EARTHSHIP: this is how I will design my future home

in #earthship2 years ago (edited)


Much gratitude to @eco-alex & @orlev for introducing me to the Earthship design which I have been obsessing over for the last week. The idea of building my own home had been on the radar for the last year with a focus on potentially converting an old farm house here on the French side of the Pyrenees Mountains.

Never one to cling too tightly to an idea I am excited now by the concept of a home which looks after all our needs! Sounds impossible right? Yet that is exactly what this home does.

And most importantly of all, this is the kind of home we can actually afford to build ourselves from the ground up using natural & recycled materials.


The Earthship

"A ship to sail on the seas of tomorrow"

Pioneered by architect Michael Reynolds back in the 1970s.

Reading up on Earthships I found Wiki to be surprisingly good at explaining how they work:

Earthships are predicated upon the idea that there are six human needs which can be addressed through environmentally sustainable building design:

  1. Energy: Thermal and/or solar heating and cooling, solar and wind electricity
  2. Garbage Management: Reuse and recycling built into construction and daily living
  3. Sewage Treatment: Self-contained sewage treatment and water recycling
  4. Shelter: Building with natural and recycled materials
  5. Clean Water: Water harvesting and long term storage
  6. Food: In-home organic food production capability

Displayed here on Reynold's website:

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Earthship structures are intended to be "off-the-grid-ready" homes, with minimal reliance on public utilities and fossil fuels. They are constructed to use available natural resources, especially energy from the sun and rain water. They are designed with thermal mass construction and natural cross-ventilation to regulate indoor temperature, and the designs are intentionally uncomplicated and mainly single-story, so that people with little building knowledge can construct them. Wiki

The Wiki page also kindly provides us with this basic plan of a two bedroom Earthship and its insulating tyre walls:

Let's take a closer look at some of these ideas...

Recycling waste into building materials

Tyres are cheap, strong and safe as a building material (once packed with soil) as they are enforced with steel, don't degrade quickly, shift well in earthquakes and are fire resistant. Tyres are always used to create the main supporting wall in Earthships.

It should be noted that tyres are actually less damaging to the environment when they are not exposed to the air, buried under the soil.

Reynolds with a tyre wall.

Tin cans can also be used to build walls within the Earthship and coloured bottles can be used to let the light through.


Both charming and cost effective!

Natural heat

The orientation of the Earthship is essential to its success during the winter.


According to Wiki the optimal positioning is this:

10–15 degrees east of south to maximize natural light and solar-gain during the winter months.

Please let me know in the comments if you don't agree with this statement! I am keen to understand this as best I can.

How does the heating system work throughout the year?

In the Summer when the sun is high all the vents are opened to create airflow while the ground itself has as a cooling effect. In the Winter when the ground maintains a warmer temperature than the air the vents are shut and the low sun fills the space throughout the day warming the tyre wall which in turn heats the house at night.


Unlike regular homes there is only one wall through which heat can escape and this wall is more a layer of warm air between two sheets of glass, ultimately acting as a big humid insulator.

It is said the system is so effective there is no need even for a fire in the winter.


I will let you know the truth of this statement once I have experienced a cold winter in one!


Intelligent water management

Rainwater & snowmelt is collected off the expansive roof and runs into a cistern.


A pump is used to move the water in the most efficient way possible. If it is not drunk it is used four times, as you can see below.


The interior plants act as a treatment system for the grey water, providing the toilet with clear water which as sewage is treated by the external plants.

I found this image in Earthship Volume 1, Reynolds' first book on the subject, avilable as a PDF here. It seems so logical when I look at it yet so few homes are designed this way.

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Growing food inside & out

The double layer of glass permits for an area I would describe as a greenhouse. The plants here are automatically watered when grey water is produced.


I have seen how it is possible to create a tropical environment in here, permitting the growth of fruit not typical to the region.


Or it would seem that some people are dispensing with the inner glass wall and going open-plan, though I suspect this is only possible in warmer climates.


The outside garden is watered automatically & benefits nutritionally from being the sewage treatment centre, completing this delightfully logical cycle for your rainwater.



Using batteries to store energy one is able to light their home at night and use the kind of appliances one would expect to see in any modern house.


A solar water heater is sufficient to cover all hot water needs.


People who live in these say they sleep very well. Surrounded by all that earth I am not surprised.


There are so many beautiful designs I have come across over the last few days...


Some more achievable than others!


Okay, these are starting to get a little crazy now.

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One thing is for sure, I am in love with the overall concept & basic design!


Thankfully this a growing movement and Earthships can now be found all over the world.

A typical bedroom, shot from the back of the room.

Its adjoining bathroom.

I think you will agree that even in its most basic form it looks more than adequate.

They can be quite stunning in their appearance, like a chalet embedded in the earth, with a greenhouse on the front. Both earthquake proof and largely protected from high winds.

This is a home which really does look after you.


Final Thoughts

While I remain 100% optimistic about the future of open minded humans who seek self sufficiency in harmony with Mother Earth, I am none too optimistic about the future of modern agriculture. Farmers around the world are going out of business at an alarming rate while the mainstream media minimises what is happening. The corn belt in the US had it's worst season in decades this year and even here in Europe we are losing 1000 farms a day.

Causing this are a combination of factors (economic, political & environmental) all coming to a head at the same time and one important side effect of this will be an extreme increase in the price of food. We have seen this happen before in history and all I am going to tell you is that it would be prudent to start preparing in some way, introducing back-up systems to your food supply, electricity & water because what follows on from this spike in prices is rarely pretty.

The Earthship offers the full package for those looking to get off grid and provide for themselves.

For just $10 you can download the Earthship app which apparently guides you through the construction process using three potential designs.

Or you can pay $3,000 for an intensive hands on course.

Or perhaps you feel capable of figuring everything out yourself based on the free information provided in the Earthship book?

I do not yet know if I will end up living in a community of like minded people or build one around me, but what I do now know is the style in which I intend to build my home.

Excited to get started!


Who is @samstonehill?

He was a London based filmmaker until he sold everything and set out on a barefoot journey around the world, currently based in the south of France.

He is travelling with his partner & two children and with no bank account he has been living on crypto for over two years.

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Sam supports @naturalmedicine because they are seeking to help us in ways which go far beyond money. Please come and join us on Discord

All content created for this account is 100% original (unless otherwise stated), produced by @samstonehill who invites you to use & share freely as you wish.


All non original photo sources can be found by clicking on the image


wow, you REALLY covered EArthship on this post.,. nicely done!! and some great photos also!

the app for $10 is a new thing.. its based on a new design called the encounter model, vs the larger and more expensive global model..

Interestingly, i never did a workshop, and didnt even have youtube when i started my build.. and i succeeded! as mike says, you CAN build it yourself!

I hope to be part of your build when it happens!

Ever hear of mike oehler?

I met him and got a bunch of his books including the $50 and under underground house book.

Not sure about all this other book. But really I doubt the workshop is worth the cost.

i havent heard of him.. souds interesting.. but yeah workshops are rarely worth the money in a sense.. they give you a taste but you have to really get stuck into a build from start to finish to really learn.. i personally learned on the job! it worked ;_)

Yeah Mike is the pioneer of the technology. And an amazing one at that.

Yeah I've done quite a bit of building and this is an amazing idea. Have your home make the environment and include power....

It's a totally different idea when you are the one putting it together. And why pay money to build someone's home. When you can build yours...

I just looked up mike oehler and he looks like a real legend!

Amazing you were able to meet him.

Yeah he is an amazing builder. If I could I would go visit. Beautiful home for sure...

Thanks for being the inspiration on this one Alex! And great to know you were able to do it without doshing out $3000 on a course. There is something deeply familiar about this design and even with my basic knowledge I feel confident to attempt this. I suspect many of us used to live a similar way a long time ago.

Your offer of help is greatly appreciated! I will very likely take you up on that when the time is right 🙏🏻

@dmwh mentioned to me over on EcoVillages that you have an ebook?

Is this something you think would be useful for me?

very happy i have been some inspiration, really!
I had the books for years, and they were very helful.. for the rest, it was MUCH better to work independantly in the end as i did things differently and didnt have to buy their systems from the USA, which costs a LOT ..

I do have two books, one is the story of how i built,, lots of gems in there.. and another all about biotecture to help understanding.. the most technical info i have on steem posted.. the earthship biotecture transcribed series is gold really to learn..

Book Links

Thanks for the post!
Resteemed & followed!

The earthships pictured are absolutely breathtaking! I will definitely read more about them.

One question though - are there any earthships designs for extra warm climates? I am quite curious as to how temperatures over 40 Celsius are managed if only one wall is dispersing the accumulated heat.

This is a very good question! And I'm sorry to say that I don't currently know the answer, though I do know lots of eco folk in Indonesia who would. Am thinking the answer is probably a yes. If the house is built into the ground, the temperature should naturally be lower there. Though I am thinking that extra ventilation shafts are likely necessary to ensure decent air flow.

A quick google took me to an entire Island in Indonesia where Earthships are being built. Quoting the article:

"The building under construction is less than 20 degree Celsius inside, while the outdoor temperature is unbearable."

So, there we have it!

I'm definitely going to look into this since I am currently in Mexico with a few people who are looking at land and the climate here is on the more hot and humid side.

Very interesting!
A structure that self regulates indoors temperature is an ecological must have.
I trust that winters are easier to manage with a wood fireplace or something similar.

This post made my day. I hope to build one of my own someday. thanks for the enlightenment.

Pleased you enjoyed it and felt the info to be useful :)

This is a great intro post to Earthships. You've effectively doubled my current knowledge of their capabilities. These seem like they will become the standard home of the future once all of the crazy building rules start being ignored by more and more people.

If things align I'd definitely participate in your build when the time comes. It will be interesting to see how quickly the Portugal based ecoVillage is ready to do a build. With @eco-alex at the helm of that, it would be a great learning experience.

Posts like this are my way of learning the info... and sharing it at the same time ;)

Agreed they really do seem like the home of the future and I am still pushing myself to learn as much as I can...

Let us see how things pan out. And thank you for your offer of potential help. Having Alex at the helm would be a dream!

Yeah I have the same idea for my farm.

Solar and aquaponics as well to filter and clean the water. Tons of plants and foods is going to be great.

Just wait!!!! More houses will be built all Hobbit style! Love the connection to the earth. Tons of insulation.

Awesome to hear this brother. It is so obviously the way forward.

I had never considered using aquaponics as a rainwater filter. Am curious to know how this works? Do you have to add anything to the system to make the water drinkable?

Well if run anything I'm going to drink through a Sawyer water filter. But other than that? Nope the plants do an amazing job cleaning the water.

Seen a doomsday prepping episode that a guy drank from his aquaponics system. Which the house and toilet flushed into.

Yep! I'm getting closer to making my home a reality!

Looking into this option with my partner, still undecided where to build our earthship (or containership) (Portugal, France, Spain, Greece or Croatia) we were wondering what it might cost to complete. Have you any budget notion yet?

My (boat-and-house builder) partner is concerned about the tax on tyres (which should be recycled in a specific manner in some countries) and "R"values on earth-builds; and the permit for land. I suppose not that many tyres are used, but some of the materials do look high-end and may come with specific environmental law specifications. And all those wonderful organic curves takes quite a bit of labour, much skill and lots of time. (Great project for a second home indeed! You get cracking now!)

Have you thought about how long it might take and how do you envision getting a team of labourers together? In Portugal this has proven unsuccessful and they even recommend bringing in your own people.

Also, any ideas on what it might cost to run/maintain such a house annually? How much off-the-grid can one ever be ultimately in a European situation?

Thanks for sharing your great plans!

No budget notion yet. Just aspirations.

And not much idea of all the rest either! This post represents my sum knowledge at present.

Like you we are relatively open to the where. But once we have our location then we will look into the legal obligations.

I am imagining I should be able to pull together a team of friends & family. The opportunity to learn how to do this provides a decent incentive. Though we will likely have to provide the cheese and wine ;)

Highly rEsteemed!


Thanks for the resteem and wow... Love that image :)

Absolutely wonderful post, Sam. This is exactly the style of home I could see you living in.

The community aspect of coming together with other like-minded people is also a plus. Build it and they will come!

Looks fab hey! I am so fascinated now to understand exactly how everything works. And my childhood dreams of building my own home have been reignited.

I've known about earthships for a few years and they are fantastic looking homes. I know there is someone building one here in Nova Scotia where I live plus another one in Alberta. So even in freezing Canadian winters they work well.

I had heard of them but only now that I have looked into it do I see how amazing they really are.

Awesome to learn they work okay in freezing Canadian winters. I wonder if they have fire places? Or does the sun alone produce enough heat?

@samstonehill,, EXCELLENT! Thank you for all of the very detailed photos as they showed me an issue I had been struggling with, of all things it is the "rain gutters" that supply the cistern (I guess the old brain is failing, haha). Your agriculture system is marvelous and I can't wait to try some of your practices here.
As far as the farmers going out of business, yes it is heart breaking to see generations old farms being closed and or sold for an American Companies misleading practices. Unfortunately Monsanto is only partially to blame for the U.S. corn belt failure "The corn belt in the US had it's worst season in decades this year" since this failure has happened as a direct result of Donald Trump's tarriffs on various countries, the Farmers simply cannot seel their produce.
I apologize, I digress, I have been studying the "Earthship" designs for Southern Nevada, U.S. in hopes of replacing the older house we have. Thank you so much again for your information and photos. Mitch

Hi Mitch!

Indeed there are many perspectives through which the ongoing breakdown of agriculture can be viewed. I follow two people on Steem who look specifically at the climatic changes causing this:


I find this aspect the most interesting because it is a natural cyclical phenomena. And once it is fully understood we can better prepare.

The Earthship is so clearly a step in the right direction towards this kind of preparation.

I agree it must be incredibly difficult for farming folk right now. But mostly because they don't understand the bigger picture. If they did, they too could better prepare. @iceagefarmer is doing his best to connect struggling farms with those who can provide quality information on how to adapt.

I wish you all the best with your potential house conversion and thank you for introducing yourself here :)

Nice find.. I've got vacant property I'm looking to develop I'm gonna go check out their page now.

Trouble is you would like have to knock down your property to build one of these! Vacant land would be better...

My property is vacant.. it's in So Colorado.. near Alamosa.. about a hour or so from Taos

Ah, I see. Well then, this could be perfect for you!

Also you are not too far from an Earthship community it seems.

Most interesting!

It really is hey. I felt very excited to research this one ;)

It looks absolute stunning! :d

I chose the best looking pics ;)

Though I suspect ours won't end up looking quite so posh!

Its something to shoot after :D

This is a very informative and inspiring post, can't wait to build one myself!

It is so clearly the way forward when it comes to house design.

Don't let go of that goal!

First, I'm going invest into one or more of the promising co-living projects popping up now, maybe spend some weeks onsite and get to know how it works, how it feeld. Later, skilled up and with experience, I might actually start one myself.
Tiny house is a cool concept but too small, Fresco's sustainable cities are just amazing but too big. Seems earthships are the right size and the thing to explore now ...

Way cool. I would have mine in a forest. 🌲🌳

You know it! In a forest near a river ;)

Or a lake. 🎣

This is truly inspiring, excellent post!

Appreciated ;)