I have a vacent urban lot.
Building an earthen structure on it could make my life easier.
Low cost and security are two of the reasons I'm leaning towards earthen contruction.
Because I lack the patience to sort,sift and grade my rubble filled soil, I will be using it as fill or aggregate.
I am less certain how to insulate,or what roof system to use.
I do not have daily temperature swings ,so I don't think thermal mass will suffice without insulation.
Because I will have a rocket stove, keeping cool will be the bigger struggle.
A roof that could hold a greenhouse/shadehouse would be ideal but maybe to resource intensive.
If it isn't able to hold a greenhouse I would want it to be able to capture rainfall.
There are not really any great options for insulating an earthen structure's walls. Bales are really the only way to go for insulating something like cob, especially if it is load bearing. A post and beam could have light straw infill and get some R value, but not much.
Metal roofing is really the best for water collection and ease of installation. It can be found used and really cheap as well. Put down a liner underneath in case of leaking. Poly iso is the best insulation for this type of roof, but is expensive if not reclaimed. I've been experimenting with using hemp grain bags filled with straw for insulation, but would use rice hulls if they were available to me. Fill bags with rice hulls which can sometimes be found extremely cheap and give great insulation.
ya, natural roof insulation is always a hard one, as your roof is the place that is most likely to leak over time and turning your natural insulation into compost. and as stacking functions is super permaculture, that is not the best example.
in my experience it is the one place to maybe go less natural (i say that in a teeny tiny voice to you have to lean in to hear it. and then ill pretend i didnt say anything so blasphemous, i would never!)
id love to hear more about peoples experience using natural things in bags or what have you.
i like light clay walls for more temperate climates. it has an r value of 2 per inch, which aint too bad. frame for 10 inch walls and you are snug. larsson truss and staggered stud framing save on wood too.
Not sure if you've checked yet, but before you get started I'd recommend you check with your local department of making people sad to find out what types of structures you are allowed to build within the city limits.
I'd also recommend checking to see if rocket stoves are allowed. Many states, counties, cities, etc. only allow EPA certified wood burning stoves, etc.
My opinions are barely worth the paper they are written on here, but hopefully they can spark some new ideas, or at least a different train of thought
I love the idea that you could make something like this cheap, natural, and on flat land. It seems impossible...but maybe the limit is only the limit of our creativity.
In Dagara land in West Africa they certainly build with clay (laterite), and the roofs leak, and then they repair them. (They have a rainy season and a dry season. Cold nights and hot days.)
Fixing the roof is a yearly ritual, a bonding, community activity. Some say they deliberately make the roofs temporary so they will have to do this ritual every year.
If building codes weren't a factor, I would love to do this; and if I knew my community were on board with doing that and making time for it every year.
It's really not that big a cost--if you take a day to repair your roof each year, vs. the money it would take to buy a tin roof and the cost of listening to the vultures pounce on it over and over and over and over and over again every morning, it's actually nicer to just have one day be Roof Repair Day each year.
Now I don't know if it's really only once a year that the leak needs repairing...or if it's every few days of the heavy rain...but I seem to remember it's just once a year.
The Dagara have a system where they party first and work after. It's failsafe. No one ever shows up late to a party. Especially when there's beer. And there is always beer.
They probably sing first before building the roof.
If a house is built in a vacant lot that's less than 144 square feet, is it still a house?
I'm not against the tin roof either. Transitional things are all good, in my book. But if it proves expensive to find or doesn't show up...what's easily available? maybe a thatch with some of your vacant lot weeds? maybe a bunch of newspapers? shower curtains? garbage bags?
For insulation, someone posted on here that having a big thermal mass to be near (radiant heat) really made more of a difference than insulating or even closing the chinks in their cabin.
Good news is you can test it out in the warm season.
Connected or reconnected. Fit with the right cycles and in the right season. Nourished and nurtured with natural energy. Aware of place and part.
Thanks all for the replies.
I am thinking that I will try to create a reflective insulation system.
White wash, or even a shiny rain screen on the walls.
Grape vines, maybe on an all encompassing arbor could help.
The department of making you sad has a made their home in my colon to the point of receiving mail there.
Which is why I know that a shed is one way to keep them off my ass, and tents (hoophouses)are another.
A shed under 200 square feet doesn't need permits here,so that's my target. I can have two.
A tent under 400 square is also needs no permit, and there is no limit to how many I could have...
But I digress...
The square footage is measured from outside wall to outside wall, which does not favor thick walls.
The security of an earthen structure makes me think it worthwhile.
If I were installing a rocket stove in my home, I would be more worried about the gubment regulations, but I will make sure to research it further.
Of course, no smoke, means less snoooping, but better safe than ticketed...
I like the metal roofing, but I might try to be cheaper still.
I've been playing with soil-crete, and I'm smitten by the ideas behind flying concrete, latex cement and petrified hessian.
Not sure if any of those technologies could make a walkable roof.
A brute force ,over built, salvaged lumber roof deck , covered with layers of plastic and soil is what's probably going to happen. Dry soil is a little insulative.
Corrugated cardboard,treated or otherwise, could improve the insulation.
I won't do that on the walls, too much trouble keeping it dry,as the wall themselves should be able to survive a little wetness. Earthbags,superadobe, hyperadobe,soilcrete or rammed tires all seem amenable to occasional wetting,cardboard, not so much.
A "tent" could connect two sheds, but it needs to support itself, lest it become reclassified as an awning or some thing else...
No, I'm not kidding,it's really that crazy here in Cincinnati.
I can build a tent 400 square foot tent with no restrictions but an awning requires a permit.
I am going to seek clarification on if a tent can be pitched on top of a building.
That way I can try out a some ideas about rooftop greenhouses.
I get it all in writing, can't trust these code enforcement guys, but what else is new.
I got a lot of irons in the fire, but it keeps me engaged.