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!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

500 Lbs. of Wool in the Ceiling

Finally! The seemingly endless bags of wool that ruled my house have disappeared...they now live above plastic sheeting between my rafters, keeping my house cool underneath the beating sun. All the wool is gone, and in fact I'm 10-20 lbs. short. I'm going to find that in the next week or so, hopefully close by, and finish up the job.

I mixed the wool with borax for added mold and moth protection. I don't anticipate problems with either, however: the climate is very dry and I expect the lanolin will deter the moths. Then we fluffed it. Depending on the type of fleece--I was, for the most part, dealing with whole, unwashed fleeces--it can prove anywhere from extremely easy to quite tedious to fluff. We used staples to connect the plastic to the rafters and we stuffed the cavities with the fluffed wool, leaving about an inch of space on top as a vented air cavity.

I notice the difference inside. The temperature does not flux much day or night. By the time winter rolls around and everything is nicely sealed (and I have some curtains for that glass) I will be boiling inside. 4982798749827987


  1. Place is really looking great. Been following your progress for a couple months now. I'm about to place an order on bags/tubes and remember seeing your research on suppliers. Can you point me in the direction of that posting? I'm leaning toward raschel mesh tubes from bagsupplies.com Wish we were closer to Taos (live outside San Antonio) we'd be helping you out in person.

    1. I got my bags from Volmbag.com. If you're going with tubes, I think bagsupplies (if that's that Canadian company mentioned on the natural building blog) is the way to go. They didn't have tubes in stock when I started so it wasn't an option. That was a blessing in disguise though. Since I did most of the bagging alone, using tubes would have been somewhere near impossible. With two people doing most of the work it becomes a better idea and with three or more I think ideal. Are you guys building down near San Antonio?