Posts Tagged Construction

Living In An Earthship To Go Totally Off Grid

Living In An Earthship To Go Totally Off Grid

Living In An Earthship Home

NAVIGATION

Earthship homes are the epitome of an entirely self-sustaining household and are a great way to go green as a homeowner!

Earthships are strategically built to be as least destructive to the earth as possible. They have the ability to create their own electricity, fully regulate their own temperature, and provide water and food to the resident inside the earthship house — helping mother nature and your wallet.

ryans tiny house

Hi, I’m Ryan

I love living a sustainable lifestyle that gives me freedom and helps the earth. When I learned earthship homes create their own heat, energy, water, and food, I knew I couldn’t pass up the chance to learn more!

ryan mitchell simple living expert

What Is An Earthship Home?

What Is An Earthship Home

Earthship houses are very eclectic structures; there aren’t two layouts that are exactly the same. However, earthship structures do share many similarities in their design and function that define them as earthship homes.

using recycled bottle to build earthship homeIn a nutshell, earthship houses have been intelligently designed to produce their own electricity, heat, water, food, and treat their own sewage. They are built from recycled materials, like old tires, cans, and glass bottles. One side of the structure is bermed into the earth while the opposing wall is lined with glass.

In an earthship, the materials work together to create an insulated thermal mass that naturally regulates the internal temperature of the house. This is ideal for homeowners who want to live off grid, save on their electricity bill, and live a waste-free life.

An earthship house does not need to rely on AC or conventional heating and cooling methods to maintain its temperature. Due to the fact that 30 percent of all energy produced in the world is used for heating and cooling buildings, this approach is awesome for environmentally conscious homeowners.

Reasons You May Want To Live In An Earthship Home

  • You care about the earth.
  • You want to save money on AC.
  • You want to save money on water and electric bills.
  • You want to build your house to be self sustainable.
  • You want to grow your own food indoors.
  • You want to try a unique form of alternative housing.
  • You want to collect rainwater to aid in water shortages.
  • You want to build a home that will improve your life.
growing food indoors

Where Do Earthship Houses Come From?

Where Do Earthship Houses Come From

The concept of an earthship house is actually centuries old! They originate from the Taos Pueblo indigenous people. The Taos used deep red adobe brick to build naturally insulated earthen homes. Since then, this sustainable form of architecture has become more popularized in the United States and around the world.

The modern earthship was initially conceived by Michael Reynolds, an American architect based in New Mexico. Reynolds came to Taos, New Mexico in 1969 with a dream to aid in the affordable housing crisis.

classic adobe house design

He was inspired by abundant media coverage on the litter issue in Taos and decided to use the streetside waste to create a “can brick” home out of discarded steel and tin cans.

The idea took off after that, and Michael Reynolds started Earthship Global. Throughout the next decade, the original earthship design began to incorporate thermal mass, passive solar, and natural ventilation as well as mud mounted tires in the design’s walls. Experienced architects also began to incorporate solar glazing into their models.

How Do Earthship Homes Work?

How Do Earthship Homes Work

The defining feature of earthship houses is how the structure allows the home to heat and cool itself without needing any kind of electricity or burning fossil fuels, similar to Mike Oehler’s original underground house design.

stacks of tires create thermal massThe basic idea of an earthship structure is that all sides of the building are surrounded by a large thermal mass. The walls are made out of hundreds of pounds of tires that are connected by clay and cobb mud.

These tires surround the earthship house on three sides of the structure, then, on the south side, the earthship is lined with windows. Sunlight enters into the house through the south facing windows and warms the floors and walls of the earthship house.

As the heat enters into the structure, it passes through the dirt caked walls through a funneled passage. As the air moves laterally, it begins to cool, and the cool air fills the structure. Hot air is then released through an opening at the very top of the earthship, creating a natural heat exchange.

heat exchange in an earthship home

At night, when the air temperature outside of the earthship house is colder, all of the heat that was received from the sun during the day and stored in the walls and floors of the earthship is accessed. The stored heat naturally radiates outward and fills the structure with warmth to combat the cold.

heat exchange in an earthship house at night

How Earthship Homes Work In The Summer

How Earthship Homes Work In The Summer

Earthship homes are intentionally designed to work with the changing seasons. In the summertime, when the sun is much higher in the sky, the angle of the window panels allows the sunlight to enter the structure at a less direct angle. When this happens, less heat is contained inside the earthship house to combat hot summer temps.

heat exchange in an earthship house during summer

How Earthship Homes Work In The Winter

How Earthship Homes Work In The Winter

In contrast, in the wintertime, the sun is much lower in the sky. In winter, the sunlight enters the earthship structure at a lower and more direct angle, allowing more heat to become concentrated inside the earthship house, keeping it warm.

heat exchange in an earthship house during winter

Electricity In An Earthship House

Electricity In An Earthship House

Earthship houses are fully off grid. Experts advise designing the electrical system in your earthship house to be as simplistic as possible while still meeting your needs.

Every household will be different when it comes to what you need power for and how much power you’ll need to use. At the end of the day, it’s up to you and your family which methods you want to adopt to power your earthship home.

pangea builders

“I honestly think everyone is ready to live off grid, it just comes down to whether they want to or not. Earthships are buildings that take care of you, who wouldn’t want that?”

– Jonah Reynolds, Pangea Builders

Be strategic with what apparatuses you use in your earthship. You can reduce the amount of power you use by investing in sustainably designed lighting, pumps, and refrigeration.

It’s also worth making sure you aren’t using extra energy from phantom loads and making the most of the natural lightning from your window panels. If you take these steps, its likely your earthship’s power requirements will only be about 25 percent that of a conventional home.

tiny house electrical

How Earthship Homes Treat Sewage

How Earthship Homes Treat Sewage

Sewage systems are another way that earthship houses are self-sufficient. Earthships homes self-contain, clean, and reuse all household sewage located in tanks on the inside and outside of the building itself.

sewage systemsThe sewage water is sent to rubber-lined outdoor plant containers to water plants and produce. This allows for food production and landscaping to be treated on its own, without any pollution from aquifers.

Toilets in an earthship house are flushed with treated greywater that is completely odorless. The water that you use to do laundry, bathe, wash dishes, cook, and brush your teeth with is collected and piped through a greywater tube.

The water from the greywater tube is used to water the planters in the earthship greenhouse. The water is filtered through the roots of the plants and sent to a small well located within the structure. The greywater is then pumped from the well to the toilets when flushing.

Since earthship homes are not connected to the city sewer line, your black water, or water that has come in contact with excrement, is not treated externally. Earthships use their own individual septic tanks surrounded by rubber lined drains to break down blackwater on its own.

septic system install

Earthship Houses Supply Their Own Water

Earthship Houses Supply Their Own Water

Earthship structures are designed with water needs in mind. To start, a water catchment system collects water from rain and snowmelt. Then, this water supply is stored in barrel cisterns that are built into the earthship house.

pangea builders

“Living off grid challenges you to be more aware of the weather. You’ll have to adjust things like how much laundry you do or how many baths you take based on weather patterns.”

– Jonah Reynolds, Pangea Builders

The water stored in those cisterns then travels through a pump that contains a filter. The filter cleans the water and passes it on to a solar powered water heater as well as a large pressure tank. When this process is complete, you’ll have water that is clean enough to shower with and wash your dishes in.

how to set up a rainwater catchment

Earthship Homes Are Able To Produce Organic Food

Earthship Homes Are Able To Produce Organic Food

Similar to a sunken greenhouse, the self-sustaining earthship home has the ability to produce its own food supply. Earthships are designed to incorporate mini-hydroponic planters into the homes that can grow delicious vegetables, herbs, and fruits.

These planters are made up of suspended buckets in a vertical growing space. It’s best to put the growing space near the window paned wall of your earthship to give your vegetables adequate access to the sunlight they need to grow.

Many earthships also incorporate horizontal garden beds along the front facing windows. You can lay out the greenhouse section of your earthship in whichever manner works best for you and your garden.

Best Crops To Grow In An Earthship House

  • Basil
  • Peppers
  • Tomatoes
  • Kale
  • Mint
  • Rosemary
  • Beets
  • Cucumbers
  • Zucchini
  • Dill
  • Parsley
  • Cilantro

easiest crops to grow for beginners

How To Build An Earthship Home

How To Build An Earthship Home

When it comes to building your own earthship house, it’s important to remember that no two earthship houses are built exactly alike. There are many ways to design your structure.

Building Materials For Earthship Construction

Building Materials For Earthship Construction

The way you construct your earthship is really going to come down to what aspirations you have for the design, layout, and functions of your house, and what materials you have access to.

I’ve included a list of the building materials used by the Permaculture Institute, but these are just suggestions, as there are many ways to go about build your earthship.

Earthship House Building Materials List

  • Automobile Tires
  • Glass Bottles
  • Aluminum Cans
  • Cobb Mud
  • Cement
  • Straw
  • Sand
  • Gravel
  • Dirt
  • Peat Moss
  • Concrete Slab
  • Caulk
  • Plastic or Foil Sheets
  • Thermal Wrap
  • Waterproofing Paper
  • PVC Pipe
  • Lath Tabs
  • Rebar Rods
  • Water Cistern
  • Grey Water Pipe
    • Door Frame
    • Wooden Trusses
    • Wooden Beams
    • Window Boxes
    • Horticultural Float
    • Glass Panels
    • Plywood Panels
    • Wood Furring Strips
    • Metal Roof Flashing
    • Solar Panels

earthship house materials

50 Steps To Build An Earthship Home

50 Steps To Build An Earthship Home

Building An Earthship Home Step-By-Step

  1. Scrape away grass.
  2. Level your building site.
  3. Lay out the first course of tires.
  4. Pound dirt into tires.
  5. Level pounded tires.
  6. Install vapor barrier.
  7. Install thermal wrap.
  8. Back bury your tire wall.
  9. Back bury your thermal wrap.
  10. Measure battering of walls (1.5 inches).
  11. Pour cement and concrete between tires.
  12. Begin installing cisterns.
  13. Link cisterns with valves.
  14. Connect plumbing outlet valve to cisterns.
  15. Install cooling tubes.
  16. Surround cooling tube in thermal wrap.
  17. Dig front wall footing.
  18. Add vapor barrier.
  19. Add rebar and prepare for front face pour.
  20. Make buttresses with cans and concrete.
  21. Pour cement for footing.
  22. Add porcupine wood to wet footer.
  23. Pour concrete in window boxes.
  24. Install wooden buttresses along wall.
  25. Build power wall.
  1. Install window boxes and door frames.
  2. Create bond beam using cans and cement.
  3. Add anchor bolts to bond beam.
  4. Add wood plating to bond beam.
  5. Surround house in wooden trusses.
  6. Install plywood decking.
  7. Mud pack all vent tubes.
  8. Install greywater pipes.
  9. Line greywater cell with rubber.
  10. Install corbel for living room beam.
  11. Surround water pump with rock bulbs.
  12. Start using bottles to build interior walls.
  13. Fill in greywater cell with peat moss.
  14. Use wooden beams to make X between trusses.
  15. Box the sides & backs of your trusses with plywood.
  16. Add waterproof paper to top of building.
  17. Add lath tabs to tire walls.
  18. Lay rocks in cement footing with rebar.
  19. Build out interior walls with bottles and cement.
  20. Install rock veneer.
  21. Install glass windows.
  22. Add installation.
  23. Install solar hot water panels.
  24. Install solar electric panel.
  25. Add details and landscaping.

Where To Buy An Earthship Home: Earthship Builders

Where To Buy An Earthship Home

If building your own earthship house seems incredibly complex, you are not alone in thinking this way! This is an extremely intricate process with installation of many complex systems required to create an earthship house that self sustains.

If you want to forgo the process of being a DIYer, check out these earthship house builders to partner with to design an earthship home you love. If there isn’t an earthship building company that can build for you in your state, you can always book a consultation to get expert advice on your own project.

Earthship House Build And Design Companies:

Earthship Home Floorplans

Earthship Home Floorplans

When it comes to building your own earthship house, you want to choose a floorplan that makes the most sense for your lifestyle. There are lots of different ways you can go when laying out your earthship home.

One-Bedroom Earthship Home Floorplan

Surrounded by landscaping, water cisterns, and, of course, cemented tires, this one-bedroom earthship design is ideal for one person or a couple. This layout incorporates a bedroom with a queen bed, a hybrid kitchen and living room, a bathroom, and a laundry room that doubles as a hallway.

One-Bedroom Earthship Home Floorplan

Two-Bedroom Earthship Home Floorplan

Perfect for two couples who want to take an off-grid adventure together or a small family, this two-bedroom earthship house floorplan incorporates two bedrooms and one shared bathroom. The design also includes a luxuriously spacious kitchen and small laundry room.

Two-Bedroom Earthship Home Floorplan

Two-Bedroom Earthship House With Garage

If you’re looking for an earthship home with a place to park your car, try this two-bedroom floorplan with an attached garage. The design includes two bedrooms with queen beds, two bathrooms, and an attached kitchen and living room.

Two-Bedroom Earthship House With Garage

Three-Bedroom Earthship Home Floorplan

Earthships can also be lifechanging for a family of four. This three-bedroom floorplan is idyllic for families with two children. The layout has two bedrooms that each fit a twin bed and one that fits a queen. The design also incorporates an open living room and kitchen, two bathrooms, and a laundry nook.

Three-Bedroom Earthship Home Floorplan

Four-Bedroom Earthship Home Floorplan

For even bigger families, this four-bedroom floorplan is the way to go. All three kids’ rooms open into one another, with a shared bathroom for all three bedrooms. The primary bedroom is located on the other side of the house and has room for a queen bed. The kitchen and living are situated right in the middle of the home.

Four-Bedroom Earthship Home Floorplan

Exterior Earthship Home Designs

Exterior Earthship Home Designs

Every earthship house is designed in its own unique way. There are many materials you can use to create the exterior of your earthship house like concrete, adobe, or stone. You may even want to mix and match different materials throughout different sides of your earthship house.

Use Adobe Or Clay To Build Your Earthship

Use Adobe Or Clay To Build Your Earthship

If you’re hoping to preserve the integrity of the original earthship design from the Taos Pueblo indigenous people, you may choose to construct the thermal back walls of your earthship house with adobe or clay.

Going with adobe can look aesthetically pleasing, but it can be harder to deal with excess water and leaks when going this route. Too much rain can seep into the cracks of the structure and damage your earthship house overtime.

However, if you buy adobe bricks made with asphalt emulsion, it’s likely to be made with waterproofing properties that can more easily protect your home. That way, you can enjoy the bohemian look of clay or adobe without the setbacks and future risk.

adobe style earthship construction
earthship built with adobe style
earthship built with clay
clay designed earthship

Build Your Earthship House With Stone

Build Your Earthship House With Stone

Stone is probably the most common material used on the side and back walls of an earthship. There are several types of stone you can use to fill in the walls of your earthship house, like granite, limestone, sandstone, or marble. You can stack individual bricks or fill out the whole wall with stone and cement.

earthship built with stone
earthship built out of stone
earthship made with stone
earthship stone structure
stone built earthship
stone designed earthship

Surround Your Earthship Home With Glass

Surround Your Earthship Home With Glass

Some earthship homes use a lot more glass than others. Some designs merely cover the front side to allow sunlight into the greenhouse section of the home.

However, some earthship designs use glass to cover two or three whole walls, or even to line the ceiling of the home. It may be more difficult to manage the temperature of your earthship in an entirely glass house, but covering your earthship in glass will look gorgeous and keep your home filled with natural light. Plus, your plants will love it!

earthship constructed with glass walls
earthship home constructed with glass
earthship home design with glass
earthship home with glass and steel
earthship made of glass
modern earthship home
using glass in earthship house
earthship built with glass walls

Interior Earthship Home Designs

Interior Earthship Home Designs

Even more important than the outside of your earthship home is what fills the inside. The earthship design may be unconventional, but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be alluring and inviting. There are many elements worth incorporating inside your earthship house to turn it into a home!

Get Creative With Your Earthship House Design

Get Creative With Your Earthship House Design

There are so many design features you can include in your earthship to give it that extra aesthetic appeal. One of the coolest elements of an earthship home is the way that old bottles and cans are incorporated into the actual building structure.

Many people who live in earthship houses fill the walls with multicolored glass bottles and pack them in place with cement. This creates a breathtaking mosaic of colors that illuminates your home when it catches the light.

creative earthship design options
creative earthship design
earthship creative design ideas
earthship unique design ideas
creative earthship design features
creative earthship design ideas

Create A Cozy Earthship Bedroom

Create A Cozy Earthship Bedroom

Your bedroom is one of the most important rooms in your house because this is the room where you start and end your day. An earthship bedroom may be on the smaller side, so be smart with your design. Maximize the corners of the bedroom, hang shelves along horizontal wall space, and take advantage of vertical space and leveling in your earthship bedroom.

cozy earthship bedroom ideas
cozy earthship bedroom
earthship bedroom cozy design
earthship home bedroom cozy design ideas

You’ll also want to make sure you incorporate design elements that allow your bedroom to feel like a cozy, inviting haven. Maybe you want to design your bedroom so it opens directly into your garden, add a salt lamp or two by your bedside, throw down a comfy rug, or hang some plants or lanterns throughout your room.

earthship bedroom design details
earthship bedroom interior design style
earthship bedroom interior design
earthship home bedroom design
earthship home bedroom style
earthship house bedroom design ideas

If funky décor isn’t your thing, take a more minimalist approach to your bedroom. You can fill your bedroom with white colors and natural light to achieve a similar sense of cozy and calm.

earthship home bedroom minimalist style
earthship home minimalist bedroom
earthship minimalist bedroom design
earthship minimalist bedroom style

Make Your Earthship Bathroom Feel Serene

Make Your Earthship Bathroom Feel Serene

When designing your earthship bathrooms, incorporate elements that you know will allow you to feel relaxed and at peace. Organizing a small bathroom isn’t always easy, but certain features can make a smaller space go further.

A popular way to design an earthship bathroom is to build the tub and sink area with the same type and shade of clay or stone as the exterior walls. This gives your bathroom a sleek and cohesive look throughout the structure.

earthship home bathroom design
earthship home bathroom style

Another element designers like to incorporate in earthship houses is to surround your bathroom in windows or have a door attached to the bathroom that leads directly outside. This helps fill your bathroom with natural light.

creative earthship bathroom designs
earthship bathroom natural light
earthship home bathroom ideas
modern earthship bathroom designs

Create An Earthship Kitchen That’s Welcoming

Create An Earthship Kitchen Thats Welcoming

The kitchen is one of the main spaces in a home where friends and family gather to spend time with one another. In an earthship house where you’re growing your own food, you want to organize your kitchen in such a way that has enough room for you to turn your produce into delicious dinner.

No matter what color scheme or design elements you choose for your earthship kitchen, it’s important to make sure it’s right next to your greenhouse in the floorplan. The last thing you want to do is to have to walk through the entire house to get your produce and start cooking. Some homeowners even like to have their greenhouse inside of their kitchen space.

earthship kitchen design
earthship kitchen floorplan design
earthship kitchen interior design
earthship kitchen layout
earthship kitchen modern style
earthship kitchen open design floorplan

You also want to ensure that you design your earthship kitchen with enough space to cook. Especially if you are frequently adding lots of new ingredients to the mix, you’ll want ample space to cook the dishes you love for your family.

earthship home kitchen countertop
kitchen design earthship house
kitchen style earthship house
rustic kitchen earthship home

Your Earthship Living Room Can Feel Like Home

Your Earthship Living Room Can Feel Like Home

Your living room is the space where you want to relax and let your worries from the day fade away. Take the time to design the living room of your earthship home in a way that makes you feel at home and at peace.

earthship home living room
earthship living room design
earthship living room style
relaxing earthship living room

Personally, I am a huge fan of earthships that have their living room connected to outdoor space. Designing your earthship home like this is an awesome way to make your home even more cohesive with your environment. Plus, it gives you a beautiful space to kick back in.

earthship living room extended outdoors
earthship living space extended outdoors
earthship living with view
open style earthship living room
If you aren’t a fan of bringing the outdoors in, surround your living room with windows to let natural light flood in. Lots of folks have their living room come right up to the front facing wall of their earthship so it is surrounded by glass walls.
earthship home living room natural light
earthship house living room natural light
earthship living room window light
earthship living room windows
natural light earthship house living room
window light earthship house living room

Lay Out A Rejuvenating Earthship Greenhouse

Lay Out A Rejuvenating Earthship Greenhouse

The way you design your greenhouse is important since it is the main source of food in a traditional earthship home. You can take several approaches to designing your garden. Some people lay garden beds horizontally along the front facing windows while others hang hydroponic planters from the ceilings.

earthship greenhouse
designing an earthship greenhouse
earthship greenhouse design
earthship greenhouse floorplans
earthship greenhouse layout
earthship greenhouse style

Some earthship homeowners take a more integrated approach with plants, filling an entire greenhouse room. I’ve also seen designs where people carve out a U-shaped plant bed towards the front-facing window that is specifically for produce, while placing other plants elsewhere around their earthship home.

earthship front greenhouse design
earthship front greenhouse layout
earthship front greenhouse
earthship front greenhouse interior
earthship front greenhouse design ideas
earthship front greenhouse style

Whichever design you choose, it’s important that you give your greenhouse layout a lot of intentional thought. This is one of the main elements that makes an earthship house so unique!

Cost To Build An Earthship Home

Cost To Build An Earthship Home

Building an earthship house is a huge undertaking, and the price definitely reflects that. It’s hard to nail down an exact cost because a lot of what goes into the budget of your earthship depends on how you build it. Another thing to consider is whether or not you’re hiring a builder, buying it, or building it.

pangea builders

“Earthship houses cost more than a conventional building upfront, but less on a monthly basis because there are no utility bills.”

– Jonah Reynolds, Pangea Builders

Typically, earthships can cost anywhere from $10,000 on the low end to $1,000,000 on the insanely high end. By square footage, earthship houses average about $150 to $225 per square foot. However, again, this will depend on the route you take.

Additional Resources For Building An Earthship House

Additional Resources For Building An Earthship House

I thought I’d include some additional resources from experts who have built their own earthship house. I may know a ton about building and gardening, but I’ve yet to build my own earthship house. I will defer to the pros!

Your Turn!

    • How will you design your own earthship house?
    • In what ways will living in an earthship home improve your life?

Lofty Design Ideas For Tiny Homes On Stilts

Lofty Design Ideas For Tiny Homes On Stilts

tiny house on stilts

NAVIGATION

Building an elevated tiny house on stilts is a great option for tiny beach houses where flooding is an issue or for places where the ground is pretty steep and uneven like in the mountains.

Wherever you want to build a tiny house on stilts, it can be done with the right design. Here are a few ideas to serve as an inspiration in your journey.

ryans tiny house

Hi, I’m Ryan

Depending on your location, building a tiny home up on piers might make a lot of sense. My biggest advice when it comes to building on stilts is follow the local designs and involve an engineer. Any house is heavy, and you need to be sure you build your tiny home on stilts the right way to keep it safe.

ryan mitchell simple living expert

Tiny House On Stilts

what is a tiny house on stilts

When I first heard about tiny homes being built on stilts, I honestly was a bit confused. Typically, houses that are elevated off the ground are done that way to protect against flooding, particularly in beach front properties.

The nice thing about tiny homes on wheels is that, if there is the danger of a big storm, flooding, or the likes, you can just hook up your tiny house and leave. But for those who want a vacation house where they might not be there most of the time, a THOW off the ground is good peace of mind.

tiny house on wheels raised on stilts

Tiny House On Wheels … On Stilts

This is pretty amazing. It’s a tiny house on wheels that was craned on top of the piers and then the owner added a screened-in porch off the tiny house.

beach bungalow tiny house on stilts

Raised Beach Bungalow Tiny Home

This modern beach bungalow with a shed roof built on stilts was built to replace an older home that was destroyed during a flood. You can see the old front staircase still there in this photo.

modern tiny house on stilts

Modern Tiny House Among The Trees

A modern tiny house on stilts that’s built among the trees. Building up off the steep ground means you can build on land that most houses can’t, which in turn means you can often find a good deal.

cape cod style tiny house on stilts

Classic Cedar Shingle Tiny House

I love this simple Cape Cod style home with a huge deck. A full-sized staircase makes this easily accessible for getting your groceries up and other day-to-day trips.

tiny house design ideas

How To Build A Tiny Home On Stilts

How To Build A Tiny Home On Stilts

There is something fun about getting above it all in a tiny home on stilts. Stilts are typically large timbers built on top of cement piers in the ground. A lot of work and engineering needs to go into the design of these, and getting your piers right is key. You most likely also want to have your soil tested to make sure you’re developing your foundation properly.

Essentially what you’re doing is building a house with an elevated foundation, which will be done in a similar manner to a tall deck. Decks have a lot of building codes and inspections surrounding them because they’re tricky to get right and unsafe building can lead to serious injuries.

Tiny House On Stilts Plans

Like I mentioned, you’re going to want to involve an engineer here. This isn’t something that you should just wing, even if you are building a DIY tiny home on stilts. The plans below are for a sloped piece of land where you’d have something solid to mount your ledger board to like a concrete pier.

tiny house on stilts construction details

Tiny House On Stilts Terminology

A good place to start is to get familiar with some of the terminology of this building style. There are a few simple terms that you should know before you build, talk with building code enforcement, or consult an engineer for your design.

Tiny House On Stilts Terminology

  • Beam: Hefty framing members attached horizontally to support the joists.
  • Bridging: Short pieces of lumber between joists to prevent twisting.
  • Decking: Dimensional lumber stock attached on top of the joists to form the floor of your deck.
  • Footers: Concrete columns set below grade that support the posts.
  • Joists: Horizontal framing members fastened on top of the cross beam to support the decking.
  • Joist hangers: Metal brackets that allow you to securely fasten joists at 90° angles.
  • Ledger: Board attached to the house framing that other decking joists tie into.
  • Posts: 4″x4″ or 6″x6″ timbers set vertically to support the deck structure.

tiny house building codes

Building A Tiny Home On Stilts Design Ideas

Building A Tiny Home On Stilts Design Ideas

People seem to fall into one of two camps here: either a beach bum or a mountain man/woman. Regardless of which you are, here are a few ideas for your THOW build.

Tiny Beach House On Piers

Tiny homes built on piers as little beach houses aren’t a new thing. There are many charming tiny beach huts from the British coast to pull design inspirations from.

tiny beach house on stilts
tiny beach house on stilts interior
tiny house on stilts at beach
tiny house on stilts inside
tiny hut on stilts at beach
tiny beach hut interior

Elevated Mountain Tiny Home On Pillars

Elevated Mountain Tiny Home On Pillars

Building a tiny house in the mountains often means working with uneven ground. The tradeoff is that you can get some really stunning views if you play your cards right. Here are a few ideas for your tiny mountain home built on stilts.

Mountain Tiny Home On Pillars
Tiny Home On Pillars in mountains
Tiny aframe house On Pillars in mountains
aframe on stilts in mountains

tiny house building checklist

tiny house on pillars in snowy mountains
tiny cabin on stilts
classic tiny house on stilts
modern tiny house on stilts
tiny house aframe on stilts with view
tiny house on stilts with deck

Tiny House On Stilts Cost

Tiny House On Stilts Cost

A Tiny house built on a stilts costs about 10–20% more than a normal tiny house. That increase is made up of the extra concrete for the piers, the timber for your main supports, and the design fees from an engineer. Check out our post about tiny house costs to get a better idea of how much your tiny home on stilts might cost by using that guide and adding 20%.

how much does a tiny house cost

Your Turn!

  • Why are you considering building a tiny home on stilts?
  • Are you a tiny beach house person or a tiny mountain home person?

Is Using Drywall In A Tiny House A Bad Idea?

Is Using Drywall In A Tiny House A Bad Idea?

using drywall in a tiny house

NAVIGATION

I get the question more often that you’d think: Can you use drywall in a tiny home? Does drywall hold up in a tiny house when you move it?

Surprisingly, drywall is a good option for tiny homes because it’s affordable, easy to install, and easy to patch or fix cracks if you need to.

ryans tiny house

Hi, I’m Ryan

When I built my tiny home, I used wood paneling on the inside. It was 6-inch tongue and groove slats that I sealed with tung oil. It turned out beautifully, but what I came to realize was that, as the color cured over the years, the honey tone meant that I couldn’t replace individual slats without it looking obvious.

ryan mitchell simple living expert

The really nice thing about drywall is that it’s pretty easy to repair should you need to get access to something behind it. There was a time that I had to pull a wire through the wall of my tiny home and, even though I only needed to take one piece of my wall out, when I replaced it, the wood tone looked totally different.

Can You Use Drywall In A Tiny House On Wheels?

Can You Use Drywall In A Tiny House On Wheels

Yes, drywall is a very good option for a tiny house — even one on wheels. Despite my initial concerns, I’ve talked with many people who have built their tiny home on wheels with drywall and even after moving their tiny house, it worked perfectly well.

Will Drywall Crack When You Move A Tiny House?

One friend of mine moved her tiny house halfway across the United States and after the 1,000+ mile journey, one corner had a small crack in it. It took her all of five minutes with some spackle to patch it and then another five to touch up the paint.

Should You Use Drywall Or Paneling In A Tiny House?

Should You Use Drywall Or Paneling In A Tiny House

Both are great options, but what I’d suggest is letting the style of your tiny home guide your decision. More rustic tiny homes will look better with paneling, while more traditional or modern homes seem to do well with drywall from an aesthetic perspective.

Bathroom Wall That Is Not Drywall In A Tiny House

The bathroom is one place you might not want to have drywall in a tiny house, but it is still a possibility. Because a tiny house bathroom is so small, when you shower, you’re pumping a lot of moisture into the air, and drywall can be compromised from too much moisture and improper ventilation. You can reduce the risk of damage by using drywall that’s specifically designed for wet areas as it’s moisture and mold resistant.

Regardless of your decision, you’re going to want a good bath fan to exhaust the moist air out and your house should have an HVAC system that can dehumidify.

If you decide not to use drywall, there are some good PVC paneling options, but it’s not necessary as long as you have a good plan for your HVAC.

tiny house bathrooms

Tiny House With Drywall Ideas

Tiny House With Drywall Ideas

Here are a few photos of tiny homes on wheels that use drywall.

tiny house drywall finish
using drywall in a tiny house
drywall finish in tiny home
tiny home drywall interior finish
tiny home with drywall inside
tiny house interior drywall

tiny house interiors

How Much Does It Cost To Drywall A Tiny House?

How Much Does It Cost To Drywall A Tiny House

If you decide to install the drywall yourself, a good rule of thumb for estimating is $2 per square foot of drywall. If you’re hiring someone to drywall for you, plan on $4–6 per square foot.

Contractors will typically charge more for smaller jobs and in a tiny house, there are a lot of small nooks to deal with. Don’t be surprised if they say they have a minimum charge or charge a higher rate.

Drywall Tools You’ll Need

Drywall Tools You Will Need

If you decide to drywall your own tiny house, you’ll need a few things. Most of them are pretty affordable and readily available.

Common Drywall Tools & Materials

Drywall Tape: Once you mount your drywall, you’ll use this tape to span the seams.

Drywall Screws: These are cheap, specially designed screws, typically 1 to 1.5 inches long.

Drywall Mud: This is the joint compound that you use to smooth screw holes and over seams/tape.

Drywall Knives: Also known as joint knives, they’re available in 6″, 10″, and 12″ sizes to apply & smooth out drywall mud.

Sanding Blocks: Conveniently sized sanding sponges come in different grits for sanding between coats of mud.

Drywall Stilts: Overkill for a tiny home, but people sometimes use stilts instead of ladders for reaching high places.

Drywall Lift: This helps mount full panels to the ceiling — most likely you won’t use a lift, but it could come in handy.

tiny house tools

What Alternatives Are There To Drywall In A Tiny House?

What Alternatives Are There To Drywall In A Tiny House

Your interior siding will most likely be dictated by the style of your house, as different interior paneling can change the style of a tiny house very quickly. Here are a few alternatives for you to consider:

Tiny House Drywall Alternatives

  • Shiplap
  • Corrugated Metal
  • Plywood
  • Cement Board
  • Plaster
  • Cork
  • Barn Wood
  • Reclaimed Pallet Wood
  • Textured Wall Panels
  • Pegboard
  • Faux Brick
Tiny House Drywall Alternative Materials

Your Turn!

  • Are you considering drywall, why or why not?

Sunken Greenhouse: The Solution To Plant Year Round

Sunken Greenhouse: The Solution To Plant Year Round

sunken greenhouse

NAVIGATION

Imagine being able to house your crops in a sunken greenhouse that self insulates and not having to worry about harsh winters or dry summers ruining your garden. Sunken greenhouses are one of the most ideal structures for farmers and gardeners dealing with fluctuating climates.

ryans tiny house

Hi, I’m Ryan

Over the last few years, I have gotten super into vegetable gardening on my homestead, but I hate it when undesirable weather patterns harm my crops. When I heard about the magic of the year round Wallapini, I knew I had to check it out!

ryan mitchell simple living expert

What Is A Wallapini Sunken Greenhouse?

What Is A Wallapini Sunken Greenhouse

The Wallapini sunken greenhouse is one of the earliest known sheltered greenhouses in the world. They are used all across the globe by farmers and gardeners who hope to harness the sun’s thermal energy and extend their traditional growing season.

sunken greenhouse for plantsThe unique design of these structures is what sets them apart from traditional greenhouses. Similar to Mike Oehler’s original underground house design, the “sunken” aspect of the sunken greenhouse design means that the greenhouse quite literally sinks down into the earth and uses the earth’s mass to benefit the crops in the greenhouse.

Wallapini greenhouses are intentionally designed to retain both heat and cold air. They bring light and heat into the greenhouse and convert it into energy. This self-sustaining process leads to a greenhouse that can regulate its own temperature levels.

History Of The Underground Greenhouse

History Of The Underground Greenhouse

The Wallapini greenhouse was officially given its name in 2002 when a group of student volunteers from the Ezra Taft Benson Agriculture and Food Institute went to La Paz, Bolivia, to help local farmers in the area. They departed with the goal of building low-cost pit greenhouses for local farmers to use year-round, and did not fall short of their goal as they created the Wallapini.

underground greenhouse structureThe students were able to design and build a greenhouse structure that helped farmers in La Paz keep their crops warm in the wintertime. They gave their pit greenhouse the name “Wallapini,” as it means “place of warmth” in the indigenous tongue of the people from La Paz.

However, the Wallapini was not the first time that a sheltered greenhouse was used to keep crops warm in all circumstances. One of the earliest recorded examples of an underground greenhouse was built in 1798 at the famous Lyman Estate. The Lyman Estate Greenhouses are some of the oldest surviving sunken greenhouses in the United States.

The design idea caught on all across Massachusetts in the 1800s to protect rare grape and fruit tree varieties from the harsh cold farmers were facing. The first sunken greenhouses were heated with wooden stoves, but many new heating methods have become popularized since then.

Today, many farmers and gardeners choose to embed pit greenhouses into their land to take back control of their growing season and keep the temperature of their crops regulated. There are many different design variations of sun pit greenhouses. However, all sunken greenhouses are designed to regulate temperature in a similar way.

How Does A Wallapini Greenhouse Work?

How Does A Wallapini Greenhouse Work

A traditional greenhouse is built with four glass walls and a glass roof. This basic design may allow a traditional greenhouse to warm up quickly, but it does not give the structure the ability to trap temperature for long periods of time.

On the other hand, pit greenhouses are intentionally designed with one open wall to take in sunlight and one earth bermed wall to insulate thermal energy. Berm greenhouses are ideal for farmers and gardeners who want to strategically extend their growing season longer than their climate at home might allow.

So, how do sunken greenhouses work their magic? The intricate design of the Wallapini greenhouse uses a wide, angled roof to take in sunlight and convert it into solar energy.

wallapini sunken greenhouse design

Additionally, its sides are bermed into the earth so that they trap and insulate the thermal heat under the ground. This allows farmers and gardeners to keep crops warm underground even while the above ground climate is bitter and cold.

Not only does the Wallapini keep crops warm in cold weather, but it is also designed to keep plants cool in the dry heat of the summer. The cold sink is dug into the south side of the sunken greenhouse and allows the structure to keep crops cool and moist.

We know that cold air sinks and heat rises. The Wallapini is designed with a deep welled cold sink to trap the cool air that runs through the front wall of the pit greenhouse in the wintertime and become trapped by the layers of soil at the bottom of the cold sink.

The main interior of the sunken greenhouse is layered with a thin line of gravel that is covered by a growing bed made of topsoil. Each of the crops and plants are either placed in the soil, set on top of raised growing beds, or housed in individual pots.

Wallapini sunken greenhouse design
interior of the sunken greenhouse

Sunken Greenhouse Benefits

Sunken Greenhouse Benefits

There are many reasons why building an underground greenhouse rather than a traditional greenhouse can work wonders for your crops and your garden. The Wallapini greenhouse includes several strategic elements that can aid you in getting the absolute most out of every planting season and maintain the best soil health for your vegetable garden.

how to prepare garden soil

You Can Use A Wallapini Greenhouse Year Round

You Can Use A Wallapini Greenhouse Year Round

The biggest plus that comes from building a sunken greenhouse is that the design keeps the temperature of your crops regulated year-round. With pit greenhouses, you don’t have to worry as much about changes in weather having a negative impact on your crops.

As the Wallapini stores both hot and cold air, it self regulates the temperature of its interior and keeps your crops healthy despite the climate changings outside. This also makes it easier for gardeners to plants crops that may not necessarily be ideal for the climate they live in.

Pit Style Greenhouses Can Be Built Into A Hillside

Pit Style Greenhouses Can Be Built Into A Hillside

When it comes to farming, you typically want to make sure your land is totally flat to best serve your crops. It can be much more difficult to grow plants when you live on a hillside or at a higher altitude. However, sunken greenhouses can be built into a hillside with no issues.

A sunken greenhouse is the perfect solution to farming and planting on a hillside because you can design the Wallapini to work with the curve of the hill. Due to the fact that pit greenhouses are embedded into the earth, you can still lay crops flat underneath the ground, even if the structure is built into a hill or elevated piece of land.

An Underground Greenhouse Means Less Weather Damage

An Underground Greenhouse Means Less Weather Damage

Leaving your crops subject to the elements can lead to devastating results. I’ve been into growing my own vegetables for a while, and there have been too many times when a huge storm would blow through Charlotte and I would have to start over with my crops.

Since the Wallapini is underground, plants are much less likely to suffer from weather damage. They are protected by the earth bermed sides of the sunken greenhouse.

gardening for beginners

A Sunken Greenhouse Is Protected From Critters And Pests

A Sunken Greenhouse Is Protected From Critters And Pests

In a similar vein, keeping your crops underground keeps your precious vegetables more protected from hungry nighttime critters and grazers. As an avid gardener, I’ve spent way too much time using wire fencing and fancy repellants to keep animals out of my stash.

With a sunken greenhouse, your vegetable garden is protected from extra hungry visitors. The bermed walls and the roof over the ground keeps your garden out of the way of creatures roaming around day and night.

The Insulation Of A Wallapini Increases Moisture

The Insulation Of A Wallapini Increases Moisture

Underground greenhouses are designed to harbor an especially moist, humid environment to aid the growth of your crops. When planting above ground, crops can easily become dried out by the sun’s heat.

When crops are regulated underneath the ground, your plants are isolated from the elements, so it’s easier to keep moisture from evaporating back into the atmosphere. This is especially conducive to aquaculture plants that thrive in moist conditions.

What To Plant In An All Year Round Greenhouse

What To Plant In An All Year Round Greenhouse