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Your opinions on a Earthship floorplan.

 
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Hi everyone.

First post so go easy please ;)

I've drawn up a floorplan for a Earthship that hopefully one day I can build and live in.

Please could you take a look and provide any criticism, suggestions etc.

If anything doesn't seem obvious as to what it is I'll be happy to explain.
Floorplan.jpg
[Thumbnail for Floorplan.jpg]
 
pollinator
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don't know if you'll want to implement this but your plumbing cost will go down if you do (and access to fix plumbing problems will be easier too).

I'd move the first bathroom nearest the garage next to the kitchen and rotate the toilet/sink to be up against the same wall as the kitchen sink.  

Similarly, I'd move the bathroom farthest from the garage to be next to the kitchen (saves on lengths of pipe) and the rotate the bedrooms so the closets are sharing the same wall (cuts down on noise from both bedrooms into each other).

Where is your rocket mass heater?  I'm in a cold climate right now and even with an Earthship, in a cold climate, I suspect you'll want/need one
 
Robert Dickinson
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Orin Raichart wrote:don't know if you'll want to implement this but your plumbing cost will go down if you do (and access to fix plumbing problems will be easier too).

I'd move the first bathroom nearest the garage next to the kitchen and rotate the toilet/sink to be up against the same wall as the kitchen sink.  

Similarly, I'd move the bathroom farthest from the garage to be next to the kitchen (saves on lengths of pipe) and the rotate the bedrooms so the closets are sharing the same wall (cuts down on noise from both bedrooms into each other).

Where is your rocket mass heater?  I'm in a cold climate right now and even with an Earthship, in a cold climate, I suspect you'll want/need one



Thanks for the feedback good sir.

Excellent point about the bathrooms. It would be quicker to get to the bathroom when watching tv too 😅.

Same for the wardrobes too. Never though about sound being an issue.

The L-shaped sofa could be the RMH. Dont know as much about them. Not sure the wife would be happy about having a massive barel in the living room. Can you cover them?
 
pollinator
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I'm wondering why the cars need to be in the earthship, that seems a lot of extra expense to build space for three?! cars which is insulated and heated rather than having them in a less costly construction. the built in cupboards in the bedrooms should be in my opinion next to the bathrooms, you don't want to be lying in bed with your head less than a foot from an inuse toilet unless you're planning on really good sound insulation between the rooms.
 
Robert Dickinson
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Skandi Rogers wrote:I'm wondering why the cars need to be in the earthship, that seems a lot of extra expense to build space for three?! cars which is insulated and heated rather than having them in a less costly construction. the built in cupboards in the bedrooms should be in my opinion next to the bathrooms, you don't want to be lying in bed with your head less than a foot from an inuse toilet unless you're planning on really good sound insulation between the rooms.



I suppose the earth cover wouldn't essential. Just more for the sake on continuity with the front of the house.

The toilets will be composting toilets so flushing sounds wont happen. 😁

Thank you for your input though.
 
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Robert, nicely done. Will you have growing beds along the south wall inside? Actually, my first question should be where will this be located (latitude and climate)?

How many people will live there and are the cars for illustrative purposes only? That is, will one or more of the bays be for other equipment or a workshop?

Jerry
 
Robert Dickinson
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Jerry McIntire wrote:Robert, nicely done. Will you have growing beds along the south wall inside? Actually, my first question should be where will this be located (latitude and climate)?

How many people will live there and are the cars for illustrative purposes only? That is, will one or more of the bays be for other equipment or a workshop?

Jerry



Thanks for the feedback.

The solid green blocks will be the planters on the south face.

House would normally have 3 people but as were hoping to getting in a remote location I'd want alot of space for people to stay when they visit.

This will be (hopefully) be built in the UK. So not very cold in winter be very wet.

Probably only 2 cars but going for a third space for guests. The area at the back will be used for the workshop.
 
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What material are you planning to use for the interior walls?
If you use tyre walls in some places it will help with thermal mass.
 
Jerry McIntire
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It certainly looks roomy enough. I like the suggestions you've received so far to make the plumbing more efficient and reduce noise between rooms. What is the common width/depth dimension of all the bedrooms? Will you have an insulated wall between the house and the garage?
 
Robert Dickinson
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Jerry McIntire wrote:What is the common width/depth dimension of all the bedrooms? Will you have an insulated wall between the house and the garage?



Good questions. Ultimately the plan would be to giveN to a Passivhaus specialists. The goal of trying to confirm to a Earth ship as much as possible while still being airtight. It will most likely end up being a Earth sheltered Passivhaus with Earth ship principles, which is fine by me.

I know I don't want the bedroom and bathrooms being any bigger than they need to be. After all you don't spend alot of time in the bathroom and the what time you do spend in the bedroom you are asleep (especially if you're married right? ;) ). The great room on the other hand needs the largest space and heating.

I'd look to have a (rainwater harvesting) Green Roof with Sun Tunnels in the bathrooms and great room. Bring in alot extra light and hopefully charge the thermal mass a bit more.

Again thank you for the input guys. Really appreciated

 
Orin Raichart
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Robert Dickinson wrote:....
The L-shaped sofa could be the RMH. Dont know as much about them. Not sure the wife would be happy about having a massive barel in the living room. Can you cover them?



The point of the rocket mass heater is that it destroys your heating bill. If you live in an area where the temperatures go below 48 F regularly during 7 to 9 months of the year, you'll save more money than you can believe.  Tell your wife she gets last year's heating bill in cash at the end of every year; hiding the barrel might not be so important to her then.

There are many ways to "hide the barrel". You can put the barrel and feed tube in a different room. You can rock all but the the top of the barrel in.

I'd send you links of the many ways to beautify the barrel but I'm really pressed for time this morning
 
Robert Dickinson
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Orin Raichart wrote:

Robert Dickinson wrote:....
The L-shaped sofa could be the RMH. Dont know as much about them. Not sure the wife would be happy about having a massive barel in the living room. Can you cover them?



The point of the rocket mass heater is that it destroys your heating bill. If you live in an area where the temperatures go below 48 F regularly during 7 to 9 months of the year, you'll save more money than you can believe.  Tell your wife she gets last year's heating bill in cash at the end of every year; hiding the barrel might not be so important to her then.

There are many ways to "hide the barrel". You can put the barrel and feed tube in a different room. You can rock all but the the top of the barrel in.

I'd send you links of the many ways to beautify the barrel but I'm really pressed for time this morning



Much appreciated good sir. Look forward to seeing what ways it can be made more 'wife friendly' 😅
 
Robert Dickinson
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I drew up a more modest, two bedroom design based on some feedback provided.

Decided that heating wise I'd go for a air-to-air heat pump combined with a MHVR  That way I'm having as little environmental impact as possible. Given this build will be going for passivhaus principles as well I want to avoid combustibles.

Water would be solar for the same reason.

Thoughts?
Two-Bed-House.jpg
[Thumbnail for Two-Bed-House.jpg]
 
Jerry McIntire
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Nicely done Robert. One reason to have some more space in a bedroom is to fit a desk/office area that can be used as a private area during the day. My wife's office has usually been in our bedroom, just because I am up first so I head to my own office while she's sleeping. We both work at home.

With enough insulation and air sealing the heat demands would be very small. I think rocket mass heaters make sense for older homes that are not sufficiently insulated, which is most homes in the U.S. and Canada.
 
Robert Dickinson
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So i've convinced the wife to have a RMH as our 'L-shape sofa'. Here is the new design. Forgive the poor representation of it.

Insisted on a few changes and' ive planned in for the sun tunnels (yellow circles).

Changed the bedroom layout to push the bed closer to the door.

Bath/showers have been moved to the front so that, life the beds they are better exposed to the sun.

Still struggling to scale things but the general idea is clear enough.
Three-Bed-House-room-2.jpg
[Thumbnail for Three-Bed-House-room-2.jpg]
 
Robert Dickinson
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My can't help but shake the feeling this house might end up being too hot. Even in winter. If the RMH is as good as is touted, the solar gain/thermal mass ratio is right combined with the mechanical ventilation heat recovery and air tightness this house might be an oven.
 
Jerry McIntire
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Robert Dickinson wrote:My can't help but shake the feeling this house might end up being too hot. Even in winter. If the RMH is as good as is touted, the solar gain/thermal mass ratio is right combined with the mechanical ventilation heat recovery and air tightness this house might be an oven.



Robert, if the thermal mass is sufficient it shouldn't get too hot or too cold-- as long as there is plenty of insulation outside the thermal mass. A good residential energy program should be able to take into account the factors and let you know if you need a small RMH or none. I have a friend in western Wisconsin (cold! not near Lake Michigan: -20F many nights) with a 1000 sq ft, 3 BR, 2 bath house who has two 1500 watt heaters and they usually only use one during the winters. Lots of insulation: R60 walls, R50 under the floor, R90 in the ceiling.

I like the baths exposure to light, some of the houses I've drawn have the bathroom on the S wall.
 
Robert Dickinson
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Jerry McIntire wrote:

Robert Dickinson wrote:My can't help but shake the feeling this house might end up being too hot. Even in winter. If the RMH is as good as is touted, the solar gain/thermal mass ratio is right combined with the mechanical ventilation heat recovery and air tightness this house might be an oven.



Robert, if the thermal mass is sufficient it shouldn't get too hot or too cold-- as long as there is plenty of insulation outside the thermal mass. A good residential energy program should be able to take into account the factors and let you know if you need a small RMH or none. I have a friend in western Wisconsin (cold! not near Lake Michigan: -20F many nights) with a 1000 sq ft, 3 BR, 2 bath house who has two 1500 watt heaters and they usually only use one during the winters. Lots of insulation: R60 walls, R50 under the floor, R90 in the ceiling.

I like the baths exposure to light, some of the houses I've drawn have the bathroom on the S wall.



Thanks Jerry.

Crazy isn't it? We have come so far as a species that we can make a home that we barely need to heat when outside it is cold enough to freeze water. If you told someone from 150 year ago about this they would assume you used black magic to achieve it.

The thermal mass/solar gain topic is sending me down a real rabbit whole. Currently pondering if the green house planters should use hydroponics/aquaponics due to water having better thermal than soil? How much of an effect would the color scheme of the house performance? I always thought it would make sense to a matt black stone floor and a gloss white ceiling at very least. Give those colors thermal properties it should force greater amounts of heat into the floor.

Yeah definitely in a rabbit whole here.


 
Jerry McIntire
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A dark floor will help, not necessarily black. I don't like black as an interior design color. But if you don't wear shoes in the house you want to think about the floor getting too hot.

A white ceiling is always a brightening idea, but gloss would look strange. I would stay with matte or pearl finish, otherwise it will look like a hospital-- or a kitchen or bathroom, where semi-gloss is usually used (I used to be a painting contractor).

Light shelves help bring light deeper into the house so you can save the skylights or sun tunnels for the places that really need them. Skylights are a big hole in the area that needs the most insulation.

Jerry
 
Skandi Rogers
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Before you get all set on the rocket check you are allowed it, remember they are changing and tightening the rules on wood stoves all the time. If you are in a clean air zone you won't be allowed to use it at all! And if you don't have your own wood it is horrendously expensive to buy in the UK
 
John C Daley
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What is MHVR , please?
 
Robert Dickinson
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John C Daley wrote:What is MHVR , please?



Mechanical heat ventilation recovery.  
 
Robert Dickinson
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Skandi Rogers wrote:Before you get all set on the rocket check you are allowed it, remember they are changing and tightening the rules on wood stoves all the time. If you are in a clean air zone you won't be allowed to use it at all! And if you don't have your own wood it is horrendously expensive to buy in the UK



I get the feeling I'll be ice skating uphill with this one a well.
 
Robert Dickinson
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Jerry McIntire wrote:A dark floor will help, not necessarily black. I don't like black as an interior design color. But if you don't wear shoes in the house you want to think about the floor getting too hot.

A white ceiling is always a brightening idea, but gloss would look strange. I would stay with matte or pearl finish, otherwise it will look like a hospital-- or a kitchen or bathroom, where semi-gloss is usually used (I used to be a painting contractor).

Light shelves help bring light deeper into the house so you can save the skylights or sun tunnels for the places that really need them. Skylights are a big hole in the area that needs the most insulation.

Jerry



Maybe grey for the floor? Something more like slate?

Matt white maybe the way forward then. Cheers bud.
 
Robert Dickinson
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I've learnt alot of building regulations in the UK. I honestly don't know how the Earthships in Brighton and Fife even got made. Knowing that one is'nt lived in year round might be telling.

Has anyone got that 'Earthships in Europe' book? Is it worth it? It's alot of money for a PDF.

In the event I could not get planning I came up with plan B. A more 'regular' earth bermed home. Far more compact and would be more 'dome' shaped. Probably got a better chance of getting passed 1st time.
3-Bed-plan-4.jpg
[Thumbnail for 3-Bed-plan-4.jpg]
 
Skandi Rogers
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If you have an idea where you want to build it you could talk to the planning department and see if they think it might be possible. You might be able to spin it with some low impact nearly invisible talk.. (the second attempt I think will need another exit, or rather not just one way into the real inside)
 
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Robert, I am going to bring up something that many Earthship enthusiasts don't like.

Tires are toxic. Fresh tires, used tires, chopped-up bits of tire mulch, compressed blocks of chopped-up tire, you name it, it's going to offgas into the environment with weathering. Granted, if they are properly sealed up in cavities within the ground, safe from sun, water, and air, and there's no air exchange occurring through them, then most of the potential risk is minimised. If one was going this route and wished to be safe, it wouldn't be a big deal to design the HVAC to overpressurise the structure, like with some formaldehyde-based insulations from the seventies, so that offgassing badness gets pushed outside the house envelope. It would also obviate the potential for radon accumulation and poisoning common to earth-connected/underground houses in many areas.

I think without going into your specific soil conditions too much, I think soil-based alternatives might be easier, all things considered. What of an earthbag wall system, or something of a WOFATI hybrid? Alternately, if you don't mind adding anything your soil lacks, you could build your structure exactly as you want it, but using forms much like for cement, but with rammed earth. The only restrictions, apart from ensuring the right clay/sand/portland ratio, is that you need to be able to get a tamper into the form to pack the earth, so the exterior walls need to be thick. Like, if you're using one of those small motorised tampers, maybe about the diameter of a car tire. So nothing changes with your design, except there's a lot less toxic gick going into it from the get-go.

I wish you luck in your project, but also voice concern over the need for a winterized, attached garage. I wouldn't attach that to the place I ate and slept, except maybe by a greenhouse tunnel, and I think I could find better use for such a winterized indoor space, like workshop room, or more pantry space, or dozens of other things.

For vehicles, I would experiment with perhaps brushwood or pallet structures. Imagine a garage structure built of doubled-up large shipping pallets, where the inner pallet layer was filled with woodchips, the outer pallet layer was filled with soil restrained by either the angle of the outer pallet layer, or by landscape fabric, and the whole thing sitting upon an excavated and tamped pad of woodchips. A range of seed mixes could be employed to drop roots into the soil pallets, and the woodchip pad would be inoculated regularly with oyster or winecap mushrooms, ready to remediate hydrocarbon contamination as it happened.

But in any case, keep us posted, and good luck.

-CK

 
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Usually every bedroom needs to have a window. So you would have to modify the square compact design a bit.

In the narrow house design, I wasn't too sure where you have the heat pump, air handler, hot water tank, solar batteries/inverters, and washing machine/dryer, possible even the powertools and pantry.
 
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In most of the US and probably anywhere with codes and permits and departments of make sad, you don't necessarily need a window in a bedroom, but you must have two ways out (egress) in case of fire.  That is why the global earthship has a back door from the master bedroom to the laundry room.  

If you want to bend/break the big rules, you need to meet or exceed all the little ones.
 
John C Daley
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I dont understand the issue of winterising a vehicle within the housing envelope, its done all over the world?
 
Robert Dickinson
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Skandi Rogers wrote:If you have an idea where you want to build it you could talk to the planning department and see if they think it might be possible. You might be able to spin it with some low impact nearly invisible talk.. (the second attempt I think will need another exit, or rather not just one way into the real inside)



Certainly hope I can. The goal of the design would almost no visible part of the house expect the glazed front and the sun tunnels. Hopefult the garage will be straw bale.

Another exit will be ideal. not sure where it would go.


John C Daley wrote:I don't understand the issue of winterizing a vehicle within the housing envelope, it is done a over the world?



Same here. Never seen anything to confirm it causes a problem for living spaces.

S Bengi wrote:Usually every bedroom needs to have a window. So you would have to modify the square compact design a bit.

In the narrow house design, I wasn't too sure where you have the heat pump, air handler, hot water tank, solar batteries/inverters, and washing machine/dryer, possible even the powertools and pantry.



Would the north west bedroom would be the 'guest bedroom'. So not a big issue but maybe a Sun Tunnel to compensate?

Heat pump, solar batteries/inverters & MHVR all in the room SW room.

Hot water tank, washing machine, dryer and pantry would be the NE room.

Power tools/workshop would be the garage.

Chris Kott wrote:Robert, I am going to bring up something that many Earthship enthusiasts don't like.

Tires are toxic. Fresh tires, used tires, chopped-up bits of tire mulch, compressed blocks of chopped-up tire, you name it, it's going to off gas into the environment with weathering. Granted, if they are properly sealed up in cavities within the ground, safe from sun, water, and air, and there's no air exchange occurring through them, then most of the potential risk is minimized. If one was going this route and wished to be safe, it wouldn't be a big deal to design the HVAC to overpressurise the structure, like with some formaldehyde-based insulations from the seventies, so that off gassing badness gets pushed outside the house envelope. It would also obviate the potential for radon accumulation and poisoning common to earth-connected/underground houses in many areas.

I think without going into your specific soil conditions too much, I think soil-based alternatives might be easier, all things considered. What of an earthbag wall system, or something of a WOFATI hybrid? Alternately, if you don't mind adding anything your soil lacks, you could build your structure exactly as you want it, but using forms much like for cement, but with rammed earth. The only restrictions, apart from ensuring the right clay/sand/portland ratio, is that you need to be able to get a tamper into the form to pack the earth, so the exterior walls need to be thick. Like, if you're using one of those small motorized tampers, maybe about the diameter of a car tire. So nothing changes with your design, except there's a lot less toxic gick going into it from the get-go.



Must admit I'm not married to the idea of tire walls. Im open to any alternatives that will be strong enough to support the earth berm walls AND act as thermal mass.

Hoping this design keeps the house as 'tight' as possible. The rooms and by extension the house, should be no bigger than they need to be. If design works I would want to build 9 of them for a small community. Ah...to dream of a brighter tomorrow
 
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if you did a portico it would give you a great place to install your PV panels.  Strong and out of the way so you normally would not have to look at it.. No real reason so stack and pound all those tires to enclose the cars
 
Robert Dickinson
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steve pailet wrote:if you did a portico it would give you a great place to install your PV panels.  Strong and out of the way so you normally would not have to look at it.. No real reason so stack and pound all those tires to enclose the cars


I like this. Could lead to a outdoor/bbq area perhaps?
 
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