Friday, February 18, 2011

A House Built From Trash

From Waste and Recycling News
By Jim Johnson
Women construct home in West Virginia from discards, donations

There´s bottles and cans and tires and paper. Lots of paper.

And the name of the website says it all -- http://www.builtfromtrash.com/.
 
A pair of women in West Virginia have taken what many consider trash and created a home that´s chiefly build from discards and donations.
 
Carrie Ross-Stone and Elisia Ross-Stone went looking for some inexpensive land years ago and settled on a six-acre track of land in 2003 in Wallace, W.Va., about 26 miles from Clarksburg, the nearest "big city."
 
From there, the sent off to create -- through plenty of hard work -- a home for themselves that´s made from recyclables, by financial necessity and by design.
 
Using a mobile home as the basis for construction, the pair expanded the structure on both sides by eight feet by using old tires as a foundation and a mixture called "papercrete" that´s about half recycled paper and half clay-based soil for the exterior walls. There´s also a bit of Portland cement and Borax to fend off mold in that mix as well.
 
With the help of water, the women mixed the recycled paper, soil, cement and Borax to the consistency of oatmeal and poured the recipe into wooden forms. Batch after batch, mixed in a large galvanized bucket, was layered on top of each other and dried to form solid walls.
They placed recycled glass bottles, cut and duct-taped in a tube-like fashion, into the mixture before it dried to allow sunlight to find its way through the walls and into the interior of the house.
 
Aluminum cans, concrete and mortar were used to build the interior walls that were not load-bearing. The first row of cans was screwed to the floor and concrete or mortar was placed where the cans meet. From that initial row, cans were placed on top, like bricks, and cemented into place.
 
Salvaged and inexpensive wood helped build forms for the papercrete mixture. This wood also was used to build floors for the additions on either side of the structure as well as an exterior porch.
 
"Both of us have always wanted to do something, build our own house. We wanted to build our own house for the challenge of it," Carrie said.
 
Work is about 95% complete in the home, which is a source of pride for both women. "We never don´t appreciate it. à I walk up that hill everyday and look up and say that is just amazing," Carrie said.
 
"It feels great to live in a house that you built with your own hands. Literally, bucket by bucket," Elisia said. "It´s awesome. I can´t believe it."
 
With the expense of housing these days, and the financial crisis that many Americans have gone through during the past few years, the women believe their path can be one way that people can afford their own homes.
 
"This is something we think people could do if they had the desire to do it," Elisia said.
While they started with a mobile home as the basis for their structure, the outside walls of that home were removed once the additions were finished on either side. Now, walking into the enlarged home, it´s hard to tell the house was once a trailer, they said.
 
"I do not walk in this house without appreciating how wonderful it is," Carrie said. "Maybe it´s not a palace to some people, but it´s a palace to us. Better than we thought it would turn out. You can live very well and build your house for almost nothing."
 
The women spent $6,000 for six acres of land and then spent another $10,000 during the ensuing years to construct their own house that´s built, as they say, from trash.
 
Along with salvaging materials for an old school that was being torn down, the women were able to pick up discarded and inexpensive lumber from a home improvement store as well as mistakenly mixed paint that was also inexpensive.
 
"We try to stay aware of our own environmental and societal impact and we feel like we have the ability to make change ourselves and not wait for other people to change things for us," Carrie said.
 
Contact Waste & Recycling News senior reporter Jim Johnson at 937-964-1289 or jpjohnson@crain.com
(Feb. 7, 2011)

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