Earth Ship Homes: Why So Few?

Flickr CC photo, courtesy of dave-friedel

According to the PEW Center on Global Climate Change, our home energy consumption needs contribute to one fifth of the United States’ annual electrical output. That’s a lot of power. But what’s even worse is our electrical bills can easily eat up $1,500 a year or more of our hard earned money — and a good percentage of that energy is lost through our homes energy-inefficiency.

While replacing your light bulbs with CFLs and insulating the old crawlspace are all good environmental practices, they are really a drop in the bucket compared to where our energy consumption rates should be. Even with today’s awareness about global warming and energy conservation, the average American’s energy consumption rates have barely decreased in the last few years.

The time to change our building industry has arrived, and we can do it by creating zero-energy, zero-environmental impact homes. An Earthship Biotecture is the perfect way to achieve a zero-energy home and still afford yourself the comforts you would expect with a conventionally built home. In fact, some Earthship homes may be more comfortable than the home you’re in now!

Best of all, Earthships can be affordable. With so many green home improvement tax credits available from Uncle Sam, your new Earthship home may be right around the corner come this April.

But you may be asking yourself, if the offer is so good, then how come nobody else is building Earthships? That’s one of the most asked questions about Earthship construction. The reason not everyone else is doing it is simple red tape. Because of local, state and national building codes and lack of knowledge about Earthship construction methods, permits are commonly denied. Throw in the fact that local deed restrictions may not permit Earthship-type structures in the neighborhood, and you can begin to see how difficult it may become to acquire permitting and permission from governing officials.

The other big hurdle when building your own Earthship is money. If you don’t have the financing for building your own Earthship, then a bank may not lend you the money. When loan officers factor in the combination of a low resale value and a low appraisal, most won’t think the loans will be viable and will quickly deny you the money.

But if you’re still keen on the idea of an Earthship and those minor hurdles are out of your way and of no concern to you, then building an Earthship can be easily done. If you’re a DIY expert and you’re ready to undertake the ultimate home improvement project, then you can start breaking ground right away. But first you need to learn about Earthship construction, and that’s easy. If you’re all about going to the source, then the original architect who coined the phrase Earthship Biotecture, Mike Reynolds is the man for you. With personal consultations and advice offered for a fee, they can help you and your Earthship get started in the right direction.

You can also find more information about other Earthship builders at U.S. Green Building Councils Green Home Guide if you’re looking for professional advice from across the country or need someone to build your new Earthship in your backyard. Whether you build your own Earthship or have a builder do it for you, the investment you make now will go a long way towards saving our planet in the years to come.

Eric Brennan is a second generation master carpenter with over 20 years of construction industry experience. Since 2005, Eric has also been a hard at work honing his skills as a home improvement writer. In 2009, he was given the Associated Content award for best home improvement writer. Eric is currently a featured green and home improvement writer for the Yahoo! Contributor Network and editor of Construct101. He has produced thousands of articles on everything construction, remodeling, interior decorating, green building, and many other home improvement related fields for countless websites and blogs including the DIY network, P&G Tide,, AT&T, Huffington Post, and Yahoo! News.