As we reported the other day, Brian Waite’s straw bale vault kit in England is an excellent option. However, many owner-builders might prefer to build their own vaulted home from scratch using locally sourced, low cost materials so as to make any size and shape they want.
Here are a few affordable, DIY vault home options to consider:
– Nubian vaults made with small adobe blocks, also known as leaning adobe
– Ferrocement vaults
– Insulated earthbag vault designs
– Timbrel vaults Here’s another example of timbrel roofs.
– Cruck frames Here are some photos of nice cruck frame houses. Ben Law’s Woodland Home is an outstanding example of cruck construction.
– Loadbearing strawbale vaults
– Sections of pallets stacked in vaults, not unlike this freeform design.
– Double pallet vaults (great house design, poor website functionality on my computer) It’s more convenient to read about their Slumtube design at Inhabitat.
Here are two more possibilities:
1. Make laminated arches with locally milled wood on a jig to maintain uniformity. This is called glued laminated construction. Arches like this are super strong. There are numerous options including pallet wood or local wood ceilings and purlins, and using sections of pallets across the top (cut pallets into half or thirds).
2. Make parallel chord trusses with local wood or pallet wood web members. This would involve making small laminated arches for top and bottom chords and then attaching the webs with screws. One option here is making the trusses wide enough to fit bales like Brian Waite’s vault house.
Both options above could be modified for straw bales, bags of scoria, blown cellulose or loose fill insulation such as perlite. Both options use primarily wood for the structural frames, which is easy and convenient to work with. They could be built indoors in a barn or shop and erected during the building season. Curved metal roofing is an excellent choice of roofing and, if desired, can be special ordered.