be interested in your ideas.

I have been thinking about how to replace the 2" rigid insulation with homemade straw board.

I guess you could construct a cement cistern like the original books make with a dome top so it could be buried.

I am not sure how you would replace the metal cooling tubes with something less expensive.

I don't even want to think about what the cost of the cement will be along with the wood and the metal for the roof, then the windows.
I don't see how you could even consider building an ES with less than 100K in hand.

any thoughts?
 
Sean Banks
Posts: 153
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I have seen cisterns made with several 55 gallon blue plastic drums that were linked together. I have also seen them made with those 1000L water tanks.

Yes, earthships are expensive....I too don't have enough $ to even consider doing one of those. However, there are alternatives like Wofati....they are somewhat similar to the earthship in that they are earth sheltered and often use recycled materials. The best part of all is that they can be made very cheap...like $15 cheap. I would head on over to the Wofati section of this forum.
 
Brian Jeffrey
Posts: 106
Location: Connecticut
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Mike Reynolds said that Earthships were comparable in quality and price to a well constructed brick building. BUT he builds them brand new and to his strict blueprints. If you think 100K is too big for a mulit-generational home then I'd say go wofati, it'l house you and return back to the soil with much less fuss.

The cement you would need will be less if you use cans or even 2-liter bottles to make a larger matrix in the cement. there are many ways to chip away a hundred bucks here and a few bucks there. How much scrapping and urban mining are you prepared to do?

Is this something you need built in a season? Haste makes waste, specifically with money.
 
G Moffatt
Posts: 14
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I have been to NM and listened to MR. I have 30 years in the construction business, mostly as a planner, so I have an opinion about what I saw.
My recommendation is to make contacts, lots of contacts. I said elsewhere, I think I need to help at least 100 people before I build my house. Most building materials are being thrown away somewhere. Sometimes people have a stash they are willing to trade for. At any rate, as many capabilities as I have I cannot do everything, and particularly I do not much want to.
Blue barrels and those big storage containers are an example: the barrels can be had for free or a nominal charge if someone is getting rid of them, otherwise you can pay $50 per barrel to a broker who will not even wash them. Location and contacts make all the difference. Concrete is another peculiar cost item. I once worked for a precast company and I can tell you that 80% or more of the cost of concrete is transportation. Cement is not that expensive and if you have suitable aggregate or sand on site the construction is very economical. It is not a one man job, with a rented mixer you need at least 3 people to mix, transport, and pour. You also need to spend time prepping your materials and getting ready for the pour. You can do a lot with a little if you have enough help.
 
Martin Essary
Posts: 10
Location: SW Missouri
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If you read the first ES books they (EB) were showing you how to build with little cost similar to the $50 house by MIke Oeheler.
Now they use a lot of purchased materials. I am just looking for alternatives to the purchased items, if possible.
I plan on building an ES based house in the near future. I have been working towards this goal for about 9 years.

The 55gal. barrels would not withstand being buried which I believe would be essential to maintaining the water temperature.
This would be the same issue with the larger square water tanks, which I saw for $30 just this week.
I want to get some of them to do water catchment from my barn for the garden.


I am just looking for information from anyone that can offer alternatives to the cost issues of an ES.
I don't want to build something that will fall down after I am gone (wofati).
I have been collect items for quite awhile and have purchased land.
I am on my way to start the build, but need to conserve money.
 
R Scott
Posts: 3358
Location: Kansas Zone 6a
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Buried cisterns can be made with concrete block or ferrocement.

The early builds and what ES does on their missionary trips to Haiti, DR, CR, etc., are much simpler--they are not bound by building codes and enforcers from the department of make you sad.

There are lots of things you can do if you have the time.
 
Darryl Roederer
Posts: 39
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How about a shipping container, or even an old school bus.
Personally, I'd go the school bus route as you could buy a clunker for $1500 and use it to haul construction materials first. When the time came to transform it into a water container, sell the engine/transmission/running gear and you could potentially make a profit on your initial $1500 investment. Then spray the interior with a closed cell spray foam, and line it with a pond liner. A medium sized bus should be good for 12k gallons. The arched steel roof would hold up well to the weight of earth on top of it, and the emergency hatch on the roof would provide access to the inside of the tank... Just a thought.
 
G Moffatt
Posts: 14
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I too have purchased land and will need to build a cistern. I hope to get one of those large poly containers at first and build a cement tank later. I will need water to make concrete so a container at the outset is a must. I am also going to put up a metal building to live in while building my house and store things. The bus is interesting but a cement tank is probably adequate. You can build a tank using the can-wall technique, the limitation is the entire inside coat must go on in one session so the 2250 size is usual. You can always build another one.
 
Martin Essary
Posts: 10
Location: SW Missouri
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GM:
If you are starting with a metal building I would get several of the 250 gal. square tanks to collect water.
I saw some for $30 each. You could buy ten of them and have 2500 gallons of water storage for $300 (Cheap).

The can wall cistern was what I was thinking of, but I don't know about the lip for it.
I guess I could use the technique like the domed ES, but It would be difficult to get inside to finish it.
I assume that a swimming pool grade finish coating would be good for the inside coating.
I do have a concern with the burying and seepage around the lid.

I found plans for a cement cistern from PennState that I am reviewing to see if I can modify to work for my ES.
It is a rainwater buried cistern, but away from the house and it uses a pump to get the water back to the house.

the bus idea is way out of the box. I tend to be more conservative with my thinking.

MartinE
 
Martin Essary
Posts: 10
Location: SW Missouri
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Okay,
So we didn't get any real good ideas for replacement items for the first stage of an ES construction.
Items; Insulation, Cisterns, cooling tubes.

I think a cement or cinder block cistern would be cheaper than the plastic cisterns and you could make one large on verses the 4 plastic cisterns EB is using now.

On the Insulation what about using plastic wrapped hay bales? You would need to seal the plastic to keep the hay from rotting and leaving a vacuum, but why would it not work?
I will have to check to see the R-value comparison of the 4" rigid vs. the hay bale.

Still don't have a solution for a cheaper alternative to the cooling tubes.
I've wondered why a closed loop cooling tube system wouldn't work better? Just run a cooling tube in and out of the same room using a solar powered fan to move the air? it's more expensive, but wouldn't the air quality be better?

MartinE

"We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them"
~Albert Einstein
 
Devon Bagley
Posts: 10
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Martin Essary wrote:
The 55gal. barrels would not withstand being buried which I believe would be essential to maintaining the water temperature.
This would be the same issue with the larger square water tanks, which I saw for $30 just this week.
I want to get some of them to do water catchment from my barn for the garden.


This is not true. These barrels are made to be stacked with tons of weight on top of them. Pallets of four barrels each will commonly be stacked 4-6 high in normal warehouse conditions.

Place four barrels on a pallet, and place another pallet on top of them. The pallet on top should have some access for piping to connect to the bungholes at the top. If you are planning on burying by hand you probably wont need it, but if machine burying you can keep them together during the burying process by tying the two pallets together using metal straps, or any material which can be made into a decent rope or sturdy twine. This configuration will increase the amount of piping connections, and straight pipe that you will need to connect to it. Also it is important to make sure your set up allows all of the water to level out between all of the barrels evenly.
 
Mark Sanchez
Posts: 17
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The barrels would not last long. When buried there is pressure from not only the tip but also the sides. Eventually fail. My father yrs ago use three drainage tube sealed the ends and link them together. 2ftwide X10ftlong x 3tubes linked is just under 1500 gallons. It's worth looking into
 
Martin Essary
Posts: 10
Location: SW Missouri
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Mark,

What size drainage tubes were they and how would you seal the ends?
I assume they were metal? They would need to be coated inside to prevent rust for good water quality.
I am thinking the concrete cystern is the best option to buying the plastic (expensive) cysterns.

"We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them"
~Albert Einstein
 
Jennifer Herod
Posts: 30
Location: Texas
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Cost of earthships is dependent on how much you buy, and how much you scavenge from freecycle.com or craigslist ect. I have found that we get cheaper as we get farther along, because we get braver about trying things. At first we were a little nervous about stepping outside the box.

Best I can tell, if you skimp, and are willing to re-purpose, you could safely build for $25/sq. ft. I would not skimp on the cisterns....but we live on black clay...the ground shifts and things crack all the time...so we bought plastic tanks...one of our few extravagances.

If you bought everything new, and paid for solar panels instead of building your own, etc. etc. it could easily run $150-300 / sq. ft. or more....
 
John Gray
Posts: 22
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Hello, just seeing this and realizing its been a year since these posts, so,was wondering how the progress has been? what have the costs been like so far? I agree that the main costs would be on things that shouldn't be skimped on and then the majority of the building materials free recycled stuff. I was also wondering what it took in your counties to acquire building permits and where to get ES plans, I've seen plans on the website for $8k and $1k for the simple survival model, did you guys just design them yourself? Also, did anyone have prior experience building them? (workshops ect.) I'd love to hear back from you guys.

thanks,
john
 
Jennifer Herod
Posts: 30
Location: Texas
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I designed my own with no prior experiwnce. I learned alot. I would suggest buildung a tool shed or animal shelter of sorts to get the hang of things. It takes a bit to master.

I would suggest round over straight walls. I would also suggest one room or two at a time, finish it, and move in. Add on as needed. Otherwise, you will be at it awhile.

We live on black clay soil, so I was concerned about cracking in cement cistern when the ground shifts. we spent the money on poly.

We looked into permiting, but the things you permit in our state dont apply to us....cement foundation, hooking up to water, hooking up to electric, septic system,etc. The inspector has been out, but no red tags? Not a recommendation on my behalf...just sharing our experience.

jennifer
 
keith hughes
Posts: 33
Location: futurity, Colorado
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I too just built my Earthship after buying the books 1,2,3. I just wish i started small and did one room at a time. did 5 u's. I wish i got a building permit. Just didn't think of it. Just started digging one day. some many years after finishing it. Get a letter in mail saying i need a building permit and certificate of occupancy. Go figure.
 
Jennifer Herod
Posts: 30
Location: Texas
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kieth,

I got a letter too at one point, called and spoke to the guy, and explained my situation about permiys not really applying. He said I need an engineer to sign off on the structure itself, and made some suggestion to be compkiant with state codes. I was still in the middle of things, so I changed my plan AGAIN. He never red-tagged anything, so I just keep building.

jennifer
 
keith hughes
Posts: 33
Location: futurity, Colorado
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Most money i spent on my Earthship was cement, gas, glass and wood. I got all my block, brick, glass block leftover from job sites. Rock and beams from my land and national forest. Tile and misc stuff was from habitat from humanity. Gravel and tires from cement from local town. Spent 8 summer doing it myself. Had help with the glass, two local paid $200 each for ten hours of putting in glass. bunch of receipts never totaled them up, some day i might. No bills, no worries.
 
Jennifer Herod
Posts: 30
Location: Texas
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sounds like we built similarly. We dont have a forest, so we spent more on roof lumber than anything. We have 2 deep U's and 3 circles. We are adding a greenhouse/wet room on the end.

You must be a teacher like us, . we have been at it 8 summers as well, scavanging what we can, buying cheaply what we can, and spending what we have to when we dont have a choice.

Floors and utilities is what we lack.We are half finished with floors.
 
leila hamaya
pollinator
Posts: 1159
Location: northern northern california
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i think, actually i KNOW you can build a small earthen house for as much money as you have. it probably wont be picture perfect, but it will be livable (well =) by my standards anyway which are...ummm not all that high and fancy =)

this is the slow way though, lots of sweat equity, and scavenging for materials, etc...so sometimes its like you just have to buy stuff to save time and sweat, or potentially pay someone to do some part of it quicker than you could.
 
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https://permies.com/wiki/23444/digital-market/digital-market/Earth-Sheltered-Solar-Greenhouse-Book
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