Thursday, June 11, 2015

Earthship Existentialism: More Than Just a Home

We all long to feel a part of something.  I feel the lack of connection with our fellow man causes us all to search for a link so that we don't have to feel so alone in this life.  This innate, primal urge causes all of us to latch onto some group somewhere or less struggle with ill effects.  This connection used to be readily available and survival-based as we needed our neighbors and family members to make it in this world.  We forged connections with the guy down the road because he supplied our family with something essential in exchange for our goods and services.  We didn't cast our aging family members to live out the rest of their days in a rest home because we needed the knowledge they had to hand down and were indispensable members to our families.  These connections were what kept us alive.  So it's not surprising that people in our era use more superficial ties such as sports, television shows, political affiliations, food, spirits, etc. to forge connections with others as all of our needs can now be met by big corporations wielding machines that can be operated by a computer.  We go to work, get paid by our employer and then pay big corporations to supply us with our food, clothing, housing and utilities.  Very few of us actually have forged a direct link to our needs.  And despite all the technological advancements allowing us to connect with anyone at the touch of a button, we are more disconnected from one another than ever before in history because we don't technically need one another for survival anymore.

It is my belief that in all humans resides a need for community as well as a direct connection to our earth.  Due to the technological advancements and our subsequent change in mindset, we are more disconnected from our fellow man and from our earth than ever before.  These needs don't just go away though and so we each work to fill the voids in our own modern ways.  In place of forging relationships contributing to our survival, we spend countless hours on social networking sites, engage in surface level conversations in passing with work colleagues, and text back and forth endlessly; avoiding eye contact with real live people breathing the same air as us in place of a device made of plastic and metal.  If someone sits down in a seat next to us in a waiting room when there are a plethora of other seats available, it is seen as awkward or as an affront in some way.  We value our personal space as a culture and view ourselves as separate from everyone else; working hard to secure our own material things in order to prove our worth.

This is probably the time I should jump down from the soap box for a second and state I am not holier than thou and I struggle with these same issues.  I work each and every day to make more mindful choices truly connecting me with members of my community and the earth.  In addition to thinking that I'm pompous, you may also be questioning why I'm talking about existential issues on a blog about building an earthship.  What Zac and I didn't realize when we started on this journey was how many cans of worms would be opened up for us throughout this process and how many untouched areas of our brains would be called into action as a result.

Building an earthship home ourselves has caused us to see the world in a very different light.  It is much easier now to see how connected everything in our world is and how neglecting one area can negatively impact all the others.  I realize I'm being vague so here is a (long-winded) example: By supporting larger than life, pesticide and GMO wielding agriculture giants, we are stripping many areas of the earth of life giving soil, are forever changing the genetic makeup of plants, animals and insects that come in contact with GMO grown crops which in turn could very likely be changing our genetic makeup and causing serious life-threatening health issues.  Continuing these practices continues to eat away at our planet and make farming that same piece of land harder and harder each year; causing more and more technologically based modifications to be made so that crops (they don't deserve to be called food crops) can continue to be grown there each year.

And what feeds this broken system you ask?  Our disconnect with where our food comes from.  We can stroll into a grocery store and pick up any ingredient under the sun without knowing its story.  We don't have to think anymore.  And yet, when we stop asking questions, we lose basic freedoms.  When we start asking the hard questions and look under the surface to see how our food is produced, we might be more motivated to begin growing more of our own and in doing so, working to repair the damage that has been done to our earth by building up healthy soil once more.

I firmly believe this disconnect with where our food comes from and thus from our earth, directly correlates to our disconnect from our fellow man.  As I stated before, we don't need one another for survival anymore.  We aren't self-reliant and look to large corporations to keep us afloat which keeps us disconnected from other humans and from the earth.  In searching for some type of meaningful connection, we spend countless hours devoted to various forms of entertainment searching for meaning and a sense of community in our world.  If Americans spent even a quarter of the time they spend in front of the television watching reality television shows and sports instead gardening or learning basic skills to repair household items, we may begin to have more respect for what it takes to grow food and/or produce the household items that many of us view as disposable.  Again, just so I don't appear holier than thou, I'm guilty of having a weakness for reality television shows and we did away cable so it wasn't as much of a temptation anymore.  Since then, I have found myself spending so much more time reading, gardening, crafting and thinking and feeling much more fulfilled.  (Note: That's not to say we don't watch TV.  We share a Netflix subscription with family and more selectively watch shows or movies.  I believe the difference is that I'm choosing exactly what I want to watch and don't feel locked into anything in particular.  Additionally, I don't have commercials to contend with... win!)

Each day, I find myself checking in to ensure I'm pleased with how I'm spending my day.  Prior to making our lifestyle switch, we were still operating as cogs in a much larger system.  Zac worked a 40+ hour work week, came home to take care of Elliot while I worked part-time in the evenings.  In our "free time" we caught up on shows backed up on our DVR because that long list of recorded shows begins to feel like a to-do list.  We mowed the lawn, weeded the garden beds, went grocery shopping for food though we didn't always buy real food.  When you are caught up in the system, you find that you have very little time to prepare real meals.  It took a lot of effort on my part to do so with everything we had going on so several nights a week, we would either go out to eat or I would whip out a box of this or a can of that so that we could have a quickly prepared meal.  I relied on going to the gym for exercise because real work or labor wasn't built into my daily life.  All of these things cost money and all of them ensure that we remain reliant on large corporations.

Taking a step back in time before big box stores and food chains existed, the family unit was intact day in and day out.  Each household was self-sufficient and was able to secure everything they needed for their own survival.  This was a much healthier lifestyle as it had all of the vital components to a healthy lifestyle built into it.  The life-sustaining necessities also served as hobbies and pastimes; many of which were physical in nature and also provided a built-in means of exercise.  There were no gym memberships then and there was no need for them!  People didn't need to go to work everyday to earn money to support their families, they skipped the middle men entirely and work was actually producing their own food, making their own clothing, building their own homes from materials they secured themselves.

In our age, we now have a choice people hundreds of years ago didn't.  We have scientific research to further support healthier overall lifestyles, we can use the Internet as a means of connecting ourselves to a larger community of like-minded individuals and can access a wealth of information at our fingertips.  We can choose to use modern advancements to further find freedom, or they can be used to keep us locked into an unhealthy, detached lifestyle.  We can choose to continue to be a cog in a broken system or we can break free and begin making more sustainable choices for our families that connect us not only to other people but to the earth.  Granted, it takes time to make these changes and not everyone has the resources available to make a drastic switch all at once, but everyone is capable of making small changes that add up over time and everyone has the ability to educate themselves.

It isn't all rainbows and sunshine though in having made the commitment to build an earthship home and live a more sustainable life.  Zac still has his 40+ hour work week and I'm at home with our two sons each day.  When he gets home from work at 4:00 PM, he works until 10:00 PM every night on our home or on something pertaining to our home.  I take on all the household duties and taking care of our sons.  Even though on the outside, it may appear our family is more divided than before and that we are running ourselves ragged, we are working as cogs within our own small family system.  We have broken free of the larger system and everything we do is with the same end goal in mind.  When Zac comes in after the sun has gone down, we sit and chat about our day before we head to bed.  Nearly every night, despite how trying our days may have been, we find ourselves saying "what an awesome life we have!"  We have never felt more united as a family and feel this way because everything we do serves our larger family goal of becoming more self-sufficient.  This goal is now tangible and we are seeing the benefits of cutting out the middle men to secure our own happiness.  I have to say that having worked toward the typical American Dream and now working toward a more sustainable future, the grass is much greener on this side and we have never felt more fulfilled.

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.