The average new home today costs somewhere between $200,000 and $400,000 to build.
What if there was a better way…?
What if you could build your house out of materials that people were throwing away? Free materials, and a building method that was DIY friendly…
This is exactly why Annie and Jay built themselves an Earthship.
What is an Earthship?
An Earthship is a type of sustainable, passive solar home that is made of natural and recycled materials. The design emphasizes self-sufficiency, energy efficiency, and the use of renewable resources… Like beer cans, or in Annie and Jay’s case… Tires!
Earthships typically feature thermal mass construction, which helps regulate indoor temperatures, as well as water harvesting, waste management, and food production systems. The goal of an Earthship is to create a living environment that is in harmony with nature and reduces its impact on the environment.
Benefits of the Earthship
There are so many benefits the Earthship design has that a traditional stick frame home doesn’t.
- Sustainability: Earthships are designed to be self-sufficient and sustainable, relying on renewable energy sources and recycling systems.
- Energy Efficiency: They use passive solar heating and cooling, along with energy-efficient design, to minimize the need for heating and cooling systems.
- Water Conservation: Earthships are designed to collect, store, and reuse rainwater, reducing the need for a conventional water supply.
- Food Production: Earthships often include greenhouses or other food-growing spaces, allowing residents to grow their own food.
- Waste Management: The built-in recycling and waste management systems reduce the amount of waste produced and the impact on the environment.
- Durability: Earthships are typically made of recycled materials, such as tires and cans, and are designed to withstand extreme weather conditions.
- Affordability: Earthships can be a cost-effective housing solution, particularly in rural areas where conventional building materials may not be easily accessible.
- Comfort: The design of Earthships, combined with natural ventilation and insulation, provides a comfortable and stable living environment.
Why Did They Want To Build an Earthship?
Jay remembers how it all started.
“She called me up at work and was like… uh we we need to build a house out of tires.”
Annie swears this was not how it happened.
She was sitting on the couch listening to Public Radio, when she heard the architect Michael Reynolds talking about his home design, the Earthship…
(Excerpt from a Nat Geo interview with Michael Reynolds)
“It was 1972 And I found myself fresh out of architectural school. I just said well hell… we built out of trees but we don’t want to get rid of them and we want to get rid of garbage, why don’t we try to build out of garbage? It started to be kind of a contrived effort to recycle, and has ended up the best way I know of to build regardless of recycling.”
When Annie heard Michael Reynolds talking about his design of the Earthship and what it could do, and how it was made out of trash, she was convinced.
She had been a recycler all her life. The idea that they could build a home that was literally made of trash, pulled from landfills, Annie was sure this was the kind of home they needed to build.
She called Jay and suggested they go to a Earthship building workshop in Taos New Mexico, and Jay agreed.
As soon as they saw the Earthship, they were convinced. They would build one themselves on their land in Ohio.
And they did! Work began on the Earthiship.
Building the Earthship
At first Annie and Jay tried to hire a contractor to oversee the Earthship build, but after 3 different contractors called Annie crazy and left the site, it soon became clear Annie would have to be the Contractor.
She had a baby to care for and zero contracting experience. But she was determined. Under her oversight, the Earthship was built.
Building an Earthship involves constructing a building using a combination of natural and recycled materials, including tires filled with pounded earth, which serve as the building blocks for the walls. The building site is cleared and prepared, and the tires are filled and laid in a running bond pattern to form the walls. Insulation and waterproofing are added as the walls are built, and the back of the tires is covered with earth to create the thermal mass. The interior and exterior of the Earthship can be finished with various materials to create a comfortable and sustainable living space.
They started the project in the 90’s. If you asked them how long it took to build.. Jay would respond “We will tell you when we finish…”
That said, if you take a tour of blue rock station, or watch the awesome video tour they have on their Youtube Channel, you will see a surprisingly beautiful and functional home when one considers that it is literally made of… Trash!
Should You Build an Earthship?
Jay and Annie have some Encouragement for any considering building their own sustainable home, or sustainable life for that matter…
“Some of the feedback we get from people on tour where they come and they look at the building and and they look at our lifestyle… they say ‘I don’t think I could do this this is so hard this looks so hard’, and and I usually respond saying… ‘do you know anyone who’s had an easy life? Do you know anyone whose life is not a struggle?’
Building a home is hard. That’s just the reality. but it’s so worth it, you know to to have that connection to where your food comes from to how your building keeps you warm you know how the electricity is delivered all of those things.
I get this sense that people come down the lane to Blue Rock station and they’re looking for something, something is missing in their life and they don’t even know what it is, but I really think it’s the fact that they have become disconnected with the world that they live in and the analogy I think of is it’s like a person who was who never knew their parents maybe never even knew parents existed and there’s something missing but they don’t know what it is, and so they try and fill that hole with with stuff, with buying things or drugs and alcohol or whatever it is, but it’s mostly that they’re just disconnected.
Go get yourself connected. I mean it’s worth it.”
“When you come up to this, I had this dream that I want to do, and you’ve done your research and you’ve created a basic plan you just write down what you want to do, you don’t have to be, an expert at it or anything you can think about the fact that it feels like you’re standing at the Grand Canyon and you think you’re going to have to step over it to get to the other side because that first step feels like that big Gorge.
It isn’t. So you can hold your nose, squeeze your eyes shut, and step forward and you’ll be shocked… shocked at the payoff.”
Their Youtube channel
Blue Rock Station Website
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