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 23, 2011

Mudding Pictures


  1. Is the cob sticking to the bags OK? My dome is only 20' and I realize how much work you have done..Looks Great.

  2. Cob sticks no problem. I have no other experience to compare it to but it slathered on there like they were made for each other.
    Did you already finish your dome?

  3. Aly, the cob mudding looks great! You are doing amazing, inspiring work, keep it up but keep taking care of yourself too. One day at a time, eh?
    Do the bags, without barb wire, seem to be bonding to each other well through the holes in the mesh.
    Also, what's the code situation up there? Are you just hoping they'll leave you alone once you've built, or...?

  4. Oops, forgot to ask...are the bags on the dirt or on top of the gravel?

  5. James, as far as I can tell it's bonding okay though using a wetter mix would help that. I haven't used other types of bags so can't really compare to what it would feel like otherwise.

    The wall is solid and especially now with the plaster it feels quite sturdy.

    Codes...they tend to leave you alone around where I am but there are always those worst case scenarios.

    The bags are on top of 5" of gravel and are going to have 9" of scoria for insulation and a capillary break between them and the surrounding earth (not to mention the two layers of 6mm plastic sheeting).

  6. The mudding looks great. I'm helping Frann with her building and we harled the mud on. Doesn't look as neat as your job, but the sun is vicious here. Getting the bags covered quickly trumps esthetics.

  7. Wow! You think my job is neat? Good to know.