Graf-Levac Earthship Visit number 2

Yes, only three weeks after the first visit, Bob and Marie had a second open house to show off their progress. Luckily for us, we were house sitting in Ottawa already so we didn’t have to make another major road trip for this one. Also, the weather was way nicer this time, as well.

I took some more pictures and I will try to better explain the changes to the framing that their contractor, Dave, has done for them.

First, here is a section drawing of what standard Earthship usually use.


So in that picture you can see the roof beams (logs in this case) sitting on the back wall and the vertical greenhouse wall. Moving towards the right, on the end of the logs there is a nailing plate and then the trusses are attached to that. The trusses are those triangular pieces that look shaped kinda like a bluejay’s head. From there, the window struts for the angled glass run down at 70 degrees to the front tire wall.

Now let’s take a look at what Bob and Marie have at their Earthship.


As you can see, the beams just run straight out. There is no nailing plate or trusses to deal with. The window struts run down from the beams at 70 degrees. They also have a significant overhang over the windows as well, which will reduce their summer sun gain, but not effect the winter solar gain.

This is a closer view of the roof over the east wing wall. You can see the framing around the outside that will contain the insulation that will be put up top. More details on that in a sec.


This is around the back of the east wing wall roof.


If we look up top at the actual roof as it was when we saw it, it has the decking put down along with the tar paper on top of that. Next there will be 8″ (20.3cm) of polyiso rigid insulation. That’s why that framing wall extends up so high above the edge of the beams.


From underneath, you can see the pine tongue-and-groove that they used for their decking. For the exterior sections, which will be covered over, they just used OSB (oriented strand board) as it’s not going to be seen anyway. The sections with the tongue-and-groove decking will not be covered; that will be what it will look like when everything is finished.


This next one shows a shot down the greenhouse hallway. Take notice of the vertical posts of the vertical greenhouse wall and are holding up the big support beam for the roof beams. They go straight down and sit directly on top of the footing.


Now compare that with the framing for this standard Earthship.


In Bob and Marie’s Earhship, there is no second pour of concrete, no elaborate stacks of lumber to create posts, no framing boxes. It’s really nice and simple. Of course, there will be more added in there once they start framing for the glass, but it is quite a bit more simplified.

Here are the stacks of rigid insulation that will be going up top.


This last picture shows the open section at the very back.


That open section will have a bunch of other details added, like eaves troughing that will channel all the roof water to the big cisterns. Before that happens though, they will be putting in all of the stuff to waterproof the section from the edge of the roof back to the cisterns as you don’t want water to get in behind your tire wall. That would be bad.

Great stuff, and we can’t wait to see it when it gets fully enclosed. Looking forward to that.


2 thoughts on “Graf-Levac Earthship Visit number 2”

  1. How very interesting. Looking at the typical Earthship, the detail seems needlessly complicated, but then I am sure that given their background and experience there must be some compelling reasons behind this.

    The sloped posts seem like such an obvious solution, plus it is so much easier to custom adjust the roof overhang to get just the right amount of shading. My only caution is to ensure that the sloped posts are held up by the roof extension and not the other way around. I have heard from numerous structural engineers just how complicated the math gets when the column starts to act against non axial (ie bending) forces.

    It’s all very exciting.

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