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Flying Concrete Ferrocement Houses — 26 Comments

    • It all depends on the size of the structure, span between supports if any, shape, etc. His website provides many more details to help determine what will work in many cases.

  1. As a graduate architect and past concrete contractor and boating enthusiast, I recommend looking @ the methods of boat building and using some of them for your houses. Domes can be built w/o staging. The trick is relatively fine reinforcing and shape forming rods tied together with wire. the mesh is filled with concrete applied by two people, one inside and the other outside. One applies the concrete by pushing it through, the other smooths it on the other side. The strength comes from the compound curves, not the thickness. It works for sea going boats and they must be much stronger than a building.

    • Very true. What’s the best book in your opinion for do-it-yourselfers who want to make their own ferrocement roof, etc. It seems simple enough, but the last project I saw was a total failure, because they didn’t use proper techniques and get it completed before heavy rains.

    • Ferocement looks lovely in free-form home construction… I might try it myself.. I’ve build several dome homes here in Pacific NW using the plentiful wood as my main material, and conventional construction that gets me past the permitting requirements.
      But I have a number of wild ideas for stellated structures for instance that would work well in cement.
      Not so good for boats… If you want a material that’s denser than water for boats, just the steel is fine. I’ve heard stories about ferrocement boats that, in salt water, the steel rusts and cracks the cement.

      • Well, Mike’s stories are just stories. the fact is they perform as designed, built, and maintained. One story of a failed skyscraper does not make all of them – questionable. Many people get in a hurry to build something and without a plan and materials at the start an build something that fails. Don’t blame Noah for running into the mountain someone drained the tub.

        Look at the watts towers. One mans recycled materials and they tried to pull it down and could not. Concrete and steel are a composite of the oldest materials on this earth. Many ferrocement structures and especially boats sail the high seas, crash on rocks are pulled off, and sail away to new adventures. The key is to design and build with the purpose and fitness as intended.

  2. I live near Tucson AZ and I am interested in getting engineeried plans for a ferrocement house. Or getting in touch with someone who might be able to “engineer” a set of plans for me.
    Thanks,
    -Mike (Vail AZ 85641)

  3. It would be nice to find a ballpark figure on the price per square foot when you build with ferrocement, and if there are any “norms” for working with it; size of rebar, distance between the rebar, etc.

  4. I stumbled upon this site a few weeks ago. As Owen knows, I have been trying to find an inexpensive way to build a home for my family. My wife fell in love with some of the vaulted buildings on the Cal Earth site. Every since then I have been trying to figure out a way to duplicate them and still have the cost savings, fireproof, impact, wind, and quake benefits of an earhtbag build. I love Steve’s buildings, i just wonder the actual cost in todays market, as the cost listed seem to be from 2005.

    I do want to say that until I found Owen’s, and also Kelly’s sites, I didnt think it would be possible for my family to own a home without going in debt until we are in the grave. We are in the process of trying to find a place to move that will allow us to build with earthbags. I am hoping that all this will come together at a price that we can manage, but Im not sure. As of now I am looking for a job; I will graduating with a Bachelors in Science majoring in Accounting after this semester, but have yet to be able to find work here in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. I am not the typical student, I am a 41 yr old, father of two, married to my wife of the past 19 years (only one,lol). We are hoping that the life changing injury that caused me to return to school will turn into a positive event for our family, finding a less expensive way to own a home would be one of them. Kelly and Owen, thank you for all you do on your blogs, they are needed!

  5. I just found this new technique (new to me, anyway) for making ferrocement roofs at Steve’s Flying Concrete site. He shows how to make panels on the ground so you don’t have to plaster overhead. This eliminates the most difficult and awkward step of making ferrocement roofs. The panels can be hoisted in place by crane or with a crew of strong workers. I think I’ll turn this into a separate blog post because it’s so exciting. Check it out. http://www.flyingconcrete.com/roof-panels.htm

  6. Now you’re talking. I have been familiar with this site for years, and recommend it. I feel that it’s technology is an ideal way of creating a permanent, fire-proof, etc. roofing structure, tied into earthbag walls.

    • Yeah, we should emphasize ferrocement more often. Roofs are often one of the most difficult and important parts of building a home, and ferrocement is a great choice. Ferrocement makes it practical to create really unique designs without breaking the budget.

  7. Steve is really a sculptural artist who works with buildings as his form. The picture is from a work in progress in the little village where I live in Colorado. It was initially intended to be a storage vault for books, but I suspect that it will eventually be lived in; it is way too beautiful just for storage.Steve usually works with lightweight aggregate, so that the structures are comparatively light and more insulating that normal ferrocement.

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