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Top 3 Lessons of the First Earth House

earth house april 15

We finally have a roof on the house and it came just in the nick of time! The very next day it poured down rain. We weren't quite prepared for that as the rainy season doesn't tend to start until May so we didn't even have the gutters on yet. Installing the gutters came with its own lessons as they don't sell gutter supports here so you have to build your own.

We knew this first build would be full of lessons! Here are a few things we have learned along the journey of building the first earth house.

First, the longer it takes to fundraise, the more expensive labor costs get. We don't have the heart to lay our workers off while we raise more money so we keep them employed and pay them out of our own pocket to work on small projects while we wait for more donations. In the future, we may have to raise all the funds first in an effort to stay on budget. Of course, building the volunteer house may help us keep labor costs down but we always want to employ as many locals as we can. The more locals we help thrive, the more we achieve our mission.

Second, it is really difficult to build a natural roof on a budget. We went through struggles trying to fire-cure bamboo and were left to analyze every roofing material available here. They all had a significant cost and aren't all that great for the environment. Ultimately we were able to buy roofing metal from an old project someone disassembled, so we got it for half price and are reusing materials. In the future, we want to build dome homes to help keep the costs down. The dome roof is built similarly to an igloo where each layer of earth bags would become slightly smaller in diameter until it encloses itself. The sugar bags we buy are 25 cents a piece so this would be much more affordable.

Third, it is always important to think like a local. Our American ways don't always translate and are often unnecessary. Upon further contemplation of building the bathroom, we realized that this is a country that embraces outdoor living. We have a beautiful climate year-round. We have decided to build an outdoor bathroom and shower rather than putting it inside the home. This will allow us to have more volunteers and offer training programs where people can stay onsite if they are from other areas of the country.

All in all, we are happy with our progress. At times it feels like this first house will never be finished, but we know we are getting closer to the finish line each day. We really want to make this house into the model home for people to see the possibilities of what is possible using natural and recycled materials. It is important to make it special so Hilery is putting a lot of effort into making the gardens beautiful and she is always busy creating something new for the house out of recycled materials!

This month on May 19th we are hosting another beach clean up in Playa Cangrejera with an ecobrick workshop and a kids' art workshop to make flowers out of egg cartons and plastic bottles. This will help us gather the final materials we need to finish off the house and we hope to meet more helpers in our little community.

We send you our deep heartfelt appreciation for all of your donations. It makes such a difference in our lives and our worker's lives. We can't thank you enough. Donations can be made as a one-time or recurring basis according to your preferences. Help us hit our goal and finish up this house as quickly as possible!


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