Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Grain bin root cellar

Grain bin root cellar


“This is a root cellar we built out of an old grain bin that was going to be sold for scrap metal. When we had our CSA farm in Montana we needed a place to store vegetables to eat through the winter. We also wanted a place to keep the veggies cool while we prepared them for delivery in the summer season. We had so many rocks on our property that I was thinking about building a circular root cellar, using a rock wall that by design would keep the walls from caving in. That’s where the thought process started, circular things that would hold up to the pressures of dirt pushing against them. I was thinking about culverts at the time, and it led me to thinking about grain bins. Gigantic culverts! I’d always see what seemed to be abandoned grain bins in the fields along the highways and thought that maybe some farmer would be interested in selling one of them. So I checked into it. Low and behold, a farmer friend of ours knew somebody who tore down grain bins for scrap on the side, so I called him. He had two to choose from at the time, so I picked the 16 foot high by 18 foot diameter one. He said if I paid the $200 he would get for the scrap metal I could have it. SOLD!”

Read the entire article with step-by-step photos of construction at the source: Homestead Haven

Attached greenhouses have numerous advantages in addition to just growing plants.

Attached greenhouses have numerous advantages in addition to just growing plants.


“Building your own greenhouse is a great idea if you are a gardener and want space to start seedlings, or grow plants that require a longer growing season than your climate can normally provide.

But a standalone greenhouse is one thing — an attached greenhouse design for your house brings in a whole other host of benefits to be considered that extend beyond the conveniences of growing food more easily.

Read on ahead to learn about all the reasons to consider an attached greenhouse design for your home — they include providing additional free heat, extending living space, and supplying space to grow food for a longer period of time.”

Read the entire article at the source: The Year of Mud
And while you’re there, check out Ziggy’s Timber Frame Workshops at Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage.

Ceramic tile floor

Ceramic tile floor


Soil-cement floor

Soil-cement floor


Stone floor

Stone floor


Recycled brick floor

Recycled brick floor


Earth coupled floors – high mass floors in contact with the soil below (slab on grade, tile, stone, CEB, earthen floors, salvaged brick) – are ideal for keeping homes cool in hot climates. They are not recommended for cold climates where underfloor insulation is best. Our earthbag roundhouse, which is in a hot climate, remains cool year-round due in part to the earth coupled floor. The indoor temperature is about 15 degrees F (8 degrees C) cooler inside than out, and the temperature remains nearly constant night and day. Plastic sheeting under the floor prevents wicking of moisture.

“Floors are often the primary link between the structure of a building and its foundations (the ground upon which it sits). Where floors are in direct contact with the ground, they can have a major influence on the internal climate by adding thermal inertia (capacitive insulation) which is assisted by thermal coupling with the mass of earth underneath the floor.

The coupling effect of the earth and building structure increases with depth. Walls and roofs can also be earth coupled if the structure is excavated below ground. Once a structure lies about 3.0 metres below ground, it has such great thermal inertia that it is no longer subject to day/night temperature swing, but only to slight effects from seasonal variation.”

Text source: TT Architecture
Image source: Ceramic-Floors.com
Image source: Rammed Earth Works
Image source: Inehome.com
Image source: Vintage Brick Salvage



These screening machines are primarily for production earthbag builders and other natural builders who want to mechanize the building process for maximum efficiency. They are useful for screening soil for earthen plaster, earthen floors, straw/clay and, of course, soil for earthbags. One advantage is the ability to utilize soil from the building site, which would offset the purchase or rental cost of the soil screening machine/attachment. The screened soil would be ready for filling earthbags. The rubble can be used in rubble trench foundations, under floors and as fill material.

Soil screening machines are usually not needed for earthbag building. Typical clayey/sandy soil can often be used as is to fill the bags. Or you can use road base or crusher fines, which have been processed in a gravel yard. This is my preferred approach because using a readily available material that’s already been processed greatly reduces labor, speeds construction and eliminates the need for a screening machine.

More soil screening videos:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bFsoV0–mys
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lyqru_YR2tE
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l9ys7YapOjM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lSaWVcnQ7Xc
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lEnZFqpLGkc (note how he is standing and shoveling from the wrong side — either that or build a lower soil screen)

Related:
Sandbag Machines (covers a wide range of machines for automating all aspects of earthbag building)

Top view of double pallet wall with post and beam frame

Top view of double pallet wall with post and beam frame


Wooden shipping pallets are typically available for free and are very practical for building homes, furniture and many other things. We’ve already explored several ways of building pallet walls: Post and Beam Pallet Wall, Earth Lodge Pallet Walls, Interior Pallet Walls, Straw Bale Pallet Walls.

This new design sprang from the idea of creating wider pallet walls to provide space for extra straw/clay insulation or other type of insulation. Total wall thickness is about 16” not including plaster and/or wall cladding. Note how the good side (top side) of pallets all face outward. The building process is as follows:
1. Construct the post and beam frame. In this proposed design, the posts are spaced two pallets apart.
2. Build the interior pallet wall. Horizontal 2×4 or 2×6 plates are attached at the base, between courses of pallets and along the top. Plates could be 3’-4’ salvaged boards from broken pallets.
3. Add a spacer board between the pallet walls to help stabilize the wall. This could consist of short pieces of scrap blocking or a long board.
4. Build the exterior pallet wall so the outer surface aligns with the outside of the posts. Some partial pallets are required. Partial pallets could be cut from damaged pallets.
5. Mix and stuff straw/clay inside the pallet wall.

Great Determination earthbag hermitage

Great Determination earthbag hermitage


Lotus design in earthen floor

Lotus design in earthen floor


“The small city of Athens, Ohio is a hotbed of sustainable building practices. There are nearly two dozen strawbale houses, an earthship and many off the grid dwellings in the vicinity. We did not realize this until after we had moved here. When we decided to stay we spent a year intensively researching alternatives to mainstream building techniques and settled on a plan that fit our very small budget, was simple and low tech, that two reasonably fit persons could build alone. We chose to build an earthbag house.”

Read the rest at the source: Great Determination Buddhist Hermitage



These homes are looking better and better. The second video shows the construction of 11 SafeT homes in a Haitian village that were built in just one week. In addition to the advantages mentioned in our previous blog post about these Grain Bin Homes, the homes are engineered, include screened soffit vents and a central roof opening, solid steel door, gutters for roofwater collection, window screens and lockable window shutters to resist strong winds up to 150 mph. And, as pointed out previously, the steel is over 95% recycled content and can be recycled at the end of it’s 70 year life span.

Update: Update: Sukup Grain Bins Earn 5,000 lb. Load Rating (it can hold a car on top, making them the strongest in the industry)

Sukup Grain Bins Earn 5,000 lb. Load Rating

Sukup Grain Bins Earn 5,000 lb. Load Rating

Heart Pine

Heart pine flooring is naturally harder, and insect and decay resistant than sapwood

Heart pine flooring is naturally harder, and insect and decay resistant than sapwood


Premium heart pine flooring

Premium heart pine flooring


Reclaimed antique heart pine or ‘naily heart pine’

Reclaimed antique heart pine or ‘naily heart pine’


Antique heart pine illustrating how the color deepens with age

Antique heart pine illustrating how the color deepens with age


From Woodweb.com:
“What is heart pine?
Heart pine is the actual heartwood of the tree. Since pine used to be quite large when it was logged some hundred years ago, the pine trees were able to grow large enough to develop heartwood. Now that is not the case, as pine trees do not grow as big because they are harvested at an earlier age.

The “heart” is dark colored. It is decay resistant and more stable than the white/yellow sapwood.

Heart pine is generally considered to be recycled timber from first generation trees (trees that were standing when the first settlers landed in the 1600s). I believe most of the trees were long leaf pines, many as old as 300+ years. There were probably some other pine species mixed in, but the predominate tree was the long leaf. There were approximately 80,000,000 acres of these trees and almost all were gone by 1900. This wood was the primary building material for homes and factories. It is now being recycled as heart pine. Most structures built after 1900 were from second generation trees and do not exhibit the very tight rings associated with the first generation timber. So here in North Carolina heart pine being recycled is usually first generation timber with tight growth rings (I have seen as many as 30-35 per inch) and a large heartwood (usually red to yellow to orange). Anyway, if you are interested in purchasing old recycled original pine, be sure what you are getting. Prices can vary widely but, nevertheless, be prepared to pay between 5.00 to 12.00 per board foot. [Or salvage it yourself for free by helping demolish an old building.]

Heart pine does not have to be reclaimed or centuries old. It can be the heartwood of the southern pines. Often, the reclaimed or “old” pine is called antique heart pine, while pine sawn from trees today is called new heart pine.

The old mills treasured the heart because of its insect and rot resistance. There were two markets – heart pine and the less desirable sap pine. Because there were some applications where sap wood was wanted, there was still a small market for it. The trees they were sawing were, many times, filled with heartwood. Timbers and lumber were marketed with ten percent or less sapwood. The sapwood is creamy white to orange and the heartwood is reddish brown, getting darker with age. It wears better in a flooring situation too. You can still cut heart pine from trees growing today. It is just that there is not as much to go after. All you have to do is provide a board with a goodly portion of heartwood in it. Calling pine “heart pine” only because it is old and dragged from a river or because it came from an old building is just marketing. To actually be heart pine, the board must contain the heartwood of the tree.”

Source: Woodweb.com
Image source: Contemporary Floor Coverings.com
Image source 2, 3: Appalachian Woods.com
Image source: Whole Log Lumber

Trus Joist engineered wood products

Trus Joist engineered wood products


Truss joists make it easy to run plumbing and elctrical

Truss joists make it easy to run plumbing and elctrical


Many natural builders use wooden TJI engineered joists for floors and roofs. This online specifier’s guide makes it easy to determine what size TJIs to use.

From Custom Truss LLC:
“What are TJI Wooden Floor Joists?
TJI joists offer an excellent alternative to wooden floor trusses or flat roofs. These high-tech joists combine webs of O.S.B. (Oriented Strand Board) and flanges made from Microllam. They are patterned after steel I-beams. Next time you pass a commercial construction project take a look at the steel beams. Shaped like an ‘I’ they have very narrow centers with heavy flanges on top and bottom. Look how much weight they can support. Wooden TJI joists work the same way.

Why use Wooden TJI Joists?
TJI joists can use as little as one-third of the wood used in traditional sawn lumber. Resource-efficient, engineered wood TJI joists are manufactured to resist the shape-changing effects of temperature and moisture. Long length, lightweight and versatile, TJI Joists use an innovative design to help prevent squeaky floors and can be easily drilled and cut for plumbing and ductwork.”

From Woodbywy.com:
“Advantages:
• Uniform and Predictable
• Lightweight for Fast Installation
• Resource Efficient
• Resists Bowing, Twisting, and Shrinking
• Significantly Reduces Callbacks
• Available in Long Lengths
• Limited Product Warranty

Why Choose Trus Joist® TJI® Joists?
• Engineered for strength and consistency
• Efficient installation saves time and labor
• Longer lengths allow more versatile floor plans
• Less jobsite waste
• Fewer red tags and callbacks”

Text and images source: Custom Truss LLC
Source text and specifier’s guide: Woodbywy.com

Latilla Ceilings

Cedar latillas create a true Territorial feel (click to enlarge)

Cedar latillas create a true Territorial feel (click to enlarge)


Split cedar latillas create a different, yet traditional look

Split cedar latillas create a different, yet traditional look


Roundhouse ceilng made with latillas and vigas

Roundhouse ceilng made with latillas and vigas


Skipped peeled latillas

Skipped peeled latillas


Saguaro cactus rib latillas (click to enlarge)

Saguaro cactus rib latillas (click to enlarge)


Historic vigas and latillas (click to enlarge)

Historic vigas and latillas (click to enlarge)


Colored latillas and carved corbels

Colored latillas and carved corbels


Definition of latilla from Dictionary.com: “luh-tee-uh, a peeled branch or piece of wood laid between beams of a ceiling or above the vigas for decoration.”

From Southwest Building Supply: “Latilla is from the Spanish word Lata, meaning stick. These “sticks” are used as a traditional ceiling material, laid between beams or vigas. Latillas are cut from spruce or pine [or other woods] and are available in varying lengths and diameters.”

Additional facts:
– traditional latillas were mostly laid straight
– latillas in many modern homes are laid diagonally
– latillas can be peeled, stained, painted, burned, split or milled
– latilla panels are available to speed construction

Image source: Camino del Contento
Image source: Grand River Supply
Image source: Soledad Canyon
Image source: Mark Wright Construction, Inc.
Image source: Colorado Preservation.org
Image source: Idaho Forest
More good Latilla photos: Southwest Ideas.com