I’m caught up with myself (at least for now) on my posts so I asked a few of you if you had any questions. Here are a few, hopefully I can answer them and if not I’ll try again.
- What will the square footage be? The living area will be approximately 1300 square feet with another 700 in the greenhouse. We plan on having the greenhouse be part of our home as much as possible. It is separate (doors and windows) in order to control the temperature in the actual home. It would become too hot in the summer to have it open. The earlier models of earthships had the greenhouse and living areas altogether, but it became so hot it was almost unlivable. Hopefully keeping them separate has solved that problem.
- If the earthship is underground, how does the septic system work – do you need a pump? No we don’t need a pump, the septic system was designed by an engineer and it is gravity fed. (You know what rolls downhill) 🙂 The earthship is not underground. It is burmed on three sides (the tires will be covered with cement and some dirt).
- How do you smash tires? It’s typically called “pounding tires”. On the first layer you put a thick plastic cover inside the tires for a moisture barrier. Then on each layer after that you start with cut out cardboard inside the tires. You then fill each tire with dirt and use a sledge hammer to make sure its full in every nook and cranny. When the tire bulges, its done. Just an aside, when the tires are full, they become like giant bricks, solid. Assuming they are part of the walls, do they have to be the same size? They are the walls on three sides and the front part of the greenhouse as well. And, yes, they need to be approximately the same size, so they are level on each layer.
- Will you have a cistern? Yes the plans call for five, but we won’t have enough room for that many, so we’re planning to put in three in. How will you keep the water allergy free and clear of contaminants? The plans for the earthship call for catching rain/snow water off the roof into a rock filter system then into further filters from there. Although the state of Colorado repealed the law that said you were not allowed to catch rain water, they’ve put a stipulation on it that you can only catch it for outside use and I believe around 100 gallons. So, we’ll continue to haul our water for now. There are other rules about gray water as well, which is vital in the plans for the water of an earthship. After using water in the sink, washing machine, or shower, its supposed to go to the greenhouse planters where its filtered by another system and used to water the plants. From there it’s pumped back to flush toilets. Some models even take it one step further and use the black water to leach out and water the landscaping outside. We’ve decided three uses is enough.
- Will you have electric outlets in every room, just like new construction? Yes and light fixtures as well. We’ve already talked to an electrician and he’s familiar with what needs to be done and when.
- What prompted you and Dave to do this? This is a question we get asked a lot! I’m sure they are thinking “Have you two lost your minds?”. In an earlier post I explained how we were swimming in debt and it seemed we weren’t making any headway at all. We had consulted a debt consolidation company and were working diligently to get everything paid off, but still the stress was overwhelming.
I prayed to God and begged to keep my home. I would do anything but give up the home we’d built together. We had memories of grandkids and kids and I loved my home. Still I kept getting the feeling we should sell our property.
I began to do research on alternative type homes, including tiny homes. I didn’t think I could hack that in this climate, maybe if we were in Southern California where we could live outside as well as in. We looked into cob homes, earth bag homes, and a number of other things as well.
We found videos about earthships on YouTube and Dave had been to Dennis Weaver’s home in Ridgway and thought it was pretty cool, so that began the tiny idea. I was still not convinced, and had several long talks with God to help us find another way. It was not to be.
We started getting our home ready to sell in March of 2015. I felt an urgency that I was sure meant we were suppose to sell it quickly. That same month my parents purchased this piece of land we’re now on. With no utilities, this seemed like the perfect fit to go off the grid. Long story short, we didn’t get it sold for nine months. Nine discouraging months.
As far as to why this type of home? It’s self-sufficient and once we get it built, it will be so affordable. No heating or cooling bills, not even any electric bills! We’re doing this without a net, (no mortgage) so it will be slow going, but I think in the end so worth it. Thanks everyone for your questions. Let’s do this again soon.
If you use plastic as your liner for the tires, be warned this can lead to moisture issues. A local guy up here did that and it rained later and the water that got into the pounded tires wouldn’t drain because of the plastic. He had to dig those ones out and redo them. If you are using plastic, poke a few small holes in it so any moisture will drain through. Also, using cardboard instead of plastic will let any moisture drain as well.
Yes we will be using cardboard as well. Its so dry here rain probably won’t be a problem.
Cuz, thanks for sharing! Tell mr Dave I said “Hi”
Hey Buddy! Nice to hear from you
I have a couple more questions. Why do you put cardboard in the tires and then the dirt? Are the tires toxic to your health? I don’t think I could stand the smell. And one more question. Are the tires fire retardant? If there is dirt on three sides, and there is a fire how do you get out safely? 🤔
I’ll answer those in the next Q and A