Common Questions

- How many tyres have you used?

Approx. 2500.

- What size tyres did you use?

265/70/15 & 245/70/16 for the external walls. 175/70/13 for the internal walls.

- How much recycled material have you used?

Almost everything is recycled.

- How much has it cost?

To date we’ve spent $28,000 and its almost finished. About 60% of the cost has been concrete, rebar & mesh for the footings, bond beams and floor. Our goal was to build it for under $30,000 and we will achieve that.

- What is the size of the house?

275 sq. m floor area (approx. 3000 sq. ft)

- How long has it taken to build?

5 years (Note: I was also working a full time job for much of this time)

- How much help have you had?

Outside of my family we have had woofers working with us. They have provided about 10-15% of the total man hours.

- Did you have difficulty getting planning permission?

No, Waikato District Council have been very encouraging and helpful.

- Who drew up your plans?

I did them myself, took about 30 mins. We did have to get a structural engineer to do footing & bond beam details etc.

- Are you off the grid?

Yes, we have solar panels and a petrol generator.

- Who designed your tyre press and is it patented?

I designed it and it’s not patented (costs to much to get an international patent)

- What is your glass front made from?

It is an old glasshouse that has been split down the middle. Safety glass has been installed were needed (ie over stairs etc.) and the rest is single glazed 3 mm glass.

- What are the indoor temperatures like?

In winter we wear a jersey indoors. Night time temp has got as low as 14C (58F) on frosty nights. We use a portable gas heater for a few hours when needed. Also we find that the lower level (has been dug into the hill side) is noticeable cooler that the top level that is built on top of the ground. At the moment the glasshouse is not totally airtight and we have no curtains, so once I’ve fixed this I should be able to get warmer temps.

Daytime summer temperatures have hovered around 23C (76F) when outside has been 30C (90F)

- How do you heat your water?

I have made my own hot water heating system. A combination of solar water heater and a mulch water heater that is plumbed into a wood fired cylinder. We also have a gas califont as a backup, which we seldom ever use. (2012) I have removed solar hot water heater because the mulch heater is so good, 20 cubic meters of leafy mulch provides 10 mths hot water.

- What do you use for cooking?

LPG. But I’m in the process of building my own methane system. (Note: (2012)  I have abandoned my methane production because it was to much work for the quantity of gas produced)

- What is growing well in your planters?

Silver beet, lettuce, beet root, tomatoes, peppers, strawberries, cauliflower, broccoli, celery, grapevine, rhubarb, pineapple, banana palms, passionfruit, fruit salad plants and flowers

- What hasn’t grown well?

Cabbage, sweet corn, chives, carrots, most berry bushes,

- What problems have you had with indoor gardens?

Whitefly. We also have to water the planters manually as we don’t have enough greywater.

- What is your water supply?

We have a fresh water spring that supplies us with water. We don’t have a catch rain water system. (During the 2009 drought we had plenty of water and were suppling water to our friends)

- What is your floor made of?

Concrete with a coloured oxide.

- What is your earth plaster mixes?

4 sand, 1 clay, 2-3 cow manure, it stinks really bad went you put it on but the smell goes away after a day or two.. (Note mix changes slightly will different types of clay and colour changes). Then sealed with used fish & chip oil.

- Does the greywater system smell?

Not at all.

- What do you do with your black water (sewerage)?

We have a waterless sawdust toilet and all waste is composted.

- Have you adhered to all Earthshiip building techniques?

No, we could not get permits to build without concrete footings and bond beams, we had to put galvanized rebar in the walls and steel columns to support the roof. We did not pound tyres by hand in place on the walls and we made other minor changes to suit our climate and situation. However the concepts are all adhered to, thermal mass, recycled building materials, off-grid, grey water systems, food production etc and most importantly for us no mortgage.

- What would you do differently?

Fill the tyres and press them outside of the house site, so to have a level floor to work on.

- Is an earthship earthquake proof?

Rigid walls like brick cannot flex, a tyre wall can. I’d prefer to be in our earthship.

-  Any unexpected costs?

Yes. Hand lotion, working with clay really dries out your hands something terrible.