In this article, I’ll reveal my custom-designed Earthship with top Architect from Nova Scotia, and why I’ve chosen to scrap those plans and build the Earthship Global model, with a few custom modifications, instead. You’ll also learn about The Bastard Tirehouse, an Earthship being built by a family just 30 minutes away in Portland, Ontario. Last but not least, I’ll reveal the custom modifications to the Earthship Global model plans which I’ve made with my structural engineer to optimize it for the Canadian climate.
But first, I’ll tell you in a few paragraphs why I hate stick frame homes and why I’ve chosen to build an Earthship instead. I hope it inspires you to do the same for you and your family.
Why I Chose to Build an Earthship
Stick frame homes, the type of housing construction that is almost universally being built today, are one of the least expensive and quickest ways to build a home. That’s exactly why large home building companies love them!
These cheaply built ‘matchbox houses’, which become unliveable as soon as the power goes out, maximize profits for home building companies, while creating an end product that’s of the lowest possible quality and most expensive to maintain. They are not built to last, and are not designed to take care of the needs of the people living in them. I refuse to invest my money in a shameful quality home for myself and my family. If you want to create something amazing to pass onto future generations, an Earthship is the way to go!
In addition to generating its own electricity and collecting and purifying its own water from rain, Earthships are self heating and cooling. The concept of thermal mass is one that’s been avoided entirely in stick frame homes. The thick thermal mass of the tire walls at the sides and rear of an Earthship absorb the thermal energy from the sun all day, and release it when the interior air cools off at night. The end result is a dwelling that will remain 70 degrees year round, without an external heating source. If zombies ever decide to take over cities and start eating people, those living in Earthships will remain entirely unaffected; they can relax and read a book or make some popcorn and watch a movie.
Now that you understand why I’ve chosen to build an Earthship home, I’ll reveal the specific model I’ve chosen to build here at Let’s Grow Farm.
The Custom Earthship Plans I Designed
The Earthship Global, 3-bedroom, 2-bathroom with extra wide greenhouse is the model I’ve chosen to go with. But it wasn’t always this way! In 2020, I actually designed my own Earthship from scratch with an engineer out of Nova Scotia named Michael Barton.
I spent months designing the Earthship of my dreams, and had the engineer draw up the plans. I went with the ‘U’ shaped rooms like Earthship inventor Michael Reynolds originally used in the early Earthship models, because they allow for the most amount of thermal mass in the home and to this day result in the best performance.
Here are the Earthship plans I originally came up with…
As you can see there’s a large Kitchen, dining room and family room on the west end of the Earthship, with a bedroom beside that. To the east of the bedroom, the storage, mechanical, office and washroom are all neatly laid out, and a spare bedroom on the far east end of the Earthship.
So what made me change my mind about building this Earthship?
The Bastard Tirehouse in Portland, Ontario
In June, 2021, a breaking news story made the front page of an independent weekly community newspaper in Westport, Ontario called The Review Mirror. The story was about a family in Portland, Ontario, just 30 minutes from Let’s Grow Farm, building an Earthship.
They called their house The Bastard Tirehouse. As soon as I heard about the build, I reached out to the family to introduce myself and ask to help.
There’s nothing I love more than helping people who are doing important work in this world. For example, in 2020 I re-built the website for a local regenerative farm called Alpenblick Farm, which tripled their sales.
Since discovering The Bastard Tirehouse project, I’ve been helping them pound tires every Saturday. In the photo to the right, they’re on the first row of approximately 10 rows of tires. And as of July 2021, we are currently on the fourth row of tires.
Anyway, which model of Earthship are they building at The Bastard Tirehouse? The Earthship Global – a 3-bedroom, 2-bathroom version with extra wide greenhouse.
As soon as I looked at their plans I realized this is a far better model for me to build than my own custom design! Not only are the plans more descriptive and detailed, but this model is the result of Michael Reynolds improving upon the Earthship concept for over 50 years. That same day I went to Earthship Biotecture website and purchased the plans. The rest is history.
The Earthship Global 3-Bedroom, 2-Bathroom with Extra Wide Greenhouse
I’m excited to begin building The Montague Earthship, my own Earthship Global with 3-bedrooms, 2-bathrooms, boasting an 85 foot wide greenhouse at the front of the home for growing food indoors year round. I love the fact that it has 3 bedrooms instead of two like the model I custom designed. This will make it far more simple when I have a bunch of kids and also when family and friends come to visit.
The extra wide greenhouse option that I’ve chosen makes the greenhouse itself more comfortable to be in. I’m excited to put a hammock in there and read during the winter months when a thick layer of snow is on the ground outside.
Here are some more photos of the exterior and interior of the completed Earthship Global model.
Two Design Modifications to My Earthship Global Model in Canada
I’ve made a couple modifications to the design of this model with my structural engineer Andrew Melchers at In Engineering. Since this particular Earthship model was designed for the climate in Taos, New Mexico, there are a couple modifications that the people over at The Bastard Tirehouse have made and I’ve chosen to follow suit.
First, storing batteries on the roof in the cold Canadian climate will not fare well for their longevity. According to the plans, the roof was selected as the storage area for the batteries, and I’ve chosen to move them to the interior of the house, on the very west side of the building. Since this is in the master bedroom, I’ve gone ahead and made the entire Earthship 5-feet wider – from a total of 85-feet to 90-feet. With this modification, the bedroom will see no loss of space once the mechanical area has been added.
The second modification to the Earthship global is to change the roof to a single pitch. Currently, there’s a steep roof angle from the front face of the Earthship for about the first 10 feet, and then it resumes at a less steep angle all the way to the back of the home. Changing it to a single angle all the way back will eliminate the possibility that snow will get trapped where the two angles meet in our snow-filled Canadian winters.
Now you know why I’ve decided to build an Earthship home, and you’ve seen both my custom designed Earthship as well as the Earthship Global model I’ve chosen to build.
The original custom Earthship design that I made for my home cost me $7000. And although I don’t regret it, I recommend saving yourself some time by learning from my experience, and buying the plans directly from Earthship Biotecture. I don’t receive any commission for saying this, although I wish they had an affiliate program.
If you want to make life easy for yourself in building an Earthship, the best way is to use a model that works. Architect Michael Reynolds has been innovating upon his original Earthship design through direct experience for over 50 years. It’s a proven model that’s pretty much guaranteed to work better than anything you design yourself.
If you live in Canada, consider making the same slight modifications as I made on my Earthship. Storing batteries on the roof outside in cold Canadian winter will not fare well for the longevity of the batteries. By moving them inside, your batteries will likely last a lot longer, making your home and your life even more resilient. Furthermore, changing the roof angle to prevent the accumulation of snow could very well save you the time and energy of having to shovel your roof in winter.
Thank You For Reading. I hope you found this article interesting and informative.
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