Building An Earthship In Darfield, B.C.

We are a family of five living in Darfield, BC.
Our house is six hundred square feet in total and we are feeling cramped.

We have decided to build an earthship!

So starts the adventure ...

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

We started our earthship ... kind of ...

My wife and I have been talking for months now about building an earthship (see for details).

I was all set to start digging this fall, but Sandra talked me out of it. She insisted that we needed to plan to get things right. Picture me rolling my eyes and gnashing my teeth. I reluctantly agreed, put down my shovel, and unstrapped my tool belt.

Since then we have been talking, planning and organizing. I admit now that we were not ready to start this fall.

A basic premise in building an earthship is to build with used materials to minimize the manufacturing of new building materials to be used in construction. As such, the walls of an earthship are made of old tires rammed with earth. We have decided to use one tire size for our building as hopefully the uniformity will make stacking the tires that much easier. We have picked a tire commonly used on light trucks and larger cars (an 235/75R15), as this is small truck country where we live.

We decided to go and pick up our first load of used tires today. We noticed earlier this summer when we were at our local dump that there was a huge stack of tires there. We have been planning to go back --once we had a good method of hauling -- and see if they will let us take tires away for free.

We did not re-licence our pickup truck this fall as we are trying to manage as a single vehicle household this year. This has worked fairly well except we simply cannot picture hauling tires in the back of our CRV!

Today we finished rewiring our Honda CRV so that we can haul a utility trailer. The wiring was fairly straight forward, but getting access to the wiring harness was challenging. We had to remove three of the plastic panels in the cargo area. Even this was not too bad, except it was not obvious how to remove these panels, and we were quite anxious about pulling too hard and breaking them. After a bit of trial and error and some suspicious snapping noises, we managed to access the wiring harness without visible damage to the car.

With the car rewired we loaded up the kids, went up to the in-laws to borrow the utility trailer, returned home, loaded up our garbage from the last month (a small amount as we are composters and recyclers), and headed to the dump! The excitement in the car was palpable.

When we got to the dump we got our first piece of bad news. The pile of tires had just been hauled off to the local recycling dump. But the attendant had no problems with us picking over the now much smaller pile of tires as long as we promised to re-stack them when we were done.

We pulled our utility trailer up to a pile of about twenty tires. Not quite the massive stack of old tires from which I was planning to select my radial, steel belted building bricks. Not to be discouraged, we gamely searched through the stack of tires.

We found one tire that matched our chosen size! I must admit I pictured a utility trailer piled high with tires, and our one lonely little tire was a bit of a let down.

Our house may only be one tire and a vision in our heads, but we are finally started!

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