Building Earthen Homes Using the Original DIY Material — 8 Comments

  1. Google Site Search is a very useful utility.

    In fact, it is possible for your web designer to install a search box that uses Google Site search to search just this site instead of whatever search utility you are currently using.

    In any case, I find 811 hits on this blog for entries that contain both words, “Scoria” and “Foundation”. Keep in mind that this search function also includes searching the comments as well.

    Type the following into Google to perform the search I just described:

    site: scoria foundation

    Hope this is helpful to some trying to find specific information.

  2. What do you think about a scoria foundation? As in, a rubble trench foundation with the rubble being scoria rather than gravel. If the scoria were strong enough to support the structure, you’ve got a self-insulating, self-draining foundation!

    • Yes, that’s what we’ve been recommending for years if you have access to scoria. Search our site and you’ll find 10-20 references to this technique, plus it’s covered in my earthbag ebook. As I’ve said before, building with scoria is one of the best aspects of building with bags. This is how Kelly Hart built his home and how dozens or hundreds of other people have built earthbag homes. It greatly reduces labor and provides superior insulation.

      Tip: Our site is so big now that the built-in search engine is becoming inefficient. Use a major search engine with “natural building blog” in the search phrase along with the keywords you’re looking for such as scoria or lava rock. This will save you an hour of scrolling through unrelated articles.

      Also do a search for “scoria casita” — a great little structure built near Taos made entirely of scoria bags. That guy shows all the various reinforcing techniques.

  3. One important note about wide porches.

    I have worked in some areas where tax assessors count attached porches as square footage of the home. This doesn’t happen everywhere, but it does in some places.

    Every place I have found that does this, allows the construction of an unattached gazebo, and it is either unappraised, or is appraised for very little.

    This does NOT have anything to do with whether the area is covered by building codes or not. It’s simply a tax assessment issue.

    Large wrap around porches can easily double, and often triple the size of the home. If that space is getting taxed at the same rate as the interior space, it can become extremely expensive.

    It is wise to know how your local tax laws are applied. If you encounter such a situation, look into building an UNATTACHED gazebo or shade structure right next to your home. It can serve the same purpose as a porch and cost DRAMATICALLY less in taxes.

    Yes, there are some very weird property tax laws out there. Educate yourself about your local laws, and don’t get shafted on your tax bill.

  4. Thank you sir. As awful as my day has been, I’m really surprised that only that mistake jumped out at anyone. Was just told a few hours ago that the settled land deal just got blown out of the water !! Only have 36 days to figure out this mess. I really, really want to sit on my wide shady porch surrounding my alternative built home…facing that lovely pond.

  5. Hi Bill, Most of your advice is good and solid. But the last piece needs to be ad minded. There are too many areas that do not have a history of alternative building. SOMEONE has to start it in those areas. If only tried by those who can find a history in that local ,,,,then alternative will only be in those few areas. Those of us who do not live or can move to those areas need to find a way to get it adapted and used in their area.
    I am trying hard to do that for the Northwest area of Louisiana. Sadly, straw bails are out due to the humidity. But I am hoping, with the help of a West Coast Architect who bothered to carry a Louisiana licenses, to get a home started in this area in the next few years.

  6. I love those wide porches. Like I said the other day, they protect the walls and provide lots of shady outdoor space.

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