PALEOTECHNICS

COTTAGE FLOORS & WALLS

FOLLOWING ARE PICTURES OF THE PROCESS OF BUILDING OUR GUEST COTTAGE (with extensive notes)

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Velton came to stay a while just as we were ready to bolt on the sill plates and start framing.
He framed the whole thing almost singlehandedly and it's super tight. and stout which people comment on all the time.
VELTON ROCKS!VELTON ROCKS!VELTON ROCKS!VELTON ROCKS!VELTON ROCKS!VELTON ROCKS!VELTON ROCKS!VELTON ROCKS!VELTON ROCKS!


Dumping gravel in for the floor drainage.


Sooooo ready to be done with the gravel part!


Tamping gravel is clearly a lot of fun!


Firmly tamped into place, we now have a flat surface to start from. The floor is contoured to drain into one corner and out in case any water ever does get onto the floor, which is unlikely with the rubble trench in place.


A layer of volcanic pumice was added as insulation.
I think it was two inches thick, maybe three. This is very light stone. It's basically stone foam. It's not quite light enough to float like much of the grey pumice is, but it's almost that light. The 2x4's are forms to pour the adobe floor mix into. After the first one is filled, the 2x4 against the wall is leapfrogged over to about where Velton's foot is and a second strip is laid. As each 2x4 is taken out, the space left is filled with the same material so we ended up with a continuous adobe slab 3 1/2 inches thick. The mix was a little clay rich, so it cracked some, but that's not a problem for the sub floor.


The mix for the floor was done with the tractor.
It's mostly sand and gravel with some clay and straw.
We were either too tired to remember to take pictures of laying the floor or we lost them.


Once the floor was firm enough to walk on, we started stuffing the walls with straw clay mix.
We mixed meadow clay with water and a little bit of borax to make a runny clay slip. This was mixed into some straw like coleslaw.


Chuck mixed tons of straw clay with his usual even humor.


The wall that Andrew built.
Andrew is a great guy and a stalwart stuffer.


Willow stuffing walls at an impromptu work party.
Plywood is temporarily screwed to the outside of the wall. The plywood on the inside is moved up as the wall progresses. The space between the two creates a form and the straw is packed in semi-firmly with a piece of 2x4. There is controversy over how tight to pack the straw in. Tighter packing provides less insulation, but too loose and it's hard to plaster to and just kind of sloppy. With lot's of different people helping we ended up with a pretty wide variance, but once it's all covered with 1 1/2 inches of plaster on each side we'll probably never think about it again.


Bruni stuffing walls.
It makes this work a lot more fun when a bunch of people around.


A finished wall. The diagonals are bracing to provide shear to the wall.
Many people don't seem to do much for shear on the straw clay structures because is seems like a hassle. It actually wasn't a big hassle at all. The same goes for the electrical conduit buried in the wall, which is also often omitted.
Walls need adequate bracing in a seismically active area like this one. Earth plaster can provide some shear, but only to a certain stress point at which it will probably explode into fragments as tests on adobe structures have shown. We don't want our guests buried under a pile of slate roof thank you very much. So, shear those walls ya'll!

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PALEOTECHNICS
Steven Edholm & Tamara Wilder
PO Box 876 Boonville, CA 95415
voice mail 707-793-2287

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