My Hybrid Building Project

Discussion in 'Designing, building, making and powering your life' started by porkbrick, Oct 26, 2014.

  1. porkbrick

    porkbrick Junior Member

    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2014
    Messages:
    14
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Hello, my name is Jaime. I have always wanted to build a cabin in the woods. i own all of Lloyd Khan's books and have obsessed over them for years. finally, at the age of 34, i got the chance. i bought a remote piece of land in the california coastal range and i have a steady job to finance the project.
    My goal was to build as cheaply as possible foremost, using as much recycled/waste materials as i could. the site is difficult to access, so importing materials needed to be carefully considered. to top it off, i could only work on weekends, so i had to choose a building method i could work in increments.
    First thought was to build with shipping containers, but they are expensive and nearly impossible to get to the site. after considering a bunch of other techniques, i finally settled on earthbags. i could get 50# chicken feed bags for free, and of course, the dirt is free. the soil on site is mostly sandy silt with a bit of clay. cob or traditional rammed earth would have required the import of lots of clay which, would you believe this, is difficult to find in this area.
    on to pictures!

    the site. my property is for the most part very steep. this was the best spot i had to work with for a few reasons. the slope required excavating, and allowed me to berm the building into the hillside.
    [​IMG]
    after the initial excavation,
    [​IMG]
    the oak in front of the outhouse will necessitate working around as i dont want to remove it.[​IMG]
    and a fat pile of dirt to work with![​IMG]
     
  2. TLP

    TLP Junior Member

    Joined:
    Aug 22, 2014
    Messages:
    42
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    6
    Jamie, hello, I use to surf Monterey Bay back in the 80-90's, now in KS..Your pics are not showing up in chrome anyway. You do not have to have use clay to to stabilize a silt-sand mix, you can use lime or fly ash as a binder, if those are not available use portland cement. I can't remember your climate, but if you are seeing differences between night time winter lows and you desired internal temp your bags will thermally bridge especially a silt-sand mix causing an increase in heating and cooling cost.
     
  3. 9anda1f

    9anda1f Administrator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Jul 10, 2006
    Messages:
    3,046
    Likes Received:
    199
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    E Washington, USA
    Climate:
    Semi-Arid Shrub Steppe (BsK)
  4. porkbrick

    porkbrick Junior Member

    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2014
    Messages:
    14
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    ok, photos. do i need to upload then to an album first, or can i upload them as an attachment to this post? i have a few uploaded to an album, i will see if i can put them up.

    as to the adding of cement or lime to the soil, that is what i wanded to avoid, and that is why i chose earthbag. because the soil is contained in the bags there is no need for additives.
     
  5. porkbrick

    porkbrick Junior Member

    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2014
    Messages:
    14
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    does this work? the site does not require a password to view the pics.
    [​IMG]
     
  6. 9anda1f

    9anda1f Administrator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Jul 10, 2006
    Messages:
    3,046
    Likes Received:
    199
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    E Washington, USA
    Climate:
    Semi-Arid Shrub Steppe (BsK)
    Yes, that site works for photos.
    You can attach photos to your posts, but are limited in size and there is an overall quota that you'll soon reach. It's best to host at a free site (I use photobucket), then post a direct link to your pics.
    Thanks!
     
  7. porkbrick

    porkbrick Junior Member

    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2014
    Messages:
    14
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    ok cool. lets see if this works.
    the site cleared and leveled. the building there is the outhouse.
    [​IMG]
    the pile
    [​IMG]
    beginning the tedious and back breaking process of digging the foundation trench. the whole building is built on a rubble trench foundation with the first two courses of bags filled with drain rock.
    [​IMG]
    lots of rocks in the ground. luckily they are soft sandstone and easily broken.
    [​IMG]
    plenty of roots as well
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    layout lines for the corners. the walls all have a slight outward curve to increase floorspace and increase lateral strength. the deep curve swings inward to avoid an oak i did not wish to cut down.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
  8. porkbrick

    porkbrick Junior Member

    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2014
    Messages:
    14
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    filling the foundation. it is wrapped in filter fabric to prevent soil intrusion and it is fitted with a perforated drain pipe at bottom that daylights for drainage.
    [​IMG]
    first is a layer of drain rock and then rubble stone from the dig. was able to use up a large portion of the stone i dug out.
    [​IMG]
    first two rows, double bagged and full of drain rock.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    you can kind of see the layout of the build
    [​IMG]
    first course of dirt filled bags going on...
    [​IMG]
    and this is the form for the front door. it is a full glass double door off craigslist.
    [​IMG]
     
  9. eco4560

    eco4560 New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2009
    Messages:
    5,925
    Likes Received:
    8
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Please keep updating us with your progress! Building my own place is on my bucket list and in the mean time I just love seeing what other people come up with.
     
  10. songbird

    songbird Senior Member

    Joined:
    Sep 12, 2013
    Messages:
    1,786
    Likes Received:
    146
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Occupation:
    gardening, reading, etc
    Location:
    near St. Charles, MI, USoA
    Home Page:
    Climate:
    -15C-35C, 10cm rain/mo, clay, full sun, K-G Dfa=x=Dfb
    taking comments from the peanut gallery? : )

    does this site have freeze/thaw cycles? that earth packed in bags is going to take some time to compact and settle, a large glass door is going to need a very sturdy and forgiving lintel above it to distribute forces to avoid disrupting that door...

    other than that, looks like a lot of fun and yes, heavy work when you are shoveling it by hand. i do most of the work around here manually and my body does much better for it.
     
  11. TLP

    TLP Junior Member

    Joined:
    Aug 22, 2014
    Messages:
    42
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    6
    Just so everyone knows, you don't have to use clay or cement to stabilize a high sand-silt soil, you just cut back on sand and rock fines in the aggregate. Here is a jar test and wall showing one I got from a pond just experimenting....it cracked a little but that is from the expansive gumbo soil. Rammed Earth has done well from all kinds of soils, if you take the time to test the mix. I plan on rendering this wall so the surface cracks will go away. It's solid as a rock placed directly on the ground, although a rubble trench would probably be better. I just don't see this wall settling much especially if placed on the high sand-rock ground. In CA, most home builders put a 4" thick center core XPS or EPS rigid foam for a thermal brake, and some rebar for seismic.

    The forward wall section along the driveway towards the street, darker in color....I pigmented the mix.

    View attachment 2795 View attachment 2796

    Looking good on the build. What I would have done differently, since as I said above all earth has a thermal bridge(conductivity (u-value) issue.... I would casted a perlite-lime mix on top below the first course of bags and above the gravel trench as a thermal break, perlite drains better than wood chip and is about r-6-8 per inch if I remember right. Your environmental loads in MB have salty-acidic air wet air being by the ocean, and if I remember right winter night time lows down in the 40's? I don't know what your bags of made of but, chances of them lasting 20+ years may be low unless you plan on rendering. Chipcrete stucco may make a good render you'd want to test a mix, and provided a insulating thermal break for the walls too. You can iron oxide pigments, and/or lime wash color or white. It will help improve the fire rating of the walls too, I hate to see those bags burst. I can't imagine the tension strength is that high, especially towards the bottom. Air sealing is a large part of warding off the elements, keeping insects out, preventing hot a cold spots, and most of all lowering HVAC loads and cost. Besides the coat, hat and boots too, overhangs (hats), ground slope (boots) to prevent erosion. It's great to build an inexpensive home, but not at the price of sustainability and high HVAC cost, and comfort, IMO. A rock mass or rumford heater wood burning can build cheap. For the most part, they burn clean reducing the amount of indoor carbon if built right.

    I don't understand the door frame form, it looks unsafe. Most doors and windows have headers and jack studs. If you plan on stacking heavy bags of soil on top, there are header span tables for dimensional lumber on the internet based on loads in PCF. You would weigh a bag and covert to pounds per foot or inch. Gluelams are popular, most are 8-16" deep or more depending on span. They are beamed over to jack studs that take the load down to a sole plate/fondation. In your case, both the header and the sole plate would extend well into the bags. That would distribute load better and deal with settling issues snobird mentioned. It also wouldn't hurt to wood dowel pin the door surround into the bags holes and use a high strength mortar to bond it.
     

    Attached Files:

  12. TLP

    TLP Junior Member

    Joined:
    Aug 22, 2014
    Messages:
    42
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    6
    Edit

    Ran out of edit time: PCF above, meant PSF or PSI. Also a poly moisture barrier under the bags at the footing, and or floor would prevent "cold" surface moisture condensation in winter that can erode-freeze-thaw cycle the bags.

    Other sp errors: Rocket mass heater, not rock.
     
  13. porkbrick

    porkbrick Junior Member

    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2014
    Messages:
    14
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    lovely coastal california, no freeze here. that box is only a temporary form to guide the bag work. when finished there will be a full concrete lintel over all the doors and windows. the bags are well compacted as we go, every course is vigorously hammered into rock like submission.
    more pics!
    now you can really see the shape of the building. there will be a loft across the back.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
  14. porkbrick

    porkbrick Junior Member

    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2014
    Messages:
    14
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    and more...
    [​IMG]
    the first of the window forms. i scored a set of six matching 30"x60" double glazed windows off craigslist.
    [​IMG]
    the box is built such that the inside edge of the window hole will be angled for better lighting.
    [​IMG]
    getting taller. i was making about two full courses a day at this point. hot weather really slowed things down and i had to keep the bags covered when we werent working to prevent the sun from rotting the polypropylene.
    [​IMG]
     
  15. porkbrick

    porkbrick Junior Member

    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2014
    Messages:
    14
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    i forgot to mention it but there is a sheet of plastic between the foundation and the bags. it continues up the outside to ground level wherever the wall is below grade. there is also a layer of 2" rigid foam behind the bermed sections of wall. just to be clear, the bags are filled only with dirt straight from the site. no woodchips, no cement, no added clay. once compacted they are rock hard. as for the bags. as long as they are protected from the sun (the entire wall will be plastered inside and out), they are very strong. i have beat the living S**t out of those bags, i even drove my truck over some as a test and they dont even flinch. in addition, the soil alone will, in theory, be able to handle all the loads placed on the walls. cheers.
     
  16. TLP

    TLP Junior Member

    Joined:
    Aug 22, 2014
    Messages:
    42
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    6
    That sounds better. So the only thermal bridge you'll have or the biggest is between the rubble trench and bags in the cold winter, but in your CA climate not a big deal. I don't understand these EB builds since I never did one. With your rammed sandy fill, agree, you will have very little settling. I see you have the same rammer I do from Harbor Freight. That and the shoveling is back breaking work, Rammed Earth wet soil bites hard on the back. When I build my home I'm getting machinery, but I am in the home building business so we'll keep building, several at a time I hope.

    Where are you running utilities? ? Crawl space? What type off floor? Will you be off all grids? ....Solar Panels(PV) and inverters are getting dirt cheap, CA is the boom sunshine state. Looks like you have room for a ground pod.

    Whats your plan for domestic hot water, they have all electric efficient low watt heat pumps now you run off PV: https://www.r744.com/news/view/3503

    There are also electric ventless HP dryers coming out now too more efficient than gas, Maytag. My homes will be all electric, gas or electric grids won't be ale to compete with future PV.

    I'd take your location over San Diego where we have a house any day, we're selling, too expensive to live there, traffic, crime, etc.....Moving to the Land of OZ, Kansas.

    I'm testing renders now, the one I did yesterday was colored 50:50 soil-lime, very gluey stuck to my shovel too wet to ram, so I'm going to trowl on. We'll see how durable when it dries. My surfaces are very brittle right now, so I am looking for a sealer and a way to get the rammed earth striations without changing soils.

    Question: Are your soils different colors? This guy in Europe I am talking to on another site says he gets his colors from different soils. I just think that is outside the norm, here in KS all we have is brown unless I go to OK red there and haul it here. I think I can get the same effect from renders.

    Terry
     
  17. TLP

    TLP Junior Member

    Joined:
    Aug 22, 2014
    Messages:
    42
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    6
  18. 9anda1f

    9anda1f Administrator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Jul 10, 2006
    Messages:
    3,046
    Likes Received:
    199
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    E Washington, USA
    Climate:
    Semi-Arid Shrub Steppe (BsK)
    I love the fluid shape Jaime, earthbag construction lends itself to architectural art! Have you seen Owen Geiger's Earthbag Building Blog (https://www.earthbagbuilding.com/).
     
  19. songbird

    songbird Senior Member

    Joined:
    Sep 12, 2013
    Messages:
    1,786
    Likes Received:
    146
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Occupation:
    gardening, reading, etc
    Location:
    near St. Charles, MI, USoA
    Home Page:
    Climate:
    -15C-35C, 10cm rain/mo, clay, full sun, K-G Dfa=x=Dfb
    love the pictures and details! keep 'em comin! :)

    different colors are available in some places, here i can come up with blackish because of added char, gray to white depending upon how deep i dig for the clay, reddish, orange and yellow from sand and sandstones, browns from tannins, barks, topsoils...
     
  20. porkbrick

    porkbrick Junior Member

    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2014
    Messages:
    14
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0

    utilities. gas, water and electric all come in through the wall on the back side. there will be a utilities box in back outside to house electric panel, on demand hot water, and gas shut off. sink will drain under floor and out at corner of wall where i installed an oversize pipe in between the bags. there is no bathroom in the cabin. there is a separate outhouse building and in future i will build a bathhouse with shower, soaking tub and sauna. i have limited space for building and by building many smaller buildings i will have much more flexibility. more pics...
    bags filling in between the windows
    [​IMG]
    because the column between the door and windows is so small, it requires some reinforcement. i poured footings and erected posts inside each column, they will be tied together with steel strapping every third course. i also installed a 4x6 post next to each window for additional support.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    because the bags degrade after not much time exposed to uv, and because of the slow pace of the build, i started to paint the bags for protection. i found several buckets of leftover latex paint for free. here you can see the walls really taking shape.
    [​IMG]
     

Share This Page

-->