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    Hey guys:) I was wondering. How do we feel about Earthships? Does anyone have any experience in working or living in one? If you are unfamiliar with this concept, here is a link to the primary page .

    My hubby and I and our 3 girls are moving to Texas soon and we really want to find a very affordable and sustainable way to build. So far I like what I see but I would love to know if anyone has any extra insight. Do you love what they are doing? Like it but have amazing helpful tweaks? Not so much? If not, what do you recommend?



    Hi Christina,

    I’m afraid I don’t have any advice for you but will be following the comments you get on here as I’m also keen to learn more from people who have gone through a build and can advise of the pitfalls. Unlike you I live in the UK and I understand there are quite a lot of regulatory hoops to be jumped through. For instance, I don’t think you’re allowed to use tyres in construction as I think they consider them a waste material… It would be good to know if someone could recommend a good reference book for people in the planning stage, preferably suited to the building regulations in each country.

    Good luck with your build!




    Hi Christina,

    There are pros and cons to any type of building. Having lived in 38 different types of residences, my advice would be to NOT GET IN A HURRY. Do as much research as you can up front – visit actual builds where people have lived in them for a while to find out the pros and cons – and take notes (maybe set up Pros and Cons columns). One type of building that used to be touted as pretty inexpensive and something you may be able to do yourself are monolithic domes that are made of ferro cement (very energy efficient, can withstand fires, tornadoes and hurricanes. Fire insurance should be very cheap.) I talked with a doctor in southern California some years ago who had a three-dome home. He said firefighters were instructed to use his home as a shelter when a wildfire was raging all around. The only damage sustained to his home was smoke to the windows. He also said he could heat his home with a hair dryer in winter! A cob home may be an option if you have good sources of clay and straw.

    Another reason to delay the hurry (live in a chicken coop if you have to) is that you may want to get a property that allows you to take advantage of permaculture water storage principles (sloping ground with a gully) and passive solar building locations. It’s best to get to know the area and climate and talk to as many locals as you can first – we once bought 40 acres of bare land in November in southern Oregon. We had moved from Houston, Texas, and were living in the utility trailer we had used to haul our goods. My hubby had been laid off from his geology career along with thousands of others two weeks after our daughter was born and there were no jobs in his field available in the U.S.
    We found out that the neighbors within five miles of us were either into smoking marijuana or fundamental Christians, which was not a good fit for us. Also, the realtor lied about the water situation – she showed us a number of unsuitable (i.e. very steep) properties before showing us one she knew we’d like, delaying us a couple of weeks until the rainy season started so that there were creeks running all over the property. Come summer, these all dried up. She literally ran out of the realty office after we signed the papers – perhaps so she wouldn’t break down and tell us the truth?
    After hauling water the first summer, we managed to get a supply by asking a neighbor for permission to dam up the creek on his property and reverse engineering a pump. However, a dope smoker upstream ended up damming the creek the following year and cut us off. Hubby had dug some storage ponds by that time but we didn’t know about swales and were too isolated and unsupported to want to continue. He decided to go back to school to get an engineering degree so we sold the property. Since we weren’t church affiliated, it also turned out to be too isolated for our daughter.
    Anyway, best of luck to you on your journey – no matter what you do, you’ll learn tons and be truly living!



    A cool thing I recently watched was “doomsday preppers” how ever you may feel about that stuff ….I think that permaculture and prepper stuff can work together really well. Preppers have some really good ideas when it comes to building homes for all sorts of reasons and in all sorts of areas. One of the coolest prepper houses I saw was in TX and was made of storage containers…it was I think 2 or 3 containers high and made into a square with an empty center…they had rainbarrels, a biodigester built in their pig pen that took the waste of the pigs and the people to get gas fuel..which they mentioned that if in a prepper type situation wouldn’t make smells or send smoke into the sky….also if you don’t have a good or self sustaining wood supply.

    there are lots of earthship groups around the country and most have a good presence online as well. I got to go to Taos, NM a couple summers ago and take a short tour of one…totally radical…totally off grid. they have lots of books and there is the film “trash warrior” about it…and a new program/dvd about building earthship green houses that is pretty cool…and since its not a house and can be built smaller its possible to practice by making a greenhouse that could be used as additional illegal living space.

    vimeo and youtube have some good videos with how tos and how people are living in them. lots is finding out where they can be permitted and where they can…some parts of the earthship aren’t legal…like the septic or gray water…as well as just as a living space. Here in WA they aren’t legal to build to live in….for the time being.

    climate is a big one to consider…they have been made all over the world but the designs need to be tweaked based on the climate…if its hot and dry or wet and cool…or if its really cold. the angle of the winter sun. if you live where its really hot you want to have the greenhouse part different than if you live somewhere cooler…the angle and size of the windows. the treatment of the exterior may need to be tweaked if its really wet. there is also a radical guy in CO who builds them with tire bales…the design is different as there isn’t dirt filled tires but rather prebaled tires that can be used as sorta building blocks. I can’t imagine pounding tires for multiple summers…and the bales sometimes are free…or the cost of transportation and heavy equipment use to move them around…however this can super speed up the process while getting more tires to be used…they are also encased usually in spray concrete so then they aren’t leaking or off gassing.

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