When I first heard about rammed earth, I was no eco warrior. The most I ever did to save the planet was recycle my empty beer cans. But building with earth turns out to be a very sustainable thing to do.
The rammed earth method is a very clean process that produces smooth, solid walls that are plenty strong enough to fit windows and hang doors in the same way as today's modern buildings.
I decided to regard it as a challenge, a test of character, a chance to avoid the heavy cost to the environment of building with bricks; but most of all, I realised that it was going to be dirt cheap.
Before we get going, let me say this... I didn't set out to build with earth in order to save the planet; rather I built with earth to save a packet! Things are different now, but back then it was the money meaning of the phrase Eco-Build that convinced me. It just turns out that when you strive to save money, you usually end up saving the planet by accident. This is mostly down to the mindset you need to adopt...
Using my budgeting method, Pound-Zero, you will be amazed at how you can avoid spending money by just believing that you haven't got any to spend. Sometimes you will get things for nothing by re-using something you already have or by asking friends and neighbours if they have what you need. Other times you will have to spend something to enable you to go forward, but always take the time to search out an alternative way, or get ten quotes for materials instead of just three. You will be surprised how half an hour on the phone or the Internet can keep your costs down to earth.
Another potentially big expense can be the disposal of waste. Skips are expensive things, so if you can avoid waste then you will be sure to avoid costs. By planning ahead, I managed without a single skip or trip to the local dump. Most of the waste that was created, I managed to re-use within the building itself as subfloor material and only minimal amounts went into my domestic rubbish bin.
When I embarked on this journey, I hadn't visited any existing rammed earth buildings or attended any courses to learn what to do and when to do it. I just took the plunge and gave it my best shot.
I now run practical courses on rammed earth and people from around the world visit the Eco-Shed and have a go before starting out on their own projects. See my website for details.
Hang on in there and you will be able to do what I did and build your project for as little as 45 quid per square metre... Now that's what I call eco-building!