Living container tire foundation

We’re busy doing everything all the time, but last night I took time off to write a short update about the container house foundation and tire thumping for those of you might be interested.

Stuff you need to build with tires: tires (no shit, who would have thought?), a couple of shovels and sledge hammers, and a level. And some calories to burn...

Stuff you need to build with tires: tires (no shit, who would have thought?), a couple of shovels and sledge hammers, and a level. And some calories to burn…

The containers need to be minimum 25 cm off the ground to allow the drain pipes coming out under the bathroom and kitchen in the 40′ container. Usually the foundation consists of 40 x 40 cm concrete pillars that are 50 cm or so below ground, or decently sized wood logs/vigas along each short side of the containers. As we’re real cheapos, we wanted to see if we instead could construct a foundation using car tires.

Virginia and the Finn bring more tires

Virginia and the Finn bring more tires

Ideally we’d use tires of the same size and brand (different tire brands expand differently when thumped) and work with multiples of tires when digging holes. But we didn’t even have enough tires of the same size when we started… Instead we started digging a couple of holes and thumped a couple of tires and then Virginia salvaged a few more tires and we thumped a few more, and on an on it went.

Dig  a hole, throw in a tire with some card board to keep the dirt in...

Dig a hole, throw in a tire with some card board to keep the dirt in…

It turned out ok in the end and only one hole was annoyingly off with just too little for another tire to be reasonably level with the others. But the idea of moving two tires and dig five more cm and then having to re-thump two more in addition to a new one was… …not attractive. The original plan was to add wood shims to level the foundation but as it turned out to be surprisingly expensive, we decided to make concrete shims instead. And we also decided to make an extra tall shim instead of breaking a serious sweat digging a slightly deeper hole and then re-thump and bla bla bla – you already know, right?

...check so it is approximately where it is supposed to be

…check so it is approximately where it is supposed to be

The best way of constructing a foundation using tires would probably be to construct a continuous wall that curves at the ends, and then use either wood or concrete to make a bond beam. That would have been great and nearly bomb proof, but we didn’t have enough tires nor muscles needed for such an adventure, so we made pillars instead. Jiggly pillars that were straightened up with four 8 mm 1.2 – 1.3 m long rebars hammered through the rubber sides and down into the soil under the tires, and then bermed with a healthy load of sand and gravel. And now they aren’t jiggly any more!

...fill it with dirt and thump it!

…fill it with dirt and thump it!

The concrete shims will be poured into beautifully crafted forms (well, butt ugly wood and mud forms, but they will do. Pics later. Maybe.) as soon as the seemingly never-ending rain ends (I’m having Gothenburg flashbacks with all the wind and rain…). Until then the whole creation sleeps under a couple of cheerfully blue tarps to keep it from dissolving in the rain and wind. Hearing the howling wind now I’m really looking forward to see if the tarps are still there tomorrow, or if they are taken by the winds or perhaps trashed by the extremely curious cows that come to have a dump there every evening…

Child labour - cheap but really bad quality

Child labour – cheap but really bad quality

Container foundation, not ant hills. They need to be bermed better and concrete caps to be level. Mañana...

Container foundation, not ant hills. They need to be bermed better and concrete caps to be level. Mañana…

Almost done with the foundation, I conclude that I strongly consider using poured concrete next time… If we have a cement mixer, electricity and water, which we didn’t when we started.

Speaking of water – we almost have water! At least we have a 40 m deep well and as soon as we have a pump and electricity we’ll have water. We still want to experiment with rain water catchment on the container so we know a bit more when it is time to construct the house, but we decided to drill a well as we really need water now in order to live in the container house.

Well, if all goes well it's gonna be a well

Well, if all goes well it’s gonna be a well

What more? Ah, let’s see – flooded and stuck (check our new and fancy fb page facebook.com/offgridlivinginuruguay for pics), I didn’t electrocute myself when connecting the solar batteries (but they are still hungry), I’m out of whisky (except for a long un-opened bottle of 17 year old Laphroig bought at Laphroig that I’m trying to save for Bengt O. when he comes and visit), a fantastic electrician who without oscilloscope showed that the fancy generator we bought outputs 60 rather than 50 Hz that we need to hook it up with our photovoltaic system, and well, I have to my enormous surprise started to wear a cap (oh so comfy in both rain and sun) and swapped my flip-flops for boots. But let’s save all that for another post or two.

Cheers!

3 Comments

  1. Cap and a Pickup- truck, you could just as well have moved to Alabama or Torsby kommun.

  2. Muy impresionsda con el advance! Me fascina la aventura, en unos meses lo veré personalmente, adelante y abrazos

  3. Hi Guys, thank you for sharing your adventure. It is nice to see you making progress and I look forward to the home unfolding. I thought the tyre berms were very creative. I look forward to seeing the container being placed. Cheers Paul

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