Building with earthbags is essentially building with adobe bricks without going through the lengthy process of making them. You take polypropylene sandbags, fill them with a moist mix of sand and clay, tamp them down hard and connect the layers with 4 point barbed wire. Then, you cover them over with an earthen plaster.

In reality, I didn't use polypropylene bags. Some Brasilians started a type of construction they call hyperadobe which uses mesh bags, or continuous tubing, made from the same material as the onion or potato bags in the grocery store. They don't require barbed wire, though otherwise the process is just about the same.

As I talk about in the blog posts, my design has been guided by simplicity and efficiency. More than anything, what's been most important to me is to live in a house that I myself, with no building experience whatsoever, can design, build and maintain. A natural extension of that has been the desire to live in a peaceful space. For me that means a home that's in tune with nature, thus limiting the use of imported materials for construction, in addition to those that will be needed later on, such as for heating. Please enjoy reading, ask me any questions, get inspired, and come help and learn!

Monday, February 28, 2011

A Few Small Changes

I have modified a few small things:

I will be running the cold water into the house underneath the foundation and store the pressure tank inside. This is because cold winter days with no running water worry me.

I am going to add two small 2x2 windows into the living room above the cob bench. They will share the same lintel.

I emailed Kelly at earthbagbuilding.com about the the stability of my walls against the below-grade soil pressure. He thought it would be fine, just suggested that I add buttressing around the patio door. My solution is to incorporate things I was already doing--the stairs, the bath platform--into the primary construction of the walls.

Also, from spending way too much time on his and Owen Geiger's earthbag blog, I found out about a different way to build with earthbags--hyperadobe, which is something somebody in Brazil came up with. Same everything except they use the same mesh bags that potatoes or apples come in. This means there is no need for barbed wire. Since I first began considering earthbag building, I have had continuous nightmares and preoccupations about the use of barbed wire. I have been positive somebody's eye would be taken out. This is like the biggest weight ever off of my shoulders.

That's about it.


  1. I hear it also makes plastering the bags easier, since you're not trying to make it adhere to slick polypropylene.

  2. yeah, it seems like the mesh bags are an all-around god send!