Already have money and insurance. now you are looking for land and ready to acquire land. do not buy land yet, make sure you will be allowed to do what you want to do. find out what the properties around you can do and what they cant. think long term.

Research the construction codes and regulations in your area!


It is absolutely CRUCIAL to understand what your team needs. Do they need a toilet on the land itself? A spot for camping and making fires? How many meals a day will you be providing? If you are also facing land limitations, then make sure you have a back-up plan. Being able to go to the bathroom during a long hard day of work is not to be taken lightly!

Residential and commercial building codes are very complex in the United States and Canada, so do plenty of research and make sure that your dream Earthship complies with both federal and state/provincial laws! Alternatively you can hire a lawyer, but you can definitely find out yourself if you put in the time and patience. Make sure you know:

What kind of zoning is my land considered? What building restrictions are there for that kind of zoning? Do I need a building permit from my local municipality or province?
How do construction inspections take place?
Am I allowed to use car tires as part of my foundation?

Do we need to build a toilet and set up a temporary living space on the construction site? If so, are there any local or federal regulations about it?

When building permits are required.

(New Mexico Residential Code 106.1)
Except as specified in Section 105..2 IRC, no building or structure regulated by this code shall be erected, constructed, enlarged, altered, repaired, moved, improved, removed, converted or demolished unless a permit has first been obtained from the building official.


[fusion_woo_shortcodes][product id=”7988″ sku=””][/fusion_woo_shortcodes]

When building permits are NOT required.
(New Mexico Residential Code 105.1)

A building permit shall not be required for the following:

  1. One story detached accessory buildings used as tool and storage sheds, playhouses, and similar uses, provided the floor area does not exceed 200 square feet.
  2. Fences not over 6 feet high.
  3. Retaining walls that are not over 4 feet in height measured form the bottom of the footing to the top of the wall, unless supporting a surcharge
  4. Water tanks supported directly upon grade if the capacity does not exceed 5,000 gallons and the ratio of height to diameter or width does not exceed 2: 1.
  5. Sidewalks and drive way no more then 30 inches above adjacent grade and not over any basements or story below.
  6. Painting, papering, tiling, carpeting, cabinets, counter tops and similar finish work .
  7. Prefabricated swimming pools that are less than 24 inches deep.
  8. Swings and other playground equipment accessory to a one or two- family dwelling.
  9. Window awnings supported by an exterior wall which do not project more than 54 inches from the exterior wall and do not require additional support.
  10. Deck not exceeding 200 sq ft in area, that are not more than 30” above grade at any point, are not attached to a dwelling and do not serve the exit door required by section R311.4.

Note: Unless otherwise exempted, separate plumbing, electrical and mechanical permits will be required for the above- exempted items.

Septic Tank

Obtain a permit to modify or install an individual liquid waste system form from your local state environment department office.

To obtain a building permit.

The applicant shall fill out an APPLICATION for STATE BUILDING PERMIT form. Applicant must list property owner’s name and address, contractor’s company name, address and license number (if applicable), architect’s name, address and license number (if applicable), specific use of building, county in which the project is located, project address, nearest city/town/village, legal description, written directions to the site, description of work, construction material, and total square footage. The qualifying party for the licensed contractor requesting the permit or the homeowner requesting a homeowner construction permit must sign the application.

Zoning Approval

Your project may be located in an area requiring zoning approval from a city or county zoning authority . You must obtain zoning approval and signature on the APPLICATION for STATE BUILDING PERMIT before applying to this office for the building permit. Contact the Construction Industries Division for zoning requirements in your area.

Valuation and Fees

Valuation of your project is based CID Rules New Mexico
Administrative code 14. 5. 5. 10 . The project does need the signed contract between the project owner and contractor. If you are applying for a homeowner construction permit, the Division will calculate the valuation based on established valuation tables in our office. The fee, which co vers plan review , the permit notice and required inspections, is based on the valuation amount. Our office will calculate the valuation and fee for you. If you are mailing the application and plans to your nearest CID office, call any of the offices listed above for the fee prior to mailing.

Codes & Laws

Generally speaking, building codes are developed by well intentioned people who are actively involved in the construction industry. Their original purpose, as stated in the CABO One and Two Family Dwelling Code, is “to provide minimum standards for the protection of life, limb, property, environment and for the safety and welfare of the consumer, general public and the owners and occupants of residential buildings regulated by this code.” However, it is important to keep in mind that building codes are adopted, modified and enforced by local politicians and government officials. Something else to remember about building codes is the fact that they “are not intended to limit the appropriate use of materials, appliances, equipment or methods of design or construction not specifically prescribed by the code, provided the building official determines that the proposed alternate materials, appliances, equipment or methods of design or construction are at least equivalent of that prescribed in this code…” In other words, you might be able to use alternate construction methods or materials, provided you can prove – to the satisfaction of the building official — that your way is as good or better than what the code book prescribes.

Building codes are constantly changing and they can vary by state, county, city, town, and/or borough. While some states, like California, Florida, Michigan, New York and a few others, have their own set of building codes (typically based upon some version of the ICC with changes to accommodate local laws and regulations), most states have adopted the International Code Council series, which are much more national than international at the present time — but it sounds impressive and it is good to be optimistic about the future. The ICC codes are typically updated with a new printing every 3 years. However, you should be aware that the wheels of government tend to turn more slowly and less… (I’ll stop there;-) than private business. So, the most current printing of any set of building codes may not be the specific set of codes that will apply to any given construction project.

Always Check with Your Local Building Code Department

In order to learn which codes are being used and how they will affect you and your construction project, contact your local building inspection department, office of planning and zoning, and/or department of permits. You may want to start by calling the most local government body that has jurisdiction over the property where you will be building. They should be able to provide you with specific information about which building codes are currently being used as guidelines in your area. You should also ask for any local changes or modifications that have been adopted by that local jurisdiction. Local boards, councils, and assemblies frequently exclude portions of “standard” codes and/or adopt requirements that are not specifically prescribed in code books. Depending upon other specifics about your project — including but not limited to whether or not you have a well, septic system, wetlands, sensitive environmental conditions, or public use areas — you may also be subject to state and/or federal requirements.

State Government Pages

Building codes, business licenses, building permits, contractors licenses, and home improvement licenses are often issued and administered by state agencies. Most state government Web sites follow a standard Internet address format. To find online information in your state, use the following URL (uniform resource locator), substituting the 2 letter abbreviation for the state where you want to find information: or

County Government Pages

Building codes, business licenses, building permits, contractors licenses, and home improvement licenses are issued and administered by county agencies, as well. County Web sites often use the following URL format, substituting the 2 letter abbreviation for the county and state where you want to find information: or

International Code Council

The ICC was founded in 1994 by BOCA, ICBO, and SBCCI in order to develop a single national building code in the United States. The Council of American Building Officials (CABO), the previous umbrella organization for the three nationally recognized model code organizations in the United States was incorporated into the ICC in November of 1997. They are comprised of officials who are responsible for the enforcement of building codes in their state and local jurisdictions.

BOCA – Building Officials & Code Administrators International, Inc. has been consolidated into the International Code Council (ICC).

ICBO – the International Conference of Building Officials has been consolidated into the International Code Council (ICC).

SBCCI – the Southern Building Code Congress International has been consolidated into the International Code Council (ICC).

Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA 2007)

Energy Policy Act of 2005

Executive Order 13693, “Planning for Federal Sustainability in the Next Decade”

International Green Construction Code (IgCC), International Code Council coder-igccr-43415.html


ASTM E2432 Standard Guide for the General Principles of Sustainability Relative to Building\

ASHRAE 189.1 Standard for the Design of Green Buildings, except Low-Rise Residential Buildings–publications/bookstore/standard-189-1

Construction and Permit Drawings

Earthship Floor Plans. Pangea Builders are experts at acquiring permits for passive house, earthships and any other type of green building. Included in our services are production of construction and permit set drawings to build your beautiful green building. This includes Earthships and any other type of floor plan layout for off-grid living.

Off-grid floor plans and Custom drawings for Earthships and all other types of floor plans, layouts and custom designs. 

Pangea Design | Build can get your permit and build for you anywhere in the USA.

Taos, New Mexico | California

What is an Earthship Home?

An Earthship is a type of passive solar house that is made of both natural and upcycled materials (such as earth-packed tires). Earthships can be completely off-grid or partially off-grid.

Earthships can be built in any part of the world, in any climate (with a permit) and still provide electricity, potable water, contained sewage treatment and sustainable food production.

Earthships are thermal mass homes first, passive solar homes second.

Whatever temperature goes into an Earthship, it will hold… and since it is also a Passive Solar House, it is also very tight and interacts only with the sun and the earth for heating and cooling, providing stable comfort year round in any climate. This results in being able to provide a sustainable home on property that may not be situated to the ideal of 13.5 degrees east of south.

Taos, New Mexico | California