Building An Earthbag Home in Northern New Mexico

Building An Earthbag Home in Northern New Mexico

A number of earthbag projects in New Mexico are taking off. Glad to see it. This innovative design got started in May, 2011.

“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’m not going to 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. They are kinda experimental around here right now but that’s what I’m choosing to build with.

As I talk about later, 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.”

Source: Building An Earthbag Home in Northern New Mexico


Building An Earthbag Home in Northern New Mexico — 13 Comments

  1. Hi, can you tell me where in New Mexico these earthbag homes are being built? I was told that if I can show that these alternative homes have already received permits, I can get one in my area.

    • It looks like it’s near Taos. Check out her website. Maybe she has more info or will respond to an email.

      If you can’t reach her, talk to building officials in Taos. They will likely know where it is, and possibly know of other EB buildings.

    • I was wondering of you were able to get the house built? I’m looking into buying land and building a bag or superadobe house. Can you please let me know which county you are in? Thank you.

    • Contact your local building authorities. Check their website first. Typically you can read all the codes and requirements online for free.

  2. Hi, I am looking for someone to draft up blueprints for an earthbag home in Belen, New Mexico. Our association has a minimum requirement of 2000sqft of covered floor space. I realize this is much larger than most earthbag homes. Can you suggest or direct us to anyone that can draft up blueprints so we can get a permit from our county?

    • Search online for a green architect in NM. They will guide you through the process. Or you can do it all yourself by spending days of research. Just my opinion, but I think it’s well worth hiring professionals for certain things. Of course, always check references, etc.

  3. I bought 5 acres in the mountains of New Mexico. I inherited a large cutout in the hill, and would like to build an earthbag home. Is it hard to get permits on this sort of thing? I cannot imagine doing it on the sly, it would never get accomplished.

    • New Mexico is a little difficult because of their state wide code. Even projects in remote rural areas will be scrutinized (although less so than cities). You can get a permit if you get the house engineered and use more steel and concrete. This obviously raises the costs thousands of dollars. Do not risk doing it on the sly unless it’s a tiny home the size of your bathroom or whatever and you’re desperate for shelter. Even then it would be better to set up a yurt, etc. that can be moved.

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