If you have a question or comment about something here on this site, it’s easy to get a reply from us by posting your comment where you are reading. Owen is on the site daily, and if your question is for Kelly or Zana, Owen lets them know.

Our emails are:

  • Owen Geiger: naturalhousesATgmail dot com
  • Kelly Hart: kellyhartATgreenhomebuilding dot com
  • Zana Hart: zanahartATgmail dot com

We put our emails this way because humans can figure them out and we hope the bots can’t.

Normally we reply to emails quite promptly but sometimes we travel or things happen. If you don’t get an answer to a question within a week, feel free to contact us again.


Comments

Contact Us — 225 Comments

  1. Hi, I’m a Brazilian Civil Engineering student. My course completion work is about Compressed Earth Block slicing. I would like to know if there are ISO’s talking about the construction with this material, and if you can send me material on the subject.

    Send me please deandelmo@gmail.com

    Thank you so much

  2. Hi,
    I want to know abut the doom House single room with kitchen and bath how i can build it and what help you will do in that.

  3. Please I need the demententions on the u shaped castle I’m doing it all square no court hard yard 40×60 three towers 1-316-734-2158 please contact me thank you Dennis Matthews wichita kansas

  4. Hi. I was wanting to ask about the article “Earthbag Foundation for SB House in Haiti” Won’t the concrete poured over the trench foundation wick water up to the earth bags? I’m probably missing something and am wrong but I’m asking anyway. lol Thanks so much!

    • That was someone else’s project. They either used 1. gravel bags that don’t wick moisture, 2. put a moisture barrier (plastic sheeting) between the foundation and bales.

  5. Good Day Owen,
    My wife and I, along with our youngest daughter of 28 who is totally handicapped and three grandchildren love the Torus design. But we would need to connect both sides to make one home. Also would need if possible a fifth bedroom. Besides the Master Bath, our daughter needs a master bath. Would need a basement all the way round identical shape as the main floor except the rooms would be different as in a game room and so forth and a safe room for tornadoes and other disasters. A ramp type stair system that descends gradually to the basement for a wheel chair. We would like the structure made of hempcrete and natural colored plasters for exterior and interior color. Hempcrete flooring covered with a clay flooring. We want to incorporate thermal rocket mass heaters. Utilities of solar and wind power, along with a roof that catches water for storage and solar hot water heaters and tank less water heaters too. I would need to have someone that is knowledgeable in hempcrete construction. We live in Northeast Iowa. Can you help.

    • The first step is to search for builders and architects who specialize in hempcrete. They are very rare in the US due to the crazy laws on hempcrete. Most I believe are in Australia, Europe and Canada. Search online and see what you can find. Also, buy the new hempcrete book which will probably provide a list of resources including designers/builders. http://www.naturalbuildingblog.com/hempcrete-book/

      If it looks like things will work out, you can buy my CAD plans and pay an architect or designer to modify the plans as you describe above.

    • William,

      I noticed your comment about hempcrete. I am a teacher/trainer in hempcrete construction in Colorado. However I have traveled around the US, Canada and Europe teaching people how to build with the hemp/lime construction method. I learned from Steve Allin, author of “Building with Hemp”. I am available to answer any questions you may have and you can contact me at jpwood6897@gmail.com. Thank you, John

  6. I LIKE TO BUILD SOMETHING LIKE THIS

    Castle Tower House
    The Castle Tower House is largely the same plan as the 2-story Roundhouse Above Survival Shelter with a crenellated roof design. In the earthbag castle I’m currently designing it’s used as a corner ‘watch tower’. Its primary function in ‘peace time’ is a guesthouse or office. Compare this version to the original plan to see how a few minor changes can make a lot of difference in appearance.

    Specifications: 20’ DIA roundhouse, 314 sq. ft. interior first floor, 252 sq. ft. interior loft, 314 sq. ft. interior survival shelter plus pantry), 880 total square foot interior, Footprint: 23′ DIA, 23′ x 31′ survival shelter

    Description: Every castle worth its name has to have at least one underground survival shelter. In this case it’s underneath the Tower House. It’s prudent to have a safe place to go to in case of emergencies, and what better place than your basement. Hurricanes, tornadoes, blizzards and other natural disasters are all too common. While others panic and run for last minute preparations, you can calmly retreat to your basement (through a hidden trap door) that’s wisely stocked with everything you need to ride out the disaster.

    More details on the Earthbag Survival Shelter that’s also sold separately (an excellent starter project and one of my most popular designs).

  7. Hi Owen
    What a fascinating website and blog you have! I can’t wait to read through the many articles and posts. We are fairly new to eco/green building and have looked at various options. We are investigating building with a wood-crete-lyme-sand mix and am interested that you make no mention of it on your site.(I did a search first) Is there a reason for this? Is it not as good as they say it is? The info on the Web is fairly hard to come by. I have found some recipes but not really much seems to be known about it if I compare it to Strawbale or Papercrete. The Cordwood could also possibly work for us. We live in South Africa and have easy access to Pine sawdust. We have a small 30 hectare farm that is in an area that is zoned as fully rural so building codes are not an issue.
    I look forward to your reply.
    Thank you so much
    Kindest regards
    Steph

  8. Hi Kelly and Dr Geiger
    You referenced our book on your blog ” rebuilding Nepal One Earthbag at a time” thanks for reviewing it and commenting . We are currently fundraising on a larger international basis and will be doing more work in Nepal later this year. Our Kindle book is an ongoing work and will be updated periodically ( your comments and opinions are fully noted and will help with updates ) Our aim is to continue with this method and provide more classrooms to those in desperate need. As you are fully aware there are a number of detractors of the method for a variety of reasons. We met resistance from a number of people in Nepal, primarily because of self serving reasons and lack of knowledge.Thank you so much for all the information and advice that you share. I and other members from the team would love to chat to you at some point. We are all particularly excited about your proposal to the UN regarding emergency shelters

    Kind regards

    Graeme

    • Glad to hear from you and your interest in doing more projects. Write me anytime. My email is at the top of the page under About Us.

      Hopefully you’ve been reading my recent reports about projects in Nepal. More are in the pipeline. NGOs in Nepal are starting to churn out projects now on a fairly regular basis — about 10 days for earthbag walls on a small school. It’s very exciting.

      The UN never contacted me about the proposal. USAID kind of gave us a yawn. But the good news is it served to jumpstart at least three small housing projects in Nepal so far. Here’s a story on one of them:
      http://www.naturalbuildingblog.com/30-earthquake-resistant-earthbag-houses-mulabari-nepal/

      One test to determine if ideas are practical is to see if they catch on and spread naturally. That’s what’s happening now as two other projects in the area are taking off — 18 houses by Michael Smith of Woven Earth and another one by Carisimo in collaboration with Good Earth Nepal.

    • Owen: My wife and I are retired and want to down size. Both of us are very handy and healthy. Very interested in earth bag construction if possible for our area. I have 4 paid for acres in Collin County, Texas, about 30 miles north of Dallas. Don’t know if building code would allow it. We have a gentle slope and want to build into it to include a safe room (tornado shelter and root cellar). Love you plan. Summers are hot (90+) and winters can drop to the teens at times, but mostly fairly mild with frost at night. I want to collect water and use as much solar tech as possible. Would the green house need to be detached from the main building? Which way should the opening face? What kind of windows and doors do you recommend? We are also thinking of using the roof as part of the vegetable/herb garden. As far as fire exit, I thought of leaving the back of the home about three feet above ground for ventilation, light, and emergency exit. Your thoughts please. Great blog, thanks.

      • What plan are you referring to? I have over 120 plans.
        https://earthbagplans.wordpress.com/

        Earthbag is perfect in hot climates and rainy climates. Texas has fairly lax codes in rural areas, although being that close to Dallas it depends what county you’re in. If it has to be code approved then contact Structure1.com engineering. However, that will raise the cost significantly due to all the extra materials, red tape, inspections, etc.

        Yes, greenhouses are typically separated from living spaces because the needs of plants and the needs of people are different.

        Always start small on a tool shed etc. to learn the basics before doing a big project. There’s a learning curve to everything.

  9. I was wondering if some of these homes can be visited in Costa Rica. I have my home and property for sale in the Puriscal area. After I sell it I will buy a vacant property and would like to build a earth bag home on it.

    Thank You

    Brent G

    • I don’t have the contact information for most projects in the world. There are just too many to keep track of. Try asking around and see what you can find. Maybe talk to suppliers of earthbags and polypropylene tubing, and also green architects in your area. Often times there is a network of natural builders in each country.

  10. Hello Owen and Co.,

    I have 300$ I’d like to use to build an earth bag house.
    Would that be sufficient?

    Thanks

  11. Dear sir,
    Here I am willing to buy the rice husk brick for my construction,i am doing my construction in tiruvannamalai,so give some contact number of you company and also can you give me the address of your company.its very urgent

  12. I am doing a project on one of the islands in Indonesia. We are away from the mainstream of most business and don’t have many choices. Earth bags…or what can’t we use. Rice bags or cement bags. Dimensions?

    • Earthbag is ideal for Indonesia due to the earthquake and hurricane resistance, plus low cost, do it yourself properties. Minimal outside materials and tools are needed.

      Rice bags and other types of grain bags are perfect. Do not use bags with plastic liners. That would prevent the soil from drying out.

      Use 18″ wide bags or tubes. Tubes are faster than bags if you can get them. I’m almost sure they’re available in Jakarta.

      Stay in touch. My email is on the top of every page.

  13. many thanks for a quick reply!

    33 may be an option if 2 stores (levels) are possible with such diameter. But even if 2 stores are not possible there is always a design solution like two standalone 33′ diameter with small intersection between.

    What do you think regarding two store building, i.e. 33′ diameter, walls about 2.6′ wide and 9.7′ height, region with high seismic activity (9 on the Richter scale)?

    best

    • Definitely make two one-story structures. Make the connecting space so it can break away. This is easily done if you use different materials such as wood framing for this area. Each roundhouse will be very stable, but they’ll shake a roll differently since they’re spaced apart. That means the connecting space will likely fail. Design it so this part can be rebuilt easily.

      Lower height walls about 8′-9′ high will be more stable. Be sure to include a bond beam and all of the earthquake resistant ideas we’ve developed for Haiti and Nepal.

      2-1/2′ thick walls require too much labor and materials. Earthbag is labor intensive. I’d recommend standard 24″ wide bags measured when flat and empty. This will make a wall about 19″ thick before plastering.

      Always start on a small project like a tool shed to learn the basic skills.

    • The largest stable roundhouse diameter is around 33′. You can go larger if you incorporate some way to stabilize the walls — buttresses, posts, rebar, etc. You’ll need professional help with this part if you’re not a builder. But it doesn’t have to be complicated. Ex: add posts about 10′ apart.

  14. Good Day,

    I am interested in the near future to build a hempcrete home and the sand bag concept is quite interesting. I would like to know cost per square foot on a complete home that would be designed around my daughter who is totally handicap. I like the round design with the inner gardens. But I would like to design one that is larger. 5 bedrooms with all of their own bathrooms. The master with two enclosed toilets; a his and hers. Also the rest of the bathrooms enclosed as well. Two 1/2 baths as well for other guests.

    Thank you

    Will

  15. Hello Owen,

    A Las Vegas resident here. I would like to know when will the next workshop be held? I would really like to participate.

    Jai

    • I’m not doing many workshops any more except the ones I just finished in Nepal. Search our Workshop page at Earthbag Building.com for a workshop near you.

  16. When you made the rice hulls and clay test blocks, cast them in the shade and they will cure harder … slower they dry, harder they are. I was a superintendent of construction and I had concrete samples made of each pour. The testing company cast them in full Florida sun and at the 28 day break, they failed their designed strength. I was told I allowed to much water to be added on the site to make the concrete easier to spread, but I had extra Portland added just for that reason. They did a Windsor probe test on the actual slab and the test results showed 4200+ psi for 3000 psi concrete! Short story long, the slower they cure, the harder they cure too. I enjoy your videos … hope this helps …

  17. Hi Owen,
    Would like to know is your green wall system consist of green bag system? I’m looking for a green bag system for retaining wall. Please reply to my email address as shown above. Your prompt reply is greatly appreciated.. Thank you.

  18. ​Owen, hello

    I just read your great article on Growing Your Own Home, very inspiring.

    We at HempNationMagazine.com are publishing a special ‘Labor Day Issue’ and would like to offer you the opportunity to have your story and videos in in our magazine. This would be a win for both of us

    In return we will provide banner ad space for your book.

    Let me know that you’re interested and we can have a phone chat.

    I look forward to hearing from you

    my best, with passion
    darlene

  19. Dear Owen
    I writed you just after the earthshake in népal but I haven’t answer. So, I permise me to ask you if you would can precise me where I should visit a earthbag house in népal. I go in népal in august and responsible for a humanitarian organization, we plan to build a children’s home. we would like to show such a construction to our Nepalese friend who would lead this project. Is there are such constructions in the plain of Kathmandu ?
    Thank you of your answer.
    Best regards.
    Isabelle

  20. Good afternoon Owen,

    I was wondering if you could possibly get me in touch with some fellow earthies out in Nepal? I am at everyones service to help with any rebuild projects come November. I have a great understanding of earthbag buildings, a plumber by trade and a lot of helpful volunteers at my fingertips.

    Where do I start??

    Many thanks

    Brian Taylor

  21. Dear Sir/Madam,

    We are the manufacturer and exporter of Jute products. Our newly developed product which is Water repellent Jute fabric.

    Here are some of its uses.

    WHAT IS WATER REPPLANT JUTE FABRIC (WRJF).

    1 POTATO BAGS: – WRJF is used to cargo your potato bags with required humidity, prevent damages and cure from fungus. Can repellent water during travelling and save the potato till their final destination.

    2 SAND BAGS: – WRJF is used to make your sand bags to protect from flood water .Shops, Houses or basements area for a longer period of time.

    3 RICE BAGS: – WRJF is used to save rice for a longer period of time from rain and humid weather.

    4 COFFEE BAGS:- WRJF is used to save coffee seeds in traveling and it doesn’t react or damage with water during traveling or storage.

    5 RAIN COAT:- WRJF is used to make rain coats. It’s cheap and used multiple times. it feels light when your raincoat protect you and your fellow members from rain.

    6 COVERING PLANT FROM HEAVY RAIN OR SUN LIGHT: – WRJF is also used to cover your growing plant to destroy from rain and burn from sum light.

    7 COVER CARS:- WRJF it can cover your car during Snow fall.

    8 COVER WET FLOOR:- WRJF is used on wet floor in your party area or snow on your roof. Snow can slip down and save your houses from damages.

    9 CATTLLES:- WRJF is used to cover cattle like cows, goats, camels, horses from raining season or from winter season. Or you can use this WRJF to cob either huts. It is going to protect from rain too.

    10 IMPORTANT DOCOMENT COVER:- WRJF material cover your document for humidity season or protect from water too .

    Look forward to hearing from you.

    Email: – adnan@tgeastern.com

    Regards,
    Adnan

  22. hi..i have a 23 y.o earthship in the rockies of colorado..needs some work,,framing and a roof…i need to sell..offers accepted..250 636 2644

  23. Dear madam/sir
    I a senior medical oncologist serving in prime cancer hospital of Nepal in Bharatpur Chitwan.I do charity work mainly providing scholarship for Chepanng students.Chepang community is highly marginalized and poverty stricken.They live mainly in hilly areas of Chitwan,Makwanpur,Dhading and Gorkha.Most of the schools in Chepang hill tracts are destroyed by Earthquake of 25 April and following after shocks.I want to construct one 5 roomed primary Eathbag school to replace damaged school.I hope it can be example, inspiration and encouragement for others.I will raise money mainly from my relatives.Please give me information. Can you send volunteers to guide us?
    with Regards
    Dr. Jaya Shrestha
    samyakjaya@yahoo.com
    mobile: +977 9845051710

    • We provide educational materials that show how to build with earthbags. You’ll have to organize things and line up volunteers. We can probably get you free school plans.

  24. Dear Mr. Owen..thanks for your response. I am interested to buy the plans in PDF/CD of roundhouse design. I want to know if all the materials to used for the constructions was described on the plans? i am very much interested to have an ambient temperature inside of the house like what you have told and described on this roundhouse. Thank you and more power!

    • Email me at naturalhouses [AT] gmail.com and tell me which plan you’re interested in. I don’t provide materials lists because most likely things will vary from one site to another. Plus, most people make changes.

  25. Dear Mr. Owen,

    A pleasant good day. I would to ask if you are conducting any actual training by invitations. I am a filippino and would like to learn and introduce this to my country. i have a portion of land in Coron Palawan and i would like to make a sample of one of your round house design. Can you give me the cost of this type of bungalow please. If in case there’s a posibility for you to visit and conduct a training in the Philippines , how much is your service fee for this request. Hoping for your kind and immediate response. Thank you and more power!

  26. You show a photo of “dozens of CEB shapes”. Can you tell me who manufactures the machine that produce these shapes that appear to include, corners, lintels etc.???

    • Search the Internet. There are numerous brands available. We don’t make or sell the machines. We’re just reporting on various natural building products and building methods. One brand we highlighted on our blog a few years ago is Star Top, but there are other brands.

  27. Hi
    I was so happy to see what you had done for the folks in Haiti and since my husband’s family is in Nepal and lost there house this weekend we are wondering if you would consider doing training for people living in rural Nepal. Most of his village was wiped out by this weekend’s earthquake. people will not have resources to build any better than they had before unless earth bag construction can be taught so they can get back on their feet quickly. please let me know if you are interested in helping and how we could help facilitate it.
    sincerely
    yvonne

    • We are unable to help everyone around the world, so we’ve put almost 3,000 pages of free information on the Internet to help share this information. Earthbag building is very simple and anyone can quickly learn how to build this way. We have free videos that show every simple, beginner articles that show every step. For those in developing countries be sure to visit Earthbag Structures.com where we consolidate all the best information for disaster areas.

  28. Dear Sir,
    Please on behalf of my Partners in Poverty Alleviation an NGO based in Ghana.
    We intend to build 300 homes in Ghana and will like to know the total number of earth bags, we will need to build the 300 homes (made up of 3 sizes thus 600 sq ft,1200 sq ft and 2500 sq ft.) and how much that will cost us.
    Hope to hear from you soon.
    Abdul Aziz Monieson Suleman
    Skype: appostles1

      • Hello,

        VERY GLAD to read about Permitted Earth-bag Dome Home in Florida!

        I’ve been waiting for WEEKS to get short version blue prints from another earth construction org to discuss approval with municipalities in South Florida, and found you guys in the meantime…

        I’d like to start building a dome asap, as a “pilot/sample” before starting a small development…

        Would like to briefly discuss blueprints purchase. Will gladly consider working with GTC Design Group in Florida (as indicated on your blog).

        Thanks!

  29. Hi my name is Edna from the pueblo of Laguna and i was wondering if you or your company can give me some information on building adobe house? I just moved back home and planning to stay here for the rest of my life, my mom was raised here and was giving a piece of land and now she gave this land to me and i would like to have a home of my home for me and my little family, 4 years ago my life had changed in a good way i took in my twin nephews and would love for them to have a good life if it wasn’t for my daughter here with me i don’t know what i would do, im handicap and i need help with lots of stuff, please if you can help me i would very much appreciate it..Thank YOU..

    • New Mexico has some of the best adobe building resources in the world. Seek local solutions. It’s all around you… the libraries, colleges, old time builders…

  30. I live in an earth shelter built in 1980. It uses thermo-convective heating, with an electric in-line heater and infra-red auxiliary heaters. I am looking to modernize the heating system. Do you have any sources? Surely there must have been some advances in this technology.
    I am in Ontario, Canada, but the sources don’t have to be in Canada.

  31. thank you Dr.

    i must design underground poultry and build it . i want for paper university .
    can you send papers about underground house ?

    • Search our site for underground houses and you’ll get a few ideas. I don’t have anything specific for what you’re doing. But the last email described in general how to do it.

  32. 1-do you recommend underground industrial poultry house ? (for me construction is not more expensive also for Drainage i can design hole with pump )

    2 -how many save energy for poultry ?

    3 -how many thickness soil of roof ?

    4 -how many meter underground i must construction foundation poultry house ?

    5 -can you send pdf files about performance energy saving underground house ?

    6- in the world there is not even one poultry house for test this system ?

    thanks

    • No one has built an earthbag poultry house as far as I know. It should work fine if you use good building techniques. No cooling will be needed if you use the methods I describe in Passive Cooling Strategies on this blog (search this site). You may want to add ceiling fans to improve ventilation. No need to go real deep if you use earthbags and grass covered earth berm around the sides. Earth is heavy and so earth on roofs (living roofs) gets expensive and a lot of work. Use white or silver color metal roofing for best value. Add some translucent panels for natural daylighting. Add space between the bond beam and roof so breezes can easily blow throw. Add windows that are shaded by roof overhangs.

      Fastest earthbag method: watch this slideshow. http://auwaearth.com/projects/earthbag-house-cabo-frio-brazil/
      Then read more details on this site by searching keywords raschel mesh and hyperadobe. Mesh tubing like this is way faster than using bags.

  33. Hello

    the industrial poultry house need very energy for heating and cooling also we know that temperature of earth shelter (3 meter underground ) at all of year is between 15-20 centigrade . why there is not underground poultry house ?

    thanks

    • Underground construction is more expensive and more prone to flooding. It’s simpler, faster and easier to build above ground. The owner’s might not be aware of building below grade. Drainage would be more complicated and costly. So there are numerous factors involved.

  34. Hi Owen,

    I would like your opinion on including styrofoam pellets in the first coat of stucco plaster on round buildings. This is for insulation purposes as a am really trying to figure out how to solve the adverse thermal mass effect for the tropics.

    • You don’t need insulation in the tropics. You want to use proper design techniques as I’ve described in previous blog posts called Passive Cooling Strategies. Search this blog. These are low cost, simple methods. No need for AC or insulating plaster.

  35. I am interested in setting up a project in the Caribbean island of San Andres. We will provide lodging and 2 meals for 5 days. We will need someone with experience and 2 assistants. Wonderful Islands, great beaches, great people. Let me know

  36. Good morning Owen,

    I love the concept of the sand bags. You can literally build a house into any shape and design. It would also offer awesome insulation factors. The one question I have, is it possible to use hempcrete as your outer and inner wall covering instead of clay? And one more question. Does the sand bag walls breath like hempcrete?

    • Insulation: soil will stabilize the indoor temperature in mild climates due to the thick thermal mass, but it’s actually low in R-value. In cold climates, add insulation board on the exterior or use lava rock in the bags.

      Yes to hempcrete plaster and vapor permeability through earthbag walls. Always provide adequate insulation.

  37. Hi Owen,
    My husband and I are passionate about natural homes. We are currently looking to find any classes that my husband can take to learn to construct natural homes as he wants to change careers and focus on natural buildings. Please let us know where he can take these classes stateside. We live in Virginia so preferrably something close to us but even if it is far off let us know as he really wants to do it so we might be able to take classes a little farther off. Thanks for your efforts to make the world a better place.
    Regards,
    Es

    • There are several large natural building workshop websites that you can find on the Internet. You can also search the Bulletin Board on this site and the Workshop page at Earthbag Building.com. Also search online for work/trade opportunities such as WWOOFing. You help out for a weekend or whatever in exchange for learning and free lunch. There are popular WWOOF and Workx websites.

  38. Rethinking..
    If I wished to building a ferrocement dome, consisting of an inner and outer layer of Portland/sand mix on rebar and welded wire mesh…
    Can you advise as to a pumice/scoria – lime mixture that would be deliverable by a 4″ trash pump, to be used as infill? Your thoughts?
    Thanks again,

  39. Awesome site, thank you all!
    Re: the scoria-lime technique…crushed scoria – naturally hydraulic lime (NHL): I’d like to utilize this and the Cal-Earth long continuous bag, pointed dome approach. Can you suggest a percentage of crushed scoria to NHL – to perhaps also Terrazyme or Boral Micron 3, etc., to ensure no spillage, should the bag tear post construction and to avoid having to strap the bags straw bale style? Building location is cold and dry and I’m on a budget. – :) Mark

    • Make some test bags using somewhere between 5%-10% lime. It does not have to be as strong as concrete, just strong enough to hold together, so I think 5% should work.

  40. here we use jumbo lawn but i do not think its a good idea because i need a material which would be used as an insulation as well as it holds the plaster on brick surface..
    jumbo has smooth surface so plaster wont stay on it.. which material should i use?

    • I don’t know what jumbo lawn is. Talk to local builders and building supply centers to learn what they recommend.

  41. well I am from Lahore (country – Pakistan)
    and it has semi-arid climate.
    yes I know its a rare combination and i could not find any information regarding this.
    I do not want to use wood because it causes a lot of deforestation.
    I am planning for something traditional and brick is one of the local material here.
    so what would u prefer?

    • All you really need is 2-3″ of insulation on the outside of the bricks. Is there any other insulating material available that can be applied at this thickness? Ideally it would not be easily damaged with water.

  42. hello Owen Geiger,Kelly Hart,Zana Hart
    I need information regarding construction detail of straw bale with burnt clay brick framework as a load bearing structure. (brick is a local material here).
    can u recommend me case studies regarding the same method if any construction is done previously?
    looking forward for your reply.

    • What is your climate like? What country? This combination of materials is not common. There may be a simpler approach.

  43. Hello Maurice,

    Which part of Belize are you building? I am in the western area and can show you some earthbag projects that might help you. My email is jnoelmarinATgmail.com

  44. Hello Mr.Geiger, I was wondering if you have workshops coming up in the coming months. My wife and I have purchased a lot in Belize and are planing to build a small house in this area. Although books and video on earthbag construction are well done and a great reference we just need the hands-on experience to get a good confidence boost to tackle the project ourselves. Many thanks

    Cheers

    • I plan to start doing workshops again next year. In the meantime, I suggest building some small structure such as a tool shed to develop your skills. So learn by doing. You’ll figure it out quickly.

  45. sir,
    by the way, all these three email address you gave were rejected by the computer when i tried sending an email. hence i had to send my inquiry thru this area for comments. my apologies if i did the wrong thing but then again, i had no choice.

    Owen Geiger: naturalhousesATgmail dot com
    Kelly Hart: kellyhartATgreenhomebuilding dot com
    Zana Hart: zanahartATgmail dot com

    • You have to replace “AT” with the @ symbol on your keyboard. That’s so computer programs can’t grab them and send us mountains of spam.

  46. Dear All

    I am thinking about building – or arranging a team to build with myself working alongside – a natural (preferably round) home in Barbados. Is there anyone out there who has built in the Caribbean or would please be able to put me in touch with someone who knows? I am brand new to this movement, very interested and keen really to work with a team who would let me learn as we go. I’m attracted to natural house-building aesthetically,ecologically and financially! I’m after something visually lovely. That’s important for me. Something that complements the land. Please feel free to contact me via my website (yoga, meditation and healing). Many thanks.

  47. I’m considering building an alternative type of house in Florida. In the county I am currently in (Lake) they seem to have nothing but a wall of regulations. Are there any counties that are most “friendly” and if so what type of building materials do you think would be best for our climate and possible hurricanes? I would have a 3 to five acre plot.

    • Florida is one of the worst/strictest states for building codes. All those codes will double construction costs. I would go elsewhere.

      General advice for building in hurricane areas: build roundhouses with concrete bond beam and hurricane tie-downs. Domes would work but are vulnerable to leaks. The wind will blow around the structure instead of against it.

  48. Hi, are there any existing earthbag communities I can move to in the world, or in the United States, at least? I figure it’s better to join a political mass of extant earthbaggers, than to go out on my own and get wiped out by some new zoning or building ordinance.

    Cheers,

    Pyrrho

    • Search our sites (Natural Building Blog and Earthbag Building.com). We profile every good project we come across. There are numerous communities springing up around the world.

  49. Thanks for the reference, I just watched all of Joe’s videos, very helpful! Do you think a post and beam ‘skeleton’ (posts maybe 10′ apart) would stabilize the walls enough for longer straight walls (maybe 36′) and allow for a second story? Basically using the scoria bags for their insulating value and letting the post & beam structure carry the weight? (same principle i think as straw bale construction but without having to worry about deterioration of the straw)

    • Post and beam is a great way to build for numerous reasons. Posts strengthen the wall as you. You can get the roof up and add the bags or tubes later. Code compliance is easier. Search our blog. We have lots of info on this topic. There are lots of different methods. But for the specific spacing of posts, etc. there are too many variables involved to give general advice. That part is typically done by an engineer who has all the information for your project.

  50. Hi Owen – thanks for all the great info, I’ve been wading though the different sites and books. I would really like to try earth bags filled with scoria. i live in northwest wyoming and there are scoria mines fairly close. Do you think this method (with a heavy bond beam) would support a 2 story house? looking at roughly 1200-1500 sq. ft. per level in a basic rectangular shape. I would really like to combine the scoria bags into a grade-level, partially bermed single level house (like your zero energy four plan) but if I’m thinking correctly it would be cheaper to build up rather than out. Thanks for your time! Hauns

    • Bags of loose fill material such as scoria are inherently unstable because they can shift. Scoria works great for small structures, particularly domes, round and curved structures. Scoria and other loose fill materials are problematic on long straight walls. Look up Scoria Casita Earthbag House for details.

  51. Hi Owen,
    I heard about sangbag houses before and now I am ın one organıc farm ın Turkey and we plan to buıld some ekologıc house very soon. Where ıs your sandbag house exactly? If ıts close we would lıke to come and share some ınformatıon about ıt. Contact me to my emaıl please. Take care. Jırka

  52. Good Day, We are in the process of starting a ferrocement construction company and currently had the need to pass the approval of council. We would very much appreciate further communication if possible to help us in our venture. thank you kindly
    Karita

  53. Cordwood vs. strawbale?

    What is the:

    1) time needed to complete a given square footage of each;
    2) cost of each method; and
    3) R-value of both methods.

    Thanks for all your efforts to teach us!

    • You can stack bales for a 750 sq. ft. house in 1-2 days. Cordwood would take weeks.
      Cost depends on price of bales. Don’t forget to include something for labor (everybody’s time is worth something).
      R-value of strawbale at around R-27 is higher than cordwood. (Some books say the R-value is R-40, etc. but I don’t think that’s accurate.)

      The problem with strawbale is the risk of moisture damage. This is greatly minimized by building a post and beam frame and finishing the roof before installing the bales.

      For all these reasons, strawbale has just been adopted into the national building code. Story coming soon.

  54. Folks,

    If I am going to put a concrete slab under your earth bags to build a storage building approximately 21ft by 15 feet, how thick would it have to be to support the weight!

    Thanks,

    Steve Wickline

  55. We have poly -pro sandbags & access to burlap bags in quantity. We would like to make these available to folks as building materials… Clean Valley Recycling is in S.E. Colorado east of Pueblo. 719-468-0254

    • If you have competitive prices then send this to Kelly Hart (address at top of page) and he will add it to our Resources page at Earthbag Building.com.

  56. Dear Sir/ Madam,
    I hope you are all fine and healthy,
    I am interested in your pressed clay brick machine but I want to know more about it in order to make my final decisions.
    1. Can you provide pressed clay brick machine with the product 10000pcs/day?
    2. Is strength of the brick more then burnt brick or less then burnt brick?
    3. I need detail about the red color, how can we produce it with a red color?
    4. How much fuel per hour does it need (10000pcs/day machine)?
    5. How many workers do we need for the machine to produce 10000pcs/day?
    6. Please send me some sample pictures of the brick that this machine has produced and also some pictures of the walls that are made of this machine product?

  57. Hello, I will like to know if you build homes of earth-bag material, I am very interested to get an estimate from the Christopher’s Castle Design, I love that plan…if you build these houses please respond to the email provided or let me know where I can find an earth-bag construction agencies, thank you very much!!!.

  58. To whom it may concern,
    My wife and I are thinking about opening a B&B with individual rooms (buildings) would you designs work for something like that? We don’t need kitchens at they are basically hotel rooms with a bathroom.

    • Sorry, I no longer do custom plans. You might find one of my stock plans at Earthbag House Plans that will work. Or just follow the directions in my Earthbag Guide ebook and you’ll be fine.

  59. Owen or Kelly,
    I saw the post about the pole house build, in the U.K.
    Have either of you considered a like idea for the US? I would guess it would a build with straw bales. I would definitely like to see your version.

    Thanks
    Mike

  60. Hi,

    I have a house with a window well, I am getting too much water in the well, I need a cover, the opening from foundation to the end of the well is 57″ and the widest part is 72″.

    Do you have any suggestions?

    Thanks,
    Alex

  61. We will start building with earthbag tubes and bamboo trusses later this year. Love your little 12′ round, plan to bump out the bathroom and build these as a hotel room duplex, joined with a big roof and lots of overhang. We get between 240 and 300″ of rain a year in the mountains of a Costa Rican Rainforest. Sharing how-to is part of our goal, a local training program for those who want to learn new skills. We live very rural and skills would help our neighbors to improve their lives. Thank you for sharing your knowledge and if ever we can be of service, please let us know. We have a big farm, lots of land, clay, and we grow guadua bamboo.

    Thank you,

    Ginnee

    • You can promote your project on our Bulletin Board. (Link at top of page.) Keep us posted and maybe we’ll do a blog post about your work also.

  62. Is “We the Tiny House People” still available through your site? I want to simultaneously introduce a friend to both

  63. We live on top of a hill and I would like to build a storage shed into the hill somewhere. This looks like a fantastic way of doing it. Any suggestions on how to start?

    • Keep reading our site. Everything you need is here. Use the built-in search engine to aid your search. Earthbags work great underground. Round structures are strongest. Use gravel bags on lower courses.

  64. thank you for your help. im planning to build a basement. so if my front of my basement floor is 9 feet to the ceiling of the basement, then when I put my floor joist In, which will be my floor for the up stairs I can build it another 9 feet tall and put my supporting walls on the inside of the house, right. then put my roof on top of that.if you have a better idea I would appreciate it. so I think ive got it figured out. thank you again owen for your help and god bless you.

    • We’ve described 2-3 ways of building earthbag basements here on our blog. Frankly, they are experimental. No one has built this way to my knowledge. So you might want to build with more conventional materials. That’s a huge subject beyond the scope of this blog.

  65. hello can a person build an earthbag home on top of a basement and if so how can that be done. thanks for your time and god bless

    • Do you have an existing basement? Or are you planning to build a new basement?

      Existing: Build lightweight earthbag walls on top of the floor frame.

      New basement: Lots of options. The foundation will have to be as wide as the earthbag walls that sit on it.

    • I used rice hulls in the video demonstration. They’re readily available in many areas and require no additional processing. It would be a lot of work to shred/pulp bamboo and would likely attract more insects and be more prone to mold than rice hulls.

      • Sorry, I have one last question about the insulation, would you know anything about using coffee husks instead of rice hulls?

        • They appear similar to rice hulls in online photos, although I have not seen them first hand. I can’t find any data online. I tried searching for coffee husk insulation and coffee husk r-value. Talk to local universities and research institutions in areas where coffee husks are most abundant. Someone somewhere has probably studied coffee husks in detail. Most detailed info like this never gets online. It’s in technical reports that are sitting on some shelf, and may be in another language. Please dig up the details and post it online or send it along so we can post it here on our blog.

    • I’m far from an expert on the specifics, however, I am aware that somebody somewhere is doing research into using Bamboo Charcoal as insulation. I have heard claims that it is looking extremely promising.

      I confess that I don’t have much insight into exactly what they are doing or how they prevent the charcoal from being a fire hazard. I have no idea if there is any potential for the process to be DIY friendly.

      This comment is not intended as an endorsement or recommendation, simply as a heads-up about the possibility.

        • Yeah.

          From what very limited knowledge I have, I think somebody is trying to adapt that technology or something very similar to it into housing insulation in some manner.

          I wish I had more to offer on the topic.

          I can imagine possibilities that could be really awesome. Perhaps even a new environmentally friendly product, or even better something that individuals could make themselves if they have a lot of bamboo growing near them.

          I can also imagine possibilities where it is such a commercialized manufactured product stuffed full of chemicals that it could become something really nasty.

          I don’t have a clue which way it might end up going.

  66. Is there anyway you could design a two (or three) bedroom earth bag house in the shape of an I-ching coin? (Round house with a square interior courtyard). This has been a dream of mine for some time and would love to see how you would do this. If you could do a two bedroom home, with an art studio instead of a garage that would be lovely. Thank you for your time.

    • Yes, you could do that. I do custom plans. Sketch it out as accurately as possible on graph paper, add major dimensions, label the rooms, etc. and I’ll give you a free quote. My email is at the top of the page.

  67. hi there, i was wondering if you could direct me to a retailer of rice hull ash in north america. thank you for your dedication.

    At your service,

    Zach

  68. regarding Wood stove surrounded by cob for thermal mass
    i have an orion shacklock wood fired stove/oven, (im in nz) i saw the picture you have here and wanted more information. i thought about putting cob around my fire but am wondering if my little home (3 meter by 9 meter) would get too hot? what process did you use to cob your wood stove? did you have an insulating layer eg. crushed pumice, (i have a small supply from the beach i can collect) i use my oven at least once a day in the summer and winter all day we are keeping it going. would having cob around the fire heat up the cast iron too much and cause cracking, would having the cob make the stove and oven more efficiant?
    very appreciative of your time and answers warm regards
    angela

    • This is the Contact page and so I don’t know what project you’re referring to. And keep in mind we mostly report on stories from other people and so we often don’t know the details. Also note, you’re asking specific questions that I can’t answer. It depends on your climate, how well insulated your house is, the size of the fire, stove quality, etc. etc. Sorry, but that’s the best I can do.

    • Search the Internet for polypropylene bags in your country. You can also search for raschel mesh bags in your country. Most large cities have bag suppliers. They’re used for everything from sand bags to animal feed (dozens of uses). Get 18″x30″ bags (45 x 75 cm) measure when flat. Or get 18″ (45 cm) wide tubes.

  69. Would like to purchase plans for this project Triple Dome Survival Shelter. Where is the cheapest place to buy the 18×30 bags? Do they have to be polypropylene or will heavy mill plastic be ok? I am cutting out a hillside to place this in and then completely cover it up. Any recommendations?

    • I just emailed you. You want standard polypropylene sand bags that measure 18×30 when empty.

      Also note, it would greatly speed construction if you had a backhoe or tractor for the excavation work. Most any subsoil will work in the bags. Make some test bags to be sure they dry hard. Pure sand will not work for what you’re doing. Add multiple layers of 6 mil black plastic sheeting to prevent roof leaks. Or splurge on rubber roof pond material if you have a lot of money.

  70. Hi, I was curious if people were allowed to come and volunteer with you guys? Or do you run any workshops? I live in Singapore, several years ago while living inMalaysia, I tried to build a round sand bag house. I got to the point where the windows were being put in and I gave up. I was so frustrated I didn’t know what to do and exhausted by the process.

    However, looking at your pics on youtube renewed my interest in sand bag work.

    Thanks tons and I hope to hear from you guys,
    Tom

    • We’re not building anything now. There’s no space left. But we bought more land and hope to build more structures in about one year. Not sure what building method we’ll use. I’ve already covered earthbag building in detail (3 buildings, one book, 1,000 blog posts, plus videos) and so I’m thinking of using CEB, maybe with pallet interior walls. Doing something new keeps projects exciting for me. I like to learn new things.

  71. Hello Dr Geiger

    My wife and I have been reading your websites for a few months now and wish to thank you for the wealth of information that has inspired us to try and build our own home. However we live in the UK (In Scotland to be exact) and try as we might we’ve been unable to find anything relating to building over here. Do you have any handy tips, information as to costs of materials and equipment, or information on permits and such specific to the UK? If its on the site and we’ve missed it, I apologize.Once again thanks for providing the inspiration for our project

    • We have articles about costs and cost estimating. These articles explain how to determine about how much your house will cost. Same with building codes. Use the search engine on our blog and look for keywords ‘building codes’. There’s nothing specific on Scotland, but you’ll learn the basics. And then you can talk to your local building officials to learn the rest. There’s a long history of earth building in parts of the UK (and growing awareness) and so it should work out okay for you. Pretty much everything you learn about cob building in the UK applies to earthbag building, although building with bags is much faster and easier. Good luck.

  72. I have a question. Would it be a good idea to use expanded shale for earthbag construction? I know it has properties similar to pumice. It seems that it would be a good insulator.

    Nick

  73. Dear Earthbag builders,

    I am looking for someone, who is an experienced earthbag builder, that is willing to go to east africa to build a small eco resort and at the same time can instruct our local building team in earthbag building. Can anyone help me? You can send me an email at gert@visueleprojecten.nl

  74. I’ve been trying to find updates on the Corganix kit. We would be building out of TX. Could you send me any info available? Everything I find on the web is about a year old.

  75. Hello Owen, we are making project here in eastern Europe, Lithuania for sustainable living, which includes permaculture gardening and natural building. We’re looking for someone who could teach our team how to build with earthbags. The seminar would include theoretical and practical aspects. It will be held here in Lithuania next spring. Please let us know if you could join us and bring earthbag building methods to Eastern Europe. Please contact us for more details at a.simonas@gmail.com

    • Thanks for the offer. I’m very busy now and have no plans to leave the country. You’re welcome to post a free message on our Bulletin Board: http://www.naturalbuildingblog.com/bulletin-board/

      You could also send me your website if you have one and I’ll post a blog article about your project if there’s enough information that seems interesting to readers.

      You can also email me your plans (PDF or jpeg images) and I’ll take a quick look for free.

  76. shalom
    i am not shore if i wrote you all ready or not
    becouse this is execly what that i am looking for to learn a specially the building in many alternative ways.
    i wounder if there is a chance to do a work trade – after all i am a beck peck from israel and if not i wounder if i can come for some time.
    please late me know.
    i wish to my self to know much and then to go to some third world countried and to help them.
    thanks a lot
    lior

    • I’m not doing work trade at this time. Search our blog for projects you are interested in and contact the people involved directly and I’m sure you’ll find some projects you can work on for free.

  77. Hi Dr. Geiger,

    I sent you email several days ago about my house plan but haven’t heard back from you. I want to purchase the zero house #4 plan but I want it modified. Do I purchase the plan first, and then request modification? Or what do I do?

    Thanks,

    Tom Jones

    • I’m having bad problems with my Yahoo email account. Yahoo has blocked me for almost 3 days now. You can email me at naturalhouses [at] gmail.com

      Email me before buying anything. I’ll give you a fixed quote once I know for sure what you want.

          • I too am a big fan of RSS reading. One thing that could be good for truncating posts is that its more difficult to “steal” content from the site. The way people steal content from a site is by subscribing to a RSS and with scripts repost it on their own site as their own material. I do NOT know if that is the reason in this case.

            But… If you are reading your RSS in for example google reader there is a cool plugin called “Reader plus” that enables you to preview the website in google reader. I like it.

            Just google “Reader Plus google” + [chrome/firefox/ie/safari/opera] and see if it is available for your browser.

            Happy reading guys and girls.

  78. owen, I thought I had ordered and paid for your dvd, April?for Rucquoi Box 152,Tecopa,CA.92389 finally I am wondering what happened? Did this request fail to reach you?
    also I am excited about using the mesh bags, single? roll?
    do you have photos of yours using them?
    thanks jehane

    • The DVD is available through Createspace and Amazon as explained in the link at the top of the page. You pay through them. If you sent money to me, I don’t remember it or have any convenient way to track the order. Did you email me previously?

  79. I was looking into Earthing Beds and was wondering if you could get a similar result with a built in earth filled earthbag bed. I had read on your sites that sometimes people build in chairs/benches for extra support and cheap seating and I thought the same could be done with a bed. (And then you put a topper over it like memory foam or something)

    http://www.earthing.com/SearchResults.asp?Cat=1843

    • Yes you can. There are several blog posts on this site that discuss how to make earthbag benches. One explains how you can use the same process to make earthbag beds. (I think it was the one on heated benches.)

  80. Hello,

    What mixture would you recommend for an earthbag house in a climate such as North Carolina, Virginia, West Virgnia (Applachia)?

    A wide variety of weather here and just don’t want to start out setting myself up for failure. Thinking 1 part cement, 10 parts soil, and 0.5 part lime. What are your thoughts on this?

    Thanks,

    Brandon

    • Are you asking about fill material (mixture in the bags) or plaster?

      Fill material: First, find out if you have codes and learn what they require. They may require stabilized earthbags with 10% lime or cement. If no codes, them most clayey subsoil will work. Make some test bags and see if they dry into hard, strong building blocks.

      • Makes sense, I’ll pack some bags soon to see what I come up with. I’ve seen on the web someone recommending crushed limestone for bags since it will set similar to concrete when packed, any merit to this?

        For exterior work I’ve thought about stucco since a sprayer would make things a bit easier. Concerns about how it holds up to moisture and cold weather though. Thoughts?

        Thanks,

        Brandon

        • A couple in Arkansas is using crushed limestone on their dome. Search our blog for details. It worked fine except it expanded a little during freezing weather. Add a little cement and it should stay rock hard. As always, make some test bags and figure out what works best.

          Most earthbag builders use cement stucco on earthbag houses. Lime is great, too. Spraying is easiest for beginners. Check out the Mortar Sprayer that’s talked about on blog.

  81. Hi Zana,

    I think that it would be a important feature to add a share button for Facebook and Goggle+. It take several steps out of the process to do it manually. I have many people that view my FB page and they love the articles.

    Thanks,
    Jerry

  82. Hi Owen,

    Can you create a ‘share ‘ icon for Facebook so I can re-post your blog?

    Thanks,
    Jerry Thornton

  83. I recommend in my book and elsewhere to use double poly bags (one inside the other) filled with gravel on lower courses. Keep bags protected from sunlight as best you can. Make sure the bags, tubes and mesh are all the same size. Make samples to see if they’re the same width after tamping. Upper courses can be poly, burlap or mesh. But with burlap being more susceptible to decay, it would be best to stabilize burlap earthbags with lime or cement. Overall, mesh tubes are the fastest and easiest on upper courses.

  84. Wow. I did not check the spelling on that post AT ALL… Would you mind not posting that one as public to the site? I thought this page was for sending an email instead.

    A spell-checked version of my comment/email is below:

    I have a few brief questions, but first of all, thank you SO much for your dedication in making these building techniques accessible for novice builders! I admire your willingness to help us achieve our dreams!
    I have already purchased and read Owen’s e-book, and have done much reading of the online discussions related to earthbag building… My husband and I plan to build our home in Wisconsin, and are thinking of borrowing some of the passive solar concepts from the Earthship folks. I am working on some concept plans now, and will likely touch base again when we have them fleshed out a bit more.
    Since the help we will be having for this project will likely vary greatly, I was wondering your thoughts on combining woven poly bags with mesh tubing depending on how many hands we have available for work. I was thinking it would be best regardless to do the lower courses completely with poly mesh bags and lava rock due to the rain/snow load in our area… but after that initial build-up, would it be okay to switch to mesh tubing now and again provided we put two courses of barbed-wire between the woven poly and the first/last course of mesh? Since we don’t have earthquakes in our area, I didn’t think the difference of flexibility between the two types of construction would be that big of an issue.
    I am in Chicago currently, and have been checking with local factories to try and find sources for free, used bags…. If I am able to secure a source of burlap sacks of the proper dimensions, what tips would you suggest in building with those? Is barbed wire still needed? I would imagine that woven poly bags would still be best for the lower courses, but are there certain soil mixes that would hold stronger as the burlap naturally decays?
    Thank you again, and I very much look forward to hearing from you!
    Alisha

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