Rubble filled walls - anybody have any hints?

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by j.r. guerra in s. tx., Dec 19, 2003.

  1. j.r. guerra in s. tx.

    j.r. guerra in s. tx. Well-Known Member

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    I'm interested in building a small cabin (12' x 12' is plenty big) for a hunting cabin on some property we own. Something our grandkids could point to and say - 'Yep, grandpa was the architect and builder of this place.' and say it with pride. I've looked at many alternative architecture plans (the sandbag palace looked most promising with our environment).

    Rubble filled wall construction is where you place two board side by side, which will determine the thickness of your wall. You tie these boards together with wire, fill the cavity with stones, then fill the space with concrete. You install another board on top of this, lining up the boards with the bottom board, and wait for the bottom course to dry. When it does, repeat the steps.

    Has anybody ever tried making a building with this method? Do you recommend it? Or does it require too much stone to do this right. I've seen some outstanding projects made, one made with riverstone in California in particular, wow. :eek: Fantastic.

    I've got plenty of good detailing this - what did the books forget to add.

    Thanks in advance for any help / advice given.
     
  2. Explorer

    Explorer Well-Known Member Supporter

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    How thick you want to make the walls?

    Some of the old, 1890-1920, stone half-walled barns in the upper midwest had pretty thick walls, almost two feet at the bottom. Of course, this was for a wall up to twenty-five feet or so high.
     

  3. Unreg Dave

    Unreg Dave Guest

    Quote:
    Rubble filled wall construction is where you place two board side by side, which will determine the thickness of your wall. You tie these boards together with wire, fill the cavity with stones, then fill the space with concrete. You install another board on top of this, lining up the boards with the bottom board, and wait for the bottom course to dry. When it does, repeat the steps.



    Hi J.R.,
    It is also referred to as the slipform method, and I intend to build my house out of stone this way because the stones are cash-free (there are a lot of them in New England, big ones) and as a building material it is suited to the climate.

    I haven't had any experience to share yet, but my favorite book (which includes some potential problems to watch out for) on the subject is "Build Your Own Stone House," by Karl and Sue Schwenke (ISBN 0-88266-639-8 Storey Publishing). Karl and Sue have built many stone structures this way since they built their house. The book is well written and includes humorous anecdotes.

    Another book I recommend is "How to Build A Low-Cost House of Stone," by Lewis and Sharon Watson, Stonehouse Publications. I don't know if it is in print anymore but I'm sure you could find it used online (try www.addall.com).

    Hope this helps!
    Dave
     
  4. j.r. guerra in s. tx.

    j.r. guerra in s. tx. Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for the suggestions folks. Yes, slipform is the descriptive term for this - thanks Unreg Dave. I have Ken Kerns book - it is an excellent resource.

    I was hoping to make them cavity walls of at least 8" each with a cavity of at least three inches for a thermal break. The only reasons I am considering stone is its beauty, permanance (sp?)and strength. I was hoping to cover the bottom five feet of wall by either berming them, or digging out a hill allowing the soil to help insulate. The strength required to deal with wet earth is the reason I am considering stone. With only a minimum of exposed wall, superinsulating an earth roof, and installing wind scoops for air, I might have a shot for what I'm trying to accomplish.

    My big problem, I think, will be humidity control - our climate is H U M I D and will be a big factor in maintaince, I think. Siting the building to be set on a north facing hill should also help with fighting heat gain.

    Still grasping at straws for a solution - building a small with no utilities in a hot, humid environment. Mike Oehler's book The $50 and Up Underground Home looks very promising.

    Thanks for the help.
     
  5. Don Armstrong

    Don Armstrong In Remembrance

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    I'm still toying with the idea of hay-bale construction, covered with a stucco that can breathe (to solve the humidity problem). Old-fashioned lime-plaster would fill the bill, under wide verandahs. Alternatively, mud would do the job, or formed-earth (pise). An ideal I can see would be something with high thermal mass (say formed-earth or your stone-and-concrete walls) as interior walls to even-off the temperature swings, then with an outside-lining of insulation (aka straw-bale {covered of course with a breathing-but-waterproofing facing, and under wide eaves or verandahs}). Cost a lot for enough roof area though.

    One thing about your slip-formed walls. A second cousin of mine built two homes with stone walls. Did it himself. Magnificent things. Then had a heart attack while he was driving the tractor, and a neighbour found him upside-down in a creek-bed about a mile from where he'd been working. However, a point about those stones. The temptation is to use your good stones as surface area - splay them out across the outside of the wall so they cover the maximum area. Don't do it. If you think about it, you'll realise that stones arranged that way would just pop off the surface. You need to arrange stones so they reach through the wall for structural integrity, or at least along the wall like bricks (ditto). If you've got a flat stone, it ideally needs to be laid flat (good general rule). If not and you stand it on its edge, then it needs to be going through the width of rather than along the length of the wall.

    Oh, yes - many old stone homes I've seen were built with brick corners and door-and-window frames. Meant they could keep the walls square - lay the bricks with a string-line and a spirit-level, then fill in the bits between with more rustic stone. Should work with formwork too.