Ok, I admit, we have not done a great job of keeping our posts up to date on the website. So much to do and it's just so much easier to post on Facebook (click to check our group out if you haven't)! And so the last time I posted was really about the roof finally going on and it did in January. And now we have been at it again since May 2, 2013 and it's about time to share a bit (almost three months into the build year and counting).
And so in May 2013 we started building again. This year we took the advice of a few volunteers from last year and applied and were accepted as WWOOF hosts (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms). As hosts, people who are travelling in Canada can apply to participate in our project. Through this wonderful program (and our return Earthshippers from 2012, Stevie & Scottie) we have extended our family at times from as small as 4 to as big as 9 (I sure learned what it was like to feed a lot of boys!). Volunteers have come from all over the world! So when May started, our family was made up of Angie (Portland, Oregon), Katie (Oakland, California), Stevie (Red Deer, Alberta) and Scottie (Calgary, Alberta). And boy was it cold! Still some snow on the ground and the temperatures into the negatives at night. Camping involved a lot of blankets and 'snuggie' rocks. Good thing it didn't drop below zero in the Earthship because our warm weather friends stayed in there for the first week.
And so our first official day began (May 2nd), we started with laying out the can footings for the walls and took it from there. Soon enough there were walls going up all over! When Scottie arrived with a cement mixer suddenly pack out was moving along real quick and soon enough we were into scratch coat on the walls. And the planters started to go in. And then it was on to roughed in plumbing and electrical. Soon enough some creative bottle brick designs were being put into action and the empty shell started to fill out. As of middle of July we are about 75% complete the build and struggling through all the hard parts (most seem hard to us - so the struggle is constant!). At times we feel like we're cracking up - but not yet broken. There is no doubt in our mind that we will be livingin our home by early Fall this year (versus the trailer like last year!). We are a bit over budget, and overwhelmed but still very positive and excited at each new thing.
Are we taking volunteers still? Yes, but more or less day volunteersor weekend volunteers (except under special circumstances) - contact us or check out our Facebook group for more info. Some fun things coming up soon include finishing plaster, concrete floors, more bottle brick patterns & installation, and the final installation of the solar system (including panels).
Thank you for everyones support - we just couldn't havedone this on our own. Peace.
Kris & I have been asked to participate as a Book in this years Human Library project. Winnipeg Public Library, in partnership with CBC and The Canadian Museum for Human Rights, is hosting the Human Library in 2013. This year will feature over 30 Books in 3 days, held once again at the Millennium Library.
In a Human Library, people become the books and are 'borrowed' for conversation. The Human Books come from all backgrounds and ways of life, but they all have one thing in common: for different reasons they are often subjected to stereotyping or prejudice. Books and readers meet for a 'loan period' of up to 30 minutes in a safe and welcoming environment – the library – with the opportunity to listen, ask questions, and share experiences. The Human Library creates a new way to connect with each other: one Book, one Reader, one conversation at a time.
Listen to our interview on CBC: http://www.cbc.ca/player/Radio/Local+Shows/Manitoba/ID/2325980534/
Kris and I will tell our story (so far) of building our sustainable home (Earthship). You can 'reserve' us or any other book after January 14th. We have shifts:
Check out more details and see the collection in the catalogue at the website http://wpl.winnipeg.ca/library/humanlibrary.asp
If you don't live in the province you may find there is a Human Library Project in your area.
At long last we were ready for the metal for the roof and window flashings to go on. The second week of January our roofing company, Oakwood Roofing, had all material and started up. The Earthship roof is no small deal in materials and cost - it's around 2000 square feet. We put together the roof layers ourselves up to the point we needed until the metal & flashings - that we contracted out (we also got help with the greenhouse framing).
I'm sure you could save some money on the roof - especially if you are in a warmer client. We got some good prices on some things - but it still adds up to a lot. The big items to put together this roof included:
To put the lid on our home and greenhouse we will spend over $52,000. This is the biggest ticket item for the entire home (by far thank goodness). It's more than we originally budgeted but it's almost done and looking fantastic.
Here's some photos so far:
A few thoughts about getting started with your Earthship build
Over the past few years we have amassed information on Earthships from many sources. There is a wealth of content out there since this sustainable home method has gained press - from Earthship Biotecture, owners, builders, Facebook sites, sustainable home websites, and the list goes on. In 2012 we started our own build and had the opportunity to learn a few things first hand.
It may not be as hard to get started as you think - just take the time to sort things out.
1. Earthships can easily cost the same as building a conventional homes - they aren't "Cheap"
2. You can get financing for an Earthship
3. You can get home insurance
4. Getting a building permit is totally possible
5. Earthships are not made with over 80%-90% recycled materials - make a materials list
Well it's been a long and somewhat tedious fall for us. Since our Alberta boys (Stevie and Scott) left us a few weeks ago progress had been slow until we hired CJ Fiola Renovations to finish our roofing and exterior windows for us. We should be fully closed up by the middle of December (which means I can finally sleep at nights). The roof is ready for the metal roofing and the windows should be installed by the end of the week (Nov 25th). Oakwood Roofing is installing the standing seam metal roof and all the flashings for us in about 2 weeks time. After that, we will be working weekends (if the interior temperature stays above zero) for most of the winter and I (Kris) will be unfortunately going back to work to make some money instead of spend it. As of right now, we are projected to spend approx. $220,000 on our build minus plans and permits. Thanks to all the volunteers who helped us out during our building season!!! We will be finishing all the interior work next spring/summer and hope to have it move in ready by July (and could always use as much help along the way!).
A friend reminded me recently that our website could use a little updating - and so here I will attempt an update on the highlights from August - September in one post with a promise to improve my posting skills in the future. First let me say that we (Kris & Nicole) have experienced the best and most busy summer of our lives. Building your own Earthship is wild - tons of work, research, planning, debating, checking & double-checking, and crossing of fingers. I would only recommend doing this yourself if everyone who will live in the home is fully committed, on the same page, and ready for some sacrifice.
Kris has taken the summer off (thanks to his workplace AMEC who supported his leave of absence for the project). I've been working and taking vacation to participate in construction as much as possible. For us in 2012, when I say "done" I mean: Roof is on & front windows installed. This will get the home closed up for the winter. Then we can start work early in the Spring of 2013 (finishing in summer of 2013). We are pretty close to meeting this goal and if the Manitoba weather holds we should achieve it!
Our July update was all about tires - because July & August were almost purely about pounding the 11 tire course retaining wall in place and related work (like the cooling tubes & cisterns). I'll try and give some highlights:
-1800+ hours into tires - The approximate labor hours it took to install cooling tubes, finish retaining wall, put cisterns in place, and install the thermal wrap.
-800-850 Tires - The amount of tires it took to finish the retaining and south wall which acts as a footing for the exterior greenhouse wall.
-12 Tires in One Day- The record for amount of tires pounded by one person in a day (held by Scottie). It takes a long time to pound tires - easily an hour or more on a large one.
-12 weeks Camping (still going) - The longest length of time a volunteer has camped out and worked as part of the core crew for the build (held by Stevie). We are so lucky to have volunteers stay for anywhere from one night to many weeks. We never could have got this far without the support & expertise.
-13 weeks (still going) with no shower - With the exception of creek runs and the famous "hot bucket shower" my husband holds the record. I can't think of any other way we could have done this other than living on the property like we have. The outbuildings have provided space for things like summer kitchen, 'living room', work shop, storage and more. It's a really different experience living like this - and a lot of fun.
-Alberta Wins - The province that the most out of town volunteers came from. We've have over 4 longer term volunteers come from Alberta including Calgary, Red Deer, and Lethbridge. We've also learned there are a few Earthship builds in Alberta - just not sure the exact location yet of any.
-$15,000-$20,000 - The amount of money it will cost us for excavation & skid steer work. This is the biggest overage on our budget so far. Our original estimates were not even in the ballpark. It was easy for an excavator to spend an entire day digging and moving dirt to pound into times.
The pump truck - our first big concrete fill was for buttress footings & footings for the interior south wall.
Check out our Facebook group: http://www.facebook.com/groups/manitobaearthship/
Check out Picasa Album: https://picasaweb.google.com/105488234641781472158/EarthshipUpdatesSept2012
Check out Bill's Flicker Account: http://www.flickr.com/photos/zenert/sets/72157630810644688/
Everyone (ourselves included) is interested in how much things cost. Since we are being financed for this build (thanks to Sunova Credit Union) we are keeping close track of the costs. I've promised a number of times to share these. So we are posting our actual costs to date and will continue to update them monthly (or so).
The costs so far add up to about $36,000 - inclusive of Phase 1 which comprises permits, the tire walls, thermal wrap, and cooling tubes. We have very few costs remaining so the following represents close to 75-85% of our costs for the phase. After the completion of this phase we will be able to do our first of four planned mortgage draws.
This year we partnered up with the Winnipeg Folk Festival environmental crew. The crew added an extra step to their can/bottle separation process and bagged thousands of cans for us to take away and use for the projects. We now have all the cans we need for the build. These will be used in many locations including as filler between the tires to reduce mudding effort, as bricks for interior can walls, and all sorts of other locations including making molds for concrete pours for the bond beam on the retaining wall.
We are so thankful to the Winnipeg Folk Festival and the Environmental Crew. We hope to do this again next year to stockpile for the next build.