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!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Back in New Mexico!

So I finally arrived back to Taos on Friday after a 5 month west coast sojourn. I had forgotten that sunshine existed so what a nice surprise this 70 degree weather is. Soon it will be time to get back to the house. The first order of business is to exterminate the mice that have taken up residence in my humble abode, and probably destroyed most of my stuff which I naively left laying around. I say probably because, though I've been home for two days, I haven't actually gone up to my house yet.

You might think that after almost 7 months of laboring on my house non-stop, I would jump in my car and drive there as quickly as possible. But I know that as soon as I set foot inside, I will begin thinking about and working on my house uncontrollably and obsessively. And I thought it might be nice to settle in, see some friends (I'm staying with Susan) and re-aquaint myself with my general environment before I step onto that roller coaster.

What's the roller coaster going to look like this year now that the walls and roof are done? Well, guttering my roof and connecting it to the cistern is at the top of the list. Following that, I'll connect my indoor plumbing and get hot water going with a $100 propane instant hot water heater with a low flow shower head. Then comes electricity! aka solar installation. The list goes on after that to include insulating my ceiling with sheep's wool, gardening, roofing my shed, building my rocket stove, doing the floor (I'm thinking of putting a rock floor in the bathroom, brick in the living room and adobe everywhere else), building the bathroom wall (with bottles and cob), and probably a million other things.

This year will be more mellow because I'm not racing to get a roof on by winter. Hopefully I'll keep my sanity and lead a slightly more balanced life than I did during last year's building season. Stay tuned!


  1. Careful of the mice guano as there is hunta virus on the Mesa. Be sure not to inhale the dust is sweeping etc. May want to dampen the area first or check on Taos for the safest method.

    1. Thanks Chuck. Best thing to do is to wear a mask and spray all droppings with bleach water before sweeping up to avoid Hanta. Luckily, despite all the freak out it gets, it isn't common for someone to get it, much less die from it. But I will be taking precautions! When you guys headed back out this way?

  2. Not sure. Kim traveled to Goa India for yoga and has another new place in the world she loves. With our last son at home and our newly adopted Shepard it doesn't seem we can make time right now. I'd like to get started on a little cabin type adobe structure that would end up being my power shed for solar. Plan was to have that done this year but I don't see that happening. I am practicing my off the grid skills by moving my detached garage off the grid. It has it's own power via solar and batteries now and I will be working on water this year. The plan will be to simply get it working here then transport and use it there. We will definitely stop in whenever we come out. Hopefully latest or June. Take care and good luck.