I'm moving to big island HI and am looking for an inexpensive building method that is appropriate for the humid rain forest and resistant to earthquakes and hurricanes. I've looked into earth bag building which might be an option but there are some things I don't prefer about that system. So I started looking up using gabion walls thinking they would have similar properties as earth bag with the ability to shift in an earthquake. I found some photos but not much info on it. Does anyone have any knowledge on it and the pros and cons? Why are these not more popular with green and low cost builders? I'd put plaster on the outer and interior walls. Make it look kinda like a cob house and I've heard hemp lime plaster has some insulation properties.
I have set out a few gab ions, and the downside is the getting the rocks and then installing them.
Rocks usually cost a lot to have delivered or even to collect, and if you do not have mechanical equipment they are just as hard to set in the cages.
So mabe its just the shear hard work that is needed.
John Daley Bendigo, Australia
The Enemy of progress is the hope of a perfect plan
What John said, and also, they don't appear to be very good structurally, especially for earthquakes, either. When you see them outdoors, they do slump after a few years, since the only thing holding them in shape is just some metal wires.
Works at a residential alternative high school in the Himalayas SECMOL.org . "Back home" is Cape Cod, E Coast USA.
There is a whole book printed privately by TATU, then called the ECATU, now a branch of the Eastern Cape Agriculture Department on building with gabions. It was dated about 1982 and has been used in hundreds of building in the Eastern Cape. There is a manual device from New Dawn Engineering that can make the gabions by hand called a Netwire Board. There is also a heavy duty version for making earth dam walls called TriNet based on the same principles. See www.newdawnengineering.com for ideas. /products /wire /fencing Something like that.
It is possible to contact Cecil Cook email@example.com to ask how to get a copy of that Roneo publication. It used both the gabion style wire and soil cement bricks, in-filling between wooden posts. It was very cheap and relatively insulating. The TATU offices in Mthatha were made using that system.
If the property is like Su Ba's the lava rock will be your mos readily available material. One of her rock wall blogs for example. She is very generous in sharing her insights on homesteading in Hawaii so she might be a good contact for you.
I saw a program on PBS one time that was working on this very issue.
People in Nepal had a lot of earthquakes and yet due to their poverty they built their homes out of native rock that made them lethal in earthquakes. Knowing they could not change the building material, they changed how it was constructed and made the houses successfully ride out the earthquakes.
Sadly at age 43 I cannot remember exactly how they isolated the rock layers, but they did and it worked.
Hi guys from what I understand this method of construction was used in Pompeii also due to earthquakes, they used it as the walls could breathe making the house thermally sound, they even installed lead piping for hot water in the walls for heating, apparently they placed vertical poles in the ground through the gabion walls to the top to keep the walls vertical and to attach the top plates so to pitch the roof, there is a family here in Victoria who has built a Gabion house and the council engineers made him put steel vertical columns in the gabion walls to keep the building vertical and also for pitching of the roof, I’m looking at building the same way and using hemp cement rendering inside and outer walls with hot water piping for heating, and reinforced hebal cement ceilings for thermal insulation, anyway hope this adds some light on your project, good luck with it, kind regards Peter