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Which is best? Building in Yucatan.  RSS feed

 
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Hi everyone!

I am new to this forum, but have been researching like crazy! My husband and 6 children are currently living on an 1/4 acre property. We have many animals and a big garden and we recently purchased 5 acres. We are wanting to build a large-ish home, since we have a big family. My parents live us as well. We were considering rammed earth or earth bags. We live in Yucatan, so think extremely hot, humid, and rocky earth. I want to build down into the ground for cooling, but my husband believes the rocky terrain may prevent this, so passive cooling (or at least protection from the heat) is a huge consideration. I am look for experience, advice, or anything that may help. Of course, we have a limited budget too.

Thank you so much for your time!
Sara and Alejandro
 
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Location: Northern New Mexico, Latitude:35 degrees N, Elevation:6000'
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I don't have much experience with this specifically.  But here's what I remember from the little I have learned.  From what I've learned, the earthen homes are best suited for arid environments.  Though I seem to recall reading of someone building an earthbag home near Florida I think it was.  And they used the crushed coral or maybe the lava rock that is all over the ground on the island where they built it. Though they never shared how it functioned in that environment.

In the humid tropics there is a specific house type that functions best in that environment.  The houses have very tall sweeping roofs that are open to the outside so that they scoop the breezes to keep the house cool.  I don't know anything about how an earthen home functions in the hot humid tropics, just that there is a recommended environment where each type of home functions best.
 
Sara Jaimes
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Thank you so much!!!
 
gardener
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Location: Upstate NY, zone 5
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I would expect an earth-sheltered space in the humid tropics to gravitate toward ground temperature, with the increased humidity that cooling the air causes. Think cave, without a fire to dry it out. I expect some earth-sheltered space would be useful, but not a whole house.
 
Sara Jaimes
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Is there another method that would be better?
 
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Hi guys! I would recommend taking one of the courses that Cooperativa Las Cañadas has to offer. There is one on construction coming in October. http://www.bosquedeniebla.com.mx/cur10.htm
Saludos desde Erongarícuaro, Michoacán.
Felipe
 
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You should also be aware that aquifers are often very close to the surface here, which, as my acupucturist, Xavier Peralta, points out could be why wanting to do projects is a thing. The aquifers move underground. It makes having a cellar mostly unrealistic, though. I like the idea of cordwood. It might wick moisture and breathe a bit.termites could be interested, but you would see. I doubt it though. Things can dry out quickly when it is not raining, even in rainy season. The museum at Felipe Carillo Puerto has some traditional Maya examples, and my favorite building at Coba is elliptical. It is called the observatory and must be a great design for here, as it shows so little degradation over eons.
 
Sara Jaimes
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Thank you so much! I will look into that!
 
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Location: Nomadic
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Nice! I enjoy designing structures. Think high mass walls and floor for cooling and a low mass insulated white or silver painted roof. Big eaves to keep sun from hitting walls. Or grow stuff on building.  A tower can be a chimney to draw cool air in the bottom and let warm air out. Natural convection. If that is earthquake region I'd think twice about integrity.
 
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Something with a courtyard would be nice, so that you have the ability to cool all rooms and have cross ventilation. The courtyard becomes an extra room, whenever the mosquitoes aren't out. Whatever you build, large roof overhangs are almost certain to make the space more livable.
 
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