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!

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.

In order to protect my bags from uv rays I've been mudding them. It's fun! You just stomp on wet clay and straw with your feet then smear it all over the bags with your hands. It goes super quick, is fun, and is very rewarding to see. I did half yesterday in a few hours and am going to finish tomorrow a.m.

I finally made a long-awaited trip out to the sheep farm south of Mora. Stonefield Sheep. A very sweet couple has about thirty ewes and sold me 159 lbs. (everything that wasn't of a more expensive quality like Churro wool) for $75. Wow. That is somewhere between 1/2-1/3 of all the insulation I need. The drive was beautiful and it was neat to see all the sheep and lambs. I never knew rams had such obscenely large testicles. They gave me a piece of lamb loin to try.

I'm going back to bag duty Friday or Saturday and get reinforcements Monday afternoon.

Pictures will be posted soon.


  1. Sounds like your making some real progress. Before you get to the roof, you may want to consider renting or purchasing a small generator. Get one big enough so that you can run more then one power tool at a time. Usually a 3500-5000 watt. If you purchase one, try to find a Honda or B&S Vanguard powered unit. They are the quietest.

    Very cool about the wool. You can't go wrong on that!

  2. The same owner of the storage business that's helped me so much has also offered to let me use his generator. Luck! Otherwise, I'll be taking your advice. Thanx!