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, June 30, 2011

Course 7

Course 7

April and Jen are here and we finished a course in a day! In five hours! Oh my, what a treat.
The plastic is tucked under and we're going to stake down the windows frames beginning tomorrow before we continue bagging around them. It feels like quite a milestone.

Sample bags after two months in the sun

Damage from running my foot over it.

After a tractor ran over it. Chunks are like rocks.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Frames & Wool

I've been loving my "break" this week. Not only have I not been doing back-breaking work, but I've been staying at my friend's house. There's a (hot) shower and walls. Gulp. Almost like vacation, right?

I bought a bunch of 2x6 and 2x8 and have made all but one of my window frames and various other boxes that have to placed down sooner or later. I opened a storage unit a week or two ago and the owner, who lives on the premises, has been a guardian angel. When I told him I was taking six 2x6x16 and five 2x8x16 to cut with a cordless drill at my place he told me I was crazy. And I was! Instead, he opened up his shop and helped me cut all my wood with a *power* saw. Mmm. Electricity. Staying at my friend's house has also been fabulous because there's outlets to charge my batteries. That's good because I go through at least one a day by screwing all these pieces together and sawing small things I forgot.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Course 6

Course 2

Course 5 Untamped

The southern doorway buttress

Trying to maintain a running bond...

Course 5 tamped

Bathroom greywater exit

Kitchen greywater exit

Shelf brackets on velcro plates

Brackets installed

Course 6 waiting to be tamped

It's been almost a month since I've posted and just over two months since I arrived here. How time flies. Course 6 is bagged and waiting to be tamped tomorrow. I've been working on level and plumb which get much more even once you pay attention to them. I laid my first kitchen shelves today and my greywater plumbing is in. With course six, the plastic has reached its resting place on the north side, which is a few inches lower, and has one more course to go on the south side. I'm tired. Haven't been sleeping well lately and the work is hard and endless. I hurt my back last week so had to spend a couple days soaking in the hot springs (poor me). More than anything, it's my hands that hurt. They seem to be permanently cramped. I'm going to do one more course then take a break for a bit. Well, break is a bit of an exaggeration. I'm going to stop doing bags and build some window frames, mud over the bags that are up to protect them from the sun, get some more dirt moved, scoria delivered before the walls get too high and go to the sheep farm finally and hunt down the one door and window that elude me.