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.
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.
We experienced a setback at one point when rains filled the pit with water, washing more dirt back in.
Keith pumped the water out, installed a sump pump, and finished setting up his drain system so that excess water would run out toward the garden.
He ran the pipes for various utilities over the ground. Finally, he was able to start lining the bottom of the pit with gravel and begin laying the gravel foundation bags.
The cistern began taking shape in the corner of the utility room, first with the lower gravel bags and then with the long tube bags filled with the earthbag mixture.
As the walls go up, Keith inserts pipes and conduits for water and electricity into the appropriate layers. We’ve also added a small doorway which will provide direct access from the house so that if there is a tornado, Ann and Lee will be able to get into the storm shelter without having to go outside.
Every day, the walls are a little bit higher. Here’s a video showing the progression of the utility room as it is built:
To be continued!
Thoughts? Comments? Questions? Please share below!
We still have lots of work ahead of us (stay tuned for a future utility room post!) but every day we see progress, which is very satisfying. To be notified when I add more updates to the blog, enter your email below: