Location is a serious factor in the whole process of acquiring an Earthship. We have seen the permit process cause people a lot of expense and time. In retrospect I would tell these people to choose some place else to live. The permit officials can make the drawing process more expensive and take longer and at the same time water down the concepts to the point of making them only 50% of their intended efficiency.
For example, we had a man come in from Pima County, Arizona. It took him three years and several redraws and three times the price of the original drawings to finally get a permit. Then when he did get it, the building was so watered down from its original concept that that it wouldn’t work as well and it cost three times what it would have. This is the regulatory process that is meant to protect the people. All it really does is inhibit evolution.
A good example comes from a man who came to us from Crockett, Texas and said that he wanted an Earthship home. He chose the Global model and four months later he walked in the door of his new home. That is the difference that location can make.
Earthships can work in any climate so the weather is not that much of a factor. It is whether you have enforced codes or not that makes the difference. With our culture’s ability to communicate through the internet, facebook, cell phones, etc., you can be in touch with people and still live away from regulatory nightmares. The best bet is to contact the permitting office where ever you are thinking about building and ask what is necessary to build your own home. We are finding that close to half of the continental USA is what we are calling “pockets of freedom,” or areas where the only permitting for building your own home is a septic permit, and that is no problem. We have a conventional septic system inherent in our Earthship sewage treatment design.
Our advice is if your area has strenuous regulations, it will be cheaper to build somewhere else. Many places, however, have permits required but they are very low tech and easy. The Earthship buildings have engineering back up for the design and any permitting office can easily determine that this building will perform and is a valid approach to building especially in todays world. Interview with your permit office to determine whether you are in a pocket of freedom, a light duty permit situation, or a ridiculous bureaucratic nightmare. There are only a few places that are ridiculous to build in and we advise to just stay away from those. One of these places is Ventura County, California. I advise to stay away from there in terms of building anything. There are a few others like that but the percentage is small.