Building an earthbag house was intense goal for Thea for the last 7 years and a big part of the magic behind our successful team was definitely Bill’s adventurous building spirit. He’s done everything from fine woodwork to monolithic domes to creating a system of bladder water collection in under a structure in St. John’s to building the Patch Adams Gesundheit Clinic in West Virginia, which has wood shingled Byzantine onion domes and is the only 5 story wood structure in the country. So of course he was interested in this new (old) style of building.
Bill had such a different way of viewing the building industry and so much knowledge that when he showed interest in building an earthbag Thea was really excited to know that she'd have someone to lend a helping hand on this big journey that she was being asked to do...no matter what.
Thea had made attempts to purchase property to build her own earthbag house which hadn't materialized in Austin and North Carolina.
In her own words she says:
"Originally, we were doing it together with the goal of me moving in with my kids. Well, you know how a new project takes a little longer than expected right? After 6 months we weren't near as close to finishing as we had expected and that meant that we needed to start re-evaluating. I needed to, especially with the kids starting back to school. It looked as though it wasn't going to be as easy for me to expect that as a place to live afterall.
I took off a good while and had to financially recoop and Bill took up the slack. Bill had 2 helpers off and on who continued the next stint of grunt labor. Everyone was juggling living and working.
This was a time when I was rarely here to oversee and Bill was checking in periodically.
The weather changed the procedures that we had been doing before also. By the time the next September came, and we had taken much of the summer off due to financial constraints and the heat, I started tackling the final exterior plaster. A few friends came and helped which was a giant godsend that got me kickstarted at the beginning.
Bill started working on the plumbing and electrical and finished up over the winter. We had changed our minds about some of the interior rooms and re-ran some pipes and drainage.
In February of this year, I took the kids to Shoal Creek to excavate some clay for the finish interior plaster that I had been admiring for years. We hauled 65 gallons down the riverbed up a 30 ft bank and across a field. We were exhausted.
I experimented with that clay for 3 months, drying it, pulverizing, trying to dissolve it. All along I was getting to understand the material more and more. It's so interesting how you can play with a material until you finally get to a point where you just 'know' it so well. You know it's behavior in different conditions. It's at this point that suddenly the shape in the learning curve just shoots up. I definitely experienced this with the entire process with this house. For days I would be slaving on how to get just right the texture and cracking in the floor and then one day I just realized that 'I GOT IT!' for example.
It was the same way with the plaster. You start to know intuitively what to look for.
These finishing touches are really intimate and artistic. I am so pleased with the results.
I moved back down to the property over a year ago. Like I said, we didn't do anything all summer of 2010, but finally we're wrapping it up!!
It's been an emotional few years and we're ready to get it all together and celebrate.
The workshops were really incredible for the people that I met. I have to say a personal thanks to the great friends whom I hope to continue new projects with soon! I love you all!!
Lacey, Brett, Dorte, Alex, Daryl, Gazan, Devin, Brandy and Jay"
What is Earthbag Building?
How much does it cost?
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Does it always have to be round or with domes?
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Does it have plumbing and electricity?
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What kinds of bags can be used?
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How cool/warm does it stay?
How is thermal mass different from insulation?
What kind of foundations are used with Earthbag construction require?
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How do I get started?