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!

Friday, March 11, 2011

How Much Will This Cost Me?

I've been planning on doing a post that outlines in detail how much everything will cost. That's insane. It's been necessary and informative for me to price things because sometimes it causes me to change my game plan. But I couldn't say how much it will all end up at. In addition to all of the myriad unexpected minutiae, I don't even know what I will get new, used or free until I get it.

Since the beginning I've said I think I can build it for $5,000, won't spend more than $10,000. I stick by that. The former probably wouldn't include tools, the latter probably would. As I buy materials, which I'll start ordering next week, I'll post it. At the end I'll add it all up. Logical. Simple.


  1. How many sq feet is your place? I will be doing this in TX starting in Aug and mine's pretty small - but I've planned for an expansion. I can get my earthbags for the first part for about $750 but haven't really planned the other costs (windows, doors, etc...). Mostly I'm trying to use things I already have or what I can scrounge. I think I'll buy the sand/cement mix though.

    I'm so glad you're blogging this. It gives me something to follow along while I wait impatiently before I can begin mine! :)


  2. I'm in the same boat, currently looking for free bag sources and such. What are you using for fill?

    It occurs to me that we could help each other with our projects, in a variety of ways. Are you in the area yet? We could get together and discuss possibilities, if you're open to that.

  3. Mine's relatively small too. It'll be about 520 internal square feet. Check out misprint bags. They can come as cheap at $.15 each. Plan ahead, be flexible and give yourself lots of time and prices can drop and drop as you innovate. Glad you're reading the blog :-)

    For fill I'm using my own dirt. Since I'm digging out three feet I think I should have enough and if I don't...cross that bridge when it comes.

    I'm not out yet but will be in a month. It would be awesome to get together then.