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Mortar used in the masonry or rubble footings should be of a high grade that will not fall apart with time. The following mix works well:. If masonry cement is available, use one part masonry cement, three parts sand and sufficient clean water to form a workable mix.

Poured concrete, concrete blocks, burned brick, structural clay tile, or stones laid in mortar all make good foundation wall materials. Again the most suitable, but probably the most expensive foundation wall is made from poured concrete. In earthquake or hurricane areas or where the soil swells considerably, it is advisable to reinforce the foundation walls in the same way as footings are reinforced. The amount, size and spacing of the steel reinforcing should be determined by a competent engineer or architect.

Handbook for Building Homes of Earth

Well-stabilized earth, either in the form of blocks or rammed-in-place earth, may also be used. Since experience with these materials is limited, however, it is recommended that they be used only in areas of light rainfall and on sites that are well sloped to drain water away from the footings.

Foundation walls should be made at least as thick as the earth walls that they support. Sometimes they are thicker, but this is true only when they will be used to support other loads, such as the interior floors. The height of the foundation wall should be sufficient so that rain splash will not reach the earth blocks and cause them to erode or wash out. This height depends on the amount of rainfall and width of roof overhang. For dry areas rainfall less than 15 inches per year and wide roof overhangs, the foundation walls should extend 8 inches above the ground surface.

For high rainfall areas and small roof overhang, 18 inches above the ground is required and under normal rainfall conditions, 12 inches is required. Even when a stucco or surface finish is used over the earth walls, the foundation wall should extend to the heights given above. They should also be thick enough and braced well enough to prevent bulging. A typical wood form is shown in Figure Constructing wood forms is a misleading job. They always seem too strong, and therefore wasteful, while they are being built.

Once the concrete is poured, it is too late to correct the mistake of not making them strong enough. A bulging form is difficult or impossible to repair.

Chapter 1: Introduction - Types of earth houses

Do not try to saw money by making the forms too weal. The concrete forms should be carefully placed in the correct position and then well braced to prevent movement as shown in Figure Once the forms have been braced, the top of the foundation wall should be located by driving nails and drawing lines on the inside of the forms.

This can be done accurately using the water hose method given in Chapter 3. This height should be marked on the forms all the we, around the house as shown in Figure If reinforcing steel is to be placed in the foundation wall, it is easier to set only one side of the forms first usually the inside form , mark the correct height of the wall on the form and then place and tie all of the reinforcing steel before erecting the remaining forms.

Green Building Materials Fact Sheet: Earth – UN-Habitat

This helps to line up the steel and get it to the correct height. After the forms have been placed and checked for correct al alignment and strength, the footing inside of the form should be swept clean, then lightly sprinkled. It is a good plan to leave a few small openings in the bottom of the forms so trash can be swept out. Be sure to close these openings before the concrete is poured. To keep the concrete from sticking to the forms, they should be wetted with water just before the concrete is poured, or better still, mopped with light oil before the forms are erected, not after.

Once the concrete pouring begins, it must be continued until the entire foundation wall is completed. Otherwise, undesirable joints in the concrete will be formed. The concrete should be "rodded" or tamped into the forms with a smooth steel or wood rod to pack it down solidly. Otherwise, you might get air pockets which weaken the wall seriously.

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Proper rodding is important over the entire foundation wall, but it is especially important on the outside face because not enough rodding can result in holes that look had. The concrete can be the same as that used for the footing with perhaps a little more water to make it easier to work.

Placing ease may be estimated by the method outlined earlier under "concrete footings. The gravel in the concrete should not be too large or it will get wedged between the form and the reinforcing steel.


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Remove the forms two days after the wall is poured. Keep the concrete moist by sprinkling or covering with wet sacks for a few more days. If there are any voids in the concrete, patch them as soon as the forms are removed. Use a grout or mortar mixture and smooth it out with a trowel or straight stick.

For laying the walls, a good, strong mortar should be used. The following mix has been found to be good:. Wooden beams are laid across to form the roof, then metal sheeting laid across the beams.


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More sandbags are put in place to form a loft area. Then earth is laid over the lower-roof area, and stucco put around the exposed bags. Very cool figuratively and literally. The solar design maintains the temperature in the building, creating an escape from the heat. Photo by urbanwren. Earth-sheltered homes in Parame, St-Malo, France. Photo by: John Leather, via Flickr. This section is the hub of Down to Earth Farm Retreat. The buildings are nestled into the ridge-top and emerge from the earth in separate locations. There is very little impact on the natural surroundings with silence broken only by the birds.

This is an eastgippsland getaway with a difference. Robot Ranch , seven interconnected earth sheltered domes. This home built into the side of a hill has 4, square feet of living area, yet it disappears into the landscape. Earth sheltered homes in the eco-village at Dyssekilde, Denmark.

Dysager was one of the first areas to be built, and includes the use of recycled materials throughout the eco-village. This video shows the exterior of an earth-sheltered home after the concrete bones have been poured. The narrator is the future occupant of the house.

Earth Sheltered Homes

Eventually, five feet of dirt will be piled atop it! The video shows a pipe through which wiring will be put. Shows a retaining wall that will hold the dirt in place and act as a buttress to support the house. Inside the house you can see how much light comes through just from reflecting off the ground. Dragonfly Hill, an earth-sheltered home near Newport, Oregon, is readied for its earth covering. Read the awesome blog devoted to the construction of this home. Allan Shope designed an ecologically-focused house for himself and his family in Amenia, New York.

The triangular house is built into the earth, and covered with native flora transplanted from other parts of the property. Earth sheltered dome home in Vermont, via earthshelteredtech. A grass roof house just outside Skaholt. A post shared by wendyrgould wendyrgould on Jun 25, at pm PDT. The home is single room deep, facing the sun, super-insulated, cut in to the landscape contours, covered in earth and overlooking the open countryside. He shares his experiences and his knowledge from building earth-sheltered homes.

He points out that underground homes need to feel spacious. His solution—to build a dome. This type of structure minimizes the internal structure. Stills of the construction process are shown. Eisenhofer narrates the plan of the home, showing where all of the rooms were and their function.

British architect John Bodger built this underground home in Cumbria. The two-story house is burrowed backwards into rock at the site of on an old quarry. See plans and lots more about the project. This building was constructed to keep the windows facing south, protecting them from potential storm damage. Dutch Mountain House , Huizen, Netherlands by denieuwegeneratie. The earth-sheltered homes at Earth House Estate in Deitikon, Switzerland are centered around a small artificial lake with the entrances well hidden and integrated into the sides of the settlement.

Shows some signs of wear, and may have some markings on the inside.