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Metal framed home, natural-built end walls?

 
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Hi!! New here, but appreciate all the wisdom and advice. I've opted to build a small-to-tiny home near my parents.  We live out in the boonies and so far as I know, there are no permits needed. Ground is hard and rocky (North ARKANSAS Ozarks), and I am Not a carpenter.
I have, however, researched earthbag and other natural building extensively this year. My resources financially are few, so budget is tight.
After much careful consideration, I've decided my best option is probably a metal framed home, which seems to offer more for the money than other possibilities. Planning to do concrete footers for a foundation, and I want to do an earthen floor, possibly with a room or section tiled or stoned-- I will do this, myself.
So I have 3 questions:  
1.  If my building doesn't come with ends, would there be any logical/practical way to do them with earthbag or light straw/clay, etc? Pallets?? My house will be small, anywhere from 3 to 600 feet, and I need to be able to do as much as possible, myself.
2.   Would crushed limestone or limecrete be good to add to earthen materials for floor?
3.   Best insulation for the cheapest price?
Thanks, in advance!
 
gardener
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You're asking good questions.  They lead me to questions.

When you say your metal house won't have ends... why won't it have ends? Are you going to repurpose a carport? Are you making it from something else?  If so, please carefully consider roof, structural integrity, and as you already asked, insulation.

I don't see why you couldn't use earthbag as long as you have both sand and clay in your soil.  You'd need some way to anchor it to the metal, like rebar anchor points welded to the side or some other physical join.  An earthbag wall standing by itself isn't as stable.

Insulation is a game of balancing cost, time, materials, and R value.  Do you have a sheep farm nearby? Look for wastewool. Do you have access to strawbales?  I don't know the right answer for you except ask around and look around.  

I think an earthen floor would work ok as long as you have a waterproof roof.

I hope your plans come along well, good luck.
 
Debra Rains
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Rob,
Hi, thanks! Some of the metal places I've looked at, charge extra for endcaps, or simply don't offer them. There is one in TX, and I really like their arched design, And they include insulation, but they are a little higher, and no ends or installation. They do look fairly simple, though, to assemble,with a few extra hands. I did find one who offers financing (a plus for me) and sells more traditional, square framed buildings. These are completed buildings, also a plus for me. I have studied the earthen construction elements so much, that I love them, the non-toxicity, and all the sloping and rounded shapes far better than plain, old square ones, now.
On the insulation, I actually do have an aunt with a few sheep, but not sure it'd be enough to work with. Would something like this work for walls and ceilings? I have read some posts from Owen Geiger suggesting rice hulls are good insulaters, with a little boric acid (I think) mixed in. Know anything of this?
On the earthbag walls, that's exactly what I was thinking, some metal/rebar anchoring. Any thoughts on whether this would be the most viable type of wall, of those I mentioned?
Thanks again. 🙂
 
Rob Lineberger
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Well, I'm like you.  I love earthbags.  :)  I don't see why you can't incorporate them for an organic element in your design.  In fact you could build a semicircular endcap to get structural stability and more square footage.  

I do know that rice hulls are excellent insulators and I also know of mixing boric acid with insulation for bug and fire resistance.  That all sounds promising. I am considering something similar for my earthbag home only with cellulose insulation.  Maybe now I'll consider rice hulls!  Even so if you can afford the insulation that was already designed to go with your home, that might be a better option.

 
Debra Rains
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Awesome, thank you! God bless. 🦅🙂🙏
 
pioneer
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Location: New Braunfels, TX, Zone 8b, multi-generational suburban household
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I love this post! I was just entertaining this same thought the other day: a 'metal building' made with clay and straw walls.

We're a few years off from building, but I predict we'll end up doing the whole metal building, walls included, and finish it out ourselves. We're thinking of purchasing a larger 'shell' but just finishing out what we need at the time so that we can grow into the building. We're young and planning on more kids :)

Another member of the forum shared this great article with me that lists out non-toxic insulation materials you can use. Maybe you could purchase them or use them as inspiration. (I have no clue how much these cost.)
 
Debra Rains
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Rebecca,

Thanks, will do. =)

I'm a 53 y/o single mom, so on a tight budget too. Trying to budget, simplify, And incorporate some earthen elements all at the same time. 🥴🤪If you listen real close, you just might hear me pulling out my hair... 🤣

Thanks again! Blessings...
 
pollinator
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Are they the type of building where you pull up one arch at a time? The first set of arches are a lot harder than the rest.  Plan on having equipment rental or a several friends for a work party the first day.  The rest go up a lot easier.

A couple things to remember about metal buildings: they condense easily and don't breathe, so any insulation needs to dry quickly and be very mold resistant.
 
Debra Rains
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Thank you. I've looked a lot at Quonset huts styles, and thinking this is what you're referring to?? Haven't ruled this out entirely.
The arched cabins I'm looking at have a ridge beam and metal ribs that are attached over the insulation sheets. The sheets of metal go on, then. The latter looks fairly simple, though I realize I will need extra hands onboard.
I definitely want to choose wisely on insulation. Blessings...
 
pollinator
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As a beginner can I suggest you look at traditional wall frame building.
You can get the walls made as single units and they stand up and are screwed together.

For a beginner I believe they will be safer and easier to build.
Then lift what ever roof shape you want.

The layout of the room within the house is important, because you can have lighter construction if you are not planning a clear span concept.
I am in Australia and know little of your weather, is it snowy, windy, wet etc?

300 -600 sq. ft.is a big variation, what do you actually need within the house.
40 x 15 ft may be practical, even if you start 20 x 15 and add later when thats finished.
I suggest on my jobs, start with a toilet/ shower, a kitchen [ basic] and a lounge / bedroom.When thats going well, add say a bedroom.
 
R Scott
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I have seen pictures of the arched style, but have never seen one in real life or found a dealer.  I like the concept, but would have to see one and the actual materials before I commit.  I have seen lots of buildings that looked good on paper but failed miserably in real life.

 
Debra Rains
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John C. Daly,

Thanks, that is sound advice. I have never done carpentry at all, and the carpentry help I was counting on disappeared. Initially,I planned on an A frame, but it fell through because of the carpentry issue. That is mainly why I changed plans, to a metal building, etc. If it doesn't come with installation, it'll need to be something I can do myself,with some help.
Weather is normally pretty moderate. I am in the Ozarks, in the South, but not deep south. We get rain, but usually not super high winds, or much snow. Believe it or not, 300 is considered very small, by most, tiny.  My rural area is super traditional. If it were just me, I could do tiny indeed. But I have 2 kids at home, and we've lived in a tiny apt for almost 7 years. They both will need small bedrooms. I'm used to living simply and small, so a small home is easy. I'm able to Learn anything, But, as mentioned, without a carpenter, I definitely can't help carpenter. 🙃😏
 
Debra Rains
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R. Scott,  

Hi, thanks for the thought. I've seen plenty of Quonset style cabins, but of course I've never helped assemble one. There're some channels on Youtube that show the assembly, but I'm sure doing it at home is always a different story. 🙃

There is a channel called Landio if you're curious about the other arched cabins, from a Houston company. It shows some assembly too. They look a little simpler to put together than some, but would also require end walls.
 
John C Daley
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building in the Ozarks
 
John C Daley
pollinator
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I may be able to help you, even from Australia.
My background is Civil Engineering and building small homes with alternative materials.
I have coached people to build their home and never met them!!!

I do not charge anything for helping. So I do one a year.

I find Youtubes and other sites to show you so you get to understand what is involved at each step of construction.
Sometimes help is available, you just need to connect to it. And learn to discern trustworthiness of those involved.

From what you are saying  300 sq ft place may work.
I would suggest getting quotes for a complete shed with a pitched roof, maybe one roller door at the end.
Perhaps 20 x 20ft square with 9ft walls.
Built with a concrete slab floor / foundation which includes plastic underneath for water sealing.
Assuming you have land, I would encourage you to have the driveway planned and even have 1 1/2 inch rock spread over that drive so workmen form and consolidate the drive by turning up.

I can send you a sheet to plan things,  Civil Engineers call it a Critical Path Analysis of the project.

Others now call it project management.
Basically it draws out your thoughts and requires you to write down your needs and wants. From that document you work towards the possible and the affordable.



 
John C Daley
pollinator
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