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Micky Ewing
Posts: 105
Location: Merrickville, Ontario
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Geoff Buddle wrote:
Those old sayings, there's usually one for each point of view, but my favourite is from Hawaii-5-0, "Just the facts, man. Just the facts."
Geoff


I think you mean Dragnet. Also the (mis)quote is "Just the facts, ma'am."
 
t carey
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Geoff Buddle, I see you are in Ottawa, I'm in Toronto. I wonder if I could contact you regarding your build? I've been researching for what seems like forever and would appreciate some "hands on" experience with an earthship in our climate (I'm thinking of a build in Bancroft). Thanks!

Tim
 
Todd Gunter
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Paul Wheaton. I am currently building an earthship. I read the article you linked to and its really a jab at Earthships. Much of the problems they refer to come from older designs, and theres many modifications that have been done to change those depending on environment climate, etc.. Many people have problems with Earthships, but lots of these problems come from owner builders who do not stick to the Biotecture standards. Yeah some of the early models had, mistakes or didn't perform the greatest but over time they improved and everything since the development of the double greenhouse, that fully became popular in the global model earthship has performed incredibly well. I'm sorry you gave up on your dreams. I saw my first Earthship in 1989 when I was 16 and thought it was the coolest thing ever. Yep its a lot of work. To the OP, how did you run out of money during the tire wall building, theres almost no money required to do this? We are building a two bed global model with 1200sqft living area, and with 800sqft greenhouse hallway. Currently we are three tire courses from finishing the the main tire work. Its taken 16 months of work to get to this point, and probably will take another 3-4 years to finish the building and move in.We are in no rush, this is our dream home, and we want it to be exactly perfect and exactly to E.B. standards. Except, since we live in a slightly warmer climate than Taos we are building vertical faced windows to help control summer heat. I know earthships are not for everyone, mostly because they are the most labor intensive structure you can build, but they're damn near bomb proof, and when built properly function amazingly well for so little power.
 
Amedean Messan
pollinator
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Location: Melbourne FL, USA - Pine and Palmetto Flatland, Sandy and Acidic
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Todd Gunter wrote:Paul Wheaton. I am currently building an earthship. I read the article you linked to and its really a jab at Earthships. Much of the problems they refer to come from older designs, and theres many modifications that have been done to change those depending on environment climate, etc.. Many people have problems with Earthships, but lots of these problems come from owner builders who do not stick to the Biotecture standards. Yeah some of the early models had, mistakes or didn't perform the greatest but over time they improved and everything since the development of the double greenhouse, that fully became popular in the global model earthship has performed incredibly well. I'm sorry you gave up on your dreams. I saw my first Earthship in 1989 when I was 16 and thought it was the coolest thing ever. Yep its a lot of work. To the OP, how did you run out of money during the tire wall building, theres almost no money required to do this? We are building a two bed global model with 1200sqft living area, and with 800sqft greenhouse hallway. Currently we are three tire courses from finishing the the main tire work. Its taken 16 months of work to get to this point, and probably will take another 3-4 years to finish the building and move in.We are in no rush, this is our dream home, and we want it to be exactly perfect and exactly to E.B. standards. Except, since we live in a slightly warmer climate than Taos we are building vertical faced windows to help control summer heat. I know earthships are not for everyone, mostly because they are the most labor intensive structure you can build, but they're damn near bomb proof, and when built properly function amazingly well for so little power.


Hi, do you have any links or videos to your project. Pictures are also acceptable and please feel free to start a thread on your work. Thanks!
 
Todd Gunter
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Here are a couple photos from our build taken a couple weeks ago.
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Mat Ar
Posts: 31
Location: Texas USA
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Sorry to hear about your earthship troubles. I have a few semi-stupid questions....Please keep in mind im very new to the earthship idea and a permaculture virgin(I honestly had to google what permaculture meant)

I like many others saw the "garbage warrior" movie and fell in love with the concept of turning trash into a home!

I wanted to know, why not use cinder block instead of tires? I know that cinder blocks arent free the way tires are....but would solid cinder-blocks or hollow ones for that matter make any difference in thermal mass? Obviously the hollow ones must be filled in with something.

I work construction/demolition(its a family business) anyways I have relatively free access (gotta pay the gas and diesel and maintenance) to a back-hoe, fork lift, asphalt paver, cement mixers, dump trucks...Pretty much anything and everything(at least equipment wise) I noticed that in all the earth-ships(well all the ones I saw) The "backs" of the structures are buried. If the walls are underground, how does thermal mass make any difference?(keep in mind I live in Texas and the coldest we get here is 35 degrees and that only lasts 1 night...Of course flipping that around Christmas day 2 years ago was 98 degrees) for places where heat is a main concern, why dont we just bury the entire structure and turn the roof into a giant sky-light?(concept of an underground sky scraper) I do already have a mini-aquaponics setup its only a few gold fish in an aquarium feeding some lettuce(I did it more as a filter solution than an actual attempt to raise my own food) Maybe I just dont understand the concept of an earthship and the necessity of the dirt filled tires, but to me it seems much easier to build an entire structure in a doughnut shape with the center having the green house and skylight...No? this way you can have the entire roof(minus the skylight of course) made into a solar/wind farm....Sewage might be an issue(unless you gravity feed it deeper(only 2 feet deeper) under a fenced up area with ornamental plants. Again Im a permi-virgin so all this could be a concept that would just cause all of you to laugh so hard you pee your pants(if so please be gentle on your replies)
 
Dale Hodgins
gardener
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In the early 80s, I checked out Earthships and concluded that they were the result of a cult of personality, rather than of sound scientific study.

 I consider old tires to be toxic waste, and I wouldn't want to live in immediate proximity to many of them.

 Various other forms of garbage have been piled up to make walls and other things that could have been made from adobe.

 Recyclable items such as bottles,  cans and other packaging have been hauled to clean sites that offer rock, clay and wood.  My neighbor built the most out of place tire house that I've heard of.  All of the aforementioned materials were available on site or close by.
 
Valerie Dawnstar
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Location: North Central New York
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Mat Ar wrote: I noticed that in all the earth-ships(well all the ones I saw) The "backs" of the structures are buried. If the walls are underground, how does thermal mass make any difference?(keep in mind I live in Texas and the coldest we get here is 35 degrees and that only lasts 1 night...Of course flipping that around Christmas day 2 years ago was 98 degrees) for places where heat is a main concern, why dont we just bury the entire structure and turn the roof into a giant sky-light?(concept of an underground sky scraper) I do already have a mini-aquaponics setup its only a few gold fish in an aquarium feeding some lettuce(I did it more as a filter solution than an actual attempt to raise my own food) Maybe I just dont understand the concept of an earthship and the necessity of the dirt filled tires, but to me it seems much easier to build an entire structure in a doughnut shape with the center having the green house and skylight...No? this way you can have the entire roof(minus the skylight of course) made into a solar/wind farm....Sewage might be an issue(unless you gravity feed it deeper(only 2 feet deeper) under a fenced up area with ornamental plants. Again Im a permi-virgin so all this could be a concept that would just cause all of you to laugh so hard you pee your pants(if so please be gentle on your replies)


I have never done any excavating myself but I read - a lot - and am fairly certain an underground skyscraper would take an enormous amount of engineering. A mere 20' of earth trench can collapse without warning and quickly bury anyone unfortunate enough to be in it at the time. While your idea sounds pretty good you need to consider all aspects of anything you want to build. One good reason why there are building codes.
 
Mat Ar
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I have never done any excavating myself but I read - a lot - and am fairly certain an underground skyscraper would take an enormous amount of engineering. A mere 20' of earth trench can collapse without warning and quickly bury anyone unfortunate enough to be in it at the time. While your idea sounds pretty good you need to consider all aspects of anything you want to build. One good reason why there are building codes.


my idea for the entire underground building with a center skylight was based more on the model of a strip mine(google photos of them) you'll see the way they cut into the earth leaving slanted terraces as roads to reach the deeper sections. building outward sloped raised walls from the bottom up would be a breeze in contrary to the current sky scraper design being built underground. having the terraces assuming on does have a collapse(landslide would be a closer description) the amount of falling debris would be minimized but the terraces(that is until the structure is made) yes the terrace must be filled in prior to the "wall" going up!
 
Valerie Dawnstar
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Location: North Central New York
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Please do your due diligence, Mat.
 
Mat Ar
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Location: Texas USA
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Valerie Dawnstar wrote:Please do your due diligence, Mat.


Naturally I would ensure everything is created safely on a PC by an engineer first before even a tiny pebble is removed. I was just thinking about alternatives to the Earthship/tire issues and the High-cost of building one, Contrary to the price of different materials. I did notice that earthships have a sticker price that includes 40% for labor....that would mean that 60% would be permits, fees, materials, and services. For some reason that sounds fairly unreasonable to me(although I am a bit of a budgeteer=cheap-ass) if some earthships can cost beyond 750k, that would mean I would be paying 300k to a handful of labor workers(granted they would have earned the money the hard way). The costs just seem unreasonable, I'd rather live in a tent on my land, catch rain-water and turn the rest of the land into a food forest. It would ultimately not exceed 10k and Id be happy, just the same.
 
Valerie Dawnstar
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Location: North Central New York
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Hey, Mat - Just came across this and it seemed to be similar to the idea you were looking at before so I thought I would share. Here
 
Mat Ar
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thanks for the link Valerie, the Idea is very innovative. Perfect solution for places like Detroit where the city went bankrupt and just about every business uprooted.
 
Rob Lougas
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Hey Matt,
I read your questions in regards to dirt packed tires vs. cinder blocks. Here's my take, yes a tire foundation could be replaced with cinder blocks or even a conventional concrete foundation. Properly insulated and nearly air tight, passive solar heating would be a definite possibility. A back up heating system is probably a good idea (where I live in Ontario even a MR earthship would need back up heating) none the less most of the heating could still come from the sun.

But here’s the thing the tires help with. Thermal mass. The whole idea here is to store some heat energy in the wall. Because the tires are packed so tightly with dirt, they are rather dense and heavy. In the small earthship I'm building I would guess that the tires (the 16" and 15" ones) weigh pretty close to 300 lbs each. So like the big rocks that get hot in the summer sun and stay warm well into the night the tire foundation holds daytime heat into the night and as the room temp cools off heat energy is released to the room. When a tire foundation is properly insulated (high r value) on the outside (of course the roof insulation must be very good too as heat rises), any heat in said tire foundation has to be released on the inside of the wall. Although sand filled cinder blocks or solid block or stone like the old farm house foundations do have some mass they don't have nearly the storage capacity of the large tightly packed tires. The denser a mass the more heat energy it can store. So although the concrete blocks will hold some heat into the night it won't hold it as long into the night because it simply has less stored energy to give. Modern earthships have evolved to include the use of what’s called thermal wrap. This is where they basically create a wall of high r value insulation between 3 and 5 feet away from the outside of the foundation wall and tamping the dirt between tight. The idea is that you slow down any heat escaping to the ground around the house via the wall of insulation and at the same time add to your thermal mass. I guess it works from what I've read. I think that if you were to spray foam the outside of your foundation and bury it you wouldn't have to use the thermal wrap but maybe the added mass would be nice and account for a little less fire wood chopping. Anyway that’s the idea with the tires. And yes you could do it with concrete wall or block but it would require more supplementary heating on the cool evenings.

Now as for berming up your walls or digging into a hill the idea is to take advantage of the relatively consistent temperature of the ground. Below frost line the temp of the earth stays pretty much the same year round. I think the ground temp is around 55 degrees? (I can't remember off the top of my head and it does vary from place to place on this planet) but that’s cooler than 100 in the summer and warmer than -20 in the winter. It’s to use the laws of thermodynamics to lessen your heating and cooling energy requirements. In a sense it's also similar in concept to the second greenhouse, where what it does is take the elements off the walls like the second greenhouse keeps the elements off the inner one hence limiting or at least slowing heat transfer in the living area. No -30 winds and snow wicking away your hard earned heat (Here in the winter anyway). By burying up the walls it brings the temperature surrounding your building closer to a constant without big fluctuations because the greater the difference in temp the greater the rate of heat transfer. In the hot summer you don't have the warm temperature of the ambient air constantly surrounding your house, just a nice cool ground temp. I know where you live the winter temps might not be as cold as the temps I gave but they really just help to get the concept across.

As for cost it's all in how much work you are willing to do. You said you have access to nearly any tool or machine you need, that’s a heck of a step up on a lot of people. If you’re willing to do the work you could save that 40% on labour and when you start to look and ask around you would be amazed at the building materials you can track down for hugely discounted prices if not free. It might need a fresh coat of paint and a bit of TLC but a $1000 sawmill is a heck of a lot cheaper than $40 000 in lumbar. Or if you have access to a large air compressor you can buy do it yourself spray foam kits online and safe yourself another $20 000 by not paying a guy to do it for you. The cost is what you make it. Even building a conventional match stick house if you want 2400 sqft its going to cost you a pretty penny. I have a thread going called small earthship, I have spent $45 on a sledge, $200 on 150 board ft. of nice rough cut cedar 2x12's for the bond beam and $40 at the restore on a skid of Portland cement that I've use 3 bags of so far. It will be close to 180-200 sqft so that comes in around $1.50 per sqft. Granted this is not going to be a fully furnished house, but it's proved to me the structure can be built on the cheap. I have the rest of my materials that I've pulled out of dumpsters at job sites and though bartering with neighbours so what’s left is just the time and energy input on my end. I will certainly do my best to keep updating that thread on the progress and what my final costs are. As for time, it’s hard to say I started it a few years ago and have just kind of once in a blue moon went and put a few hours in on it. Anyway I'm getting away from myself here so ya, I think that if you take your time and plan it out cost can be substantially less than the scary numbers we always seem to be hearing about in regards to earthships.

Hope this helps.

-Cheers
 
Rob Lougas
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Todd,
Looks good!!! It's exciting to see so many of these houses pop up. I had just a couple quick questions in regards to your thermal wrap.

1. Did you put a layer on the bottom of the hole at the base of the foundation in between the wrap and tire wall before you started backfilling? My concern with not having one is that heat could wick away under your wall of insulation. I could see this being ok in the summer when you want the cooling effects but couldn't be a little more efficient in the winter if it was insulated?

2. Did you fuse the joints between pieces of insulation that make up your wrap in anyway? Like tape them together or overlap joints? Glue or silicon? I know that when insulating a regular house even a gap as wide as a dime can render your insulation near useless. Now that might be because of convection but the laws of thermodynamics still apply to conduction. I know even with little gaps its better than no insulation but I'm just thinking that the less heat transfer from the inside of your wrap to the outside the better.

3. When you put the top layer of insulation on your wrap how far from the top of the wall will you go? I'm just curious because where I live the frost line can make it down a few feet and I wanted to know if the frost line comes into consideration at all in your decision on where to cap your wrap.

Keep up the good work and keep us posted!!!
Good luck with your build!
 
Mat Ar
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Location: Texas USA
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Hey thanks Rob, Ive been working on some thermal calculations. fortunately the coldest we get here in winter is 62-65(indoors, standard brick home) no heating system being used. I think outdoor temps were 41 at the lowest this passed winter. If I'm lucky I could get away with more conventional materials(Brick, cinder, concrete, Ect.) I do have a rather large air compression unit. and a handful of portable air tanks(we use them for nail guns) As far as actual "heavy" Machinery we have a forklift, back-hoe, bucket-truck, cherry picker, hay baler, 2 dump trucks, more than 500ft of 5in oil-well piping, a few other things on my brother's lot a couple of towns away(to be honest I havent spoken to him in a year or more, but Im sure he'll lend them to me)
 
Jim Gagnepain
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Denise Lehtinen wrote:Unfortunately, despite being built largely out of recycled materials, Earthships are very expensive to build.

We have one that is started (we have the outer tire walls done), but are out of money to complete it.

It was really frustrating to see how slowly it was progressing while we were still trying on it.

It is also hard to imagine being happy in a home that is so far away from town ... although the nearly 10 acres and year around growing that is possible here in Florida leaves lots of possibility for Permaculture on quite a large scale.

It was hard listening to Paul's rambling podcast where he talked about needing land -- a large amount of it -- and having a hard time finding anything suitable in Missoula. It was hard not to have a flight of fancy where the wish for land and the wish for something nice to come out of the Earthship project to come together and solve both issues all at once. Finish the Earthship somehow and give Paul a showcase for his ideas in Central Florida.

It certainly is a pipe dream, and working out the legal mumbo jumbo that would go along with that is over my head. It is too much to ask, but not too much to wish to be true.

But it does touch at a spot that I've tried to forget about as the project remains on hold and my husband tries to find a buyer of it.

Sorry for the rambling post. It needs as much courage as I have to admit to these thoughts in this manner. I don't know if I will have the courage to look at the responses -- that is often tough for me to do.

It is a tough situation just now that could use funds and project manager and courage to keep on trying now that things are really tough and the dream of a real live earth-friendly home on a permacultured land seems to have been only a mirage.



I'm sorry to hear about your experience. I have a friend who has a very similar story. I hope you can complete it someday.
 
Jonah Reynolds
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Learn all about Earthships. Help complete the Earthship in Myakka City.
https://earthship360.com/florida

The earthship is partially built, your mission, should you choose, is to help complete it.

    Classroom time and hands-on, in the field time with a team of more than 30 people from around the world with Earthship Builder/Teachers. Each Session will complete each half of the building with daily classes on-site.
    500+ page Curriculum TextBooks are available. How-To, step-by-step with concepts explained how everything works, and why.
    This is a multi-week workshop near Sarasota, Florida. Experience the most advanced sustainable construction designs and systems in the world near stunning white sand beaches, highest rated in North America.
    FREE Permit and Construction Drawings will be made available during this event as high-resolution PDF files. We believe in open-source sustainable design and construction.
florida_CADoview1.jpg
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CAD overview
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Floor Plan
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Section
 
Jim Gagnepain
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Why did you do things the hard way.  We built ours out of tire bales.  Had the entire structure up in a day.  Not so expensive either.  Great to live in:

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Back wall, digging French drain. Now all bermed up.
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Finished Earthship
 
Todd Gunter
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After 2 years of pounding tires we finished the tire wall last summer. We are currently waiting for a break from winter to move onto pouring concrete in the footings and bond beam. Once that is done, we will move forward into what will be our first real expense besides the concrete, and thats the framing for the load bearing walls and the roof. Hope you didn't give up.
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beginnings of can wall form for bond beam.
 
Jim Gagnepain
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Todd Gunter wrote:After 2 years of pounding tires we finished the tire wall last summer. We are currently waiting for a break from winter to move onto pouring concrete in the footings and bond beam. Once that is done, we will move forward into what will be our first real expense besides the concrete, and thats the framing for the load bearing walls and the roof. Hope you didn't give up.


Looks real nice Todd.  A fine professional job!  Where are you located?
 
Todd Gunter
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Jim,

We are in Northeast Oklahoma near Arkansas. Where is your tire bale home? There is a tire bale earthship near us in Arkansas, I've never seen it, but a guy who came out and pounded tires with us has, and said it was real nice.
 
arianna higgins
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Jim Gagnepain wrote:Why did you do things the hard way.  We built ours out of tire bales.  Had the entire structure up in a day.  Not so expensive either.  Great to live in:



Leaving this article here. Appears that the more efficient strategy is tire bales rather than rammed earth tires?

www.dirtcheapbuilder.com/Articles/Tire_Bale_Home.htm
 
That new kid is a freak. Show him this tiny ad:
Video of all the permaculture design course and appropriate technology course (about 177 hours)
https://permies.com/wiki/65386/paul-wheaton/digital-market/Video-PDC-ATC-hours-HD
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