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.
Mary Severin writes about her families embarkment on a learning adventure to build an Upcycled Home using Earthship Principals. To find out what these Principals are click on the Earthship Principals link above.