Foxhole Homes prototype tire bale earthship for veterans

Foxhole Homes prototype tire bale earthship for veterans


Sustainable Housing and Community for Veterans in Need. These homes will be made with large bales of compressed recycled tires.

Q. What is a Foxhole Home?
A. It is an off-grid home built from recycled and repurposed materials, originally inspired by Earthship Biotecture. We have applied those principles to creating spaces that are easier to build and are adjusted for climate and region. For simple models we can build for as little as $20 a square foot in material costs.

Q. How will you pound that many tires?
A. We won’t. We are working toward building with tire bales. We can place the bales for a normal size home in a single day. This will expedite the process and recycle exponentially more tires.

Q. How much does one cost?
A. That’s a trick question. We can build a tiny house with limited systems for as little as a few thousand dollars in materials. Our first demonstration build cost under $6,000 to complete with volunteer labor. A better way to look at it is a range of prices. If you re-purpose a lot, have simple systems and do all the work yourself you can build for around $20 per square foot. If you use fancier materials, robust/redundant systems and pay someone else to do the work it could be $200 per square foot.

Q. How is Foxhole different from so many other veteran housing programs?
A. Most veteran housing programs provide temporary shelter while veterans “get back on their feet”. This typically ends up being handouts, and does not address how they ended up in that situation to begin with. Foxhole recognizes that, for many veterans, their new normal does not allow for a 9 to 5 job, so we plan to create a community structure with long term housing stability without giving it away. Veterans will earn their homes through sweat equity and continue to contribute to the community in the capacities they are capable.

Q. What will veterans do for work?
A. Anything they want. But the community will be designed for cottage industry in agriculture, trades and arts. Our goal is to provide employment that the people enjoy and find meaningful, that continues to work for them even if they are not able to do it every day. We anticipate “bad days”, that is part of life for many veterans. So we are focusing on craft based work to accommodate them.

Foxhole Homes
Here’s Kelly Hart’s opinion about tire bale houses:
Tire bales have been used for building for at least a couple of decades. Here is an article I have up about it: http://www.greenhomebuilding.com/articles/tirebales.htm

The Earthship folks have always denied that off-gassing is an issue, claiming that the conventional plaster is sufficient to keep it at bay. My experience is that sensitivities to such off-gassing vary markedly among individuals, with some people being extremely sensitive to environmental pollution. The mass of tire bales is considerably more than with conventional Earthships, so there is more potential for such off-gassiing. If I were to build such a house, I would probably opt for a solid vapor barrier between the wall and the interior to assure that there would be no pollution. Shotcrete is not fully impermeable.

I certainly like the idea of using those bales for building in terms of recycling, and you can’t beat the price since they are often free. And the walls go up almost instantly.
Kelly


Comments

Foxhole Homes — 4 Comments

    • I like stories like this because they get people thinking of alternatives. There’s no such thing as a “perfect” building system for all situations, so it’s good to know lots of alternatives.

  1. Our blog is filled with dozens of different alternative building methods to chose from. For instance, here’s a story about making adobe T-brick tiny houses for $2,000. http://www.naturalbuildingblog.com/2000-diy-tiny-houses/

    Other options include straw bales, recycled wood, etc. Texas Tiny Houses has a program that teaches how to make a salvaged wood business tearing down old buildings. A recycled wood tiny house community for veterans sounds very practical. http://tinytexashouses.com/

  2. I applaud Foxhole Homes for their efforts and concern for affordable housing for vets. If they can figure out a way to completely seal off the fumes from entering the homes and leaching into the soil then I wish them success. Shrink wrapping the bales in heavy plastic would help. We can’t trust the government to verify the safety. They say modern homes filled with fiberboard and plastics are ‘safe’ and yet quite a few people have health issues from these materials. (They give me a headache because I worked so long in construction.) I much prefer more benign or preferably all natural materials. So far I’ve always recommended using safer materials such as earthbags and earthbag tubes. Search our site for Earthbag Earthships — some people have started building this way.

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