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so I have an idea - 104 sq foot earthship bunkie  RSS feed

 
scott thompson
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Im in the process of getting off grid and most likely will be building an earthship and having a self sustaining farm. its a long term plan but I do like to plan ahead.

in ontario we are allowed by code to build structures that are smaller than 104 sq feet without a building permit. essentially I want to build an earthship "bunkie" as something to temporarily live in when I get the property. I figure it would be good practice for when I actually get plans and permits for the full sized model.

I know that earthships tend to be around 20 to 30 feet deep so even at 10 feet wide Im way over the minimum square footage.

my question is, can a 104 sq foot earthship bunkie be a feasible project? no garden, indoor plumbing, cistern. a small loft, electrical system and a rocket stove on the ground floor.

Id rather not build a wood construction bunkie. I thought about converting a shipping container to a bunkie and to store tools.

Id appreciate any ones thoughts.

thanks
 
William Bronson
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Location: Cincinnati, Ohio,Price Hill 45205
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I was under the impression earth ships were very labor intensive,so it might not the best choice for something you won't be staying in long term.
 
Ashley Reyson
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Location: North Texas
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"Can a 104 sq foot earthship bunkie be a feasible project?"

Anything is possible, and small is beautiful!

The term, "earthship," typically conveys more than just a construction method (tires + rammed earth). It conveys a set of common design features including orientation and glazing for passive solar, grey water treatment bed, etc. It may not be appropriate to fit all the typical earthship design features in your project but that doesn't stop you from using the construction method. Take what works and throw the rest away... just make sure you understand what you're throwing away as you make your tradeoffs.

A couple other things to consider:
  • Why are you choosing earthship? Are other natural building techniques applicable to your situation? I have no objection to earthships, there's lots of good choices depending on your site and resources.
  • Does code allow you to have more than one 100 sq ft structure? Instead of replacing your first one later, can you expand your space by building adjacent but separate structures that are still within the limit?

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    Kelly Smith
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    Location: In a rain shadow - Fremont County, Southern CO
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    imo - i think the idea of an earthship is great (passive solar, self contained systems, etc - but that doesnt seem like that is exactly what youre trying to do.


    you might look into "passive solar" home design. you could probably get some good ideas that are similar to earthships, but without the integrated systems - which sounds like it would be more helpful for your situation.

    also - as an alternative to tire pounding - you may looking into how feasible "rammed earth" walls would be. VERY similar concept to earthships - but lends itself to a bit more mechanizing.

    last option would be to put on a training class and get tires pounded that way. lots of people wanting to help build/learn these types of skills. they even pay you!

    good luck
     
    chad Christopher
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    Location: Pittsburgh PA
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    I personally think a rmh will be overkill. A small supplementary heater combined Cook stove would be better. Your hot water supply heated via wood, can double as your mass. A cistern needs some real depth to prevent freeze. But if it doubles as your mass, that's one less concern. I would keep the tank under a mattresses. Warm bed, water storage, heat storage. Just use a freeze proof spigot, that is passed through a wall to the outside. Thread a pressure release valve on the end. Batch hot water mass heater. You can use a flue to close off the water heating chamber. Thermosyphoning prevents the need for a pump. The system is so small, scrap materials can be used. A good site for diy projects, which I never seen mentioned before, is builditsolar.com

    Ps, use large tubing, or a water bank. Anything smaller than 3/4 inch, will steam flash, without a pump or pressure.
     
    Dale Hodgins
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    Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
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    A gabion wall will function basically the same as a tire wall. Used chain link fencing can contain rocks. Gabions are superior to the tire method in every way that matters to me. Faster, no tamping, no toxic waste. If you're not sure that tires are toxic, look up the Hagersville fire.
     
    chad Christopher
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    Dale Hodgins wrote:A gabion wall will function basically the same as a tire wall. Used chain link fencing can contain rocks. Gabions are superior to the tire method in every way that matters to me. Faster, no tamping, no toxic waste. If you're not sure that tires are toxic, look up the Hagersville fire.


    I like your practical approaches dale. I have often thought of reclaimed fencing for gabion walls. A individual near me, recently made their own baskets from fence, and had a small backhoe to dig out a driveway. They filled the baskets with the abundance of stone from the excavation. I will take a picture soon.
     
    Dale Hodgins
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    Thanks Chad. This fencing was obtained for free. The road produces many rocks. Fencing can be used to construct a screen which captures rocks that fill the gabions.
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    Glenn Herbert
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    Location: Upstate NY, zone 5
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    If you have access to earthmoving equipment (even a compact tractor with backhoe & loader could do what you need), I think this would be the perfect application for the wheaton labs style wofati, as long as it did use passive solar design to complement the earth mass. You are not trying to prove an experimental concept, you are trying to make a small, reliable and easily livable space. The wofati would use simple materials from the land and very little purchased stuff (mainly the roof membrane).

    I think a small RMH would be a perfectly good heating method, arranged for cooking and water heating use and with a bypass so the heat could all go straight out instead of through the mass when you don't need that much space heating. Build it into one sidewall for layout efficiency and eliminating clearance-to-combustibles worries.
     
    Miles Flansburg
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    Hey, Scott, Take a look at this small earthship at about 19 minutes into the film.

     
    scott thompson
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    thanks to all for the reply.

    after some thought I believe that constructing a 108 sq foot bunkie is a waste of resources as a temporary shelter. while the cost would be reasonable to build, its the time to build.

    I think a 40 foot shipping container could act as both a a temp bunkie as well as secure storage for tools. it could also be used as a temporary way to mount a solar panel. its a fairly secure way to store tools especially if I re enforce the entry. most likely I would dig footings(still need to figure out what diameter and placement) to carry the load.

    I wont be out there during winter so I can just insulate a small section to turn it into a bunkie(no running water or heat source.

    I appreciate all the comments and look forward to further conversations about permaculture.

    Thanks
     
    Bill Bradbury
    pollinator
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    Location: Richmond, Utah
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    Hi Scott,

    I would much prefer to live in a nomadic style tent or even a brush wikiup before I moved into a tin can. Metal shipping containers are good for many things, but living inside of one for more than a few day is not advisable. Many many cultures lived exclusively in portable/temporary structures that were quite comfortable even in extreme conditions. Although many people think of teepees when they think of indigenous Americans, here in Utah the brush wikiup was the predominant year round shelter.

    Let's design something here on Permies that not only provides for your needs now, but will be an inspiration for your next more long term building project.

    All Blessings,
    Bill
     
    Rob Lougas
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    Hey Scott,
    Its a fun idea to think about building a small earthship. I had planned on building a 108sqft one but fould that there just wasn't enough room to build a tire wall and green house. If you were willing to build a "hut" style earthship it could be done but if your hoping to have the green house like the standard earthship style 100 sqft just isn't enough. It would work out that the U-module of the earthship would only be about 5 feet deep and 10 feet wide with a green house portion the same. I ended up going a little bigger than that and its been a lot of fun building. When mine is done it should be about 180sqft a little bigger than allowed without building permits but hidden away at the back of the property its doubtfull that any neighbours are going to raise a stink. Check out the thread I started called small earthship. Its a work in progress but its comming along.
     
    scott thompson
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    thanks all for the replies.

    every so often I pop in after some thought about "the plan"

    it doesnt make sense to only build 104sq of earthship. Id rather pick up some reuse building materials and build a wofati of sort. it might just be easier to build a small stick built bunky when I look at the time/cost aspect. Im assuming a wofati is much more labour intensive than stick built. stick built being more costly on flip side.

    its always a trade of between the two is it? time or cost?

    thanks



     
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