cordwood masonry, rammed earth, or earth bags.. - Talk About Marriage
Financial Problems in Marriage When financial times are tough, it adds to the stress we deal with on a daily basis. This section is for talking about how financial problems affect our relationships and ways to cope.

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post #1 of 6 (permalink) Old 10-10-2015, 04:50 AM Thread Starter
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cordwood masonry, rammed earth, or earth bags..

so, my father just recently went bankrupt and will be moving in with me and my wife next week. well, my father, mother, and my niece are moving in with us...

anyway, we are going to hire my father to give him a job and income to help him get back on his feet. i cant pay him much, only a hundred dollars a day, but considering that he wont have much in the way of bills, he should be able to put money away to get set back up. i really dont care how long he stays so long as he has a plan and is working towards it.

and that brings me to the title of this thread... he wants to try building his own house after he gets enough money to buy a piece of land in our area. land is cheap enough, it shouldnt be hard. he wants to build most of it himself using the cheapest materials possible, sacrificing time and labor to do it. im all for it. i have no problem helping him build a house on evenings and weekends when im not deployed. and that got me thinking... we need a practice building. something that isnt too expensive and that we can afford to make a mistake or two on.

so, when i get back, im going to build a small storage shed, probably about ten by ten feet. the three methods im looking at are cordwood masonry, rammed earth, and earth bags. nothing else, i might try making three different walls out of three different materials to see how we like each one. its just going to be a place to store stuff, so i really dont care how it looks.


so does anyone have any experience with these three building materials? thoughts? suggestions?

im also going to be setting my mother up with some ways to make extra cash. there are things that i know how to grow(but dont while deployed) that my mother could easily grow and sell, so that should help too. the hardest part about getting them back on their feet will be getting them a house. i imagine it will take a year or two.


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post #2 of 6 (permalink) Old 10-10-2015, 12:44 PM
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Re: cordwood masonry, rammed earth, or earth bags..

If you are looking for simple shelter and not worried about any return on investment anyone of these methods would probably work. However these are generally used by those with the means to lose that initial investment who simply want an environmentally friendly home. Aside from the savings in the construction costs, the cost to finish these structures with suitable heating, plumbing and electrical systems - no matter how basic, are generally more than in conventional construction. Finally such structures are hard to sell due to the very limited pool of potential buyers.

I would think that a more cost effective (if that is what you are after) means to achieve the same result (shelter for your parents) would involve the purchase of an existing dwelling in need of repairs. Often times these properties can be purchased for pennies on the dollar vs cost to construct new. They often times need repairs but the material, labor and time required would still probably be less than new construction using the methods you described.

I have no idea where you live, but most areas have minimum requirements for health and safety, which would include sufficient plumbing (potable water and waste disposal) permanent heating systems, adequate electric systems. The cost of some of these systems alone may dwarf any initial saving you may enjoy from employing these methods vs a property with most of these systems already in place.

Another benefit of restoring existing is the larger potential pool of buyers meaning you or your parents would be more likely to actually recover some if not all of the costs involved, including the acquistion, repair and living costs.

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post #3 of 6 (permalink) Old 10-10-2015, 05:13 PM Thread Starter
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Re: cordwood masonry, rammed earth, or earth bags..

we looked at houses around here, and none of them are cheap enough to buy outright. its going to be hard for them to get a decent loan after filing for bankruptcy... there are plenty of tracts of land though. three to five acres for under 8 grand, all over the place.

it will actually be a permanent home for them. the heating can be done with a wood burning stove. between our two families, we have a few really nice ones, including the one i grew up with.

i think we are in a bit of a unique position... we have all the support and most of the materials on hand. at any time, we have access to all the heavy equipment we could want, back hoes, cranes, tractors, etc. if we are willing to cut and mill the trees ourselves and wait for them to cure, we have access to practically unlimited amounts of lumber. we have access to insanely cheap crushed concrete to do all the prep work for a foundation. we also have people that can help out with coding issues.

ultimately, i would like to put my parents in a house that they want, mortgage free. we are looking at building very cheap, very labor intensive, and probably very slow. if we can find a place cheap enough that already has existing infrastructure, we might go that route. so far, we havent seen anything...

"The ecologist is continually having to look at the aspects of nature with which he is unfamiliar and perforce must be an amateur for much of his working time.... professionals may carp at omissions, misconstructions, or even downright errors in these pages. perhaps ultimately they may forgive them for the sake of the overall vision that only the amateur, or the ecologist, blithely sets out to experience."G. Evelyn Hutchinson

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post #4 of 6 (permalink) Old 10-10-2015, 07:30 PM
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Re: cordwood masonry, rammed earth, or earth bags..

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we looked at houses around here, and none of them are cheap enough to buy outright. its going to be hard for them to get a decent loan after filing for bankruptcy... there are plenty of tracts of land though. three to five acres for under 8 grand, all over the place.

it will actually be a permanent home for them. the heating can be done with a wood burning stove. between our two families, we have a few really nice ones, including the one i grew up with.

i think we are in a bit of a unique position... we have all the support and most of the materials on hand. at any time, we have access to all the heavy equipment we could want, back hoes, cranes, tractors, etc. if we are willing to cut and mill the trees ourselves and wait for them to cure, we have access to practically unlimited amounts of lumber. we have access to insanely cheap crushed concrete to do all the prep work for a foundation. we also have people that can help out with coding issues.

ultimately, i would like to put my parents in a house that they want, mortgage free. we are looking at building very cheap, very labor intensive, and probably very slow. if we can find a place cheap enough that already has existing infrastructure, we might go that route. so far, we havent seen anything...
Have you researched using junk tires. I used to run a salvage yard years ago and once or twice a year I would end up the someone interested in obtaining tires to build a home or cheap cabin. If memory serves me it takes about a thousand tires for a 2000 ft house.

Once filled with dirt they are extremely energy efficient but it is labor intensive filling the tires. If you went to any salvage yard told them you wanted a thousand tires you'd probably get for free with delivery

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post #5 of 6 (permalink) Old 10-10-2015, 07:51 PM Thread Starter
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Re: cordwood masonry, rammed earth, or earth bags..

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Have you researched using junk tires. I used to run a salvage yard years ago and once or twice a year I would end up the someone interested in obtaining tires to build a home or cheap cabin. If memory serves me it takes about a thousand tires for a 2000 ft house.

Once filled with dirt they are extremely energy efficient but it is labor intensive filling the tires. If you went to any salvage yard told them you wanted a thousand tires you'd probably get for free with delivery
not a bad idea! i havent looked into tires specifically, but i have seen them in pictures all mortared up in walls and such. will definitely look into it.

"The ecologist is continually having to look at the aspects of nature with which he is unfamiliar and perforce must be an amateur for much of his working time.... professionals may carp at omissions, misconstructions, or even downright errors in these pages. perhaps ultimately they may forgive them for the sake of the overall vision that only the amateur, or the ecologist, blithely sets out to experience."G. Evelyn Hutchinson
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post #6 of 6 (permalink) Old 10-11-2015, 09:27 PM
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Re: cordwood masonry, rammed earth, or earth bags..

On the face of it, it seems rammed earth would be superior. Cordwood masonry has surprisingly poor r value, and why use bags when you can use plywood forms.....
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