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Tire Bale House Begins: 2007 Update

November 15, 2007

It is already November 2007, and Laura has been trying to stay on top of all of the latest updates to our website!

Some of you have reported problems seeing the movies and some of the images from the other galleries. She is still working to correct those issues. (Laura works with software all day and the house on weekends, and isn’t thrilled to work with web sites in the evenings and weekends. So, please be patient.)

Are you interested in learning about what it takes to build a tire bale house? If so, please drop an email to Jon & Laura Hagar at our email address below. Our original plans for a workshop in spring 2007 did not materialize. Fate had other plans for us in the early months of 2007. We were very busy building the house, keeping the roads clear of snow during a hard, snowy winter, plus we have been working our “day” jobs.

Project Summary to Date

We were looking for an easier building technique to the rammed earth tire (earthship) home as well as an alternative to the traditional stick house. We researched earthship and straw bale techniques and originally wanted to go with the earthship technique, but one of us did NOT want to do all of the work of ramming dirt into so many tires! Ta-Dah, tire bales!

Thanks to the help of our patient realtor (Jim Glenn in Granby, CO), we found a great piece of property surrounded by thousands of acres of public lands. We’ll have very few neighbors, but more importantly no covenants. Our house is similar to the “earthship” concept created by Michael Reynolds but with a few changes, some of which use conventional building techniques.

We really liked the idea of using tires, cans, and bottles to build with and using solar energy for electricity and warmth, but physically pounding dirt into so many tires


Instead of pounding dirt into all those individual tires, an architectural designer of earthship houses, Michael Shealy, suggested we use tire bales for the outside walls effectively creating a large, active thermal mass.

A tire bale is a “big square brick” of about 100 compressed whole tires. Each bale is approximately 5 feet deep by 5 feet wide by 2.5 ft. high and weighs about 2,000 lbs. (1 ton). A tire bale (by iteself) has an energy rating of somewhere between R-40 and R-200 depending on which study you read and how it’s used. The tire bales are encased in concrete, effectively making the tire bale walls of our house about 6-feet thick.

Our house uses approximately 170 full bales and about 5 half bales or about 17,000 tires. Tire bales are FREE as long as one presents a bulding permit. All we had to do was get the bales hauled from Sedalia to Granby Colorado, a distance of about 135 miles.

The tire bales are stacked like bricks to make up all of the outer walls. These walls form the structural integrity of the house. Shot-crete (sprayed on concrete) is applied to finish the walls, effectively creating a minimum 6-foot thick wall. The entire south of our house is glass windows and doors. This creates a large, active thermal mass, which should maintain a relatively constant temperature of 65-degrees. Imagine the energy savings!

Tire bales are not that new. They have been used for quite some time for building barns, holding river banks, and road construction. Using them for house construction is a fantastic and practical idea whose time has come.

We decided to hire a contractor initially to help us construct our dream home since we both are workaholics. We carefully chose Larson & McKnight Construction in Tabernash, CO. They have been flexible and innovative working with the experimental technologies of tire bales, which is what you need when working with contractors and this sort of technology.

For more information on the tire bales and how they are made, visit Michael Shealy’s web site or Front Range Tire Recycling’s web site. Michael Shealy also has some great links to other sites you may wish to visit from his site. One of the most important is Leonard Jones, P.E. site. Leonard’spdf file on building with tire bales contains much of what you’ll need to know for an undertaking of this kind. Both Michael and Leonard have been of great assistance to us on our project.

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