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small earthship  RSS feed

 
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Hey guys,
I thought I would share some photos of my small earthship. I got really excited about these things after reading the books and decided I had to build a small one to experiment a little and see how realistic it was for me to maybe build and live in one one day. Its been a while in the making, as it seems hard to find the time in the busy hustle and bustle of daily life. But heres a couple pictures I will try and add a couple more soon.
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Posts: 724
Location: In a rain shadow - Fremont County, Southern CO
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pretty cool.

what are the dimensions of the one your building?
where abouts are you building it? looks beautiful.

have you used a sledgehammer for all the pounding or have you mechanized it at all?
i hear it is a lot of pounding.
 
Rob Lougas
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Hey Kelly,
Thanks! Im in ontario Canada. The dementions started as a 10 by 10 U-module and was supposed to have a green house section 6 feet out but I ended up going 8 feet out with it to give just a bit more room. so i guess its inside dimentions are aprox 10 feet wide and 18 feet long ish. The whole thing has been done by hand. We dug the hole and pounded all the tires with a sledge. It does take a long time and a lot of pounding. My buddy and I got pretty good at it by the time we were done the 100 or so tires in this build. I think on a good day we could get a tire pounded and on to the next one within about 15 min. most did take longer lol. We decided to go with an earth cliff that will be platered over and only 4 rows of tires, this was mainly because we were digging and pounding by hand. Its been a lot of fun and I will deffinatly try and keep updating this thread. Its a bit of an incentive to get working on this thing having it here for people to see. Hopfully I can get a little more done before i have to tarp it up for the winter.
 
Posts: 149
Location: Massachusetts
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how will it be heated , I am not familiar with this type building . I do not think we would be allowed to build with tires here .
 
Rob Lougas
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Hi Susan,
The plan to heat the building is to use the sun. If I ever get this thing done we will find out if it works! If not I'm thinking of putting a rocket mass heater in. And as for building with tires most places seem to be ok with it if you have stamped plans it might take some explaining but they seem to be popping up all over the place these days
 
Kelly Smith
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Location: In a rain shadow - Fremont County, Southern CO
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keep up the good work Rob, and yeah, please keep posting pictures.

i am super interested in the basic earthship concept (pass solar/off gird) but after reading the amount of labor involved i understand i dont have time to tackle a project like this.
nonetheless, i love to see them built and hear peoples feedback on them.

i wonder how big of a heater you would need in that size structure - i cant imagine it would be big. too big and you may create a sauna....

 
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I wish you were not so far away. I have been to MR's 3 day conference and have thought about the es for quite some time. As a planner in construction I move around too much to build (so far) but could probably hold a decent conversation on the subject. At least you have some trees on site. There are lots of details left out of the books although there are some decent youtube vids. Best regards
 
Rob Lougas
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Now that spring has sprung I've been busy working away on the little earthshed. Here are a couple more pics of the progress.
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Rob Lougas
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And some more...
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Rob Lougas
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The decking on and ready to start framing up the greenhouse.
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steward
Posts: 4397
Location: Zones 2-4 Wyoming and 4-5 Colorado
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Looking good Rob! Are you fastening the wood together in some way or is everything just setting on top of everything else?
 
Rob Lougas
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Hi Miles,
Everything is fastened together. The bond beam is held down by ancor bolts embedded in concrete every other tire. The blocking holding up the beams is nailed in place with 4inch spikes and the beams are nailed in with multiple 12inch spikes. The deck boards are all spiked into the beams with 4inch spikes as well. The tires are only held in my gravity but its incredible how solid the tire wall is. Each tire packed has to weigh at least 300 pounds.
 
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Rob Lougas wrote:Hi Miles,
Everything is fastened together. The bond beam is held down by ancor bolts embedded in concrete every other tire. The blocking holding up the beams is nailed in place with 4inch spikes and the beams are nailed in with multiple 12inch spikes. The deck boards are all spiked into the beams with 4inch spikes as well. The tires are only held in my gravity but its incredible how solid the tire wall is. Each tire packed has to weigh at least 300 pounds.



Awesome endeavor! I spent quite a bit more $$$ on mine See separate post. I used the tire-bale approach. I did pound 20-30 tires for a garden retaining wall, just to see what I missed. You're my hero

Did you put a French Drain around the structure prior to berming? If not, are you having water intrusion issues? Are you going to put the slanted glass in front? Is there enough sunshine? It looks like there's a lot of tree blockage. Enjoy the process!
 
Rob Lougas
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Hey Jim,
I did not do anything in particular for drainage as of yet. The structure is right on the crest of a hill so for the most part water should run off either side. Around the back side of the structure there is a gentle slope heading downhill towards it so I plan on doing some landscaping to run the water away. The soil has a high clay content so hopefully that will help me in running the water away. As you can see in the pictures I have some plastic that covers the tire wall. It is bunched up at the wall right now but it will be buried in the berming around the structure so as to help run the water away. When the plastic is stretched out from the wall it covers the top two feet of tire wall vertically and then will head away from the wall at a slope about 3 to 4 feet out. The berm will then be added to covering the plastic in about 2 feet of soil. Right now I am having some pooling going on after heavy rain but I am thinking that is just because it is still open to atmosphere and the high clay content so I end up with a shallow pool. Time will tell if drainage will be an issue or not. If so I will wrap a tile around it and route the water downhill.
I am going to do a sloped glass wall on the south side. Yes there are some trees in front of the structure. I left them standing to keep the job site shaded as possible while I am working on the project. Once its closed in I am going to see how it preforms and trim branches or drop trees as need be. Thanks for the questions. Any more feel free to ask. I will hopefully be doing some more work on it this weekend. If I make any progress I will take pictures and update.
 
Jim Gagnepain
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Advanced Energy makes a pretty good glass mounting system, if you don't want to use the DIY approach. It consists of the perimeter (bolted onto your framing), the rubber gasketing, the top mullions, all the necessary hardware, and some trim plates which hide the bolt-heads. It's a heavy aluminum system, and can be cut with a carbide-bladed saw. No matter what you do, I would suggest using 46" x 76" glass. You'll be able to get the glass a lot cheaper, because that's the standard size for sliding glass doors. It's best to go with at least double-pane. Tempered and Low-E are also good qualities for the glass. It takes two strong men to put one of these glass units in. Not something you want to drop.

An operable awning window can be installed just below the glass windows. Sometimes you can get these at Habitat for Humanity, and save a few dollars.
 
Rob Lougas
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Here are a few more photos. I made a little bit more progress this week. The first and second photos should be in reverse order. But I got my uprights in place they are going to support the load of the roof so that I dont have to make the connection so strong where the front window wall and roof meet. For the most part I am using logs that are on the property for the main framing and it was easier to have a few logs standing to take the weight vertically instead of putting all that pressure on an angle if that makes sense. All of the standing logs have an 8inch deep concrete footing poured underneath them and also what isnt visible in the pictures yet is the footing for the doorway. Its poured and has a length of 2x10 secured across the top of it.
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Jim Gagnepain
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Rob Lougas wrote:Here are a few more photos. I made a little bit more progress this week.


Looking good! We pounded some tires for our chicken coop. Only about 10'x12'x4' high. But that was enough for me! I put up some forms, and poured a concrete bond beam, with j-bolts, and then did the framing and the roof. The chickens sure love this. Chicken coops aren't supposed to be insulated, so it's just framing and particle board above that. It's nice - we don't have to worry about coyotes tearing anything down, with those massive walls. The pullets are very, very happy in there!

We even covered the tires with adobe and stained concrete! I'll post a pic later...
 
Rob Lougas
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Just a couple more photos of the recent progress. Nothing more done since yesterdays update just a couple different views.
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Inside looking out
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Jim Gagnepain
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Rob Lougas wrote:Just a couple more photos of the recent progress. Nothing more done since yesterdays update just a couple different views.


Rob,
Are you putting some windows in the side, just under the roof? I like the look with the logs, etc. Are you insulating? There's not much wall. It almost looks like you might not have to...
 
Rob Lougas
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Hey Jim,
Ya the windows are going to go in front of those standing logs. They will be on an angle of aprox 75 degrees. I say aprox because my miter saw is old and worn so I'm not sure how accurate its readings are anymore. And yes I plan to insulate as well as I can. I have been scrounging up as much insulating material as I can find. I have a few rolls of 3inch thick fiberglass and a number of 4inch thick 4x8 sheets of Styrofoam. And then a couple of pickup loads of random Styrofoam from garage door packaging I got from a friend who is a garage door installer. Oh and the roof will extend from where it is now to the top of those vertical logs.
 
Posts: 568
Location: ontario, canada
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good work. mine is in ontario also
 
Jim Gagnepain
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John McDoodle wrote:good work. mine is in ontario also

Sounds like Ontario may be the next Earthship community, similar to Taos, NM. A sad note - the designer of my tire-bale earthship, Mike Shealey, has passed away. He lived here in Colorado Springs, in the Black Forest area. His work is legendary, as there are about 50 of his designs in the area. All are either zero-energy or close to it.
 
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hi rob,

that looks awesome. Im actually jealous that you are actually doing it.

I noticed that you dug down for the head space instead of building up. great way to have material for pounding and lesson the number of tires pounded. from your previous post I understood that you are on a crest of a hill and believe you will have little problem with water. excellent.

out of curiousity how do you plan to fortified the dug out knee wall supporting the tire wall?

please update as often as you can. Im a huge fan of the pics and building process.

 
Rob Lougas
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A much over due update
Made a little progress this summer
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Rob Lougas
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scott thompson wrote:hi rob,

that looks awesome. Im actually jealous that you are actually doing it.

I noticed that you dug down for the head space instead of building up. great way to have material for pounding and lesson the number of tires pounded. from your previous post I understood that you are on a crest of a hill and believe you will have little problem with water. excellent.

out of curiousity how do you plan to fortified the dug out knee wall supporting the tire wall?

please update as often as you can. Im a huge fan of the pics and building process.



Hey Scott,
Sorry for the untimely reply. The plan to support the knee wall is to pour a concrete wall around the inside. Likely only about 3 or 4 inches think, as all it really has to do is prevent the earth wall eroding from under the tire wall. I'm thinking pin (with some nice big 6 or 8 inch spikes and washers) some chicken wire to a well prepared, free of loose earth, earthcliff, and pour a thin wall. Time will tell really, as this whole thing has kind of been a fly off the seat of your pants build and not thoroughly planned out.
 
Rob Lougas
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One more of the most recent
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Hi Rob, How are you doing? I'm reading as much as I can to find the cheapest route into earthbermed living as this point in my financial life. I'm thinking of a small living space that we could use while we build a larger space.  Everything I've read thus far doesn't cover additions.  I'm hoping to build 3 structures that can be connected at some point. Can you please tell me about the tire pounding? Would someone be able to pound with say, a 10lb single jack?
 
Posts: 550
Location: Bendigo , Australia
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dog homestead
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The whole process of earthships with tyres is hard work.
Its not a question of who can pound the earth, its a question of the whole process and how long will it take.
All the earth essentially needs to be dug and then handled in some manner to the wall site, then lifted and pounded.
Each task takes energy and lots of it.
I don't want to talk you out of it, but I am trying to get across the idea it is hard work.
If you plan to work steadily but not quickly it will get finished and you will still be talking to anybody who helped.
 
Joseph Yarbrough
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@John, thanks for the info. Building a home will tough with any direction I take. I may end up going with an erector set I saw. I haven't checked the rules about link posting, but Compass Green looks promising for my remote location,  no friends, no responses from area permies.  It's not zero or negative carbon that I would like, but I'm still in the dream stage. I have to keep learning about permaculture.  It's a no-brainer imo. I will take the time to learn before I lay out my design. Thank you again!
@Rob Would still love to see and hear about your progress.  Warmest Regards! Joseph
 
John C Daley
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Location: Bendigo , Australia
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Home building does not need to be tough.
What is that erector set you spoke of?
I think compass Green will blow the budget.

But there is not reason you can't used tyres, just be prepared for time to complete, but design small but in a manner you can add to later.
I have found executing friends to help is too much.
I refused to hep a friend build a house, it involved a lot of travel for me.
But I offered to go through his drawings, make improvements and spoke on the phone a lot. I also offered to help another r friend who had no idea how to do it, but was closer.
 
Joseph Yarbrough
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Geez! I just saw that you asked a question and I didn't answer.  I apologize.  I saw that you had kind of answered your own question but still.. Yes, Compass Green is the erector set I was referring to earlier.  I get your point in starting small. i have two properties in Oregon and then I saw an opportunity to buy a dwelling in the Montana project but waiting to see if it's still available.  Soo....Been looking at www.tinyhousedesign and building one of those over the next year two while I hopefully get better and deal with two lawsuits over two accidents this year.  I got hit twice in 6mos. Horrendous impact on my back(spinal fusion and osteoporosis). I see two surgeons this week about rod removal. Now I'm thinking,  would it be possible to build a tiny house, get it to the property, encased the outside with rebar and concrete(with obvious modifications for air. outside water,  etc, and then berm it, possibly covering it to eliminate the need for a wood stove or rocket stove?
 
Joseph Yarbrough
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Joseph Yarbrough
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i was also thinking about a 2-300sqft cmu structure with a tall garage door that I could park the TH in. i might be able to build most of that on my own.
 
John C Daley
Posts: 550
Location: Bendigo , Australia
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dog homestead
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I looked at that Redwood design.
It looks expensive.
What are you actually trying to achieve, a small place to sleep and cook, a place a bit bigger and you can move around in?
 
Joseph Yarbrough
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@John, I might be able to bring that in at 10-14k. I'm in very early budgeting phase right now. Looking at various options to a. get myself to Southern Oregon and living on my 1.5ac.
This tiny house could be built for 4-8k plus trailer. New trailer pricing runs 3k-7k. Crazy.  but new is better than taking a chance i wouldn't know how to inspect.  Used starts at 2500.  I'm thinking if I can get it up there for 12-15k, drilling my own well, and digging an outhouse so I can work on the next phase of "burrowing" into the earth for warmth, cold, protection. I'm not in a huge hurry as I need to build cash reserves anyway.  I was just thinking outloud.
 
Hey, sticks and stones baby. And maybe a wee mention of my stuff:
five days of natural building (wofati and cob) and rocket cooktop oct 8-12, 2018
https://permies.com/t/92034/permaculture-projects/days-natural-building-wofati-cob
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