As we travel, we meet amazing people who are building their own homes. We get to see houses in all stages of completion and all sorts of alternative building styles. This month, we were introduced to the idea of glass bottles being used as an insulation under the concrete floor.

Because the glass bottles hold a layer of air between the dirt and the concrete floor, it acts as a blanket under the floor, keeping the house temperature more stable. At Pat and Mandy’s, we got to see a glass-bottle floor under construction.

David digging Pat's floor in preparation for glass bottle sub-floor, April 2012
The bedroom floor first needs to be excavated about six inches. David and Pat dig up the packed dirt the old-fashioned way.

While the men are digging at the floor, Mandy and I head to the local dump station to collect some glass bottles. We pay $4 for approximately 1000 bottles, but no one is counting.

Mandy packing glass bottles into a bag, April 2012
Mandy and I pull the glass bottles out of the barrels and put them into large sacks.

Glass bottles at the tip, April 2012
The bottles are waiting for us — neatly sorted according to colour.

Mandy and Faye, April 2012
Tip-worker Faye helps us lift the heavy bags into the back of the vehicle.

Glass bottle sub-floor, April 2012
Once we get back to site with the glass bottles, Pat and Mandy begin laying them down on a bed of sand. Ear-muffs are necessary because the glass bottles are so noisy as they knock each other into place.

Brioni and Delaney watch the creation of the glass bottle sub-floor, April 2012
We're pleased that our girls get to see this phase of house construction.

Our girls playing, April 2012
But most of the time, our girls are engaged in imaginative games with Shasa and Tierra.

Glass bottle sub-floor, April 2012
The bottles are arranged in neat rows of alternating directions.

Glass bottle sub-floor, April 2012
Laid on a base of sand, the bottles are strong enough to walk on.

Glass bottle sub-floor, April 2012
Another layer of sand is spread over the bottles.

Glass bottle sub-floor, April 2012
A layer of plastic sheeting is next. It prevents moisture from rising from the ground to the floor.

Glass bottle sub-floor, April 2012
Once the concrete is poured over the top of the plastic, it seems like an ordinary floor — only it has amazing insulation.

Glass bottle sub-floor, April 2012
Once the carpet is laid over the top of the concrete, no one thinks about the sub-floor any more, and only these photos are the proof that we're walking on glass!

Pat and Mandy’s two daughters are fortunate in being able to watch their house being constructed from start to finish. Surely this is a fantastic education in itself, and I’m glad our own children have been able to witness some of the construction states as well!

I don’t think we’ll ever build a house from scratch, but when we meet people who are keen to use alternative building methods, we’ll be certain to recommend a glass-bottle floor insulation! Thanks, Pat and Mandy, for letting us share this experience with you!