The octagon shaped sunroom took some advanced ingenious thinking on Allen's part to figure out. He never before made a round room with windows before. Next was putting up the rafters on the sunroom and connecting the main green house roof to the sunroom. This took the help of our neighbor Robert Jones to help us figure out how to do the angels. The bigger open space on the bottom are windows the smaller spaces on top will be bottle windows. There is a sunroom on each end of the EarthShip. There will be a roof vent for each sunroom.
There is an exterior door on each end of the EarthShip. Around the door will be bottle walls.
The spaces along the front of the EarthShip will be all windows. There will be 3 sky lights within the green house.
The first layer to mud packing in between the tires. We used a mixture of cement, clay, sand, straw, borax and water. The borax is to stop any mold or mildew from developing and to stop bugs from eating or digging into the mud. We have plenty of rocks on our property and they are thermal mass as well so we decided to put rocks in the mud instead of cans or bottles like Earthship does.
We decided to start with this back hallway so we can work towards getting our solar system hooked up. Plus this is a good practice room. It won't be used like a living room is. And by the time we get to mudding the living rooms or our bed rooms we should be better at mudding the rooms. Not much science to doing this at the beginning.
This is a close up photo. Always wet the tires and the area where you are putting mud. This will help the mud stick to it.
This is the 4th or 5th layer of mud. We lost track after mudding for a while. We have found to apply this mud mixture you have to slap it on the wall. The mixture is similar to cob. A little more wet than a cob mixture would normally be. We wet the area first then get a mud ball in your hand. Flatten it a little bit in your hand then slap it on. It creates a kind of sound that tells you that it will stick. You need that force to get it to stick really good. When this dries it is very solid.
This gives you the idea of how far we have come with mudding the Systems Room.
After about 6 layers the tires are finally gone.
Load bearing walls with scaffolding on interior greenhouse. The scaffolding was to help put up the header and will be there for putting up the roof trusses.
Interior compacted bottle walls with electrical starting to be constructed.
Time for the roof trusses to go up. We used flooring trusses that are 2 feet high and was place 2 feet apart. A HUGE THANK YOU to our volunteers Jim, Corey, Hal, and Robert for helping us on the most hot and humid day ever. The trusses span about 28' and 11" and were all lifted up by hand.
We used 3/4" plywood sheeting. We put tar paper up for a moister barrier then a radiant foil to reflect the heat back up.
Even though it seems like things have been moving quite slow. We have progressed quite a bit this past fall and winter.
November 2014 was a very busy month for us. We had gotten a lot done. We had poured the forms for the interior walls and then promptly after started leveling the ground for the greenhouse tires.
Our friend Joy came out to give a helping hand.
Joy was so grateful in getting her tire completed that for her victory pose she decided to hug her tire.
Allen and Arron had pounded 60 tires for the greenhouse wall. This brings us to a total of 575 tires used for the Earthship.
We had to wait until January 2015 to pour the papercrete needed to support the two corner tires.
It has been raining a lot this winter that it gets all of our dirt wet. Once we dry out really well we will have dirt to pound the last two tires for the greenhouse. The next step for the exterior greenhouse wall will be to dig out the dirt in the middle of the tires and pour with cement with a J bolt added. The J bolt will be used to fasten down the wooded plates to the tires for the framed in glass wall.
Bond Beam and Water Bottles
Going back to November for a moment. We had used up all the compacted bottles we had for the bond beam. We still had 1 and 1/4 rows to finish which means 415 bottles left to compact. We did this when we had that week of arctic cold weather.
In December we had nice enough weather that we finished laying down the rest of the bottles needed for the form and were able to get the top coat of the bond beam done as well.
We had used 2, 370 compacted plastic water bottles for the completion of the bond beam. The next step was waiting for a 3 day window of the perfect weather to finish and pour the middle of the form with cement.
While we were waiting we have been compacting water bottles in our camper.
We have compacted over 1632 water bottles thus far with the help of some friends named Doc and Joanne Furbee. Including the bottles that are already on the footing we now have enough bottles to lay down 9 rows for the Kitchen and LivingRoom. This will give us 3 feet of wall height.
Because we are using cement motar to fasten in the bottles with we need to wait for the weather to be above freezing at night for 3 days in a row. This is the same reason why it has taken so long to complete the Bond Beam as well. The first 3 days are the most critical for cement.
Bond Beam Completed
The 3 day window for pouring the bond beam finally arrived and we took advantage of it. February 7th, 8th, & 9th had the temperatures we were looking for.
We are grateful for the extra cement mixer that Jim had brought that day. It made the work go so much faster. Especially when we had extra workers available to mix the cement even faster.
In Michael Reynolds ebook he suggests to make the cement mixture a stronger mix. We decided to do this since it is a vital part of the roofing system. We used 94 pound portland cement, trucked in cement sand and aggregate from on site. When it was all said and done we had used 22 1/2 bags of cement to finish the task.
EarthShips are unique as they don't have a basement and they don't use a slab for their foundations. Our tires are 30 inches in diameter so for the outside walls the tires themselves are the foundation.
The interior walls need a foundation to work off of to construct them. Most EarthShips use the ground itself. They did a trench and pour the cement right into the trench using the ground itself to level. With our rocky ground that is not level we had to come up with a different solution.
We had to make forms. This is Arron screwing together a 2 x 10 and a 2 x 6 to make a 15 inch deep form.
We are no experts in making forms at all. We have never done this for footings. This was more challenging than we thought it would be to do. We are working with rocky ground so to level the forms was a challenge. We had to purchase nail stakes to help with this and to help keep the forms in place when pouring the cement.
The other challenge was to make sure that they were straight and square. Going off round tires didn't make it any easier. And the third challenge was to make them all the same height. Using a laser level helped with this greatly. Especially since the West side of the EarthShip is higher then the East.
Once the forms were in place next was to add the pipes and the rebar. We had to figure out where to place our pipes for the grey water system and the septic. The grey water from the laundry, sinks and shower will all go into the planters. Since we have huge planters we have decided to place the pipes in different locations to make sure that all the planters will have a water supply going into them.
Since the pipes will go through the cement footings we had to drill holes in the forms and place the pipes in the locations needed. This took a great deal of thought. And we had to be sure that we didn't forget anything once we poured the cement it would be too late.
The bottom half of the rebar was added then the pipes put into place then the top half of the rebar to finish.
When our neighbor that is an engineer came over to see how we were doing he said, " I have never seen a bridge inside a house before." Meaning we had more than enough rebar in place.
Next was to get the bottom plate for the doors ready to go. They had to be cut to length, painted and porcupined with nails so it would stick into the cement.
When all was ready to go then it was time to pour the cement. We knew we would not be able to do it all ourselves with one cement mixer. Using a cement ruler we estimated that it would take 6 and a half yards to complete the task. We had to order a truck.
Helping with the cement that day was Corey, Arron, Robert and Allen.
The finished product with the forms removed.
All in all this project took about 2 months to complete. This took longer than what we expected it would. Even though all of this work will end up being buried with gravel and floor, foundations are important to really get it done right. It is the surface to build the walls onto. It will make it so much easier to level and square up the walls because we took this time for the foundations.
With the help of the volunteers from the last workshop of the year we were able to finish out the south side of the bond beam. A BIG THANK YOU goes out to Corey, Clifford, and Donald for helping with this project.
Corey and Allen laying the cement and placing of the compacted bottles.
Corey laying down the cement mud while Clifford is placing and leveling the bottles.
Taura and Arron getting the sand ready for the mixing of the cement.
Tora helping Arron fill the bucket with sand to add for the cement motar.
Joy, received her first experience of compacting a bottle that will be used in the construction of the bond beam.
We would like to thank Clifford and his family for staying later than they had expected to help in finishing the 3rd row of the bond beam.
The north side of the bond beam has been started with ¾'s of the second row finished when we ran out of compacted bottles. With the Arctic cold weather we were having we spent the time in the camper compacting the rest of the 415 bottles needed to finish the bond beam with. Now we just need warmer weather to cement them in place.
We had some awesome volunteers come from Kansas City to visit our earthship. Samantha and Brandon came to learn about our earthship as well as help. Samantha learned how to compact plastic water bottles. Brandon learned about forms and how to operate a demolition hammer. Makes the work go easier with the proper tools.
We would like to thank them for coming to learn about what a EarthShip is all about. This helps to plant seeds and to pass along the importance of why it is worth the work to build one. Those of courage will build a EarthShip and we do see a EarthShip in Samantha's and Brandon's future.
It was time to cement in the poles that would hold our solar panels. Arron is busy scrapping off the rust on the poles.
Allen has been busy digging trenches. These are for pouring the foundations of the walls. With the use of forms this will give us a level surface to build our wall on. Allen and Arron first started using a pick axe for this task. Found out really quick that using a pick axe through rock is not an easy task. So we bought another tool, a demolition hammer, to make the task a little easier. Goes much faster than a pick axe.
We have also started the construction of the bond beam. Allen and Arron first put in the metal rebar stakes then tied the rebar going across. This will give strength to the cement when it is poured.
Then the metal lath is cut that will be nailed on both sides of the rebar. This will help the cement mud stick to the tires.
Then the placing of the cement mud and compacted water bottles that goes on top of the metal lath. The reason why we call the cement used to put down the bottles "mud" is because there is no aggregate. It is mostly sand and is very stiff. Almost like working with mud pies except it is concrete.
Allen levels the bottles as best as he can when they are placed. Since the tires do not offer a flat surface we level the bottles using extra cement mud when needed to create a level surface for the bottles. When the bottles are level then this will make the final layer level. Making it easier to level the top of the bond beam.
The first row is complete.
The cement mud gets extremely hard when dry. With the compacted water bottles being 20 times stronger than a brick this combination of bottles and cement will make for a very strong bond beam.
It has taken us a year to do but we have done it. With the help of a few volunteers we were able to complete the tire work for the north, east and west side of our EarthShip. The last row of tires was just completed August 15th. Approximately 1 year from when we started our first tire.
This is the east side retaining wall.
This is the east side of the EarthShip inside the home. The little U shaped room is a sun room. The corner is where the master bedroom will be.
This is the north wall of the EarthShip. The right corner is the Master Bedroom, the left corner is Arron's bedroom, the back will be a hall way with the Kitchen and Living room in the middle.
West side of the EarthShip with another U that will be a sun room as well.
This is behind the EarthShip the East side.
The back of the North wall of the Earth Ship. The cisterns are nearly buried. The black tube is the cooling tube for the middle of the house.
The back of the West wall of the EarthShip.
Allen, Mary Kay and Arron Severin embark on learning to build an EarthShip north of West Plains, Missouri.