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Home Forums General Discussion Building an Off Grid Earthship

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    Hi Everyone,

    I just bought a piece of land in Taos, NM and am beginning construction on my off the grid home in April. I’m building the most recent version of a building called an Earthship. It will have rain water catchment, passive solar/geothermal heating and cooling, solar and possibly wind powered electricity and a gray/black water system. I am going to be documenting the entire process on the Web. I’m posting here because I imagine this could be a helpful resource for those thinking about building their own off the grid home. I’m very interested in being self sustainable and I want to raise some animals and have a small scale farm, so once the house is done I’ll move on to documenting that as well.

    I’ve been building Earthships with the Earthship Biotecture crew for the past couple of years so I’m going into this with a decent background, but I know it’s going to be quite a journey nonetheless. So I hope you find this helpful. I’m also accepting volunteers that want to help build the house, so if you or anyone you know wants learn how to build their own just let me know!

    Check it out!


    Nick Rosen

    indeed we want to do the same thing!!! a few years ago, i became so fascinated with earthships, i blogged videos about them and sent links to all of my local and overseas friends in an effort to put the spotlight on people who are helping humanity in brilliant ways. many people did not have much concern for off-grid living at that time, but as my friends took a second look, they began spreading the youtube videos i blogged to all of their friends, and so on. people are waking up, and are starting to see mike reynolds as the genius he is, for sure. so, count us in to help in any way! best wishes!

    in respect and gratitude~

    cori and chris

    (we posted the “growing back to arizona” comment on this site!) ;D


    I built my Earthship over 10 years ago. I designed and did most of the heavy work with the help from my young son and wife. Mostly on weekends and after work. It was as my back was giving out from being shot down 30 years before. So I am no longer any good for help, except tech advice. We had stayed at the first Earthship in Taos before deciding to build one. Before that, I had my own construction company promoting Earthship/straw bale independent homes with variable owner involvement. Went broke, not enough interest in Grand junction, CO. Most of the Earthship projects I visited were done in bad locations and sloppily. Plus, the assessor counts square footage from the outside, even though the walls are 2 1/2 feet thick! Interior gardens are not subtracted either, and do cause some humidity problems. I used the course/pour vertical rebar reinforced method I developed to keep it stable, weatherproof, and nearly finished on the way up. I also used variable tires for niches and a compound radius for a straight concrete bond beam system. My front was done timber-frame notched style. My roof is acrylic rainwater catchment, with wood stove back up heat, and composting toilet. I unfortunately used older dual pane recycled windows that are losing their seals. All solar powered.

    Hiring help and going with expensive systems like geothermal really increase the cost, but if you can afford it, go for it. Sounds like it will be a dream house.


    my advice is to get a lot of help, if you have never pounded a tire before after a few you will hate it takes about an hour per tire and kills my back


    Besides my wife and son helping, I bought a 25HP diesel loader with 8′ backhoe and two buckets, 9″ and 16″($14,000 total, Hardy), used with thoughtful efficiency. I used the big bucket to fill the tires with decomposed granite as much as possible, but some locations and heights it had to be done with 5 gallon buckets. Besides my hands and sledge hammers, I used a Bosch 22.5 pound demolition hammer($900), solar powered, to pack the needed areas to road grade compaction. I used the cement mixer (also solar powered!) from Harbor Freight, 3.5 cu. ft.($190), and the buckets for the course pour of soil cement into forms made of plywood scrap washers, wood screws and 1′ x 8′ cut expanded metal lathe. One the back side I used ripped plywood scrap and scrap 2 x 10s screwed in place, all laser leveled, & removed after 24 hours. Every other tire, everu other course was hollow in the center with scrap rebar vertical to the side, and lapping a min. of 9″. The mix was 4 parts decomposed granite gravel, 1 part portland cement, a cup of lime and handful of copolymer fibers. Pinched aluminum cans were put in, too. The base coat stucco was the decomposed granite run through a 1/2″ sieve then 3 to 1 part of 60/40 Portland/lime and a handful of the fibers, applied with heavy rubber gloved hands. The brown coat was bought sand in the same mix and the finish was bagged and with use of various colored dyes. The exterior was plastic (6 mil) covered with 20 gauge chicken wire and 1.5″ washers with long screws through the 1″ foam to the tires at all contact points with rubber. Most of the exterior was pre-buried before stucco.

    I was able to consistently pack and ready 17 tires per 8 hr. day, one 2 module plus mass wall course per week(11 courses total, all after work and on weekends). The tractor loader/backhoe, compactor hammer, and cement mixer can be sold any time I want, now. They paid for themselves in savings from rentals(or paying sub-contractors). Sure it was hard work, but using my brain helped me go fast and efficiently. The garden walls and simulated tile floor were done using the slip form method. I got all the tires free from the small town I ran framing crews in, 750 or so—a year’s output from that town. I never got a break from them even though I saved them $1.75 per tire!!! People are generally dumb, greedy, selfish, lazy, over-breeding animals. Except those few who live totally green.

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