Tony Hawkins

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since May 10, 2020
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Recent posts by Tony Hawkins

I'm over in Esmeralda, are you near Ely or Elko?
1 month ago
A little late to the party here but I'd just advise going slow, because you will go slow regardless of whether or not you want to.

From dirt lot to happy home can take 2-3 years and that's with a lot of work and money.
1 month ago
For me, it's a necessity. There was zero drive-able terrain on my lot when I bought it so construction and earthworks needed to happen. I used the backhoe of my Kubota a lot, and the FEL a bit. I could have rented a mini x but I'm in a very remote area so the costs would have been astronomical. Plus, since I bought the tractor I can work on my own schedule and take my time. No need to rush and if I want to take my time with something I can.

If someone else has already down the backhoe'ing / excavating for you then maybe you don't need one. But if you're on the hook for moving a 600 pound boulder you're simply not going to be able to safely do it with hand tools. And even if you could, what happens when there's 20 of them?
1 month ago
Look into a family trust, and have the property owned by that trust.

Via the trust you can specify that your kids get it, that only if both of them want to sell it they can, or no one can, or whatever you want to do. It's pretty much built exactly for things like this. All in a family trust will set you back $3K or so.
1 month ago
Just my own $0.02, I would clear it. You don't need to clear all of it, and a road counts as "clearing". We designed our road/driveway to encircle our buildings, creating firebreaks that needed to exist anyway.
1 month ago
I'm an earthbag builder and am considering putting strawbales against the exterior wall of a new building. Are there sources or ideas to find strawbales not quite as massive as the ones I see on nearby farms?
3 months ago
Curious if anyone has any ideas or can point me in the right direction.

I'm in a very arid high desert place with summer highs that can hit 100f. Swamp coolers are common here and work great. I'm designing a new home and rather than buy a stand-alone unit and plumb it into the home, I was wondering if there's any kind of built-in options. I was standing under a mist-sprayer the other day and thought about a tube used as an air inlet. It could have a mist nozzle in it, and then perhaps a screen before it hits the house so that any droplets would be caught before they made it into the interior. Any excess water could drain out and be used for gray water. Something, like that, anyway. Thanks so much!
3 months ago

Joe Vaughn wrote:Scoria is insulative. It is thermally  valuable in climates where you want your interior temperatures moderated from exterior temperatures. Thermally it makes the most sense to have insulative exterior walls and mass interior walls, with the exception of those areas which are hot during the day and cool off considerably at night, and have decent cold season solar gain--those areas comfortably allow straight mass exterior walls.
Nonetheless, thick mass walls work wonders in hot climates especially if shaded with deep roof eaves (which are also good for natural foundations/walls  in rainy environments). EB walls are substantial.
Yes pure Scoria bags are lighter and quicker. Offset that with costs--material and labor. If only a few workers or have other jobs then Scoriabag may make more sense. If this is a big group effort, then maybe show them pure earthbags.
As for mixing Scoria aggregate and clay/sand: don't think you Get the best of both worlds, insulation and mass simultaneously. That's the WRONG REASON to combine. Thermally, It'll just perform as mass. It will lighten the load a bit though and labor should increase as a result.
Also I disagree with the previous comment about it not binding. It'll bind with appropriate clay content as well as the larger aggregates mechanically locking in together. So maybe determine your clay content. If it is high, either cut with sand or Scoria or gravel. Start your tests from 3 aggregate : 2 sand : 1 clay. Which for a high clay content dirt could mean 1 Scoria: 1 high clay content clay-sand dirt. Why did I say gravel? Because we are not talking about some tensile strength here, bag fill is not the tensile stuff of ferrocement or fibers or steel cable. We are talking about compressive strength mass wall construction. It is not monolithic, it is a bunch of tamped bags. The importance here just as much plaster work, I believe good distribution of aggregate size makes sense. All different sized aggregates tamped and locked into place by both clay binder and aggregate distribution. Yes its overkill to state this and to even apply over a regular screened earthen fill but you asked if "there was any practical value to combine Scoria (lightweight larger than sand aggregates) to clay and sand even though you don't receive pure Scoria insulation values". My tests showed that bags with larger and more diverse aggregate performed better--less water usage, quicker dry/hardening time, higher compressive strength, more stable without the bag (and all sands and clays and gravels  and scoria have different properties and respond differently--so test each soil). A few times I have seen this combined for the WRONG REASON (thermal performance) in my cold climate, so I must spell this out here for future googlers.
I believe larger aggregates in earthbag fill makes better earthbags; better Scoria aggregate size distribution makes better scoriabags; and logistically (labor or cutting down clay content) the inclusion of Scoria could make the jobsite more efficient. Depends upon mixing methods, material and labor cost, clay content.  Doubtful you'd notice any difference in thermal performance from earthbag and earth-Scoria bag mixed at previously stated ratios although it does lighten the bag somewhat.



Joe, I know this was like ~4 years ago but hoping you're still out there. I'm building in the high desert with 40 degree temp swings daily, summer highs at 100 and winter lows dropping down to sub zero on occasion. So needless to say I really want insulation. I'd like to have my bags with structural form not just from the bags, so I'd like a binder to keep the scoria together. I've got options of scoria sand, pebbles maybe 1/16 inch - 1/4 inch. Then I've got 3/8 inch or 3/4 inch or 1 1/2 inch.

I'm hearing your comments on larger-is-better, but I'm wondering how large exactly. Also, I'd like to bind it all together with portland cement, and was wondering if you've done that or what percentage you'd recommend.

Thanks so much!
3 months ago
I've been designing a greenhouse, and being a 7a climate I need a way to keep things warm in the winter. This is mountain area, up around 8,000 feet.

I've been reading up on climate batteries (http://www.ecosystems-design.com/climate-batteries.html), and those look pretty cool. However, this guy uses simple earthtubes and has for 25 years (  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZD_3_gsgsnk)   . Looks like no recirculation, just classic earthtubes. Bringing in subterranean temperature air (45F-50F).

Just curious what the advantages are of a climate battery, since it seems like you can use simpler earth tubes.
5 months ago
I live in arid mountains partially because of my hatred for mosquitoes. Everything else i can manage, but mosquitoes buzzing for months of the year is a non starter for me.
5 months ago