“Going to a junkyard is a sobering experience. There you can see the ultimate destination of almost everything we desire” Roger von Oech
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Oct 2014 Update

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We've been living in the earthship for 2 months now and it's been lovely - busy, but lovely!

The weather in Spain this autumn has been un-seasonally warm so we were unsure how well the 'ship was performing. But as you'll see later in this post, it's working well.

We've had a lot of requests to visit which is lovely, I know that some of you are as excited about earthships as we are, and we're sorry we haven't been able to do many visits yet. Since moving in we've been very busy catching up with other work as well as getting on with the long list of 'still to dos' on the earthship. We do hope to open our doors, so to speak, in the new year, but at the moment we're trying to settle into the rhythm of living in an earthship... with 5 cats, who I must say seem to be enjoying it immensely!

Here's a summary of what we've been doing;

Battery house build

Along with the solar panels came a bank of batteries to store the energy captured plus the 'fat controller'. We have them in a temporary shed at the moment but wanted to build a place that has better temp control and is more in keeping with the earthship, so is born the battery house.

Plastic tubs instead of tyres? Yes, there's a local goat milk collection point who clean their equipment with disinfectant. This comes in the blue tubs you see in the photos. They don't recycle them in any way so we asked if we could have them.

We fill these with sifted soil from our site, although this involves a lot of sifting and shaking down to make sure they're as packed as possible, it's a lot less work than tyre thumping. As we build up this wall of tubs we thump 1.5m lengths of rebar into every other tub to pin them firmly in position. Although this is a nice way to reuse local rubbish, is quicker than tyre thumping and creates a relatively stable wall (especially when formed into a circle), we wouldn't recommend it for living spaces, also you probably wouldn't want to build it up too high as it's not as stable as a tyre wall.

When we had the mini digger on site earlier this year we had him roughly dig out the area. We've had to do some finishing by hand, or rather machine, as the ground was so solid - a good thing for strength but makes for a long job with only a pickaxe!

Then Dave started work on the roof, which has been done in a similar way to the earthship. A bond beam of two layers of wood is pinned in place by rebar on top of the wall, this also helps to holds it all in place. Onto this the roof structure is fitted.

As I'm writing this Dave is out there adding the planks of wood to the underside of the structure so we can fill with insulation and then put on the roof panels. You'll see this in a later post.

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Is it working?

As I said earlier, it's been so hot this autumn that it was hard to tell if the earthship was working as we'd hoped - basically staying warm enough to live in without extra heating. But then it started getting cooler and has started proving itself. Also, friends Fran and Dave came to look after our cats while we were visiting family and also confirmed this.

As a rough idea, at night outside it's been dropping to 7-10C, inside the temp hasn't dropped below 22C.

Plus there's another phenomena that I hadn't expected - as the walls and floor inside the earthship are a similar temp to the air, they don't 'pull' heat from the body (the hot to cold principle), it consequently feels so comfortable and somehow gentle to live in. Here's a quote from Fran after they stayed here:

" I have a lovely property in Spain, but I am the first to admit its a hard house to live in. No water, no electrics, a large open plan layout, so not an easy house to keep warm or cool in. So I was very interested to stay in an Earthship.

The first surprise for me, was the light, airy, brightness of the interior. Being partially built underground I thought it would be dark and a bit gloomy inside, rather its a clear example of bringing the outside indoors. Light seems to reflect every where, with the help of the aluminium cans, bottles and glass that make up the interior walls. Laura's artistic abilities are dotted throughout with flair, adding a unique touch. I was so comfortable in the earthship, that I felt no need to venture outside.

The only element of the outdoors kept completely outside is the temperature. This time of year (October) at home I am in long sleeves, and wrapped up well, but with the ambient atmosphere of the earthship I was in short sleeves. With just two opening windows and skylights, you have modern climate control with no fossil fuels or electric involved. Why today's house builders haven't caught on to this way of getting all your ecological credentials utilised under one roof is beyond me.

Thank you Dave and Laura for letting me cross off something I didn't even know was on my bucket list. Humour aside, it was an honour, privilege and pleasure to stay in your Earthship. "

And thank you Fran and Dave for looking after it and the cats so well!!

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Fran, Dave and Tizzy

Wall finishing

I started the big job of finishing the walls with mud plaster and mosaics. The photo below shows an area of the kitchen wall with pieces of tile and broken crockery set into the mud. I don't know why it's always my favourite pieces of china that get broken, but now at least I can still enjoy them!

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Doors

These two sets of reclaimed doors have been waiting for over 2 years to be installed, and at last they're in. I do love them, they have such character, If only they could talk and tell us what they've seen in their lifetime.

I also fitted shelves into the reclaimed drawer so we now have a fully functioning spice rack built into the kitchen wall.

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Bathroom doors
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So that's it for now, I'll hopefully post again soon with more news from our earthship home - wow, love the sound of that!

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Dave, Mum, Roy and me

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