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!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


After 6 months, this is the only trash I hauled out, not including kitchen garbage. It's pretty spread out, but could easily fit into two large, black garbage bags. It's mostly scraps from the poly strapping and plastic sheeting. The metal scraps are going to stay--I'm sure I can find some use for them. The bottles in the background are an assortment from this summer--I'm going to use them for the bathroom wall.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

So, How Much Did It Cost?

Throughout the summer, I kept track of my expenses here.

$9513--Not all that accurate as it includes costs that aren't really valid, such as the cost of my tent.

$8068--The total cost of materials and labor. It still includes some things that maybe shouldn't be there, like the water tank. I've broken it down to smaller expense categories as well.

Windows and Doors, Including Frame/Lintel: $1075
Labor: $950
Backhoe/Tractor: $1300
Wall Material: $425
Roof/Ceiling Material: $2390
Foundation Material: $1050
Plumbing, Including Cistern ($740): $888

Having broken it down, I would say it cost $5743 for materials--excluding labor, excavation and the cistern. Given that it's about 500 square feet, that translates to $11.5/sq. foot! Including the above excluded, it would come to $16/sq foot. I haven't finished it yet, so costs such as the gutter, indoor plumbing, including the water pump, solar panels and sand to finish the plaster, amongst many other things, have yet to be added in.