Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Winter in my Earthship

Well it's my first official winter in my finished house and I am thrilled. It was minus 12 the other morning and 68 inside the house, just from the natural passive solar/thermal mass design. When I opened the front door gusts of freezing cold air would blow in, immediate freeze to snow then melt instantly in the heat...wild. So no more wearing my down jacket and hat and seeing my breath steam inside!!! Cheers to that! In other news, Kevan Trott has just received planning permission for an Earthship in France and Mike is taking a team of 10 there in March to build the house in 6 weeks! Gotta start practicing my French!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Brighton Earthship Completed

The Brighton Earthship is now complete. A big thanks to the volunteers who helped! Especially Big Ben who was with us every day of the five week push. Hard working, easy-going, we had to beat him to get him to STOP working at the end of the day. The Open Day was a success. We hung the displays that I spent the last week putting together. I also designed a one page front and back self-guided tour handout which had information about Earthships, a floor plan of the building with all the points of interest numbered, then labeled the building to match. Printed up a couple hundred of these so that folks can get a grasp on systems and building materials. Later in the evening we screened Oliver Hodge's documentary about Michael Reynolds and his fight to make sustainable housing more available to the masses. It's a fantastic flick and will be released in February. There is a three minute trailer available on Am back in Taos and will be posting photos of the finish coat on the outside of my house soon as well as more stories from out UK adventures!

Monday, November 06, 2006

Brighton Earthship Open House

Saturday November 11th

The Earthship in Stanmer Park is nearly complete! Over the past month a
crew of Earthship builders from Taos, New Mexico working alongside an
local crew have been completing the integrated water systems, installing
flooring in the bathroom, lining and filling the gray water treatment
planter and rendering the building inside and out. If you have visited
before, please come see the progress. If you have never had a chance to
visit, the Open House will be the perfect time to experience the building,
meet the crews and learn about how to live more self-sufficiently on the

Earthship books will be available for purchase.

Guided tours start on the hour and the half hour throughout the afternoon
with a requested £5 per person donation.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Striking Distance/UK Earthship Completion

So at the end of week 3 we have the entire Earthship finish plastered on the exterior, EPDM installed in the gray water planters, with gravel and sand on top, the bathroom rough-in plumbing complete, kitchen ready for finish plaster after lathing and scratch coating the funky, nasty barn wood (sorry everyone who loved that detail, you are men and you never clean kitchens!!) Light fixtures are in the main room, bottle walls started in bathroom, Hut ready for finish plaster, skylights nearly done...more to come...whew!!!

A Visit from the Fuzz

When I look back on my Earthship adventures I will certainly never forget that the solar panels on the Brighton Earthship in Stanmer Park were stolen by a crack addict named Psycho Tom who lives in a van and is a "cage fighter" (lock two men in a metal cage and don't let them out until one is unconscious). There once were 18 solar panels on the Earthship, special ones, that work best with diffuse light, the gray skies most common here. We could've run all the power tools and the cement mixer off of this system. But, alas, Pscyho Tom the Cage Fighter "nicked" them (stole them). Then last Friday, a sudden break and the police recovered two of the panels, serial numbers scratched out, strapped on top of a van. We probably will never see the other sixteen but were treated to the sight of 4 uniformed officers standing on the roof of the Earthship, comparing the scrapes on the panels with the brackets from which they were pried and taking evidence photos with their cell phones.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Brighton Earthship

So we've made it to Jolly Old England to finish the Brighton Earthship in Stamner Park. Justin, Ron and myself are here for four weeks to put a lot of energy into a project that has languished for 3 years. The design is the same as the Hybrid Earthship at Greater World. We are focusing on fixing the skylights, installing the gray water system and finishing the bathroom as well as making the building LOOK GOOD! Here's our friend Dave installing the frame for the "truth wall" that shows the building is made out of tyres...also a shot of Ron "rendering" the east wing wall and Justin in the bathroom trying to sort out the plumbing. Yipes! That has to be finished in three weeks!!! And a group shot of us...I'm the grubby one as I have been mixing mud by throwing clay into the cement mixer to make a slurry first, very very sloppy!! More soon!! xxoxo kirst

Saturday, September 16, 2006

98% Complete

I have received my Certificate of Occupancy from the Taos County Planning Department. I can now legally live in my house! (After doing it on the sly for six years.) They have listed my house as 98% complete which is my estimate as well...given how labor intensive the whole process has been, that last 2% including the color coat on the outside is still a ton of work I need to do BUT the stress is off now. So am I going to relax? Hell no. Still helping Claire on her Earthship at Reach. Helping Ron start his Earthship and in three weeks I'm going to England to finish the Brighton Earthship! Whew!

Friday, July 21, 2006

Hawaii Earthship Commando Trip

So we've just finished eight days in a row of Earthship construction on a jungle site here in Mountain View, Hawaii. What an awesome trip...raging with raw energy! More thoughts and pix

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Finish Plaster

Structolite, structolite, sooo OVER structolite. Claire and I finished plastered the bottom half of the bathroom wall and the rest of the planter wall a couple weekends ago. Am preparing to put plants in the gray water planter. Banana, rose, hibiscus, grape, jade, assorted cactus and a bunch of begonias. Need to get more starts. Have been working on exterior plaster as well. VERY HOT lately and I have to take a break after each load and put a frozen washcloth on my neck, eat shrimp cockail or have an iced coffee...hey, not too miserable...far cry from the days of warmish beer and tuna helper!!

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Byzantium Wall

So lovely Miss Anna did the final coat of the faux finish on the west, inspired by Byzatium, wall. It's intense, for sure, but I love it since most of the house is very neutral and subdued.
The green of the plants in the planter against the very dark rasperry of the wall will be intense.
Another wall finished. Check. Thanks Anna! You da'bomb!

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Observer UK Article

From today's Sunday Observer, UK. A photo I took of the Hybrid Earthship which is just to the south of my house. Kevan emailed the scan to me this moring. Don't know where they got the £70,000 figure for systems...seems very excessive...ah..the media....they get about 20% correct....What a trip to think of all those folks reading their Sunday papers "across the pond" looking at a photo I took when I was fumbling around in the dark in the middle of the night with my tripod and my iPod. (CLICK ON IMAGE TO ENLARGE)

Friday, May 26, 2006

More Bathroom Pix

Okay, so now there is a LIGHT inside the bathroom...soon to be some phabulous red or pink sculpture thingy but in the meatime still beams crazy light around the room...hence the obsession with photographing the bathroom continues!!! More finish plaster to be done tomorrow inside the bathroom by lovely Claire. More banking next week needed to wrap this puppy up! Eeeee...scary, good, must get done! What a long strange trip....

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Flush Toilet

I pooped in my house this morning! Something virtually all of y'all ('cept you homesteaders in Spain, some people in the Gravel Pit, and folks across the street) do every day! Or every other day or a few times a day...whatever. Alix kept telling me that it would be REALLY WEIRD to poop inside my house and I have to agree it kinda is. After living in dirt and construction chaos for years, slowly carving and scupting and then finishing methodically with love and cleaning, cleaning always cleaning neart the end...then you defecate in this perfect white, porcelain bowl full of CLEAN WATER (gray water not hooked up yet)'s just very odd. And reminds me just how many aspects of "modern living" we don't understand, take for granted, never question and just make no cars, automated customer service phone hell, puggles...

So I've spared you a photo of the toilet "in use" and subsituted shots of the bathroom and my desk at night. Basically the whole experience feels like I'm living in someone else's house. House is very Spartan right now as I do not really own furniture and is still being worked on... Is beautiful tho'! An awesome space to MAKE STUFF!

Friday, May 19, 2006


Here's my baby blue bathtub on my "capri teal" floor of the crazy bottle brick bathroom... Plaster still needs to be finished and plumbing hooked up but you get the idea of the bathroom...the theme is water...DUH.

Hot and Cold H20

First running water, out of a faucet in the house as of 4 hrs ago. Kitchen sink is hooked up to the Aqua Star and as you can see I even have a sprayer. Countertop is done and installed. All stainless hippie chick here.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Bedroom FINISHED!!!

Soooo...the master bedroom is now the first official finished room in the house. On Saturday, Claire, myself and Ron did the work of six people and finish mudded the upper half of the bedroom wall, then peeled back all the protective layers and revealed the bamboo floor. As you can see, the bottom half of the bathroom wall still needs finish plaster and I do not have an furniture really, just a foam mat on the floor. The mud will dry evenly and all the same light color. The 8 throughout-the-house speakers are hooked up in the ceiling and all morning I rocked the strangest group of tunes: Kraftwerk, Joni Mitchell, Tribe Called Quest and Metallica! Had crumpets and ground my own coffee fresh this morning for breakfast (cream from fridge, honey, the works, civilized amost). Next up: countertop for kitchen to pick up and install...more on bathroom... So am still at least a month away from being done but am now sleeping in the new bedroom which is huge. No more climbing the ladder to the loft!

Floors FINISHED!!!

My oh, my! What a whirlwind the past two weeks have been! Floors are DONE, acid etched with Lithochrome and sealed with two coats of sealer. This process turned out to be labor intensive and EXPENSIVE. Also involved a fair amount of stress as after the first coat it looked AWFUL...but pulled it off after another coat and the sealer and now it looks AMAZING...PHEW!!!

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Still going...

So I'm two weeks past my official deadline to finish my house...this only matters in financial sense as the bank charges a higher interest rate on the construction loan than the mortgage for the finished house. Feeling pain in most parts of my body as the past few days have been dedicated to plastering, much of it on ceilings, bathroom and hut. Major changes this week as I moved everything out of the dome that I've been living in for the past five years. Yesterday got a hit of plaster on the entire interior of the dome, ceiling and walls. It looks much more shapely and contiguous now. This is a project that I was going to leave until later as in the eyes of the Taos County Planning office, the dome is a "storage unit" and would not need to be super finished for the oh-so-crucial Certificate of Occupancy. But the timing was right, the materials were cheap and hot damn it looks GOOOOOD...getting to be 'spectable...

Tomorrow am going to Santa Fe to pick up the kitchen countertop from Southwest Metal who wrapped the whole custom thing in stainless steel. Once this is in we can put in the sink and faucet for the kitchen which will enable me to, good God, WASH DISHES in my house!!! Have all the materials to acid etch the bathroom floor (teal) and the rest of the floors throughout the house, minus the bamboo in the bedroom, ("antique amber"). This project will be a massive four day push, painful and messy and methodical...knee pads and buckets and buckets of water and respirators...will not be able to stay in the house at all during this time. Finish plastered the bathroom ceiling on Friday and Claire finished the bedroom ceiling on Saturday...still plugging away on slick troweling around the zillion bottles on the bathroom. Bathtub finally arrived!! The second one. Am not sure about the color but think it will look great in the finished bathroom. Basically I own all the appliances now, just need to get them in place. Much of that involving a plumber. That being kinda a sore subject after my first plumber went crazy, bailed to Cali and left me in the lurch.

Am so close now. As Mike Reynolds said, "You're there. No one gets to this point and doesn't finish." Good to hear from him but whole scene is still kinda sketchy as I STILL do not have enough $$ to finish...this after doing 4 cost breakdowns over the past year. (Advice to potential Earthship builders: Double your estimate. Then double it again and then add 25% for unforseen expenses and overages.) On the plus side, the Hybrid Earthship just to the south of me just sold for $355K, potentially doing wonders for my next appraisal...huh...we'll see...after my experiences with the official Centinel Bank appraiser...well, we'll see...

The upshot of all of this is that I feel so good about the progress and product that for the first time ever, I am going to offer my home to be on the tour for this month's Earthship Seminar.'s a couple pix!!!