We have demonstrated $4/sq. ft. costs for lifetime building in the last post â€“ based on using on-site earth as a low cost building material. When our CEB machine is optimized to 3000 bricks per day, this option becomes really attractive as a viable option for global village construction.
When our sawmill comes on-line, we will eliminate more of the costs â€“ roof truss members, roof planks, top plate, plus window and door framing lumber.
Further cost optimization is possible â€“ without sacrificing any building performance. If we do the work in the summer, we will eliminate the need for cement mortar â€“ and go back to earth slurry as the mortar of choice. From our experience with the present CEB addition, we conclude that if we have sufficient roof overhangs on the building, along with proper earth berming â€“ then soil around the foundation will be dry â€“ and will become more dry over time â€“ such that additional moisture protection measures will not be necessary on the foundation and outside walls. Plus, we are convinced that cement-dipped CEB blocks can be used as a substitute for rock foundations â€“ so we will also eliminate the cost of gravel. The roof can be sheathed/shingled, and soil cement may be used to fill any questionable cracks. Nonstructural, insulating CEB block can be used to reduce the insulation costs.
The new bill of materials for the ~1000 sq ft structure look like a whopping $430 total:
This is 43 cents per square foot. People, this is radical, and hints at abundance. Just by having the infrastructure consisting of a CEB press, sawmill, and LifeTrac for power and earth moving â€“ we can produce housing at under $1/sq ft in outsourced building materials. We are assuming that LifeTrac technology is all under our control â€“ that we can fix and maintain it without having to buy any expensive parts. Maintenance cost reduction on LifeTrac relies on producing the steam engine propulsion system â€“ with integrated hydraulic pump â€“ currently in progress.
All of the above relies on good timing by working in the dry season â€“ where moisture does not turn our experiment into a mudslide. I can tell you â€“ these bricks are rock hard when properly cured â€“ but not so when they are wet. We will also consider simple kilning of these bricks, by arranging bricks into a kiln structure, and simply covering with corrugated metal. We can also consider using the building itself as a kiln â€“ by starting a fire inside during construction time, covering the structure, and letting it bake for a day or so. In situ kilning is not a bad idea.
On top of this, we can go even deeper in the future construction of our village. If we dig down, say 6 feet with the versatile LifeTrac backhoe â€“ we can make an earth-sheltered underground house. By using proper solar design and at least 1 foot of soil on the roof â€“ plus adding further nonstructural, insulating CEB bricks â€“ then we have not only created tornado-proof housing, but also reduced the cost by the price of industrial insulation.
Add a masonry oven with masonry chimney, with Nickâ€™s steam engine ($200) plus cooking surface â€“ an in-house well that we will dig with the future LifeTrac well rig â€“ and you have an autonomous house that produces its own electricity and water, is heated primarily by solar gain, and has accommodations for cooking, living, and working via wireless internet.
Two missing links that still need to be brought in from the global supply chain are mortar and nails. Well, weâ€™ve got that covered in the future. A small CEB kiln where we fire limestone is a time-proven technique for producing cement on a small scale. See Small Scale Cement Plants in the AT Sourcebook. The next one is metal melting â€“ and extruding a wire. Wire of different diameters is used to make nails, screws, bolts, and all kinds of fasteners. This is not a far reach for a small wire extruder â€“ if weâ€™ve got the know-how, and some scrap steel â€“ which today is an abundant, industrial detritus.
We will be building this concept house and revolutionizing the zero energy home industry â€“ our cost of under $500 for this is lower than the $10000k for structures of similar performance. The most difficult part will be laying bricks and cutting lumber. There is no substitute for honest labor with these, but brick laying can go at a rewarding pace. Both tasks are assisted with LifeTrac materials handling.
And of course, weâ€™ll cover glazing later â€“ if we have metal melting infrastructure, it is not a far cry to melt scrap glass, or even start from sand. Anyway, you get the picture. Absolute prosperity on a small scale â€“ if we integrate ancient wisdom with modern technology.
Welcome to Factor e Farm â€“ where we are building abundance.