A mixer is an expensive piece of equipment that will make home building less labor intensive. Whether you are using concrete, papercrete, adobe, or cob, a mixer will help the task move along much more quickly. If you are at all mechanically inclined, you may be able to find a used one and refurbish it for your own use. If not, consider making your own homemade mixer.
To make a homemade mixer you will need:
(Image courtesy: http://www.starship-enterprises.net/Papercrete/Mixer/)
* A large, galvanized tub (feed tank) mounted on a tow trailer.
* Lawn mower blade attached to the tow trailer's axle differential.
Pull the trailer behind your truck (or mule, or whatever). The movement of the axle spins the lawn mower blade and mixes your mix.
You can see an example of this mixer being used in the video that follows.
PAPERCRETE is one of several materials that can be used to create your own shelter.
YOU WILL NEED:
- 30 pounds of concrete
- 18 pounds joint compound
- 1 pound boric acid (to make your home bug-proof)
- 90 pounds recycled newspaper and/or cardboard (wet and shredded)
PAPER ADOBE is much the same as papercrete, only no concrete is used in the mixture.
- 45 pounds waste paper
- 120 gallons water
- 100 pounds of clay
- 11 shovels of sand
HOW TO MAKE ADOBE BRICKS (COB MATERIAL)
From the site: http://www.zetatalk.com/shelter/tshlt04c.htm
Time required: about one month (most of it waiting for bricks to dry).
Cost: little or nothing
- One five-gallon bucket
- One mixing stick or old wooden spoon
- 1/2 bucket of adobe clay
- 1/4 bucket of sand
- 1/8 bucket of straw cut into two-to-three-inch pieces
- Enough water to make a doughlike consistency
- Six empty half-gallon waxed milk containers OR six 4 * 11 * 22 inch wooden brick molds, which can be made from 2-by-4s nailed together
- Waterproof tape
- Thoroughly mix the adobe clay, sand and straw in the bucket; add only enough water to create a workable consistency
- You can use either the wooden brick molds or the waxed 1/2 gallon milk cartons. To make the molds from the latter, cut one side from the carton (which becomes the open top of the brick mold). Cut and flatten the folded spout end and tape the carton firmly into a rectangular shape.
- Pack the brick mixture into the cartons, filling each about tow-thirds full. IN 15 minutes to 24 hours, the brick will be firm enough to tip out. Each batch is different' you will have to judge when your mix will maintain a brick shape.
- Place shaped bricks in a sunny location and turn repeatedly as they dry. (A completely dry brick is uniform in color, inside and out.)
HOW TO MAKE COB/ADOBE. This video shows how cob/adobe can be made without a mechanized mixer.
One of MANY recipes for making cob:
1 part clay
2 parts sand (this keeps the finished product from cracking)
Add just enough water to make a firm dough. A hard packed ball should not shatter when dropped to the ground from shoulder height. If it shatters, it needs more clay. If it flattens (like a pancake) it's too wet.
At this point, the mixture could be used to build an outdoor oven.
TO BUILD STRUCTURES WITH COB, you will add straw (not hay, straw) to your mix. When the mud/sand mixture is the consistency of peanut butter, add your straw. Straw allows the mix to support more of its own weight when wet. It also allows you to make wetter mud, which is easier to sculpt.
Cob Cottage Company (includes lots of pictures of cob houses)
Cob Building in the Country
See this free book online:
Cob Builders Handbook
STRAW BALE CONSTRUCTION
STRAW BALE HOUSE MADE BY SINGLE MOM FOR $50,000
STRAW BALE CONSTRUCTION, DEBUNKING THE MYTHS OF STRAWBALE
HOUSE BUILT USING VARIOUS RECLAIMED MATERIALS (MOSTLY COB).
COB AND WOOD CONSTRUCTION COMBINATION (for roundhouse) . . . also shows example of Reciprocal Frame Roof.
To search for more information on the internet regarding this system, use the term 'earthbag' rather than 'sandbag.' If you search for 'sandbag' you will find several helpful hints on how to make your own exercise equipment, rather than how to construct a building.
The speaker on this video has a heavy accent, but I believe it is worth watching more than once to catch what he is saying. He discusses the type of bags used, how to prepare the soil, using barbed wire as a type of mortar to hold the bags in place and how to build using the bags in a staggered pattern. Note: this video does not discuss using a 'tube' system, but separate bags.
RAMMED EARTH CONSTRUCTION
This method is similar to earthbag building except that there are no bags. The earth is held in place by using wooden forms.
VIDEO: John Ryan -- fun Appalachian music background
RECIPROCAL FRAME ROOF:
This type of roof helps create rooms that appear larger because they are not broken up with interior support beams.
"The reciprocal frame is a roof structure where each beam both supports and is supported by other beams in the roof structure. A minimum of 3 beams is required to create a reciprocal frame roof. As each beam supports the next in a reciprocal manner no internal support structure is required. Only the outer end of each beam requires support which will normally be a post used for the wall. The roof loads are transferred to these posts and in turn to the supporting foundation. The beams can be fabricated from timbers, laminated wood, steel or reinforced concrete. A very inexpensive roof structure can be made from logs."
RECIPROCAL FRAME ROOF
Click on the above link for more information on Reciprocal Frame Roofs. Scan down the page and click on the image of the ceiling for details which include architectural drawings.
THERMAL MASS OF NATURAL MATERIALS:
"Adobe brick has a high thermal mass meaning that when the brick heats up, it can hold a large amount of heat and then release it slowly. In a well-designed solar passive adobe brick home, the winter sun heats the adobe bricks during the day. This heat is held in the brick and released during the night, keeping your home warm. Conversely, sun is kept off the mud brick walls during summer with strategically placed eaves and/or a verandah, allowing them to stay cool during the day and remain cool all night."
"This time course of the heat transfer is also known as the “thermal lag”. Essentially, the thermal lag is the amount of time it takes for heat to 'pass through'. The thermal lag for earth walls is around 7 to 10 hours for a one-foot (300mm) thick wall. This is ideal for most climates as mid-day heat will be released after the nighttime drop in temperature."
SHIPPING CONTAINER HOUSES
Retired train cars, cargo shipping containers, and truck bed containers are also being utilized to create low-cost housing.
Converting Steel Shipping Containers to Housing
COMBINING METHODS FOR HYBRID BUILDINGS:
Here is an example of a New Mexico house created using several different alternative techniques.
"This segment gives a quick overview of some materials used in green building, including straw bale and adobe walls, earth plaster, natural materials, passive solar heating and cooling, and much more. "
WORTH A TRY:
Alternative building materials are an abundant resource in a society where excess items are routinely disposed. It is not likely that such alternative construction will make a great impact on the environment, but these utilizing these methods WILL save you money if you are inclined to utilize them. Established homeowners can save money by creatively utilizing these methods as they maintain and develop their current property. Cob construction (and similar) methods can be used to create outdoor ovens, walkways, walls, garden benches and many other pleasant features that will increase property value.