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Old 10-31-2011, 10:54 AM   #1
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Lightbulb Earth Sheltered Homes

I really like this idea for homes that significantly reduce your power consumption requirements (and which make comfortable off-grid living more practical):


DIY construction with tires and dirt:
http://earthship.com/

Monolithically poured concrete shell construction:
http://www.earthshelteredhome.com/
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Old 11-11-2011, 02:19 PM   #2
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That is really awesome!! I wonder if there are geographic restrictions in building one of these. All the ones they show on the website are in the desert. You can also rent one of these per night. It may be worth it if you are in the area.
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Old 11-11-2011, 03:34 PM   #3
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I ordered the first book on the earthship and they claim it's possible to build one anywhere. In humid/wet climates, you have to seal the structure better than in dry climates.

The ESH (concrete) are sealed, so moisture isn't an issue. You do need soil conditions that can support the weight of the domes though.
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Old 11-11-2011, 08:40 PM   #4
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The desert is a great place for these. I looked hard into this idea when building here (SW VA mountains). The word is, if it's damp at all - don't do it, you'll be fighting seep and walls creeping in all the time - I checked with a couple people around here who have done it. Rats - where I am is almost perfect, otherwise.
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Old 11-12-2011, 07:23 AM   #5
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Vernacular buildings

This one in Wales has caught a lot of peoples attention -

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2039719/Simon-Dale-How-I-built-hobbit-house-Wales-just-3-000.html

and I would build one tomorrow if I didnt already have my bugouts.

For most of us the major problem with earthships, hobbit homes and anything a bit 'hippie' is that the system gets in the way.
If you can find a legal site and want to do it with all the necessary permits and approvals, you end up being forced into 'alignment' by commercial reality.

Our only real alternative is to do it 'below the radar' and hope to not get caught for whatever qualifying period of limitations is relevant.

Ive done two normal self builds and was happy to sell em ( and turn the proceds into PMs ) but the cob barn I built ( below the radar) on a piled foundation in a swampy bit of ground in some woodland remains my baby.

Several years ago, whilst building one of the houses, I was sat down chilling under one of my favourite trees and sort of running a video of the build process to share with the tree ..... imagine my amazement when the tree 'answered' by saying why dont you let us create a shelter for you without cutting us down .... and gave me a powerful picture of a circle of trees ( more like a hedge really ) trained onto a domed frame to form an enclosure.
This image has been bugging me ever since.

Yet the digger in me says, build a cave into the side of a hill. Quarry shaped hole, tyrewalls and dome structure, then backfill to hide everything except the entrance and the eye to the sky .....

whoa, stop me before I do something really stupid

rbl
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Old 11-12-2011, 07:33 AM   #6
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oh yeah DCF

if you want to build underground in damp / wet conditions its not technically difficult.

You have to create an outer structure that remains damp/wet and an inner one that will be dry. You need to consider a default route for any incoming water that does not allow it into or to soak into the materials you will be in contact with in the living accomodation.

A bigger challenge is the balance of heat retention vs ventilation and humidity especially if you want it to be passive.

Rammed earth tyrewalls for the outer structure, using a digger to fill and compact would be my way.

Take the first step ........ buy a digger (-:
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Old 11-13-2011, 09:05 AM   #7
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I found another resource that has information and ideas about building green structures:

http://www.greenhomebuilding.com/
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Old 11-13-2011, 09:42 AM   #8
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bollix

posted a reply

thought I was using a smiley in the message but it turned up by the title, so I deleted it ...... along with everything else )-:

all your empty boxes ........
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Old 11-13-2011, 04:58 PM   #9
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The two layer idea has also been used to good effect in all above-ground homes I've seen and if anything I like that better. In any case, it's a good idea to make the inter-wall space big enough to get into to do maintenance and for storage - room to fix or reinforce any creepage/seepage. The problem with the outer wall deciding to creep inwards is no joke - I've seen these hippie-built (tire-rammed earth - even some re-barred concrete - but too thin) have to be abandoned. This is maybe a peculiar area, up in the mountains, where there are also large rocks, but I'd bet the main issue is that half the year the soil is dry as a bone, the other half it's trying to be soupy mud.

The rocks are perhaps the larger problem here, unless you like to blast(it's one of my more-fun hobbies). You can't know if they're there till it's kind of too late and you hit one that says anihC on it (China from the other side). The question then becomes did you use more energy to build it than you're going to save. You might not even care about that though - if you've got it now, it's a nice way to lock it up forever...stacking applied to housing, as it were.

A local town (Christiansburg) was building an underground jail when they ran into the big rock, and decided not to blast and finish it - payout time too long - did they think the government wasn't going to be around to collect? For them it would have had all the advantages we think of, plus it would have been a real bear to break out of.

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Old 11-14-2011, 06:58 PM   #10
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Yeah PMB,
that resource for vernacular / green building is impressive.
Glad I didnt have any of it when I build a ( still standing) cob barn back in the early 90's, otherwise I would still be studying and planning ......


DCF

Yup, that big lump always shows up when a lot of other work has been done.

So ........ take a somewhat more flexible approach.

Strip back and store any topsoil well away from the proposed build area.

Then just rummage into the hill, creating mounds of loose material and exposing the big lumps but not spending any time trying to remove them.
Then when you have uncovered the underlying rock profile, choose the biggest or most suitable dent between outcrops and build the walls.

The loose material can then be used to hide the structure. and some of the exposed outcrops imaginatively landscaped or dressed to look like dolmens.

It might seem a bit like overkill but a decent 360deg tracked machine will do a lot of digging in a short time so it will be much more cost effective than impact hammer or drill n blast on the rock.

As for dust in summer and slurry in winter, this only happens if the ground water or rain run off is not given somewhere to go and the surface has not had a chance to consolidate, either due to bad timing with the work, or traffic travelling on the recently placed ground when its wet.


And I agree, a walkway between the inner warm wall and outer structural wall is the way to go. It does mean a much larger outer wall though.
It could be a life saver too, as it could be a good hiding place for people / food / guns etc.

Im not sure how effective a tyre wall is as a retaining wall but for a mass concrete or block wall we work on x3. In other words a 1m thick wall will hold back 3m height of dirt. ( you can step in as you come up ) However we must have free draining behind the wall so its not getting a hydrostatic load otherwise it has to be designed a lot stronger, like a dam.
There are some good geotextiles for this situation that are porous one side and water proof the other, with a gap between the skins created by plastic grillage / spacers, that allows the groundwater to enter the geotex and migrate down or along the structure, usually with a perforated plastic land drain at the bottom to collect and remove the water.

http://www.terram.com/downloads/
This is neither difficult or expensive, yet it is probably the most important component of any underground structure. And it will keep any rammed earth tyrewall dry/damp.

I would be happy to try but I already have a bunker planned that utilises some existing old walls and is not overlooked nor visible to satellites (-;

Just gotta get in there with the 6 tonner and clean back the bottom which appears to be concrete under 50 years of tree and leaf accumulation ....

when no one is about .......
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