Colorado Earthship Build: Day 4 (Yay, more tires…)

Let’s start the day with a fabulous sunrise. It was clear last night and quite chilly, though Kat and I were fine in our tent. We’ve tented through snow before, so this is no big deal.


I managed to snag a picture of one of the official drawings for the place we’re building. This shows a top-down view of the bottom floor, the garage behind it and the green house on the front with a funky atrium detail. You can also see the two areas labeled “cistern” on the east and west sided.

I bet you won’t be surprised to find out that Kat and I were pounding tires again today. We are working on the interior wall of tires on the west side cistern. You may be surprised to know, however, that there is an estimated 2500 tires to this house. That is a lot. A standard two bedroom global model would run you around 600-700. This is a big place.


Here you can see some others working on finishing that can form wall for the bond beam. We are scheduled to have that poured tomorrow, so it was important to get it all finalized today.


Here is a picture of a bunch of us working on the tires. Kat is hiding behind her hat. Well actually, she didn’t even know I was taking the picture. But Russ sure looks like he is having a great time.


In the next picture, you can see how they are working on the can wall form for the bond beam that is going across the back wall of the garage. I believe the plan is to pour both bond beams tomorrow, so we can start putting the logs across the roof of the garage and start closing it in.


As mentioned on day two there was a section of the earth cliff behind the garage that collapsed. Well, today they brought in the big machine to help with that. Also, there are supposed to be four 1700 gallon (about 6600 litres) cisterns going back there as well, so either way they needed to clear it out a bit more than it was.


More work in progress. Everyone is busy here. Digging for a footing, or for a botanical cell, taking measurements, moving materials, you name it.


At the end of the day, our area looked like this. We had pounded quite a few tires (235/85/R16s, for the most part, in case you were wondering/care) and done the back fill on the sections on both sides of the foam insulation board, which is covered by the black plastic in the picture.


Speaking of pounding tires, I know Kat put up a nice description of the process of pounding a tire over on her blog but I’m going to give you a tip on compaction and leveling. When you get to that stage where it’s getting pretty tight and you are working on leveling it, if you have an area that needs to be raised a fair ways, one person takes a pry bar or pick axe and puts it under the lip of the tire where it is low. They yank on it, pulling the lip up. This will give you more free space to pound more dirt in.

Ahh, but here’s the secret: take a sizable rock or two (about the size of a fist is the biggest you should use, but don’t go too small) and place them next to that gap that just opened. Pound those suckers under the sidewall. The great thing about the rocks is they have a larger surface area and help compact the dirt even more and once they are in there, they stay, holding up the sidewall and helping to make your leveling go quicker.

Anyway, while we were pounding tires, they finished that can wall form at the junction of our wall and the front garage wall. Here is a detailed shot of how that ended up.


Cans in mortar, rebar to reinforce the bond beam, lath to keep it in where it should be… it’s all there.

This picture is interesting as there is a lot going on. The first trench on the left is where the concrete footing for the vertical greenhouse wall will be going. That’s the interior wall of glass that separates the living areas from the green house.

The next trench after that is where the botanical cells are going inside the green house. These act as a food production area as well as a greywater filter. The water that doesn’t get eaten by the plants will get collected at the end and used to flush the toilets. Water reuse at its best.


That funky S curve trench you see in that previous picture is where the footing for that front atrium is going to be poured.

And just so you don’t think we’re making all this up, here is a picture of me pounding a tire. Though, I too am hiding behind my hat so you really don’t know for sure if it’s me 😉



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