The first workshop, happening on May 6-8th is earthbag building. The second, happening on June 11th, is building bottle wall. There will be two others as well, one for earth plaster and one for earthen floor. Details at http://bottomleaf.org
After building and living with cordwood and earthbags, how do you feel comparatively about each one?
Do You feel like your climate is well suited to uninsulated thermal mass exterior walls?
Is there a lot of earthen/natural construction happening out there?
Also, what counties out there in the Asheville area permit these alternative methods? Do they require an engineer's stamp?
Location: The Blue Ridge Mountains
posted 4 years ago
Great questions Christopher.
"After building and living with cordwood and earthbags, how do you feel comparatively about each one?"
I love both methods. I personally think that EB is more forgiving as it doesn't demand such a specific mix. One thing I learned about cordwood is to expect lots of cracks around the logs unless you let the wood season fully before putting it into the wall. I personally think that EB walls will have more longevity if kept covered with earth plaster since they can't rot/degrade.
"Do You feel like your climate is well suited to uninsulated thermal mass exterior walls?"
Yes. We are in North Carolina so the Winters aren't too brutal and the Summer isn't too hot. The thermal flywheel effect keeps us comfortable most of the time. It can get a little warm inside in the late afternoon in the Summer but it's very easy to heat in the Winter. In a more northern climate, I'd want external insulation (I even began a heavy perlite earth plaster layer long ago but quit the project as I wasn't noticing much difference). Seems like a berm or underground would be good in hotter climates. The current house we're building is an earthbag earthship. It has all of the benefits of an earthship but is less labor, concrete and money intensive.
"Is there a lot of earthen/natural construction happening out there?"
There is definitely a good bit. A neighbor has a cool little teepee turned cob-house. In Asheville there are hempcrete houses and in nearby Earthhaven intentional community, there are all kinds of natural structures including strawbale, etc.
"Also, what counties out there in the Asheville area permit these alternative methods? Do they require an engineer's stamp?"
Buncombe county, where Asheville is, has permitted hempcrete houses. Other than that, I don't know. I also have heard that Earthhaven is getting some alternative structures permitted.