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.


  1. Aly, I think you are doing great. I'm impressed with the small amount of trash. You must purchase with the thought of the packaging and disposal in mind. I think we could all learn form you on that. If it will not recycle or compost don’t buy it. Also thanks for printing the finances, I know that it is important to everyone who is following. I would also like to commend you on your design. I think it is going to be a jewel in the desert, when it is complete, because it already is.

  2. Alyssa, you are doing a fantastic job on your home!! It's so nice to be able to follow along here. Thinking of you! Hugs, Claire

  3. Hi, I just found your blog and am so impressed with what you have done! We have bought some land in Portugal and are going to build something out of the natural materials around us. Your blog is really inspiring, and I am interested in the vipassana as well.
    Thank you for all your efforts ans sharing them
    Best wishes for the rest of your life!

    1. Awesome! Natural building and vipassana are both wondrous things of life.

  4. My wife and I are buying some land in the west Texas high desert. It's a little more scrubby than your area, but we plan to build a pole-building with earthbag walls. We also want to go off-grid for the most part.

    I really look forward to reading your blog -- mine has just started, and it looks like I've still got a lot to learn!