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earthbags with rice hulls

 
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I am looking for a source for rice hulls for earthbag filler accessible from southern Arizona and info from anyone who has experienced building with this material. I do know that it holds up well to moisture, is lightweight and has an R value of 3 per inch. How many bags for 100 ft of wall, 6 ft high and a 24x30 ft roof? Thanks.
 
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Kate, between shipping the material to you building location, dealing with the lack of structural firmness these huls will not provided and a myriad of other potential issues...this is an idea I would not try exploring. Look to the traditional and vernacular to your region, and what the land you have can offer. These will be your best building materials and the modalities are many, from timber, stone to earth...

If you do have a source close by for the RH then I would perhaps suggest a timber frame infill system using the RH as a replacement for straw to make an insulative cobb.

Regards,

j
 
Kat Green
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It will not be structural. I have a recycled steel frame. It will be used as insulation enclosed between the inside and outside walls. However, from my research, it can be used in earth bags just like other types of filler. It is light weight which is important to me. I may take another route but right now, I am exploring options. I thought we were not using timber in green building and I don't have a single tree on my 40 acres. I return to you the quote you sent me.

"To possess an open mind is to hold a key to many doors, and the ability to create doors where there were none before."
 
Kat Green
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Jay C. White Cloud
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Kat Green wrote:It will not be structural. I have a recycled steel frame. It will be used as insulation enclosed between the inside and outside walls.



Excellent, then this changes everything, as technically this is no longer a "bag" structure. EB (or whatever is put in them) just like SB (straw bale) are in two distinct forms...structural and nonstructural. The structural forms of these two modalities are truly the "real forms." When taken them and use them as an "infill method" they just become an insulative agent for the the wall and/or roof diaphragms...from an architectural or PE perspective.


Kat Green wrote:However, from my research, it can be used in earth bags just like other types of filler. It is light weight which is important to me.



If it is not structural and the metal frame is engineered to take the lateral and compressive loads without, relying on the "infill" as part of its structural integrity...everything should be fine. I would...as a safety net...have the design approved by a PE with a natural building and/or traditional building background (and/or lots and lots of feedback from folks with extensive "real world" experience in this field of building."

REMEMBER...conservatively 80% of what we see in the "new age" natural building field are "living experiments" without any proven track record of success...it is all conceptual based on..."well...it should work..." This is why I lean heavily toward vernacular forms of natural building and not many of those that try to "reinvent wheels."

Kat Green wrote:... I thought we were not using timber in green building and I don't have a single tree on my 40 acres...




Timber Framing is very much part of the "green building" craze. Not that I have every bought into it very much. I have been, by the nature of it, a natural builder my entire life...as well as a permaculturalist before the word was even really understood or used. If there are no trees, then use what the land provides as much as possible. Nevertheless, I am assuming that a truck is going to ship the RH to the building site, just like perhaps the recycled metal frame?

I would ask, what is the vernacular form of architecture for in the building site area?

How far is the RH being shipped?

How far are the bags the RH go into traveling?

What is the oldest structure within 100 kilometers of the property, and how is it built?

That is most likely the best form to use, as it is proven in form and function for that biome. I grew up in the Cochise Stronghold area, and still have family throughout southern AZ, so I am more than familiar with what building materials in the area and what different vernacular architectural systems there may be to choose from. There are timber sources throughout southern AZ, and more inapplicable cobb, adobe, stone and the related vernacular forms, as well as, "fossorial architecture."

Making the "light weight" of a material as a focal point to a build is interesting, yet not something I believe I would make as my "control factor," for a good build...unless this is an experiment of some form. Weight is an issue for Houseboats but even then its more about "weight distribution" than actual mass, as this can often be compensated for in other ways.

As a word of encouragement, I have seen several solid stone and lime mortar houses with massive timber and stone roofs build by DIYers with little or no great physical abilities...just patients and ingenuity. This included a small stone cottage built by two 70 and 80 year old sisters. I don't believe (I could be not understanding everything about your build or location) but weight should not be a focal point.

I loved the fact that my quote has been read and it has created thinking...it does not mean I ignore the paths of least resistance in my thinking...unless...I am actually trying or wanting to experiment with a certain modalities of building...or something else. I am often referencing to "reinventing wheels." What I mean by this is, unless we are truly driven to, or want to experiment with something for the sheer joy of "creating new doors," it is best to work within the parameters of, "what is known and proven to work."

I am a "tinker" by nature, and love seeing it in my students and others. Applying this to a "one and only homestead build" with very "experimental concepts," is really not a place for this energy. I am seeing as many "fails" out there in the "natural build" world as I am successes...especially in the "durability" of the many forms being built without truly understanding how all the interstitial and other elements are meant to work in concert with each other. If you have pictures of the building site and more information about your goals, perhaps we could be of more assistance in adding the design to fulfill planned needs.


Regards,

j



 
Kat Green
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I have found a supplier 140 miles away. I will pick up the RH with my truck and a trailer and implement my plan in the spring. I might post pictures even tho contributors to this website continue to advise me to have a pro built stick house or a mobile home just because that is what my neighbors have. Thank you.
 
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Kat, when you turn to the internet for free advice on building a home you better be prepared for many opinions, most of which may not fit your vision. I think the quality, time and level of detail that youve gotten from contributors here has been far from your assessment.

It would be one thing if you were building a tiny house for experimental research. 720 square feet is a pretty big endeavor to sink so many resources into for such questionable returns. Combining earthbags of Rice hulls, OSB, block masonry and a carport frame could work fine but dont be surprised to be questioned on the details.

To insulate that big of a home, I think it would take multiple 280 mile round trips unless you have a dumptruck and flatbed trailer for your truck. Speaking of questionable contributions.. R3 per inch is a big claim and I couldnt find much to back it up. I can imagine a blanket of rice hulls, with no bags, achieving good R value probably in the range of well packed strawbale but not R3 without 3rd party testing backing it up. I think its an awesome product but the details are worth digging into and being questioned on.
 
Jay C. White Cloud
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Kate Green wrote:I have found a supplier 140 miles away. I will pick up the RH with my truck and a trailer and implement my plan in the spring. I might post pictures even tho contributors to this website continue to advise me to have a pro built stick house or a mobile home just because that is what my neighbors have. Thank you.



Hi Kate,

I just had a chance to "scan" your other post tonight regarding some of the potential build elements. If there is anything in particular you want, need or have questions about, just ask.

As Brian has so succinctly pointed out, when you invoke questions on the internet you are going to get many varying opinions, and broad range of experience from many with just "opinions" while others are actually working in the field of expertise you have questions about.

I, like Brian, try not to quash anyones dreams, thoughts, aspiration, or the like, unless I feel (know) them to be unsafe or could lead to some form on immediate fail in a given endeavor. I often find some folks ask questions, then get upset, confused or disturbed that they don't get the answers they expected and/or wanted. That just happens and I let it go.

Folks are going to find...especially if really new to building and/or the DIY world of doing something...that what the "think the know or understand" is going to be well outside the view of folks that have been doing it for some time, as in my case for over 40 years on and off all over the glob. I have a "fondness" for your project just because you are in my "childhood" backyard...if you don't mind the expression, and I would not only like to see you succeed, but do it well, with only the materials you actually need, and that "fit" within the purview of a "natural build," this being a permaculture forum and all that.

So unless you ask, I will leave you to you own whims, wishes and goals. If you do ask, you will find me suggesting you go in probably different directions than perhaps you had planned and/or asking for more details about where the land is, how you want to live in and on this land, what skill sets you currently have, how much effort personally you plan to put into this and how much you plan to "hire out." What you material needs are, and how you plan to achieve them.

I noted in your last post that you are going to bring the RH over 140 miles to the location you are now in...that is fine, and actually I would love to know this source if you wouldn't mind sharing (offline if you need to) as this is something I would like to look into for other clients I may have in your area doing natural building. I would suggest that if you can bring Rice Hulls 140 miles you can use locally grown and sustainably harvested timbers that far as well with almost the same level of impact as the RH would have in the overall carbon footprint.

I would never suggest going with "just what others are doing." If metal stud framing is what is understood, it is recycled material and meets the Specs. of the project then I would just suggest comaparing that to other natural resources in the area first before a final choice.

Without plot plans, blue prints and more detail...any of the advise shared thus fare is "spotty" at best, but with good intentions from all of that I am sure.

Of Note:

Ondura has pending lawsuits for early product degradation and not honoring warranty. This would not be my first choice for any "natural build" project as the roofs I design are meant to last from 150 to 500 years (i.e. stone, metal, wood shingle, and/or earth/living.

Being a permaculture forum, there will always be a certain amount, depending on contributor, of resistance to materials like asphalt, concrete, metal studding (unless all recycle product and/or lower overall impact product than others) and any other medium that is not of a "100% recycled" and/or natural based for the means, methods, and materials of application for the planned architecture.

Regards,

j
 
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