How to Build a House Using Free Tires…
…and a lot of heavy equipment! Tire bales are already used in building roads and levies and other cheap construction.
But that use is almost a waste considering the energy efficiency of the material. Walls built with these are rated between R-40 at a minimum and – by some calculations: up to R-200! Why not build your eco dream home with such energy misers?
Tire bales are packed into bundles of 100 old discarded tires, packed into heavy bales – five foot square bundles that are 2.5 feet high and weigh a ton each. Tire baling companies like Eagle rent equipment that you can use to compress, stack and bale tires, hopefully near your building site.
Although this rental costs money, and the other heavy construction takes money, (each one ton bale can only be moved into place by forklift) the energy costs over time of houses built with tire bales can be almost nothing, because of those very high insulating properties.
Once compressed they are as dense as wood and although they look disorganized on the outside, these actually have only 5% air inside the bale.
Here’s how to build a house with them.
1. Arrange the bales to form your wall using a forklift. Insulate it with a plastic vapor barrier on the exterior. To begin to square off the wall, first, surround the bale wall with mesh netting. Make sure to take all nessisary safety precautions, such as wearing hard hats and safety goggles.
2. Cap the top of the mesh square around the wall with plywood to create a square.Â (Walls made with these 2.5 foot high tire bales will be at least 5 feet thick, so a very simple building footprint like this is best – just a rectangle – keeping one long wall all glass to offset the lack of windows in the tire walls.)
3. Once the top is secured enough by concrete blown into the tire bale interior to hold it square, remove the mesh to expose the inside of the tire bale wall. Blow more in, till the concrete slops down and won’t hold any more.
4. Replace the mesh to blow shotcrete through and scrape it down to finish up the walls for the interior of the house. No lumpy tires show through now on the inside of the house.
5. Pour concrete down into the wall from the top. The opening to the right is a garage. On this house, a green roof will extend from the back of the house so all that is needed on the outside is this plastic vapor barrier. Earth will be piled against it and a green roof planted.
Because of the hassle factor of placing windows in the five foot thick walls that tire bales make, it is probably easier to simply put most of the windows along one wall – south facing for passive solar gain. Shading can be made using a long porch in front, dimensioned so that the summer sun is prevented from flooding the window, but so that the winter sun reaches all the way inside.
Given the R-40 to R-200 energy ratings, and the abundant supply of free tires, the astonishing thing is that it is so hard to get tire bale buildings permitted, but you will likely not be able to get a building permit or even a mortgage based on this building technique. So you have to build in one of the states where you can build without a permit. And have cash on hand to build mortgage-free and/or have friends in the heavy construction business!
Source: Flikr user Tire Bale House