From Nevada, hello.

Discussion in 'General chat' started by Curtis, Apr 2, 2009.

  1. Curtis

    Curtis Junior Member

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    Hello everyone, i'm new here so I thought I should first introduce myself before I begin posting.

    I just recently moved to Nevada to live / work on an Organic Orchard in the middle of the desert. I'm new to all of this, for the most part. I'm working under the guidance of my good friend who is the care taker of the land. We grow everything here, the main thing being Pomegranates, but also plums, figs, grapes, blue berries, pecans, and soon to have corn, beats, radishes, tomatoes, peas of different varieties, spinach, lettuce, straw berries, broccoli, cauliflower, squash, zucchini, onions of different varieties, peppers, miscellaneous edible ground cover, etc, etc.

    Also on the property is a chicken coop, with egg producing (but we're not eating them, eggs or chickens) chickens, aswell as about 12 bee boxes, give or take. To be honest i'm not quite sure what the deal is with the bees, but I don't hang out in their general area anyhow :wink:

    I'm here because i'm more into sustainable housing and construction. I'm wanting to build an earthbag structure here, then a home. Earthbags are essentially a hybrid of rammed earth construction, and adobe construction. Using raw earth as a construction medium, you can create a natural home with tons of thermal mass and excellent insulative values. The bags, typically your average "feed bag", is filled with earth, closed up, tamped and compacted, and laid in a row in a masonry style similar to laying bricks. The dirt in the bag cures and hardens, forming giant adobe like bricks. Basic materials for building an earthbag house include, obviously the BAGS.

    The bags can be misprinted feed bags which can be purchased in bulk, special continuous earthbag tubes which are create for building domes and circular structures. You will also need BARBED WIRE, which is applied twice between each row of earthbags. This gives the wall added tensile strength and prevents shifting of the bags as the wall gets higher. You will need DIRT aswell. If you buy it, you can use reject sand from Gravel yards. Typically, a TON (2,000lbs) of dirt will cost about $1.50+/. Yes, a dollar fifty for two thousand pounds of useable building material. Thats fucking cheap. Of course, you'll have to pay to have it shipped in but none-the-less, you're looking at a huge saving over conventional building materials. Or, and this is a more favorable idea, BURY your house some.

    Yeah, thats right. Dig a hole in the ground, use that dirt to fill your bags. And build your home in that hole. By burying your house, completely or partially, you gain a tremendous amount of insulation. If built right, we're talking about a home that without heating or cooling will remain comfortable year round. Top it off with a living roof, and you're set.

    An earthbag home is essentially fireproof, windproof, withstands earthquakes MUCH better than conventional housing structures, etc. Your earthern walls, and earthern floors surely won't catch fire. With a living roof, its unlikely any wood used in construction would easily catch fire. If a tree were to fall on your house, you wouldn't have a collapsed wall or thousands and thousands of dollars in repairs! An earthbag home's walls are typically about a foot and a half thick of pure solid mass. Its not going to blow away in a hurricane or tornado, either.

    There are a few books on the matter and some decent info on the web. Some houses online you'll find are made with more up-to-date methods in order to bring them "up to code" but built properly, your county surveyor won't even see it from the air when they're flying over.

    So, basically i'm here to learn more about the gardening aspect, and to discuss with anyone interested the merits of earthbag construction.

    The projects I have lined up for it is designing a small garden connected to this house using earthbags as planters, and as small walls to the garden.
    Also, possibly an earthbag greenhouse so we can grow year round here.
    And of course, my earthbag home :wink:

    So, with that said, anyone know alot about growing bananas? Well I suppose i'll make a new thread for that.
     
  2. eco4560

    eco4560 New Member

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    Re: From Nevada, hello.

    So how do you finish the outside of the house? Or do you just leave it in all its misprinted feed bag glory? And how do you do windows and doors?
     
  3. Curtis

    Curtis Junior Member

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    Re: From Nevada, hello.

    Sorry, it was getting late last night and I thought I mentioned it.

    You finish the walls with plasters, could be earth plasters or store bought. Same with the interior. You can add cob to to the mix and sculpt some amazing finsishes. Same with the floor, it can all be earthern.

    Windows and doors are made by building forms for them.

    Construction photos to help you get an idea:
    [​IMG] In this photo, you can see the forms for the windows. You would knock those out after finishing the arches and it would support itself.

    Read up at www.earthbagbuilding.com for more info.
     
  4. eco4560

    eco4560 New Member

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    Re: From Nevada, hello.

    I'm impressed! Please post some photos when your own is under construction.
     
  5. newcroft

    newcroft Junior Member

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    Re: From Nevada, hello.

    Hi Curtis,

    Welcome to the forum.

    Interesting project. Michaelangelica recently posted on these types of buildings as well, and they look fascinating. A great alternative to earthships too.

    viewtopic.php?f=9&t=10277&p=50571#p50571 (EDIT: Oh, I see you just posted on that. Ooops)

    Please post some more links if that's OK. What sort of floor do you plan to use? If misprinted bags aren't available, how much do they cost? And your county surveyors do inspections by air??? BTW, please tone down the language if you don't mind. :wink:
     
  6. Curtis

    Curtis Junior Member

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    Re: From Nevada, hello.

    Hi newcroft,
    Thanks for the welcome, seems to be a nice community here.

    My own earthbag project is still being planned, i'm thinking of creating a banana garden with earthbag planters and retaining walls with built in benches and what not. I will have sketchup renderings within the week, hopefully.

    Links? I have plenty:

    https://www.earthbagbuilding.com/
    https://www.greenhomebuilding.com/earthbag.htm
    https://www.okokok.org/
    https://earthbagbuilding.wordpress.com/

    You should find what you need with those, but there are many more sites if you can't find what you're looking for.

    Well, i'm trying to contact bag distributors and manufacturers to purchase 1000 bags to start something here. I haven't even been looking for misprints, just brand new plain bags. I've been quoted as high as 37cents a bag, to as low as about 20cents a bag. Still trying to find exactly what i'm looking for, but they're pretty cheap. Would need around 1,350+/- for a 900 sq/ft home. Much cheaper than conventional construction methods ;)

    Other than the bags, your wall building material would consist of 4 point barbed wire. It is applied twice between every row of bags for added tensile strength and to help to prevent the bags from shifting when the wall gets higher, the earth which is dirt cheap (no pun attended) or can be dug on site, and a small amount of wood for the forms for the doors, and windows.

    There are many roofing options, so I will not discuss in detail. My own project, when it comes time for it, will include a living green roof to further insulate the house, but it will be ontop of a load bearing roof probably constructed out of logs and timber.

    My floor will be all earthern. Its applied in layers.

    The first layer will be a gravel capillary break, applied a few inches thick. Then, straw rich adobe layer ontop of that, a thin layer of semi smooth adobe, then a fine colored coat of adobe ontop of that.

    You can also mortar in flagstone and what not, for a unique look.

    Will keep the language clean ;)
     

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