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!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Pictures and Views of the Property

Sangre de Cristo Mountains

North West View


Road Looking East

North East View

Sagebrush and Mountains

East Toward the Mountains

North East


Looking Toward Taos


North East

South East

Looking West

Looking North from the West Boundary

South East

Road to the Property from the East


  1. this is so cool, Alyssa - i am so proud of how courageous and creative you are - i will really try and come and help for a little this summer
    Love, your mom

  2. No, I do not think you're crazy and even if you are, who cares?!?!? Or maybe being crazy is what it takes. Being crazy can be good. Larry read your blog and is very interested in meeting you and helping out. We are thinking in the fall. Two movies you may enjoy for inspiration are: "Off the Map" (be sure to watch the commentary after the movie on how they built the house) and a documentary called "Garbage Warrior". I greatly enjoyed both flix. After reading your blog, I had two concerns, one was sinking your place into the ground, but it seems like you have done or are doing your homework. A friend of mine built his own home here in Mexico and he had A LOT of moisture and mildew problems. It's important to really do your homework when building into the ground or up against a hill (at least it seems so to me). The other concern was the smallness of your place. It's great if you are alone, but once that unborn child of yours is alive and if perhaps that unborn child has a father (that is sticking around), you may want just a teeny-weeny more space. You could always build a separate building. Well love, you are amazing and a great inspiration. I love having friends who inspire me. Are you going to have your dehydrator with you? If I come visit, I want some of those yummy crackers you made! I will miss not seeing you in SC, but you have turned the page and are on the next chapter of your life. Much love and support, Adriana

  3. Hey I'm so excited at the possibility of you guys coming out! I will check out the flix. Hopefully they're on netflix streaming :-)

    As far as moisture...I have done as much homework as I can and I think I've taken the necessary precautions but I'm going to email you to ask about your friend. I'm guessing he built the house in a moister environment and of different materials. I wouldn't dare go underground in a place that wasn't as dry, nor with a building material that doesn't have the ability to breathe and dry out like earth.

    Unborn child (to clarify, I'm not currently pregnant)...I'm kinda curious about experimenting with living in much smaller spaces than we're accustomed to in the US. I would like to try to live happily in this space with a theoretical partner (I've kinda given up on the fairy tale and would probably prefer to just have the kids) and kid. Once it went beyond that though...If I ended up with the four kids I would like to have I would just build more. What parent wouldn't fantasy about their kids having their own mini house? I have eight acres so am looking forward to building and building studios, guesthouses, greenhouses etc. endlessly.

  4. Alyssa, it looks like you've really done your homework. I can't wait to see the progress via this blog. We miss you here in Santa Cruz. Hope you are doing well, and this project comes off without a hitch. I hope you will have a space to sit and do crossword puzzles (so very important).

  5. Wow! I'm so excited to have found you via the Earthbag Building blog. I'm going to be building an earthbag house in the same general area, and I plan to start in April too.

  6. Beautiful looking piece of land. I found your blog as well via the Earthbag Building Blog. I've been very fascinated with earthbag building and it will be great fun to see the process. We've had a dream of someday doing exactly what you are doing but West Texas has been our focus. I've heard great things about New Mexico but I've never visited your area. It looks fantastic.

  7. Thanks for visiting you guys. Hope you follow the process. I'll keep pix going all summer.
    Pollinatrix--nice to meet a future neighbor :-)

  8. Hi Alyssa, posted on your lasted blog before I realized you had several earlier posts, so looks like my questions will in part or mostly be answered as I read up from the beginning.
    Very impressive, and you've got the right books in your list, I've read several myself or am reading them.
    Like you, my wife and I got excited about this concept a year ago but have no experience so like so many of us, it's an OJT (on the job training) kind of experience.
    I was out at Cal Earth last week, took a tour and a lot of pictures to post on my own blog (www.adobedome.com), which I haven't had time to get to yet but will. Videos too, for those who are interested in how Cal Earth, which started the whole earthbag thing off in this country, does it.
    Meanwhile, keep up the good work. My wife and I are coming out in November, we hope, to visit, look for land etc. and would love to volunteer some time on your site if you're still working on it then. Looks like you're going to finish up before then tho, the way you're going!
    Good luck

  9. I would love to have you out while you're in Taos. Let me know when you're getting close.
    If only I would be done by November. Walls and a roof, yes. Done...not so much.

  10. Great Aly, (I have a grand niece nicknamed Alee, lives in L.A.), will contact you when we're coming out. Keep up the good work!