Australia: House made with bags of dirt lets couple live off grid and avoid mortgage trap - - PressFrom - Australia
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Australia House made with bags of dirt lets couple live off grid and avoid mortgage trap

00:21  14 november  2019
00:21  14 november  2019 Source:   abc.net.au

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The five-domed home at Kendenup near Western Australia's south coast cost just $41,600 to build and enabled owners Kate and Scott Ryan-Taylor to avoid the mortgage trap.

"We were looking for a home and to get out of rentals ... trying to find a balance between what we could afford and preferably something we actually liked," Ms Ryan-Taylor said.

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Aim: to live off - grid in the back of a minibus, simply parked in a ‘normal’ town, with a job in common “ mortgage trap ” where I’d be ‘reliant’ on or constantly hoping for house prices not to fall if I wanted Renting/ mortgages for typical housing is relatively inflexible or requires a lot of work & extra cost for

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"We looked at all different kinds of options, everything from concrete pre-cast to kit homes, but nothing really suited us.

"We never really wanted to live in a standard shoebox house."

A slow process

Some locals have likened the home to a termite mound, mosque and space ship — it's even been mistaken for a paintball fort, but the earth-bag home is structurally sound and completely off grid.

The Ryan-Taylors spent two years working with the local council to ensure the house's design was up to standard.

Once they received final approval, it took two years to build.

Most of the material used to fill the bags was sourced from their 27-acre block of land.

"Basically what the bags are filled with is what's called road base," Mr Ryan-Taylor said.

"It's usually got about 30 per cent clay content, and then a bit of aggregate and sand content gives it a bit of stability.

"You add 10 to 20 per cent moisture when you put the dirt in the bags ... that way, it sets and becomes rock-like."

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Around 4,000 bags make up the completed home, which features a large kitchen area, lounge room, bedroom, bathroom and pantry.

After years spent living in a caravan nearby, the Ryan-Taylors were thrilled to finally move into their dream home.

"To even just have the toilet under the same roof and not have to go outside in the middle of the night was ... wow," Ms Ryan-Taylor said.

Sustainable living

The earth-bag dome home maintains a constant temperature inside all year round.

"Once it gets a full summer and full winter under its belt, it should stabilise at around 20 degrees all year long," Mr Ryan-Taylor said.

"During the middle of the night when it's cold or when there's ice on the grass outside, inside it's still like it is now in the middle of the day."

There are strategic rainwater collection points across the roof space and the house is powered by a solar system with battery storage.

"We want to be as self-sufficient as possible," Mr Ryan-Taylor said.

"It's the sort of house that will be here for hundreds of years after us, as long as it gets looked after."

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Off - grid living avails this opportunity. You are no longer dependent on a water supply because you have your own private source of water. Most people opting to go off the grid aim for a healthy and wholesome lifestyle. That includes sticking to a natural diet and avoiding processed foods.

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Leading the way for others

The couple is regularly invited to speak at the local sustainability fair and host open days at their home a few times each year.

Mr Ryan-Taylor said the reaction from visitors was mixed.

"Some people absolutely love it, some think it's an eyesore, some think it looks weird from the outside and then they come inside and love it.

"There are a lot of workshops out there on how to build with earth bags and a lot of materials but the bit that is missing is how to meet [the building] code.

"That's where we see ourselves, sharing our journey with others and helping them."

The couple have a mortgage on their land but wanted to avoid an additional mortgage on a house.

"A lot of people can't afford a regular home but they've got the physical strength and the materials to be able to do this, they just need to know how," Ms Ryan-Taylor said.

"We ticked every box and made it happen ... and now we're living in it, we love it, and that's what matters."

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