Thursday, May 7, 2015

A Community of Kindred Spirits

When we took Eivin in for his first well baby check-up post-birth, our magnificent pediatrician (who writes us "prescriptions" for books and fermented foods) asked us about religion.  We told her we don't identify with any religion in particular and don't feel organized religion is right for us.  She responded by saying she believes it is imperative for children to have a solidified view of their family values and beliefs in order to have a sense of order in the world.  Having grown up in a Catholic family in Catholic schools, I understood this as I felt a sense of security in knowing I was surrounded by people whom I shared something with.  In this way, I was never alone in the world and knew I had somewhere to turn when times got rough.

Dr. Seiler went on to suggest that we create a family "bible" including photos and descriptions of pastimes we share together depicting what we collectively value.  This sparked some discussion between Zac and I on our way home.  The sense of belonging and community which has arisen throughout our earthship build thus far is the connection we feel we had been lacking prior to changing our lifestyle.  Additionally, the values of conservation, respect for others and the natural world around us are shared with our children day in and day out due to our move to live a drastically more sustainable life.

We decided the components to our family "bible" were in place and it would simply be a matter of putting it down on paper for Elliot and Eivin so they could reference it as they grew.  If anyone questions them about their lack of "religion" as they age, we want them to be able to provide a meaningful answer about how we as a family derive meaning in our day-to-day life despite our lack of organized religion.

Every week since we began our earthship journey, we've attended our version of church or mass in that we spend time pouring our heart and soul into something we believe at our very core.  Friends, family, new volunteers and veteran volunteers turned close friends show up to help us work toward our goal of building an earthship.

This past weekend at our first formal earthship workshop of 2015, we were deeply moved by the turnout and received our spiritual fill.  One thing stands out about the people we've met on our journey is we recognize each of these people as a kindred spirit.  When conversation begins with someone who comes out to a workshop or to volunteer, the small talk is bypassed and we enter into meaningful conversation with ease.  This speaks volumes.  These are our people.  We get them and they get us.

By the end of the first workshop day, an undeniable bond had been formed and was palpable.  We capped off the day around a bonfire with many of the participants camping out for the night.  The conversation spilled out effortlessly as though we had known one another for many years.  This sense of community is vital to our family.  We want Elliot and Eivin to know that they aren't alone in the world and are proud to be creating an environment where our guys can feel apart of something larger than themselves.

My heart was overflowing when Elliot moved around our land calling out greetings to people by name as they worked on the earthship.  He was blissful and in his element.  The photos from this past weekend and weekends to come will surely enter our family "bible" so that our boys are able to identify the congregation they belong to.  Additionally, the pride, determination and selflessness that each person who has worked on our house has shown is utterly moving.  We've learned so much from everyone who has come out and are inspired to give back every chance we get.  This is another element that will be integrated into our "bible" as we want our boys to be interconnected; not compartmentalized from their fellow humans.

In our culture, we tend to live in self-contained bubbles and shudder at the thought of having to share anything with anyone.  We all strive to be independent yet I believe this is at the demise of the human race.  We aren't meant to be separate from our fellow man.  I believe we are meant to run with a "pack."  It isn't difficult to identify people with this open mindset as they live out their lives very differently from the rest and give selflessly without effort.  I admit that I have a selfish streak and have been challenged and changed by each of the people we've come in contact with on our earthship journey.

I'm electrified with the knowledge that our family has finally identified our people and that our boys will grow up in a world without walls; where we live interconnected with the people and the land surrounding us.

I would be remiss if I didn't send out a heartfelt thank you to all of the people who came out this past weekend and who have come out in the past.  You have helped us build our dream home and in the process have been a constant source of inspiration; ultimately changing the course of our lives.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

TOO LEGIT TO QUIT- Earthship Building Permit (Check!)

 
April 14, 2015:  This day will forever be etched in my mind as one year and two days ago we began building our earthship home and today, we were finally granted our BUILDING PERMIT!!!  We've been waiting on this "okay" for longer than we've waited on our second son to get here... which, by the way is also taking longer than expected as we are a week overdue with laid-back Eivin Nikolai. 

Anyhow, as I've mentioned in past posts, we jumped on board with building an earthship home after only just hearing about what was entailed in June 2013 and had purchased land for our future home by September that same year.  We pushed forward despite not having all the kinks worked out with hope that with enough determination and vigor, we'd get it all worked out.  Driven by a happy-go-lucky, naive haze, we vastly underestimated the amount of time it would take to obtain a building permit.  So a word to others out there hoping to build an earthship home:  If you choose to design your own home as we did, be sure to turn everything over to an architect to fine-tune and adjust as necessary and then have sealed as your county will likely require this... preferably before you begin building the home.

All of this may seem like a no-brainer but we were so dead-set on making a lifestyle change ASAP for our collective sanity that waiting on this vital "okay" was just not an option.  We were lucky that our county still allowed us to begin the tire foundation portion of our home with periodic checks so that we could get going while we ironed out the details of our future home.  In moving forward, we will need to have further density testing performed on several tires of each of the remaining layers of the tire foundation but that's a small price to pay for being granted formal permission to build our dream home!  For more information on density testing, check out our past blog post here

Obtaining a permit is such a HUGE relief to both of us and was something we had high hopes to have granted before our second guy arrived so that we could spend some time nesting together as a family before diving headfirst into building for the year.  Now we can do so with peace of mind knowing that we are finally LEGIT! 

We couldn't have gotten to this point without the help of our friend and architect, Matthew Stanfield, owner of FiELD9 Archtecture based out of Mansfield, OH.  He was so easy to work with and specializes in creating sustainable, modern structures.  We couldn't be happier with his services and it doesn't hurt that he's just a really genuinely good person to boot!  Be sure to get in touch with him if you desire to build a similar style home as sustainable architecture is his passion! 

Now, our energy will be directed toward welcoming our second son into the family and after the "babymoon", building will be in full swing!  We still have open slots for our first Earthship Build Workshop of 2015 and would love to have you out to build skills, a sense of community and help kick off the 2015 building of our earthship home!  Here are all the details:

We will be hosting the first of several more "formal" workshop weekends on Saturday, May 2, 2015 and Sunday, May 3, 2015 from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM each day. The cost will be $25 per person for the WHOLE weekend and mainly covers the cost of food and making copies of any material handed out. We will provide breakfast and lunch both days (meat and veggie friendly) and camping is available upon request. While we will host more informal, FREE work and skill building weekends every other weekend throughout the building season (April 2015- October 2015), the workshop weekends will be more informative, will include much more time for question asking and answering and we will be providing some handouts outlining the information we plan on covering.

 The first workshop weekend (May 2-3, 2015) will cover the "Tire Foundation" portion of building an earthship. We've refined our process throughout the past year and would like to pass on our tips and tricks of making progress swifter and less physically taxing. Thus, this first workshop will cover the following topics:

  • Site preparation
  • Obtaining building materials and obtaining special permits through the EPA 
  • Overall costs of building an earthship
  • "Pounding" a tire by hand 
  • "Pounding" a tire with a pneumatic tamper
  • Installing drainage
  • Building the berm
  • Compaction tests via geotechnical engineers
  • Constructing a half-tire, etc.

While there will be portions that will be discussion and Q&A, a great deal of the weekend will be physical in nature as we've learned best by doing and feel this is the best way to obtain a realistic view of what it is like to build an earthship home.

We ask that all participants are over the age of 16 and that those between 16 and 18 years of age attend with a parent or guardian. Be dressed to get dirty and if you have any of the following items, please bring them with you (marked with your name):
  • Gloves 
  • Protective eyewear 
  • Boots 
  • Shovels 
  • Sledgehammers 
  • Hand-tampers 
  • Buckets
  • Wheelbarrows
  • Water Bottle- We will have drinking water available on-site but please bring a water bottle with you if you have one handy to save on having to use plastic cups.
If you'd like to camp the whole weekend, let us know and we will ensure you have a suitable place to do so!

You can secure your spot for the workshop via PayPal (see below) or you can send a $25 check to: Lauren & Zachary Craig, 2687 S. River Rd., Cedarville, OH 45314. Once we receive payment, we will send you a confirmation email with any updated information. PLEASE NOTE: If the weather doesn't cooperate (i.e. too much rain), we will plan on holding the workshop the next weekend (May 9-10, 2015).  We will contact you via email and/or telephone to confirm date change should  inclement weather arise.


Do you plan on camping on-site?

Saturday, February 14, 2015

First 2015 Earthship Workshop Weekend- May 2-3, 2015



We've pinned down a weekend for our first earthship build workshop of 2015! We will be hosting the first of several more "formal" workshop weekends on Saturday, May 2, 2015 and Sunday, May 3, 2015 from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM each day. The cost will be $25 per person for the WHOLE weekend and mainly covers the cost of food and making copies of any material handed out. We will provide breakfast and lunch both days (meat and veggie friendly) and camping is available upon request. While we will host more informal, FREE work and skill building weekends every other weekend throughout the building season (April 2015- October 2015), the workshop weekends will be more informative, will include much more time for question asking and answering and we will be providing some handouts outlining the information we plan on covering.

 The first workshop weekend (May 2-3, 2015) will cover the "Tire Foundation" portion of building an earthship. We've refined our process throughout the past year and would like to pass on our tips and tricks of making progress swifter and less physically taxing. Thus, this first workshop will cover the following topics:

  • Site preparation
  • Obtaining building materials and obtaining special permits through the EPA 
  • Overall costs of building an earthship
  • "Pounding" a tire by hand 
  • "Pounding" a tire with a pneumatic tamper
  • Installing drainage
  • Building the berm
  • Compaction tests via geotechnical engineers
  • Constructing a half-tire, etc.

While there will be portions that will be discussion and Q&A, a great deal of the weekend will be physical in nature as we've learned best by doing and feel this is the best way to obtain a realistic view of what it is like to build an earthship home.

We ask that all participants are over the age of 16 and that those between 16 and 18 years of age attend with a parent or guardian. Be dressed to get dirty and if you have any of the following items, please bring them with you (marked with your name):
  • Gloves 
  • Protective eyewear 
  • Boots 
  • Shovels 
  • Sledgehammers 
  • Hand-tampers 
  • Buckets
  • Wheelbarrows
  • Water Bottle- We will have drinking water available on-site but please bring a water bottle with you if you have one handy to save on having to use plastic cups.
If you'd like to camp the whole weekend, let us know and we will ensure you have a suitable place to do so!

You can secure your spot for the workshop via PayPal (see below) or you can send a $25 check to: Lauren & Zachary Craig, 2687 S. River Rd., Cedarville, OH 45314. Once we receive payment, we will send you a confirmation email with any updated information. PLEASE NOTE: If the weather doesn't cooperate (i.e. too much rain), we will plan on holding the workshop the next weekend (May 9-10, 2015).  We will contact you via email and/or telephone to confirm date change should  inclement weather arise.

Do you plan on camping on-site?


Here are some pictures from our build last year!  We finished up the year with 5 courses of 9 complete and our goal is to have the tire wall done by Summer 2015... come on out, learn truly beneficial skills, meet like-minded people and help us reach our goal!











Thursday, January 15, 2015

Updated Earthship Floor Plan and Building Permit Feedback from our County!

The past month has been heavenly!  We departed the world of The Earthship for a tad and entered into a softer, easier realm of family and friends throughout the holiday season.  Not to say imperative to-dos haven't popped up and had to be tackled but we've certainly made the most of our vacation from tires and dirt.

In early December, we finally submitted our sealed earthship home drawings to our county for plan review and we just heard back this week!  We received an adjudication letter with a list of corrections to be addressed.  As I was reading through the list, I felt a greater sense of relief with each passing item as each one was something that could be addressed by our architect and/or with some quick research on our part.  We most certainly aren't out of the woods yet, but we are hopeful that we are in the last leg of the building permit process!  And to think, only one year after we started building our home... hahaha.  In this case, the home came before the permit!

Speaking of architects, we would like to pass along our architect's information as he has been tremendous in helping us out on such short notice!  His name is Matthew Stanfield from FiELD9 Architecture and he is based out of Mansfield, OH.  He specializes in sustainable, modern architecture and actually came out for our first workshop weekend last April!  CLICK HERE for the link to his website.

This is the most recent version of our floor plan.
Please note, however that the following drawing is for demonstration purposes only.  We disclaim any liability should one attempt to build a home or structure from the drawings we have included in our Secondhand Home Project blog.  Also, this image may not be used or reproduced, copied, transmitted or manipulated without written permission from Lauren and Zachary Craig.  


The circular room at the southeast side of the home is to be made with bottle bricks.  Our plan is to create a circular play and craft room entirely from bottles, and traditional framing to achieve a stained glass effect that will inspire us each day.  This room along with the root cellar off the kitchen and our rocket stove bench are my most favorite features of the home.

We hope to begin working on our home once more this April once the ground and our brains and bodies have thawed out for the year.  This is the first year I've actually appreciated the winter season.  I feel that the closer one lives off the land, the more one yearns for a hunkering down and relief from the demanding seasons preceding it.

April will certainly be a full month for us as we are looking forward to our second son, Eivin Nikolai, being born as well!  I realize that this almost certainly will mean I won't be slinging dirt and tires this year though which is bittersweet.  My main focus will be taking care of our two sweet guys and finding ways to keep them entertained throughout the building process this year.

One way I plan to do so is through planting a garden so that we can have easy access to fresh, healthy food options on our land as we build this year.  Eivin will be a tiny guy, so he will be delighted to be strapped to my body while Elliot and I plant and nurture our garden.  We will be trying out the Square Foot Gardening technique this year as it seemed the most concrete, methodical way of creating a manageable garden with two kiddos in tow.

While I may be out for the count this year when it comes to partaking in the actual building process, we will again be inviting anyone and everyone (over the age of 16) to assist in our earthship build for 2015!  Once a date is finalized, we will be sure to post information about our first big skill building/ work weekend.  The fee for this weekend will only be to cover the cost of food for participants.  However, should you desire to bring your own food along, the cost will be free!  We're hoping to draw a big crowd to mark the start of our 2015 building year so please pass on the word!  All throughout the Spring, Summer and Fall, we will be inviting those of you interested out each weekend to help us reach our goal of getting under roof this year and in the process, gaining the skills to build an earth-rammed tire home for FREE.  Here is the flyer I'll be posting all around the surrounding areas in coming months.  Please feel free to print off as many copies as you'd like or send it as an image to anyone you know who may be interested!


Cheers everyone to a brand spankin' new year!!!  


Thursday, November 6, 2014

If Family & Friends Were Our Houseplants, They'd be Dead!

I realize I've been slacking or just outright ignoring our blog lately but so much of what has been swirling about in our lives lately seems to be "life stuff."  We found out 14 weeks ago that we are pregnant with our second child and are due to meet him or her in April 2015!  While we had tossed around the idea of having another child, this one still came as a surprise to us both.  Needless to say, this pregnancy has been vastly different thus far than my pregnancy with Elliot.  I've been battling with exhaustion and depression but both began to lift as I entered the second trimester... which would be why I haven't written much in the past 2 months.

Note: Actually, I'm writing this post before 7 AM which is nothing short of a miracle.  I used to wake up with Zac each morning a little after 5 AM but the second the pregnancy symptoms set in, I've been sleeping until the last possible moment each day

As with becoming pregnant, life doesn't stop when you're building an earthship home, either.  Zac has been given more responsibility at work which he has really enjoyed but which has taken him a bit further away from the build than we would have anticipated for this stage in our build.  Additionally, he has been putting out fires in several other areas of our lives too; fixing anything and everything that needs repaired.  Our tractor and Zac's car both went out of commission in the same (beautiful) weekend so the earthship went without a second look so that both issues could be resolved before the work week began again.  Zac's constant "fire-fighting" has played a role in Zac being away from us more than we would like.  However, with all the rainy, dreary weather we've been having lately, he hasn't been able to work much outside.  This has afforded us time together when he gets off work which was something we used to take for granted.  These moments all together when we are all able to give one another our full attention have been MUCH needed and I feel that this ugly weather has granted us some gorgeous time together.

We aren't too proud to say that the past year or so has been utterly exhausting and we are looking forward to the much needed downtime this winter will provide.  Our plans are to spend  the winter laying out the systems of our home, submit our updated sealed plans from our architect to the county (YAY!!!), organize the vast areas of our life that have been largely ignored since April 2014 and dust off the cobwebs of friendships and family relationships that have been sadly neglected during the build.... oh, and prepare mentally and physically for the birth of our next little one all in the midst of living in transition!

We assume this next little one on the way will provide us with a much needed kick in the hind parts to get our gears turning so that we can get under roof as soon as possible next year; living in transition for as short a time as possible in 2015.  Thus, please forgive us as we won't be shy come later winter 2015 in asking for new volunteers.  In fact, we may get downright pesky about it!  We always welcome new volunteers to learn the skills of building an earthship home and in the process, help us get in our dream home built.  So if you are interested in helping out (as little or as much as possible), please email us to be included on the list for the spring.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

How Much Does it Cost to Build an Earthship?!

Surprisingly enough, a home built from recycled materials and dirt is still expensive to build!  As we quickly learned, the vast majority of the cost of building an earth rammed tire home comes within the first several months of the build as items integral to the systems of the home are purchased during this time.  For example, one of first purchases we made were the three 1,700 gallon cisterns which cost us around $7,000.  Below we have a fairly general cost list of everything we've purchased thus far as well as what we anticipate needing prior to getting "under roof"; hopefully now by next Summer!

Costs Incurred Thus Far in Our Build

  • Cisterns (Three 1,700 gallon cisterns from PlasticMart.com- $7,000)
  • Land (5 acres purchased with land loan- $40,000)
  • Architect and building consultant fees ($4,500)
  • Permit application fees ($1,000)
  • Suitable dirt for build (I know, I know, we have 5 acres of dirt... read this post for further information- $3,500)
  • Initial excavating costs to prep site ($600)
  • Equipment rental (Bobcat and Air Compressor- $3,300)
  • Tools and equipment purchased for build (Tractor with Loader, Pneumatic Tamper, Walk-Behind Compactor- $8,600)
  • Waterproofing and drain tile (2 rolls of 8 mil plastic for a vapor barrier, drain tile, and gravel- $600)
  • Framing the structure (fabricated trusses and truss drawings sealed by an engineer- $5,000)
Anticipated Costs to Come to Get us Under-Roof (estimated)
  • Concrete foundation and concrete cap on top of tire wall ($5,000??)
  • Roofing (we are planning on opting for the "rainbow" selection of metal roof rejects- Several thousand dollars??)
  • Windows (many we are using have been donated and are used though we anticipate it will cost less than $3,000 to purchase the rest of the windows for our home)
  • Electrical Supplies (Unknown)
  • Plumbing Supplies (Unknown)
  • Solar Panels (without the batteries as we will be tied into the grid at first- $10,000 or less)
And these items give you a basic shell of an earthship home for around $90,000 (including land).  Now, our choices have affected our budget along the way. If we could wave a magic wand and go back in time, we would have purchased the tractor with the loader right off the bat to save us the costs of renting a Bobcat.  Of course, one could move all the dirt needed by hand with buckets and wheel-barrows but we wanted to get into our home ASAP as we have a young son to think about and want to live in transition for as little a time as possible.  We would have also purchased the pneumatic tamper sooner and if we had, we would likely be done with the tire wall at this point.  We could have paid for labor but chose to pass on valuable skills to those interested instead which afforded us a greater sense of community but likely cost us some time if looking at our process objectively.

We expect the finished home to cost around $120,000 but the upside is that unlike a traditional home, we will no longer be paying for water, heat, A/C, will be paying very little if any for electric, and won't have the utility costs and upkeep costs that come with living in a traditional home.  Earthship homes are super-efficient and take care of those living within its walls.  Outside of the land loan and some money loaned to us by family, we will essentially be mortgage and bill-free when our home is completed (outside of insurance, cell phone bills, etc.)!  This low cost of living affords us the opportunity to be more mindful and take a more active role in creating our future as a family.  

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Glen Helen Presentation in T-Minus 4 Days!!!

We are so honored to have been asked to share our story at Glen Helen and will be doing so this Sunday, September 21, 2014 at 3:00 PM.  We plan on discussing why we ditched the house with the white picket fence (literally... it was adorable) and chose to build a home ourselves out of dirt and junk instead!  We'll discuss the ins and outs of an earthship and what makes this lifestyle so appealing to so many.  We'll finish up with an overview of our build thus far and will be sharing our most updated house plans.  We hope this presentation will push other people who are teetering on the edge as we were to make more sustainable day-to-day choices because we are truly the typical American family with a limited income.  If we can make this happen, anyone can!

Please join us at Glen Helen Auditorium (405 Corry St., Yellow Springs, OH 45387) at 3:00 PM.  $5 donation, $3 with donation of a clean wine bottle.  Donated wine bottles will be used in construction of our earthship home.  We so hope to see you there!

From well-manicured lawn with white picket fence to tires and junk...
we couldn't be happier with our choice!