Tour: Tom’s house

Today’s tour will be of Tom’s house. Tom was a tall guy (former professional volleyball player). He was helping out to run the academy and he let us tour his house. We can start with their hut, which you can see below.

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This was the first “house” that Tom and his wife built. It is 120 square feet, so they didn’t need a permit to build it. It’s small and it has everything in one room, but it worked for them while they were building their main house. As you can see from the next picture, it’s just a tad bigger πŸ˜›

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Tom’s house is one of the older U-module style houses. It has a larger solar electrical system so his kids can watch TV and play XBox.

Here are two shots looking back at the entrance on the west side. You can see the banana trees in the planter.

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If you turn around and face the back you can see the living room. You may notice a rope hanging down near the back wall. That is to operate the skylight. The older Earthships all had their skylights at the back. The global models have their skylights at the front.

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Next we have the kitchen, which is right up against the front face glass, just like in Sally’s house.

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The fridge was on the back wall, opposite the main counter area. It was interestingly decorated. You can see a map of the local ski hill on the fridge. I think Tom said he had been out skiing around 140 times that season.

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Next we move to one of the bathrooms. Tom’s house had two full bathrooms. This first picture shows the funky sink they had and the concrete counter top.

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This is a shot of the shower stall, though I had trouble getting back far enough so you can’t really see how big it is.

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Next is the master bedroom. You can’t really tell from the picture, but it is quite spacious.

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Just off the master bedroom was the second bathroom. This one had a counter made from crushed glass.

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This one had a much smaller shower.

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More plants. This one was beside the bathroom you just saw above.

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This next one was the kids playroom. This was a colder room, as it doesn’t see the sun. I guess that’s why they painted one on the wall instead.

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Next we have some interesting exterior shots. This first one is the top of the cistern. This is where all of the water for the house is collected from the rain. This one was an older style cistern made from pounded tires and then lined, plastered, sealed and so forth. It’s a cheap way to build a cistern, and you can build them almost any size, but it is more labour intensive. You can also see Tom’s left hand on the right side of the picture πŸ˜›

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Here is a shot of the roof, looking back towards the west. Remember that skylight I mentioned in the living room? Well, here you can see the outside of it. That black gutter you see is where the water gathers and then flows into the cistern.

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And, at last, we come to the battery box. You can see Tom has eight batteries to run his house. You can also see that his batteries have been there a while; some of the connections are corroded.

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Older, but still very comfortable and still off the grid. Tom’s house had a very lived-in feeling to it and showed some of the regular maintenance things that you would need to do in any house.

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Tour: The Phoenix

Our next stop, is The Phoenix. Chances are, if you’ve looked for Earthship pictures on the net before, you’ve seen pictures of The Phoenix. It’s Earthships taken to the next level. It’s huge, it has a double greenhouse and you can buy it for $1.5 million, if you so desire. I recommend you rent it for a while before deciding if you want to buy it πŸ˜‰

Let’s start with the outside. This is a shot of the back, as we arrived. There is a funky phoenix head sculpture there in the center.

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After that, we came around to the east side, where there is an entrance and also a little patio area. You can see me taking a picture in the reflection of the window.

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Then we come around to the front. That’s as far back as I could get to take the picture without standing behind a wall and as you can see, the whole thing doesn’t fit into the frame.

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The first thing we see, as we come in from the front, is how lush and green everything is. In the interior of that round section sticking out the front we saw above is a little sitting area. It’s surrounded by greenery…

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… pools of water with fountains…

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… and fish in the pools as well.

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Here are some greenery shots. This will give you some idea of just how big the space is and how much is growing in it.

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It really feels like a jungle in there, especially with all of the humidity. It was especially warm in there as well.

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Here is a closeup of a flower tree that was in the greenhouse.

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Yes, they had birds living in the outer greenhouse as well. Three cockatiels, to be more precise. They were staying out of reach, probably pretty freaked out from the huge number of people.

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Once we’ve passed through the outer greenhouse and into the house proper, we find ourselves in the kitchen. This is a shot looking towards the back.

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This shot is from the back of the kitchen looking towards the front.

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The next room over from the kitchen was a living room with a very funky fireplace. It was very funky, because it’s also a waterfall. It wasn’t running when we were there, but the fireplace is the black spot at the back and the waterfall runs down both sides into a small pool at the bottom. It’s quite the setup.

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Here is another seating area, opposite the fireplace. This is still inside the main house, not in the outer greenhouse. As you can see, it has its own greenery as well. Thus the double greenhouse I was mentioning earlier.

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Moving right along, this is a greenery-obscured view of one of the bedrooms.

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Of course, we have the standard shot of the bathtub/shower. I should have taken this picture vertically as well, as you can’t see the shower head. Unfortunately, the bathroom wasn’t big enough for me to get back far enough for that while at the same time taking in the entire width of the custom tub. Fortunately, I can say with assurance, that pictures of this bathroom abound on the internet.

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Here we have a shot of the master bedroom, which is built on a raised dais. It looked dang cozy too.

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Yet another bedroom, looking into the back.

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And we’re back outside now, visiting the chickens.

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They have worked on making The Phoenix as self-sufficient as possible, in terms of food production. They had koi in the ponds that I saw, but there was supposed to be another pond with talapia as well. I didn’t see them, but you can watch a youtube video where they go fishing in the house, cook it up, add some salad greens and what not to demonstrate the whole food process. Add in the chickens and The Phoenix could support you quite well.

Tour: Sally’s House

On today’s tour, we will be visiting Sally’s house. I don’t know Sally, but she was kind enough to let us all into her Earthship so we could look around.

Sally has an older U-Module style Earthship. You may, or may not, notice the differences, but I’ll try to point some of them out as we go along.

Here is the shot from outside.

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The first thing you’ll see there is that the solar panels aren’t mounted on the house. She just has the pair mounted on the pole at the back. I don’t think she had the auto-tracking installed on that so she would just go outside and adjust the angle of the panels to face the sun as the day goes by. It’s a bit more manual, but it does get you out of the house more often πŸ˜‰

As we enter the house, you get to see the large, spacious planter she has up against the front glass.

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… and here is a better shot of that tree you saw at the top of the previous picture.

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Next we have the kitchen, right up against the glass. One of the biggest differences between the older models and the Global model, is the separation between the living spaces and the green house. In the global model, there is another glass wall that separates all of the rooms from the green house, which provides a buffer zone to maintain temperature. These older models don’t quite maintain the same stable temperature throughout the seasons. Most of the people living in the older models don’t mind that, though.

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If you turn around 180 degrees from the kitchen there is a living room area. Unfortunately, I wasn’t standing far enough back so you can’t really see the depth of the room.

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The next room over was the bedroom. You may notice the back walls of the rooms are all curved. That is a distinctive feature of the U-module style Earthships. All of the rooms are in the shape of a big U, with the open part facing south (in the northern hemisphere, anyway).

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Once again, I took a picture of the shower. Sally’s shower was very interesting. It was just this curtained off slab, right up against the glass. Talk about showering in the sunshine. It’s also surrounded by plants, so it would feel like bathing in the jungle. You can’t see it in the picture here, but there were other planters that were put beside the steps leading up to the shower, so if you spill any water, they would catch it.

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Sally’s house was very low tech and simple. Very small solar power system, very simple water system. There wasn’t even a toilet inside. She had a composting toilet outside the house. I’m sure it was really cheap to build, though.

Here is a parting shot of Sally’s old black Volkswagen beetle πŸ˜‰

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Tour: Global v2

Next on the tour circuit is another global model Earthship. This was referred to as a version 2 global model. This one will look a bit different on the inside as this was actually someone’s house, not an empty house for rent or purchase.

As usually, we’ll start with the outside shot.

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As you can see, this one has a few extra solar panels. I should also mention this one is a two bedroom model. The first one we looked at was only a one bedroom.

Once you step through the door, you’re into the green house. You can see how the owner has increased the growing capacity by adding the hanging pots to the green house. Yay, more food πŸ™‚

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Here is a shot of some kale and the start of a pineapple there on the right side. Pineapples do take quite a while to grow into a fruit, around two years, but it sure would be fun to grow your own.

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And more foody things growing in the buckets.

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The first room we looked in was the second bedroom, which the owner had converted into a work area.

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After that we have the actual bedroom, with some fancy bottle work up top. That is another one of those closet separator walls like we saw in the hut.

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This is the only shot I have from the bathroom. I usually like to take a picture of the shower/bath tub setup. In this house, they didn’t have a bathtub, just the shower, though the space is pretty big. You could put in a tub if you wanted.

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Here is a blurry picture taken of the kitchen when standing in the living room. Try to ignore the fact that my finger is in the picture as well. Cameras on phones don’t always have intuitive places for you to put your hands/fingers when taking a picture.

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Here is a closer picture of the kitchen, still a bit blurry, but you can’t see my finger nearly as well πŸ˜›

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Then, if you turn around 180 degrees, we can see a shot of the living room.

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All in all, a nice little home. You’ll find the ones that are actually lived in have a better feel to them, especially when it comes to the plants. People who live in Earthships generally grow a lot more food. A lot of the plants in the rental units aren’t food plants; they’re used mainly for grey water filtering.

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