Friday, May 13, 2016

Earthship Bottle Wall, Slip Straw Wall and Adobe Wall Construction Workshop Days June 2016!

The time is finally here, my friends, for us to begin gearing up for constructing the circular bottle wall in our craft and play room, the internal slip straw internal walls, and the adobe finish on the tire wall of our home!  While it is difficult to know for sure what days we'll be working on these projects, we'll know for certain closer to the days themselves.  Thus, we wanted to put the tentative information out there for those interested so we can compile a list of names and contact information and notify you the moment we've established firmer dates.

We'd love for you to join us in creating the walls for our earthship home and anticipate beginning the above processes in mid-June (2016) and continuing to work on it the rest of the month.  Zac will be taking some time away from work to get us under-roof ASAP, so we'll be working each day, all day long!  If you're interested, please send us an email at with the following information and we'll contact you with firmer dates at the end of this month or early June:

  • Name
  • Phone Number
  • Types of wall construction interested in learning about
  • Days and times of the week that are best for you

Here's a bit of information on the types of wall construction we'll be tackling:

Bottle Wall Construction
We have a circular room in the far East side of our home that will be comprised mostly of recycled glass bottles turned into "bottle bricks."  They will be secured in place with an adobe mix and left to dry.  The end result is a stained glass effect in the walls made from beautiful bottles that would have been otherwise tossed in the recycling bin (which isn't a bad option, of course, but using them to build a room is OH SO much cooler!).  Below are some pictures from various sites that will serve as inspiration for our bottle wall room.

Note:  All photos were found here-

Slip Straw Walls (Internal)
Our internal walls will be constructed using a slip straw method.  A wooden form is created and a mixture of clay and straw is packed into the form and left to dry.  The form is then removed and a layer of adobe (straw, sand, clay mix) is put on the outside to create the finished product.  Here is a photo utilizing this type of construction.


Adobe Walls
A mixture of straw, sand and clay will be used to create the finished wall covering the tires!  This is a multi-step, time-consuming process so we plan on at least starting this process in June but don't know when the walls will be truly complete.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Serious Earthship Progress: October 2015 to May 2016

I've been grossly neglecting my duties as family earthship project blogger and so I present a gargantuan update via pictures and captions!

Disclaimer: I (Lauren) am providing this update and am not particularly adept at technical, building jargon.  The reason it has taken me so long to provide this update is because I've been waiting on Zac to have time to sit down and write this post with me.  He, however, has been spending the majority of his time with our Beloved Mistress (AKA our Earthship) and can't spare the time.  And so, my non-technical play-by-play of our progress since October.  If you have any questions, ask them in the comments below and I'll make sure Zac provides any answers I cannot! 

October 2015
On top of the gravel that had been compacted, Zac first placed a layer of 6 mil plastic for water-proofing followed by a layer of 2.5 inch foam insulation to ensure that the heat provided by our radiant floor heating system wouldn't be lost.  On top of that, he then placed wire mesh so that he could zip-tie the hydronic heating pipes to it.  He designed and installed our hydronic (radiant floor heating) system himself!  And so, the nickname "Zac of all trades" lives on... 

The wire mesh can be seen here along with the beginnings of the radiant floor heating pipes zip-tied to it

Cheshire Cat grin courtesy of hydronic heating system

Hydronic heating system installed and ready for concrete!

The whole family (minus feline, ducks and chickens, that is) the morning of the concrete pour

The concrete truck driver busted a pipe in our hydronic heating which almost led to a total meltdown.  Fortunately, Zac ran out to the hardware store and returned in time to repair it before the concrete had set.  Otherwise, the zone controlling the heat in our bedrooms would have been lost.  Ugh.  I'll say though, that the concrete company handled the situation with grace and vowed to take responsibility if the system doesn't work when the time comes to test it for real.

Concrete poured!

The whole crew admiring their handiwork

Zac soaking it in at the end of the day with our littlest guy

Zac making perfect diamond shaped cuts in our floor so that we could avoid huge cracks in the floor over the winter and over the course of the life of the home.  The perfect diamond cuts weren't necessary as simple "control joint" cuts were all that were needed but Zac is a bit of a perfectionist.  Note of caution: DO NOT WEAR SANDALS when performing such duties as it will wear your feet raw.  Zac learned this lesson the hard way!

Creating the forms for the concrete bond beam to be poured

This was the best photo I could get of the stained floor though more will surely come once it has been sealed off and we're in the home!  Zac created a rust and turquoise marbled effect using iron sulfate (fertilizer creating rust) and copper sulfate (AKA- a certain type of "root killer" creating turquoise) and it cost only $30 for 2,000 sf of floor!

November 2015
With mild weather, Zac was able to build the front masonry wall thanks to the help and guidance of a work buddy.

A friend of Zac's from work is a Mason and offered to help lay the concrete block for the front wall.  A small berm will be installed all the way up to the top of this block in the front of the home for added insulative value.  Thus, you won't be able to see the block when the home is complete.  To save money, we opted for whatever color block the supplier had available.

January 2016
This was the month that the concrete bond beam was prepped and poured.

2.5 inch foam insulation was cut to size and placed within the form for the concrete bond beam to create an insulated concrete form (ICF).  The gaps between the tires and the wooden form were filled with spray foam insulation.

Zac laid rebar within the form to strengthen the beam.

We had a pump truck from the concrete company come out for the bond beam pour and to grout our stem wall.  This part of the process only took about 30 minutes.  Though it took about 2 hours to finish it out after the pour.

Rebar was laid in the front wall as well prior to the concrete being poured.


February 2016
Zac was able to install the sill plate on top of the concrete bond beam and front wall as well as place the posts at the front of the house.

The supplies were delivered to begin framing in the house!

Zac showing some love to the first beam in place

Our "big guy" helping out the bigger guys

All the posts in place.  Now ready for the beams!

March 2016
Drum roll please... This month, the trusses were dropped off and put in place by Zac and a crew of about 10 people over the course of 2 days!  We purchased pre-manufactured roof trusses from Forge Lumber based out of Cincinnati, OH for around $5,000.  They were a pleasure to work with and wonderful people to boot!  The rest of the month was spent sheathing and placing the ice and weather guard and roofing felt on the roof.

Our friend, Morgan, cutting the blocking to place between trusses.

Courtney and Wyatt (the two friends above) are the ones who inspired us to build and earthship in the first place.  And to think, at one point, they were the strangers across the street.  Never underestimate the power people surrounding you have on your life decisions.  Choose those people wisely!

All the trusses in place!

The crew at the end of the last day of placing the trusses.  We couldn't have done it without you all!

Sheathing the roof

Our good friends, Ryan and Anthony, placing the ice and weather guard over the sheathing.

April & May 2016
The past couple of weeks have been spent working on framing in the home.  The vast majority of it went up within a 2-day time period with Zac working alone.  The circular room (shown in the far right corner of the photo below) proved a bit trickier to frame in and took a bit more planning to accomplish.

View standing in the dining room and looking down into the bedrooms which will be at the front of the house.  We laid the house out this way because according to building code, an egress (potential exit in the event of fire) is to be placed in each bedroom in the house.  Thus, placing the bedrooms at the front of the structure was the easiest way to make this possible while still considering overall aesthetics.  We'll use curtains to shade out unwanted sun early in the morning as well as for privacy's sake.

View from our dining room

Here's a video clip from our local news station showcasing our progress thus far!