Tiny Earthbag Home In 9 Steps (and video)


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Categories: Building Methods, Homes / Dwellings, Construction Methods

Earthbag homes can take on many different sizes and shapes such as straight walls or curved. The roof can also be made of earthbag but only for smaller structures. Green roofs and timber roofs are also often used. Here is an in-depth step by step on how to build yourself an earthbag home.

It’s possible that an earthbag home could be used for folks interested in living small. With the proper amount of planning an earthbag home can be comfortable and last a very long time.”  You can finish the interior in a variety of ways, and add to it year by year when the weather is nice. Or maybe you've found yourself as a refuge in Lebanon, and need to build something quick from the ground, and you just don't have access to materials.  

Once you have your piece of land selected, you have some flexibility to do such a neat build.  It could be your off grid vacation spot by the lake, or make it your cost effective dream home.  This one is obviously in a climate that needs no windows or doors.  Colder climates may desire closed in spaces.  I can think of a thousand reasons to build such a place.  Makes me want to get outside and start!  

See u there guys!

Also, if you're considering building with concrete because of storms or tornadoes, this is a great way to go!  You can embed one side into the earth and be resistant to almost any storm with the exception of doors and windows!  

For those who don’t know, earthbag building uses polypropylene rice bags or feed bags filled with soil or insulation that are stacked like masonry and tamped flat. Barbed wire between courses keeps bags from slipping and adds tensile strength. The final plastered walls look just like adobe structures. Thousands of people are now building with bags to create their dream homes, home offices, shops, resorts, rootcellars, storm cellars and survival shelters. Non-profit organizations are building schools, orphanages, emergency shelters and other structures.


I got involved with earthbag building when the Indian Ocean tsunami hit Southeast Asia in December, 2004. As the director of Builders Without Borders at that time, I searched all available affordable, sustainable building methods and decided building with bags was the most practical. They’re flood resistant (used for flood control), earthquake resistant (passed an ICBO shake table test), bullet and blast resistant (used for military bunkers), and now engineer and code approved plans are available. Just search for earthbag house plans on the Internet.

Our websites at EarthbagBuilding.com and Earthbag Building Blog explain just about everything you need to know for free. And if you’re looking for house plans, my Earthbag House Plans site features over 110 sustainable plans that can be purchased through Dream Green Homes. My new Earthbag Building Guide and Earthbag Building DVD are now available.

The following instructions assume you have cleared and leveled the site, removed topsoil, positioned fill soil around the building site to minimize work, dug a trench to stable subsoil, put about 12” of gravel in the trench, and added corner guides and stringlines.

Step 1: Tools and Materials

 


Step 1. Tools and materials (listed left to right): woven polypropylene bags (about 18” x 30”), bucket chute (4-gallon bucket with bottom cut off), 4 or 5 heavy duty 2-gallon cement buckets, stringline, metal chisel and scrap steel for cutting barbed wire (or bolt cutters), hammer, sheetmetal slider (about 13” x 16”), 15 gauge galvanized wire, knife, wire cutters, tape measure, 4-point barbed wire, corner guide, grub hoe or grape hoe, level, tampers, bundle 500 bags, shovel.

Step 2: Fill the Bags

Step 2. Fill the bags: Use the same number of buckets for each bag. Fill bags approximately 90% full, leaving just enough to sew the bags closed. This technique ensures each bag is filled to capacity to save bags, and each bag is the same size, which helps keep walls level.

First Foundation Bag

Step 3: Sew or Stitch the Bags Closed

Step 3. Sew or stitch the bags closed: fold the bag end over; use 15 gauge wire about 9” long with one end cut at a sharp angle; make one stitch on one side and bend the end over; make a stitch in the center and pull the corner over; make a stitch in the other corner and pull the corner over; poke the remaining wire into the earthbag. This technique facilitates handling, prevents spills and enables bags to be filled to capacity.

Stitching Bags Closed

Step 4: Gravel Bags on Lower Courses

Step 4. Lower courses: place gravel-filled bags (double-bagged for strength) working from the corners and openings to the center. Align bags to stringline; tamp the bags solid and level after the course is complete. Always put tops of bags (the ends you’ve sewn closed) butted against other bags to prevent spillage. Maintain a running bond as in masonry.

Second Foundation Bag

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