“A piece of land and a home to live on the outskirts of Guanajuato. A green building project underway.
I just wanted to let you know that I bought your book in december and our house is almost finished now. We’d like to thank you, earthbags really work! This is our blog casahuexolotl.tumblr.com, we would love to know what you think about the house.
The building started about three months ago, everything went surprisingly fast so far. The house is 40×52 feet. In terms of cost we spent about 30,000 dollars and expect to spend about 10,000 more to move in. The cover of the wooden roof will be made of a layer of cob, sand, tarp, cob again and a plaster of sand, lime and cactus juice (nopal). We’ll be starting on friday just before mexican monsoon starts. Some aspects of the house are somehow original like the PVC pipes on the wall for ventilation and windshields as windows, also the rounded walls that look like if they were straight from the inside. The foundations and pilar foundations are made of rock, which is something workers here are really good at. Since we are building about 25 feet from a river the earth is really sandy and unstable, so they had to build them quite deep into the ground. 3 weeks, 5 workers monday to saturday, $6000. Since we had to use the earth dug from the foundations to level our land, we had to buy the earth to fill in the bags. The walls are 12 feet high so it took 4 workers for about 5 weeks to build the walls, $9000.
The roof is made of wood and it’s really expensive in central Mexico because it comes from the state of Michoacan which is heavily controlled by the Caballeros Templarios drug cartel. So prices are really high. In addition to that, everything had to be done by hand because we are too far from the electricity network, even the big beams had to be lifted using platforms they raised using their shoulders. 6 weeks of work, 4 workers $10000. Add $1000 for cob roof cover. We built a small warehouse about 12×8 feet as well using earthbags rock foundation and cement roof. 4 weeks, 2 workers $3000.
That’s about $30,000 for what you can see in the blog.
What is left now is quite low budget, we will spend $4000 on solar panels and wiring, $3000 in plumbering, water storage and water recycling unit, $1000 for interior framing, $2000 for the floor made of the same cantera stone as for foundations.
I don’t really consider the house as expensive. In our city for that amount of money you get the cheapest house made by construction companies, which is about 600 sq. Ft with a 400 sq ft backyard in really ugly cement made neighborhoods. When we tell our friends the cost they tell us they’ve paid twice for a house which is not their dream house, ours really is.
The house itself will reach $40000 but it will be self sufficient, low energy consumption, and almost everything inside will be made from recycled materials, which around here are almost free. Now that we are in the last stage, I’m sure we could have spent less money, no doubt about that, but we are really happy to have invested in good, long lasting materials, as well as having hired competent and experienced workers. The result for us is better than we expected, and way faster!
Thank you for your interest Owen, we’d be delighted to discuss any other aspect of our project with you. By the way, we loved the covered pool idea! It would be really wonderful to build one after the house is over. I wonder how you will deal with humidity inside and vents, also, wouldn’t chlorine used for pools be too corrosive or too concentrated in the dome?
Thank again, regards,”
Casa Huexolotl blog
My comments: Great job. I’d love to see you become home builders in Mexico. The cost of construction does sound favorable. Adobe is popular there and so people would most likely accept earthbag houses if the price is right. The round corners are a good strategy for speed and strength. The internal buttresses take up living space. And I would have added window bucks to make it easier to finish out the windows.