HOPE RIVER, P.E.I. - After two years of sometimes gruelingly hard work, Jayden Charlton’s home is finally finished.
All 600 tires of it.
“I’m very happy. I feel like it’s an art piece and you don’t even really want to show it until it’s done,” said Charlton, who started construction of the project in 2016.
His home is an Earthship. It’s a term used to describe dwellings built using a method developed by Earthship Biotecture of Taos, N.M., in the early 1970s. They are constructed out of recycled materials, used tires chief among them.
The tires are filled with dirt and pounded until rock-hard. Layers of them make up the walls of the structure, which are then covered with an adobe on the inside and with a mound of earth on the outside.
The tires are combined with large south-facing windows and the structure is partially covered by earth to end up with a home that is mostly heated by the sun, requiring very little supplemental heating.
Charlton’s Earthship is also off-grid. Its only source of power is several solar panels and a bank of batteries. Its drinking water comes from a well, and it has a septic system.
The interior is about 800 square feet, with a master bedroom, sitting room, kitchen and bathroom. There is also a small loft above the bedroom.
Many of the interior’s finishing touches are made with reclaimed materials; bricks from an old chimney, old barn wood, and off-cut or otherwise unusable pieces of logs and cut lumber.
There is also a botanical cell in front of the large windows where crops or flowers can be grown.
Charlton declined to get into specifics of how much the whole structure cost him, but he did say it was roughly in the range of a new car.
To build his Earthship, Charlton got a helping hand from a troop of volunteers, some local and some international. Jordan Cameron, who built his own Earthship in Wellington Centre a few years ago, also lent his expertise.
“It was a community effort,” said Charlton.
“A lot of people wanted to help because they felt it was something good, ecologically friendly, that they could do.”
There are still loads of little details that Charlton plans to add and improve on over the next couple of years in the structure, but it is now livable.
He plans to live in the Earthship this summer, but eventually he will be offering it for rent as a nature retreat. With that goal in mind, it has no Wi-Fi and it is in as remote a location as you can find on P.E.I., about two kilometres into the woods, down a rough dirt road.
Both the Wellington and Hope River Earthships’ constructions are featured at www.earthshippei.com/ or their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/EarthshipPEI, which also has a link to an open house event, which was held June 30.