Rammed Earth Buildings – Not for me but maybe for you!

June 19, 2008 at 9:29 pm 2 comments

I came across an article today about rammed earth as a home building material and was intrigued.  I am pretty sure that my local city officials might have a problem with it from and earthquake stand point (note: I live in Southern California) It seems that it might make a pretty good alternative from a green building stand point in other parts of the USA.

In the article on Green Upgrader (http://greenupgrader.com/2156/rammed-earth-home-building-with-compressed-dirt/#more-2156) it does mention that you can add steel reinforcement as you would in concrete for strength however…..

As I read on however on another site which at first glance seems pretty extensive (http://www.greenhomebuilding.com/rammedearth.htm) I was getting more interested until I got to the bottom of the page where I found this disclaimer:

Disclaimer Of Liability And Warranty
I specifically disclaim any warranty, either expressed or implied, concerning the information on these pages. Neither I nor any of the advisor/consultants associated with this site will have liability for loss, damage, or injury, resulting from the use of any information found on this, or any other page at this site. Kelly Hart, Hartworks, Inc.

By this time I am getting wary again but I find this site: Rammed Earth is for Everyone (http://rammedearth.blogspot.com/) and judging from the pictures and testimonials on the site maybe this will work in some areas and those walls inthe pictures sure look a strong like concrete.

Then I get to Adobe Builder (http://www.adobebuilder.com/) and on the front page we are into disclaimers and warnings again.  This site specifically warns that many states have a great deal of restrictions on adobe and rammed earth buildings, especially California.

So yes, you can do it, legally speaking. In areas without codes, you have more freedom, but you should still build to a recognized standard. If your building department has little experience with earth walls, they may require that your plans be stamped by a licensed engineer or architect. In many areas of the Southwest, prescribed codes allow you to build to a standard, without a professional stamp. This is the case in Arizona and New Mexico, and portions of Utah, and Colorado. At present, Texas has few restrictive codes, and California, the most restrictions.”

Now I could tell you all about how the cost for this type of construction is very competitive with traditional construction methods and that it also has many green advantages including a very stable temperature inside the building due to the massive wall structure usually required for this process.

However based on the obvious drawbacks in many parts of the country and some potetial dubious methodologies I am hard pressed to recommend even spending the time to research this further.  There are many simpler ways to reduce a buildings footprint realtive to its impact on the environment both locally and globally. Perhaps if the process is revamped and improved such that it is more main stream realtive to building codes I would be willing to relook at the subject, but for now I would recommend staying away from this as an option to build a house or other building.

As always I thank you for your time and interest. Please take the time to Digg, Stumble Upon or add to the other social network of your choice to help me spread the word about these issues. Please forward any questions or suggestions to: askthefm@gmail.com

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Entry filed under: Design, Planning, Technology. Tags: , , .

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