Monday, April 6, 2009

Book review of "DIRT" —Michael Janzen, Tiny House Design

I just finished reading a new ebook by Michael Van Hall (a.k.a The Cheap-Ass Curmudgeon). The book is titled, The Cheap-Ass Curmudgeon’s Guide to: DIRT — Hand building with Adobe, Papercrete, Paper-Adobe, and more, and I must admit it was an entertaining read. More importantly I got a good look at an entirely different way of building an adobe house that breaks all the rules.

Instead of making adobe blocks, letting them cure, culling out the cracked blocks, and then transporting them to the job site, Michael uses a small form, packs it full of mud, and stacks the walls up wet. This saves an enormous amount of time, effort, and money because you mostly use the dirt under your feet. Another side benefit is that the blocks stick together and interlock making an extremely strong wall.

If that wasn’t weird enough for you it gets better. Michael isn’t terribly concerned with level courses or strait rows. If a wall gets out of line it just adds to the aesthetic. He also tends to pack his blocks with other objects like rocks, glass bottles, chunks of rubble, and even soda cans.

If you like the idea of building with trash, dirt, rock, and other things lying around on the ground… like me… you will enjoy this book. If you prefer nice new stuff I think you’ll still appreciate his out-of-the-box thinking and extreme frugality.

Michael has put quite a bit of information on his website and there is even a free abridged sample of the ebook to download to give you a better idea of what you’ll find in the complete book. Take a closer look at The Cheap-Ass Curmudgeon’s Guide to: DIRT. You can also follow the Michael Van Hall on Twitter if you want to get to know him better.

Michael Janzen

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