Doors and Windows

Doors and Windows in the Earthbag House

We install doors and windows a bit differently in an earthbag home than in a normal house.  Watch the video below where Lee explains how it works, and enjoy the slideshow afterward which shows the doors and window frames in the earthbag house we are building:

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Cistern Part II

IMG_7654A few weeks back I wrote a post about the rainwater cistern we’re building.  We’ve made a lot of progress since then!  My newest video shows the cistern from dream to (almost) done!

This cistern, made of earthbags like the rest of the house, will be the primary source of water for the house.  We’ll collect rainwater from the roofs of the house and the RV shelter (both of which will be metal).  The water will be used for washing, bathing, and–after running through multiple stages of filtration–drinking. Continue reading

Ground Insulation

Protecting the House from Cold and Moisture

One of the major things to consider when building a house is how to protect it from moisture and temperature extremes.  Here’s a video I filmed (a couple of months back now) on how Keith protected the foundation of the earthbag house from the elements using natural and reused building materials.  Enjoy!

Cistern

Cistern and Utility Room

The most unusual and complex part of the earthbag house is the utility room, containing a 3,000 gallon rainwater cistern.  This room is the center of operations from which the electricity, sewer and water supply will be controlled.  It is also recessed into the ground with double-thick walls below ground level, making it an ideal storm shelter in case of a tornado.

Keith digging the utility room.

As fall season progresses and the weather cools, we’ll need to begin wrapping up the project for the winter and come back to finish it in the spring.  Our attention is now focused primarily on this utility room.

The utility room was “born” on August 13th when Keith began digging it out with the mini excavator.

Keith spent several days doing manual “touch-up” digging to level out the room and remove chunks of earth that the excavator missed.  Continue reading

Earthbag Mixture

Earthbag Mixture

Hoeing the clay slip.

Hoeing the clay slip.

This being an earthbag house, one of the primary tasks involved in building it is making the mixture to put into the earthbags. We start out with the piles of clay that have been dug up around the building site. 

My father-in-law, Lee, made mud pits–like kiddie pools–with boards and plywood and tarps, and into these we shovel a generous amount of clayish dirt.  Then we add water and let the mixture soak for awhile.

Every batch of dirt is a bit different; some is more rocky, some is more sticky, and sometimes it breaks down pretty nicely.  The rocky stuff seems to take the longest, but it all requires lots of patience to work a batch, which takes anywhere from about 90 minutes to 3 hours or more. Continue reading

Kidnapped and Hiding in Mexico

Kidnapped girlFour different people have sent me the same link to a news story that broke this week about a girl who was kidnapped by her mother and found hiding in Mexico.  It’s not uncommon for friends to let me know when a story like this comes up because it always reminds them of my own childhood story.  I, too, was kidnapped by my mother from my custodial father and taken to Mexico with my sister, where we hid out from my dad (and the FBI and other authorities). We were on the run for seven years before the FBI found us.

My mom got sent to jail and my sister and I went back to live with our dad.  The news stories that came out about us were very similar to the one that broke last week–sympathetic to the parent who had custody.  The news stories never reported that the reason we went on the run in the first place was because our father was abusive.   Continue reading

Gravel Walls

The Walls are Coming!

I’m so excited to be past the trenching and foundation stage and working on the actual walls!  We’ve hired some helpers to come out during the week, and on the weekends sometimes Denise and Jeff come out and may bring friends to help as well.  Thanks to the additional hands, things are moving along a little faster!

On September 6th, Denise and Jeff came out with their friend, Mike.  Keith spent a few minutes teaching them the basic procedures, and off we went.  At this stage we were working with the portion of the walls that will end up underground, so we were filling the bags (doubled up!) with gravel rather than the sand/clay mixture that goes into the earthbags.  By using gravel until we come above ground, we help prevent moisture from seeping into the walls.

IMG_6883 Continue reading