Grand Designs earth house highlights an off-the-grid lifestyle gallery

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Gus and Sarah Anning's Earthship house is tucked into a clay bank within a hidden valley deep in the Coromandel hills.

Most of the rooms in the Earthship open onto an internal garden walkway.

Solid timber beams support the roof, which rakes upwards to maximise the sunlight.

The mud brick walls on the interior will gradually dry out over the summer months.

Special features of the kitchen in the Coromandel Earthship include handcrafted timber benchtops.

Recycled bottles set within the walls provide colourful diffused light, enlivening the interior.

The owners are keeping a watching brief on the mud brick drying process.

Costs were kept down on the construction of the Earthship thanks to volunteer labourers.

Ample provision for drainage ensures the internal garden will not be waterlogged.

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A house built from recycled natural materials that makes its own energy, grows its own food and recycles its own water - that was the dream for Coromandel couple Gus and Sarah Anning.

Their new home, featured on Grand Designs and built by an army of volunteers, is an Earthship house made from mud bricks, glass bottles and 1300 recycled tyres filled with rammed earth.


Grand Designs project puts contemporary spin on traditional farmhouse

The Earthship concept was pioneered in the desert of New Mexico, which is a hot, dry environment that's a stark contrast to the Anning's site cut into a clay bank beneath a rainforest. The house consequently has its own gumboot - it is wrapped in a waterproof membrane, and the mud walls are gradually drying out over the summer.


Gus and Sarah have a few tips to help simplify DIY sustainable home construction.

* Buy a small digger at the outset - it will save time and money
* Buy a large trailer to transport long lengths of timber. (Or borrow your dad's!)
* Think ahead and start storing recycled items well in advance. It's worth buying a container for storage.
* Plan well and have good people around you right from the start.

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