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, July 7, 2011

Course 13 is 5'7"!


  1. Wow!! Great job girl. I love it! I am going to get me some straw to use for a ladder...good idea.

  2. Great pics.

    Were you worried about those windows going somewhere? ;-) You didn't need to use so many nails. Generally one in each corner and a couple in the middle. If you ever find the need to have to remove or replace the windows, all those nails are going to be a hassle. Most window setters use 8d nails, drove half way in and bent over. I have found using drywall screws work even better. If you should need to adjust the windows in the wood frame (before final plaster), screws are much easier to work with.

    Did you caulk between the window and the frame? In conventional framing we use sisal craft, a paper flashing. The bottom and side pieces go on before the window is set. The top piece after the window is installed. That way there is very little chance of water getting between the wood and the window.

  3. No caulking yet. Do all that later.
    Found this link to be very useful for windows:


    Straw bales work great!

  4. What ever works I guess. In my 40 years of building houses, I have seen a lot of stuff. Some works in the short term and some lasts. Generally most accepted building procedures have been adopted because they save time, money and hold up for the life of the structure. There is really no need to re-invent the wheel when it comes to something basic like setting windows. While the article is informative, it in no way represents the correct way of flashing or setting windows so they don't leak. The last thing any person wants to see in their new home is a water leak from around a window or door. They also don't want to find wood rot caused from either a lack of vapor barrier or improper flashing.

    Untreated wood coming into contact with soil is not recommended. Most of the earthbag buildings shown on the web are using the regular poly bags. There is a layer of poly between the earth and wood. With mesh, the soil contacts the wood. I would think scoria filled bags next to the wood would be OK as far as mitigating termite damage. There is still the concern of scoria absorbing moisture condensation and holding that moisture next to raw wood. That could be a problem in cold or wet climates.

  5. Most House Contractors in the Philippines have done other methods for building homes, but I have never encountered like this one before.