Chris Ortiz and Willy Ortiz are sustainably living in an Earthship home in Wittmann. The home was built in 1999 and, according to Willy, the plans for the home were bought by a resident from the American architect Michael E. Reynolds who is well-known for creating sustainable “Earthship” style homes.

“It took them about two years to just build these,” said Willy regarding one of the Earthship’s unique features. “This wall is made out of tires so each tire is packed with about a ton of dirt. They stack them on top of each other like bricks to form the wall, and then they use cans to fill in so that they don’t have to use so much concrete or mud.”

Willy is originally from Los Angeles and moved to Arizona in 2014. Meeting Chris, the couple got married in 2017. Willy received his Master of Science in Information Technology (IT) at the University of Phoenix and is self-employed at Willy Genius Consulting LLC. While husband Chris, who grew up in Louisiana, is a realtor who first encountered the home through his clients. “We were showing houses and I had some clients reach out to me about this home out near Wittmann,” said Chris. “They had previously looked at Michael Reynolds’ Earthships and offshore living.”

Some clientele had reservations about the home, so it stayed listed for a couple of years. However, Chris remained intrigued and, one day, brought Willy along to view the property. He immediately fell in love and, in October 2020, the couple purchased the Earthship.

“We didn’t quite know what we were getting into when we bought it,” said Chris. “But we YouTube and do a lot of studying and upgrading infrastructures and are just learning how to adapt.”

When the couple moved into the home, it was empty and unkempt; but, through renovation, they added some artwork, insulation, a sink, cabinets, and exhaust into the kitchen. After a recent trip to Bahama, the couple gained inspiration from the vibrant colors they saw during their time in the country and painted part of the brown interior with an array of vibrant colors.

Willy and Chris produce their power, collect rainwater and, in the drier season, gather water from a nearby water well. The 4480 square feet home holds 4,400 gallons of water, but Willy and Chris only live off 1,500 gallons a month. They produce their own food and now sell jalapeno popper cream cheese pork sausage with an all natural casing for $10.

The couple’s next renovation project is to replace the 20-year-old roof that leaks excessively. “We didn’t invite people for a long time because of that,” said Willy. “So we are fundraising now and working towards building a new roof.”

Willy and Chris are open to information regarding renovation and sustainable living from the community. To contact them, visit their Facebook pages at Willy Ortiz (Willy Genius) and Chris Ortiz (ConstantRealtor). The couple offers tours of the Earthship on weekends, but asks that visitors inform them prior to arriving.