Natural Building Blog

Earthbag Building & Other Natural Building Methods

Bulletin Board

This is an opportunity for visitors  to post their own bulletin board announcements on the Earthbag Building Blog. The way to do this is simply to post your announcement as a comment to this page, so that others might browse these announcements. If you want a direct response from people who read your announcement, be sure to indicate how folks can contact you.

451 Responses to “Bulletin Board”

  1. James says:

    I had been asked to do a few sketch designs for Haiti and they asked for the same thing. They wanted to join two domes together in order to create a larger community room. I suggested that using earthbag domes as a large community space is not the best idea due to the limitations of the technology in regard to that particular design. You are correct in utilizing a straight wall to connect the domes together. It is a good plan and will succeed but in my experience, not worth it. Using a vault connection like Owen said is most likely the better option.

    Here is a link to some pics of the design.

    http://i.imgur.com/7sHxyTB.png

  2. James says:

    This such a great use for the USDA RDP! This is what I want to do with earthbag!

    unitedearthbuilders.com

  3. James says:

    Hey all, for those who are not familiar with Reddit (the front page of the internet) it is basically a highly populated bulletin board that we have now opened a new subreddit also dedicated to earthbag building. If interested, here is the link!

    http://www.reddit.com/r/earthbagbuilding/

    Thanks and keep building!

  4. Superadobe Earth Dome workshop in Italy.

    23-29 August, Pontestura, Italy.

    Vide Terra organizes a 7 days superadobe workshop during which it will be built a 1.8m (6feet) internal diameter earth dome with a door and a window opening.
    The course will be held in English and Italian.
    The trainers will guide you in the construction of the dome and will share the practical and theoretical knowledge they gained during months of apprenciceship at the Cal-Earth Institute.

    More info: http://www.videterra.org/workshops.html
    http://www.facebook.com/events/751012394942058/
    http://www.facebook.com/videterra

  5. yotam says:

    Hi,

    I wanted to ask about building two connected domes – intuitivly it seems to me than at the plane of intersection of the domes should be built a flat vertical wall (which will have the shape of an arc on top I suppose). Like when two soap bubbles get connected you can see a flat surface connecting them.
    This have the big benefite of a flat wall inside a dome, and seems stronger in the way of whight bearing.

    what is your opinion?

    thanks,
    Yotam

  6. Hello –
    I work with a nonprofit Moab, UT building super energy efficient passive solar strawbale homes for low-income families through an affordable program that leverages volunteer labor from student interns from around the world. Our mission is to provide energy efficient housing, provide education on sustainability and improve the housing conditions of the workforce through an affordable program. And we’re looking for a natural building instructor for our Fall build! Here is the job description:

    Natural Building Instructor for Community Rebuilds
    Based in: Moab, Utah
    Reports to: Eco Logic Design Build

    Eco Logic Design Build seeks a qualified Natural Building Instructor / Project Supervisor for the Fall 2014 Community Rebuilds low-income straw bale home construction project.

    Key responsibilities and accountabilities:
    • Construction of a straw bale home from foundation to finish, using an all-volunteer intern crew
    • Application and instruction of both natural building and conventional building elements
    • Explanation of various benefits and drawbacks of building elements in both conventional construction and natural building
    • Application of best methods to meet building code and USDA standards
    • Proper tool use instruction and site safety supervision
    • Effective project scheduling, resource management and intern motivation to ensure home completion in 19 weeks
    • Foster working relationships with Community Rebuilds project coordinator and home owner
    • Creative problem solving around dwelling design elements and finishes

    Minimum requirements: Foreman experience in both conventional and natural building. Experience instructing preferred. Ability to read, understand, and teach residential architectural plans. Extensive experience in adobe floors, straw bale walls, cob walls, earth and lime plasters. Knowledge of advanced framing techniques and truss erection. History of maintaining quality builder/client relationships. Experience in accurate material take-offs, ordering and selection. Ability to maintain quality sub-contractor and supplier relationships. Understanding of the current IRC and energy codes.
    Position runs from July 28th, 2014 to December 20, 2014. Pay based on experience.

    Eco Logic Design Build is the intern instruction sub-contractor for Community Rebuilds. We are based in Moab, Utah and build energy-efficient commercial and residential structures integrating various building methods. We build structures beyond conventional, incorporating natural building techniques wherever appropriate and desired.

    At Community Rebuilds we aid income-qualifying families in building affordable and energy-efficient straw bale homes. We are a nonprofit that provides assistance during all stages of the build. Before breaking ground we act as a free consultant for interested families, by connecting them with low interest rate loans and supplying stamped architectural plans free of cost. During the build we manage the build process and budget, and we provide a labor force of unpaid volunteer interns. http://www.communityrebuilds.org

    Interested parties may email a cover letter, resume, and two references from a related field to:

    Eric Plourde, owner Eco Logic Design Build eric@ecologicmoab.com

  7. Peter says:

    Hi Owen, Here is the link thank you again. http://www.viviun.com/AD-211394/

  8. peter says:

    Hi Owen, thank you for teaching me how to build this, it was an experience of a lifetime. Here is a video of the entire process from start to finish. Sincerely Peter

  9. Peter says:

    Round House For Sale or possible partnership or caretaker, due to illness, on a 33 foot Round Earth Bag home on the Beach, 2 stories, Metal Roof in Belize Central America 3/4 acre, great soil for growing, wind and solar powered off Grid. Very private Road and Beach. Concrete Stucco over bags inside and out, Double screen rooms on upper and lower floors 2 foot thick walls. Very cool inside great Sea breezes. My Dad got sick and I can’t be there anymore. I am reducing it to $175,000 for a quick sale. You’re paying for the sea front land and the building. Deed in English. The only English speaking government and documents in all of Central America. Belize was an English Common Wealth at one time. Contact Peter in USA 4o74l7l679 I have construction pictures and videos also. I followed Owen’s Building techniques. No Zoning you can build whatever you like in Belize.

  10. James says:

    We are officially selling woven poly at great prices! Any size you need from 12″ to 32″ wide bags. Email us at unitedearthbuilders@gmail.com!

    Website: unitedearthbuilders.com

  11. Steve Villa says:

    UV stabilized 14 & 18″ wide x 6000/lf woven PP rolls available at the best pricing.
    Steve 949-338-5978

  12. Malcolm says:

    I’m finally heading up to my build site to get the last bit of planning done and start work. Once I’ve got some work done I’ll post something.

  13. 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 http://www.realrevolutionhealing.co.uk Many thanks.

  14. Ann says:

    I just posted this to a comment section on a post about poly bag prices, and realized that this would be the best place to post, so I’m reposting here. (sorry)

    I did just did a Craigslist search and this is what I found:

    FREE used feed bags, woven poly bags, 50# size (Milwaukie)-
    We have about 32 cu ft of these bags, they are bundled into 3 big plastic bags. They can be used for all kinds of things. Earth Bag Buildings are the most popular use I know of. They are mostly white with red writing, but other misc feed bags are mixed in, too.
    link to the ad:

    http://portland.craigslist.org/clc/zip/4481972804.html

    It seems to have been posted about 16 hours ago (from now) so if you’re in the Portland area, this might be a good find for you.

    Good luck!

  15. Paul says:

    Hello Owen -

    Thanks for your blog. Lots of great information. I am considering adding a blog link on our rural arizona land site at http://www.azcabin.com and I am wondering if you would allow others to grab info from your site (like the recent story on evaporative refrigerators) and give you credit for the work (and also link back to your site). It would be great if we could do that. Let me know. I have been reading your blog posts for a year or two now and I really appreciate the work you do.

    • Owen Geiger says:

      This is common practice on the Internet. You can quote a reasonable amount of text and then cite the reference.

  16. Pyrrho says:

    Hi Owen,

    I would be interested in getting involved in Community One or a similar project, and helping to build the pods. It looks like a great plan. Hopefully the permitting of the structures goes through. If you know of any communities that are currently in the building phase, I’d be happy to get involved this summer. Here’s some info on me that I posted recently.

    http://fairbanks.craigslist.org/sks/4459641753.html

    • Owen Geiger says:

      Consider going to a place like North Dakota, Wyoming or Montana where there are more jobs. Alaska is very beautiful, but also very remote, lonely and extremely harsh.

      And remember earthbags filled with soil is all thermal mass, which means it has virtually no insulation. Either add rigid board insulation on the outside (easy way) or fill the bags with insulating material such as scoria/lava rock (slightly more tricky but more natural). Lava rock is available in many places. Search our blog for Earthbag Casita for one example.

  17. Pyrrho says:

    Hi, just wondering if there are any existing earthbag communities out there to move to. Preferably in the US… I could buy my own lot, or buy a section of someone’s existing lot. Thanks, Pyrrho.

  18. Roger Pilon says:

    Hi from Costa Rica!

    I sent one email here at naturalhouses@gmail.com 2 days ago! Maybe it went to the spam box!

    Owen, what is the best email to contact you?

    Roger

  19. Jay says:

    Also for Anna:

    I happened to find these as well:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ODUj3bKA_pE

    Mother Earth News also has a significant amount of information:

    http://www.motherearthnews.com/homesteading-and-livestock/winter-goat-shelter-zebz1310znsp.aspx
    http://www.motherearthnews.com/homesteading-and-livestock/keeping-goats-xe0laf.aspx
    http://www.motherearthnews.com/homesteading-and-livestock/dairy-goat-barn-zbcz1312.aspx
    http://www.motherearthnews.com/homesteading-and-livestock/raising-goats-backyard-farm-ze0z1204zsie.aspx

    I could easily post a dozen more links to Goat articles from Mother Earth News.

    The point I’m trying to make is to read and learn from others who have worked successfully with whatever animal you are keeping. See what features they find most helpful in whatever structure you seek for your animals.

    For example, the first M.E.N. article I listed speaks of including a small insulated viewing room for humans with a window looking out on the kidding area. It helps keep the humans comfortable during long waits. Something I never would have considered without reading that article.

  20. Jay says:

    Anne:

    There are multitudes of free plans available for the types of structures that you describe.

    Most of those plans are geared toward today’s commercialized wasteful expensive construction practices.

    However, it is not particularly difficult to learn from those designs and adapt them to be built with natural materials.

    One of the best resources I have ever found on this subject is the Canadian Plans Service. I encourage you to browse through these plans and find structures that have the functions and features that you seek. Then look into methods of building those structures with inexpensive natural materials. At least that gives you a good starting point.

    http://www.cps.gov.on.ca/english/planmenu.htm

  21. Gary Guyer says:

    I am taking on a hybrid dome project. Still in the design phase of it. The steps I’m taking is paper > scale model > build. 10 meter round house walls, ferrocement dome or monolithic roof, living roof. I need a fireproof home since I will be living in timberland country of eastern Washington state. Have you seen anyone try it this way?

    • Owen Geiger says:

      That can work. It’s best to build a small tool shed or something similar first so you can practice your skills.

      Living roofs are very heavy so be sure to build the roof extra strong and use good waterproof membrane.

  22. Anne Sheldon says:

    Hi all,

    We will near Portland, Oregon and have lots of rain (especially this winter but better than all the snow most of the country had!) and we want to start building earthbag shelters for our animals. We have mostly sloped ground and were hoping to use the earth as well as earthbags to construct permanent shelters to our Heritage Guinea Hogs (250 lbs full grown), Nubian Dairy Goats (150 – 200 lbs full grown) as part of a rotational grazing system (we might get to the point where we try intensive rotational grazing but the animals still need shelter so not sure what to do with that). We have chickens that free range with the goats and hogs and we plan on chicken tractors for those down the road.

    My question is, are there “plans” we can purchase somewhere for animal shelters? We would like some light to come in but more importantly we need them to be water proof and dry in the winter so we can put hay in for bedding and the animals in that rotation can go in and bed down in there for warmth or shade in summer.

    Also, is there a list of people by area who have built these so we could enlist the help of someone who has done this or learn by helping them build structures nearby?

    Thank you in advance!

    Anne

    • Owen Geiger says:

      There are no plans, but you don’t need any for something this simple. Our websites have thousands of pages of free information. All you have to do is read some general information like this article: http://www.instructables.com/id/Step-by-Step-Earthbag-Building/ Watch some of my free videos: http://www.youtube.com/user/naturalhouses Then decide if you want to build small domes or small roundhouses/oval designs (curved shapes are strongest). You can berm the sides of each shelter with earth to divert water and improve insulation. Face the doorway toward the sun. Plaster the outside with cement plaster and the inside where the sunlight can hit the bags. You can often find recycled bags at feed stores. That’s about it. No need to research this for days and days.

  23. Niki Mosier says:

    Hi. My husband and I are thinking about building a rectangular earthbag home. We live in Iowa so winter is a concern. We are thinking of filling bags with crushed limestone and water. To those experienced with earthbag building does this sound like a good option? Obviously we know we need to do some test bags first.

    Second question- does anyone have a good formula for calculating how much fill is needed to fill x amount of bags?

    As far as added insulation- Iowa gets super cold- we are thinking about spray foam insulation on the outside of the bags before our exterior treatment.

    Any thoughts would be much appreciated! Thanks!

    • Owen Geiger says:

      I was born in Iowa and spent time there growing up on a farm. You definitely want to add exterior insulation. Most modern adobe houses use foam board insulation coated with plaster. Two inch rigid foam is common. Same thing can be done with earthbag houses. You could also add vertical nailers with foam board between and siding. I’m more of a carpenter person so siding is appealing more so than plaster.

      Fill material can be calculated by testing one earthbag. Measure how much you put in the bag (ex: 5 buckets). Tamp it solid. If the final dimensions are satisfactory then you can use this to calculate the volume for the entire house by multiplying times the total number of bags. Another way is to calculate the total volume of the walls using basic volume equations (ex: volume of a rectangle, volume of a cylinder). These can be found online in case your math is rusty. Then add extra because the soil will compact quite a bit. Compaction varies from material to material, so do your own test bag.

  24. Jay says:

    Rory:

    If I understand your question correctly, you are interested in becoming a professional builder of natural homes, and are not sure where to start.

    My recommendation is that you find someone near you that is already building the types of natural buildings that you want to build, and try to get a job working for them.

    Learn everything you can from experienced builders. Become a sponge. Absorb every bit of knowledge and every time saving trick. Learn from others’ successes as well as their mistakes.

    This time will become invaluable to you.

    While you are working for someone else, take the time to supplement your skill set as appropriate. Do you have experience in business management? Do you know how to perform quality bookkeeping? Even if you hire someone to keep your books for you, it’s important to be able to know if that bookkeeper is doing their job well.

    Natural Builders tend to be the most open and accepting of new builders. They tend to love to share what they know with others much more than typical builders today. Take great advantage of this opportunity. It will greatly enhance your chances of success.

    Don’t be shy about working with several different builders. Learn several different types of Natural Construction. Decide for yourself what makes sense for you to focus your efforts on.

    Spend your evenings reading this entire blog. Dig into every link Owen and Kelly provide and read as many other blogs as you can find. Learn from the successes and failures of others.

    What types of construction work best in the region you want to live? What is most popular? What is most popular?

    Once you have learned enough to satisfy yourself that you are ready, then strike out on your own and start your business with confidence.

    In the end, your business success will be determined by the QUALITY of the work you perform, and how well you control your bookkeeping.

    Remember the time honored axiom. “You can have it Good, Fast, Cheap, but you can only have two out of the three. Pick which two you want, because you won’t be able to get the third once you have the two you chose.”

    I wish you great success. Enjoy the journey you are starting.

    A lot of what I just said is simple common sense, and perhaps you have already thought of a lot if not most of what I said. In any case, hopefully there is something in my comment that will be helpful to you.

  25. Rory Poullion says:

    Hi, My name is Kennedy Im from Colorado. I just retired from the army. I enlisted young and retired young. Im seeking a new career path in this field. Hope you professionals can advise me how can i start please

    • Owen Geiger says:

      We have thousands of pages of free information on our sites. Read what we have published and let us know if you have questions.

  26. Yotam says:

    Thanks for the answer! I appriciate it and your greate work of making your expansive and helpful experiance so avaliable.
    I have another question,
    I live in The north of Israel, on a windy hill which can rain about 800mm in a typical wet winter. Also winters here can be pretty cold, with an daily average of 8 degrees celsius in the cold part of the winter. I think about using polyurethane fome as outer isolation, for a few reasons whinch include complete water resistance, resistance to crackes which comes from it’s flexibility, the best r value around and ease of aplication. Also it becomes totally inert when cured immidiatly after application.

    What is your opinion?

  27. Yotam says:

    I’m planning on building an earthbag home.
    I want to rise again the question of rust and barbed wire.
    I’ve seen on your page on durability of barbed wire outside that it will last for >100 years if not tuching the ground. In an earthbag bulding it will touch earth, that if not entire sealed will “breath” and retine some precentage of moisture.
    Moreover, in my site the earth contains lots of lime, And that i know iron, evey zinc coated, rust rapidly when in tuch with limestone.
    What is your opinion?
    What about experiance in examining consistancy of barbed wire in old earthbag building?

    Thank you,
    Yotam

    • Owen Geiger says:

      Very few earthbag buildings have been torn apart and examined and so there’s a lack of hard evidence. I would say buy high quality barbed wire and you should be okay. Always raise the building site or build on high ground so water drains away from the building in all directions. Use gravel bags on lower courses so water can’t wick up in the wall. Use wide roof overhangs to protect the walls.

  28. Derek and Vickey says:

    Hi, my husband and I have been researching earthbag building as a way to build our home (we are in a small temporary cabin.) I am on board with the dome home idea, but do have some questions.

    We live in south central Alaska. Plan to start building this summer. We would like to build a earth bermed (including sod roofed) multi-dome structure. One of the domes would be a garage. With a good arched opening, would it be possible to install a garage style door? Something large enough to pull a good sized pickup truck through? Or would a dome not handle this?

    Our soil here is mostly gravel and sand which is what we would use to fill the bags and would include a bit of portland cement in each bag to help hold it together as we do not have much for clay here.

    Have you heard of anyone building earthbag in Alaska? We did find something about a man in Fairbanks but tried emailing and posting on his page to ask questions and received no response. Would love to find someone building in similar conditions even outside of Alaska to correspond with.

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated. We are on a very tight budget so can’t afford to have the thing collapse and have to start over.

    • Owen Geiger says:

      Doni and Kaki’s earthbag book does a good job describing how to build earthbag domes. Domes are best for small structures in dry climates. It takes a lot of effort to prevent moisture damage. And if you get a leak, it’s awkward to fix. Also, there are size limitations on window and door openings since domes are in compression. It would be difficult trying to install a garage door in a dome. Lava rock would be the best choice for bag material in cold climates. Search our sites for information on scoria (lava rock).

      I recommend something like my Zero Energy One earthbag house if you can get local wood for the roof: http://earthbagplans.wordpress.com/2010/09/14/zero-energy-one-2/
      Building vertical walls like this would be much more straightforward, especially if you use a post and beam frame so you can work under cover and protect the bags.

      Also note, always make a small tool shed, etc. so you can learn the basics at low cost/low risk.

  29. Alex Abbassi says:

    Hi all,
    Happy building!
    Does anyone know the code sections in California regarding sandbag/superadobe construction? I’ve checked online in places like
    http://www.ecodes.biz/ecodes_support/Free_Resources/2013California/13Building/13Building_main.html.
    But no luck so far.
    For my purposes, if you know of any code sections in the Uniform Building Code (of International Code Council), that would be great too.

    Thanks for your help.
    Alex

    • Owen Geiger says:

      I think they use the Alternative Building Materials section. The engineer/architect must make their case to convince the building officials it’s safe.

  30. Dierdre Peachay says:

    Hi, My name is Kennedy Im from Colorado. I just retired from the army. I enlisted young and retired young. Im seeking a new career path in this field. Hope you professionals can advise me how can i start please

  31. Allan Clark says:

    Hi All I have just purchased half a ton of burlap coffee sacks,850 give or take a few, boy do they stink, they are raw beans not the roasted variety and they kept me company for about 300 miles. Now the problem arises that it is better to use a magnesium oxide phosphate cement on organic material. Well just try to get magnesium oxide here in Beaufort North Carolina I am having a very hard time locating magnesium oxide I want the reactive variety. I can get it from china or india min order 100 metric tons but very difficult locally. Anybody have any ideas about how to get it?e-mail nihongo@embarqmail.com Thanks

  32. Hi all,

    My name is Grzegorz. I am an architect from Poland, but for last 3 years I have lived in Romania with my wife Maria. We are trying to promote natural building here. Please have a look at our recent campaign on Indiegogo.
    We need your support us! We are trying to spread the word about straw bale building in Romania. This technique is virtually unknown in this country, so we need to reach as many people as possible. We want to attend a big construction fair in Bucharest, the capital of Romania, and we are unable to cover all the expenses on our own. We are addressing our appeal to all straw bale builders, straw bale house owners and straw bale enthusiasts. 
    Help us spread the knowledge and the joy!
    Please share and if you are feeling generous your small donation will mean so much for us!

    http://igg.me/at/earthsafedesign/x/6129694

    Best greetings to all!

  33. Jason says:

    Hi Owen,
    Hoping you could comment:

    I’m in Australia and we have very strict building codes. Nonetheless, I’ve been looking at Goulburn Yurts http://yurtworks.com.au/ and wondering if there’s some way of combining earthbag building with their Yurt frames.

    They sell ‘skeleton kits’, and if you have a look you can get an idea of their building process; http://yurtworks.com.au/skeleton-kit/ – Although their yurts larger than 5.1metres obviously have vertical walls. Do you think a straight infill earthbag wall system might work for a 6.1 metre/8.4 metre yurt? How could we stabilize the walls?

    Also, they build on raised platforms. Would earthbags work under those circumstances?

    Last question – have you got any courses coming up?

    Thanks.

    • Owen Geiger says:

      I believe I wrote a blog post about insulating yurts with bags or tubes of insulation. Straw bales are too thick for most applications. They take up too much space. But bags or tubes could work perfectly in yurts. Read my blog post about Thin Wall Earthbags. Watch for more blog posts on this topic. I may do a thin wall earthbag workshop in the future. December would work well for me.

  34. Rene says:

    Speaking of dome homes we have a blueprint design and materials list for a small 200ft dwelling on our website.
    It is an open source portal for world change, all information is free to use and to share. I can’t wait to get started on the earth bag homes.

  35. lisa starr says:

    YAY Adam!!!! Kauai has been on our “to go” list for while….for me way before I knew I was going to build a dome home. Also, have made a couple of connections in Kauai re: dome building. The circles are starting to connect!!!!

  36. ruth5vr says:

    Does anyone have any experience of building with earthbags in Britain or Northern Europe please?
    I’m trying out a retaining wall but everything I look at for advice is in warm climates.
    I live in Wales, it’s wet, cool to cold in Autumn and Winter. Any advice? Thanks

    • Owen Geiger says:

      Use gravel bags and allow for drainage as outlined in our blog posts and my ebook and you’ll be fine. Always protect the bags from UV or buy special bags made for retaining walls (= much more expensive probably).

  37. Adam Harris says:

    HELP WANTED
    on north shore KAUAI
    -building a Music Studio Dome / Hurricane Shelter on our Organic Farm!!!!

    I have followed this blog for some years!
    I love this site and respect Owens opinion greatly.
    This is my first time contacting you about earth bag building. I am friends with FOX, James Goulab, Gabe and Lisa Starr. I helped bag Bonita Domes in Joshua Tree CA in 2011.

    The reason why I am posting on the blog for the first time is:

    I am currently drawing up plans for a 15′ dome built on an 18″ high double buttressed stemwall using: Raschel Mesh Bags filled with native Oxisol soil, lime and Coconut Husk fibers woven between double strand barbwire atop a cement foundation.

    I have done numerous soil tests and I am very very pleased with the results. Coconut fibers are one of the strongest natural fibers I can find and work amazingly incased in Earth and Lime.

    I am calling for help.
    I am looking for 2 experienced earth-bag builders to come live and build on our organic farm on north shore kauai. We offer a place to camp, produce from the gardens, fruit from the orchards, small stipend, and the experience of living and working on an organic farm.

    Maybe you have the experience / drive / time/ willingness to learn / curiosity to come help.

    I would love to have people email me if they are interested in coming to kauai and working on this project with us.

    aus.machen at gmail.com

    We have the crew ready to mobilize and
    We have all the supplies ready to go.

    • 1 yard cement mixer w/ conveyer
    • Kubota Tracktor w/ loader
    • 3000′ Raschel Polymesh bag
    • Custom Aluminum Center Pole Compass
    • 1 Pallet Construction Grade Lime
    • Coffee Cans, Shovels, and all Misc. Tools
    • 16″ PVC window forms
    • Double Door Form

    I look forward to hearing from anyone at anytime!

  38. Owen Geiger says:

    Permculture Design Course at Ashevillage Institute in Asheville, NC
    We are seeking support from like-minded organizations such as yours to help spread the word that registration is open for Ashevillage Institute’s PERMACULTURE DESIGN COURSE in Asheville, NC, April 12-26.
    David Holmgren, the co-originator of Permaculture will be a live-stream guest presenter!

    Website: http://ashevillage.org/PDC. Many thanks!!
    Jess Gulla jess@ashevillage.org

  39. oilreg says:

    Hi Owen,

    i am following your projects since long time and i am about to start my Earthbaghouse pretty soon.

    As you showed in some video some bag/ soil tests i did so as well on the soild we had on the property.

    We removed around 50 cm of topsoil to have mostly organic matter free soild for the bags, deeper would prolly be better thou, but after digging 2 meter deep the soil fills with water already, so cant go much deeper with the pool and hence therefore have less soil for my bags.

    My Bag Test so far are a bit confusing to me.
    1 Bag i did with just pure roadbase, some yellowish clay with lots of stones. it had lots of crackles after 3 weeks drying but kinda survived the drop test (1m falling into gras) although maybe one 3rd cracked away

    2 Bag was normal soil with 10% cement added, this one seems to be the strongest, still lots of crackles thou, but it survived the drop test the best.

    I did some other bag tests, but they are far worse not worth mentioning.

    Comparing my results to your video, its that our soil here still looks brownish, and not reddish like yours. We are here in Chiangmai area. And my idea was to buy some clay i could add to the mix, but nobody seeem to be able to tell me where to buy clay and what the thai name for it might be.

    I am bit clueless on my building material at the moment, any advice / input would be appreciated. None of my bag tests where as solid as yours.

    I have to admit thou that i made mini bags, just cause i dont have so much soil to fill a normal bag yet. but the minibags they had proper dimensions compared to the big bags.

    thank you
    uli

    • Owen Geiger says:

      Some cracks are okay. The main thing is the earthbags should hold together, not just crumble or easily break apart. Any type of road base should be fine. Yours would be stronger with added clay. Talk to a university art professor for natural clay deposits in your area.

  40. Jessica says:

    Bruce, where is Texas? We also live in Texas (near Glen Rose) and are researching this as an option. If you needed it we may be interested in helping you as a learning opportunity for us….email me at tebar24@aol.com. Thanks!
    Jessica

  41. Milou says:

    Good Evening Mr. Geiger,

    It’s a pleasure to see your beautiful work with Earth bag. Watching your video motivate me to build my house with Earth bag. I plan to build about 2000 Sq ft, two stories home and 20 feet high. I would like to ask you, if you would please give me an estimate of how many bags you think I will need. I am thinking about 7 bedrooms 4 Full baths and 2 (1/2 bath) 1 kitchen, 1 family room, 1 dining room and 1 LV room. Also will it be possible to give me an estimate of the roofing cost? IS it possible to put the roofing after I built only the outside walls without the inside wall? What is the best building material to use for roofing and flooring? Do I need any kind of Insulation? Would you consider travel in the Caribbean Island to do a project? If yes, how much will you charge to travel? Thank you for your time.

    Cheers,

    Milou

  42. Eric says:

    Mr Geiger,

    Once again thank you so much! I have taken all of this advice to heart, and landandfarm.com does seem to be a very good site, in less than an hour I found about 30 properties of interest.

    What are your thoughts on the 35 acres min. to get a domestic well permit in CO? That has been our base requirement thus far in our land search. Given the water shortage issues in some parts of CO it seems to make the most sense to me to look for 35+ acres.

    Eventually we would like to have some livestock for butchering etc as well as a large garden for growing veggies.

    We could go with a smaller parcel but logically to me 35+ acres makes sense and it seems as if plots that big are readily available for $18K-$65K. Of course cheap is good…but water is better!:) I see how this could be a lengthy process to find that “perfect” spot.

    • Owen Geiger says:

      It’s getting increasingly difficult to get well drilling permits due to the ‘water wars’ in the West. Water is like liquid gold and so there have been decades of litigation over who gets it. It’s also getting more difficult and expensive to drill wells due to dropping water tables. So research this carefully.

      It’s easy to find land for sale, but very difficult to find good land. You could look at 100 pieces of land and find they’re all over grazed wind swept barren prairies of tumbleweed. So plan on a year of searching or be prepared to pay more money for land around Crestone or some place similar.

      Any good land won’t be cheap. Cheap land is cheap for a reason. Almost nobody wants it.

  43. Rene says:

    Hi Eric, there is a website offering Open Source Blueprints for earth bag homes and information on sustainable suppliers with other helpful information. Check it out http://www.onecommunityglobal.org

  44. Eric says:

    Mr Geiger,

    Thanks so much for all the information you provided. There is so much information online that it’s actually confusing! Straw bale was my original choice, then we found earthbag, then rice hull bags…they all sounded so very promising.

    I grew up on a farm in rural Missouri and am somewhat familiar with at least “basic” construction, and post and beam sounds as if it might be the way to go.

    It does sound like Colorado might be the place to go, even counties that have a building code seem like they are willing to entertain alternative ideas.

    Do you,or any of the other readers here have suggestions on a specific area? We are hoping to be able to find the magic 35 acres that gives us domestic well rights but also have heard horror stories about 700ft wells!!Cisterns are not out of the question but with a large family we would really like to have an on-site water supply.

    I really enjoy your website and will be taking all the advice you have offered me and others and when we do get started I will be sure to video the process and start a blog.

    • Owen Geiger says:

      All the natural building methods discussed here are promising. The challenge is to learn what works best in a particular situation.

      You’ll probably want to move to the area. Buying land is a time consuming process. Sort of like finding a needle in a haystack. Plan on doing lots of driving. Get a vehicle that can maneuver rough roads if you’re looking for rural land.

      Make a list of things you’re primarily interested in. Driving distance to the nearest town that has a building supply center, supermarket, etc.? Remote location? Adjoining national forest or BLM land? Price range? Community? Do you want to be near other like minded people? Climate? Number of acres?

      There are real estate websites where you can search for various parameters. We’ve covered this on our blog before. Here’s one: http://www.naturalbuildingblog.com/land-and-farm-com/

  45. Eric says:

    We are looking to build either with straw-bale or earthbag…thinking southern Colorado. I have tried to research rice hull construction or some other readily available form of insulation. What would work best say at 7500 ft in southern CO? We have a large family of 7, we don’t want something huge but a dome seems way small. Would it be possible to use rice hulls AND earthbags like 2 rows of bags side by side?

    Also, do you think it would be possible to partially set a quonset hut into a hillside then go over the top with rice hull bags and cob? Basically using the Q-hut as a “form” and for support?

    I have tons of questions, we currently live in western Florida and it’s just not “us”…we want to be back on the land. We both come from rural backgrounds and want to raise our family in a more simple fashion.

    Does anyone know of any quality workshops or of anyone in Florida that is building with earthbags? Would love to help and of course learn before taking on this project.

    Also if anyone knows of 35+ acres reasonably priced in S. Colorado we would love to hear from you as well. Or from those already living in that area.

    Best Wishes to all,
    The Robertsons

    • Owen Geiger says:

      Southern CO is an excellent choice. That’s where I lived for 30 years or so. Look for micro-climates that aren’t too harsh. Some areas get brutally cold. Search for areas with ground water. Avoid high fire risk areas. Lots of places have minimal building codes. That’s why there are alternative structures all over.

      Scoria (lava rock) is readily available south of Alamosa near the NM border. This is the optimum material in the area. (That and straw bales.) You can order by the dump truck load. Get 1/2″-3/4″ screened lava rock.

      One good combination: post and beam frame using wood from local saw mills or forests, scoria earthbags for insulated foundation, 12″ scoria under the floor, straw bale walls. Get the roof up first. Use metal roofing for roofwater catchment. Add rain barrels. Buy bales in Alamosa from Albert Francis (famous for best bales in the multi-state region). The beauty of this plan is the speed and ease of construction. No reason to buy books, search online for hundreds of hours or attend workshops. Relax. It’s super simple. And you don’t have to be built like a linebacker. Everyone can contribute. The main thing is to read up on standard carpentry. You need to know basic carpentry. Check out a book from the library that has lots of drawings and photos. Skip over complicated parts. Focus on learning the basics.

      Start small and add on later! Jumping in over your head is an invitation for disaster. If your plan can’t be easily expanded later, then build a guesthouse first.

      Start a free blog and watch how the stars align in your favor. People want to learn and do what you’re doing and will gladly come by to help for a day or two. Give them a place to camp or have a campground nearby and supply two meals a day plus water.

      Also, I highly suggest taking a tour of alternative homes in Crestone. There are somewhere around 125-150 sustainable homes in this small town. You can learn a lot here. There are expert natural builders all over the place. They’ll gladly flip open their portfolio and share this experiences.

  46. Hugo says:

    HELP

    Is there any one ho can help us to build a house in long earth bag in THAILAND -SISAKET
    I have 5 ore 6 men ho can do the job ( filling the bags) bud we need somebody whit experience to lead the project .
    The house is around 130 m² .
    If interested i can send some photos from the plot
    greets
    HUgo

    • Owen Geiger says:

      See today’s blog post about confined earthbags. Thais know how to build posts and beams with concrete and so this is a very good and easy way to utilize earthbags. Email me if you have questions.

  47. Bruce says:

    I am about to start an earthbag project inTexas. I have located 18″x30″ polypropylene bags for 20 cents each. They are imported and the weave is 10×10 and 800 denier. Can anyone tell me if these bags will work well for building earthbag walls?

    Thanks

  48. faith and malcolm says:

    we know it is a large dome. Our starter house still has to hold all 6 of us with out a murder being planned. It can be cramped in the sleeping loft but the main floor needs to feel spacious. That is divided in to 2 floors only 952.6 sq ft for 6 people. Please don’t suggest a round house because every roof option we can find would almost triple our budget. So all we are trying to figure out is buttressing how many how far apart and I have read lots of your blog and have not found a definite answer. If you could point us to the entry that says a formula or something of that nature. I would be just as happy. Thank you

  49. faith and malcolm says:

    hi owen we have finally decided on what we think we want to do so one question for a 27 foot interior diameter dome how much buttressing would we need. for earthbag done with a stabilized earth fill?

  50. James says:

    Due to the recent natural disasters happening all over the country this past year we have decided to design an earthbag Storm Safety Shelter! It has been designed using the ICC-500 and the FEMA 320 as the guide and is in the process of being sent to the National Storm Shelter Association for further review in order to get fully certified. The current plans are for underground but can be used for above ground as well. They are available for purchase @ http://www.unitedearthbuilders.com/#!archplans/c1w0w

    Thank you for this blog and all you earth builders that make it happen everyday!

    • Owen Geiger says:

      James, this gave me a big smile. As you know, I’m been promoting earthbag shelters and storm shelters for a long time. You’ve done an excellent job in taking the idea to a new level. Looks great. I’ll probably run this tomorrow on the blog. Thanks for sharing.

  51. Chris says:

    Earthbag Building organization team member wanted. We organize workshops
    and facilitate building projects around the world, from Africa to
    Europe, Asia to USA. You have to be able to pay for your own food in
    between projects and pay a 300 euro/month apprenticeship fee for the
    first 3 months.

  52. Hugo says:

    Is there any website where you can make plans for your own house??

  53. MIKE says:

    FOR THE PAST SEVERAL HOURS I HAVE BEEN LOOKING FOR INFO THAT I PREVIOUSLY READ AND EVEN BOOKMARKED TO NO AVAIL… IT WAS VERY ARTICULATED COMPARISON OF STRAIGHT WALLS VS ROUNDHOUSES. I, FOR THE LIFE OF ME — CANNOT FIND IT AGAIN!!

    I THINK OWEN POSTED IT AS A REPLY TO SOMEONE’S COMMENTS BUT I HAVE TRIED SEARCHING EVERY TERM I CAN THINK OF & I GET NOTHING… ANYBODY KNOW WHAT I AM TALKING ABOUT?

  54. Hasan Pinjar says:

    I need to construct a 1000 sft 12′ high building. I prefer an earthbag roundhouse because of the stability and cooler interiors. I am in dilemma regarding the roofing. To achieve 1000 sft, the radius of the building will be about 20′. Please suggest me a suitable perrmanent/semipermanent roofing for this proposed 40′ dia eb roundhouse. Thanks.

    • Owen Geiger says:

      Earthbag buildings over 30 feet in diameter need some sort of buttressing ore reinforcement, as do long straight walls.

      Smaller diameter buildings are also easy to roof.

      Our blog has lots of roof options. You can browse our blog by categories (see right side of page). Click on Roofs and you can read about many different projects.

      I like reciprocal roofs, pole roofs made with compression rings (like our earthbag roundhouse) and manufactured trusses. It’s hard to find really long poles in most places and so you may have to build trusses if you go with 30′ diameter.

    • Jay says:

      I don’t know exactly what your design criteria are, but I’ll throw in a few thoughts that may or may not be applicable to your particular situation.

      Does your 1000sqft HAVE to be all in one room?

      Does the structure HAVE to be a roundhouse?

      Roundhouses are great, but anytime somone create a very large roof span, the difficulty, complexity, and the cost of the project goes up very rapidly.

      I suggest taking a good long hard look at exactly how you anticipate using the structure to determine if it is absolutely necessary that the interior space be all one room, and round.

      If you will be dividing up the large space anyway, then it makes sense to design smaller spaces that are easier to span roofs over using inexpensive commonly available materials.

      Alternatively you can change the shape. A long narrow structure can still provide 1000 sqft, but the narrow width can be very simple and inexpensive for a roof to span.

      My comment isn’t inteded to provide you with the answers to the questions you posed, but to encourage you to ask yourself questions about whether the design you are considering is the best one for your situation.

      Architects such as Owen are a great resource to help you think through these kinds of questions.

      The best designs begin by asking what they need a building to do, and then design the optimal structure to satisfy those needs.

      Perhaps you have already gone through this process. I have no way of knowing.

      In any case, never be afraid to question your own assumptions. Make certain that you are building the best structure for what you need it to do for the price you can afford.

      I wish you well with your project.

      • Owen Geiger says:

        That’s good advice.

        • Jay says:

          I thought you might like that. :p

          My Grandpa used to say that too many people build houses the same way the get a dog.

          They say they want a nice dog to sit on their lap, then fall in love with an extremely cute puppy and take him home. A puppy that turns out to be a Great Dane.

          Nothing against Great Danes. If someone knows how to handle one.

  55. Richard says:

    I was once going to build an earthbag house, but things change, so…..

    I have 6000 polypropylene bags. 32″x15″ w/4″ gusset. Rated at 1200 uv hours. The gusset ensures that you have a full 15″ width when the bag is filled.

    I live in Montana, near Red Lodge. I’m asking $0.20/bag, but will negotiate a price for larger quantities. Buyer would probably have to pick up.

  56. jacqueline barard says:

    Hi, I am Jacqueline.
    I want to build a home in Canada, have very little money.
    but I want it to be on stilts, how do support the floor
    with possible concrete, due I build a sub-floor and pour concrete over it. Of course I will have helpers

    • Owen Geiger says:

      You could pour concrete on top of a wood floor, but why? Is it for radiant heat flooring (PEX)? Make sure the floor joists are strong enough. Talk to a carpenter if you’re not sure. Get a book from the library for details.

  57. Tony Simpson says:

    Hi Barry

    I am about to start building an eco-lodge to the west of Kisumu at Kisian. I have gathered a lot of info including Owen’s DVD and E-book.

    Please call me on 0733 458 101 if you need assistance or email me at tskenya@gmail.com.

    Are you filling with the local black cotton clay or mixing in sand? Is it strong enough?

  58. Barry Kungu says:

    At last I have enough polypropylene bags to switch on the button for a school I have designed at my village land in Kano Plains, Kisumu in Western Kenya. The villagers are curious to find out why I am filling these bags with earth. But am keeping it all under wraps until I have over 2000 bags filled ready for the realization of this dream school.Am really excited at this prospect that an earthbag school will take shape at our village where people are struggling to put up decent shelter.

  59. Steve says:

    14″ & 18″ woven PP tube material in 6000/lf rolls available. UVI stabilized. At great pricing! 949-338-5978 stevev@ameripacific.com

  60. VIYC says:

    Hey friends,

    Volunteer in Your Community (VIYC) is calling for volunteers to help build a cob structure in Pleasant Garden near Greensboro, North Carolina on the weekends of August 3 – 4, 2013 and August 10 – 11, 2013 from 1 pm to 4 pm each day. Help this community get a new building and learn cob building techniques.

    VIYC’s mission is to actively provide assistance to the impoverished, connect them to available resources that address the causes of their poverty, educate them and support them in reaching stable financial independence.

    Cob is an ancient, inexpensive building method comprised of sand, clay, and straw that VIYC is using to construct a meeting place for their volunteer group. The demonstration cob house will be on the community garden site and function as a community kitchen. It will also be an example of “a cost effective environmentally friendly house that can help combat homelessness.”

    Wear comfortable clothing and shoes that can get muddy.

    Please join us at 805 Stoney Hill Circle, Pleasant Garden, NC 27406.

    For details, directions, and to sign up contact Tinece Holman-Boykin at (336) three,three, four -2984 or email viyc.volunteers(at)gmail.com.

  61. Sherlynn says:

    Hello,
    My husband and I are about to start building a sandbag home in Southeastern Oklahoma. If you have built a home or working on a home we would love to hear from you and learn more about building a sandbag home. Thanks!

    • Hop says:

      Hi Sherlynn,

      We are getting ready to build an earthbag home on our property in East Central Oklahoma……north of Okemah. Would love to connect with you guys and exchange ideas.

  62. france says:

    hi I am very interested in volunteering to help build an earthbag house for my own experience. I am not great with lifting but I am great at organizing, motivating and many other activities I have seen in the building videos. If you need help in the Illinois/Wisconsin/Michigan TriState area please send me an email. I am excited to learn more and help others in the process. Sometime in the future I hope to build a home of my own.

    Email me, namaste203@gmail.com, thanks.

  63. Annette Kennedy says:

    Hi,
    Please do you supply detailed construction drawings for your house plans?
    I am planning a small strawbale cabin (800 – 950 sq ft) and actauuly really need a foundation plan (I thought maybe slab on grade) and a post and beam framing plan.
    Thank you and regards,
    Annette Kennedy

  64. oil says:

    Hi Owen,

    i read pretty much everything on Earthbags what i could get in my hands including your book. However all books sort of miss out to have a good explanation on how to do the floor in the EB house later on.

    So at my current state of planning i couldnt find a good answer on those questions, i would be happy if you comment on them.

    1) i belief a living roof should be the best heat protection, but for a massive weight of 40 cm soil my quess is that i need a reinforced cement layer as roof which is like 15 cm thick i guess, would you put the ceiling above the bond beam are same with the bondbeam?

    2) i read somewhere (no idea where it was) its better to remove most of the organic topsoil, so i did, but we removed like 50 cm of the topsoil now, and i am wondering with what to fill it up now, (removing 50 cm topsoil was prolly not smart i slowly figure) – is there a good idea to solve this issue with a earther floor?

    thx in advance
    uli

    • Owen Geiger says:

      You can do floors pretty much any way you want. The lowest cost would be some type of earthen floor. Search our blog for earthen floors and the number eleven (I source 11 earth floor methods). Example: CEBs set on a bed of sand is very efficient. That eliminates waiting months for the floor to dry. Put 6 mil poly under the floor. Consider adding insulation such as scoria under the floor.

      Living roofs are tricky. They’re heavy, require special construction methods to support the extra weight and take a lot of maintenance. It’s far simpler to use metal roofing, MCR tile or wood shingles. But they sure look good.

      Topsoil: The fastest way is to have a tractor scrape the site before you build. Stockpile it out of the way and put it back around your house after construction is complete.

      Road base: Build up the site with compacted road base so the land slopes away from the house in all directions. Add the moist road base in 6″ layers and then drive a truck or tractor back and forth to compact it. Ideally you’d let it sit one year, especially if there’s a lot of fill.

      Concrete roof: You could pour the roof and bond beam at one time (monolithic). That’s the strongest. Working with concrete though (especially up off the ground) is hard work. It might be easier for you to do the bond beam first and then do the roof later. Do it in two steps so it’s not so overwhelming. Study the details on how this is done.

  65. Faith and Malcolm Alkire-Eaton says:

    ok I’m sure someone has asked and i just missed it some where but how much do you charge for a custom plan that can be engineer stamped? it would need to be something that would at least pass the UBC. we have 2 designs in mind 1 is for the ok we get a loan and do it all at once and one is the ok we need to do it in stages so stage one has to still be livable by 6 people and stag 2 would mean we had more then just mattress space and space for guest if need be. with a connecting pantry corridor.

  66. Faith and Malcolm Alkire-Eaton says:

    ok help. sort of my mother decided to give me part of my inheritance early so i now own 1 acre in wv. we had been talking about doing a project at some point and had tried to find a design that would work for our large family and we finally found one that we will modify. well now instead of a someday time line we plan on starting construction in june of next year. so has anyone on this blog done any earthbag construction in north central wv or southern pa. even if it was just a dog house I would love to find out how it went if anything went wrong and any advise on how to do it with the fun soil in the area. I remember as a kid actually using the layer under the top soil to sculpt. I have so many fears and questions i can’t even think of them all. I mean we learned about this just this year i had never heard about it before march then i stumbled on to it on youtube now i have a year to do paperwork, site prep and design not to mention find a contractor who won’t look at me like I’m nuts and talk all 30-100 family members to volunteer for some hard work in exchange for a few good meals. :)

    • Owen Geiger says:

      You can eliminate 90% of the worry and stress by starting with a tool shed or other similar structure this summer. A small project like this provides the necessary hands-on learning. Follow the directions on this free Instructable: http://www.instructables.com/id/Step-by-Step-Earthbag-Building/

    • Jay says:

      Owen has just given the best advice anyone could possibly give you.

      In fact. I would encourage you to build a small shed THIS SUMMER. Perhaps have a group of family/friends get together for a weekend or two?

      You’ll learn a lot, and you’ll create a valuable shed that will help store tools and materials when you undertake the larger project.

      If you have more time this year, consider building other helpful accessory structures. Perhaps build a outdoor kitchen with a roof for shade? This area can be a valuable respite during construction. A place to share meals with the construction crew. A place to wait out a sudden storm during construction.

      What about building a composting privy? You’ll be glad to have a place with privacy to do your business during construction next year. Don’t be afraid to dress it up nice. Make it a THRONE ROOM. (Here is a rule of thumb for encouraging volunteer builders to join your efforts. The cleaner, fresher smelling, and more comfortable the toilet facilities are, the more likely workers are to hang around and keep working.) Make a poo “palace” this summer, and it will pay back your efforts next year many times over.

      Break your project into smaller projects. Find ways to accomplish parts of your dream a bit at a time. Learn as you build them, and apply those lessons learned to your major construction efforts next year.

      • Owen Geiger says:

        Good advice. All too often people get overwhelmed and not sure what to do. Many people keep putting things off and never get started. It’s way better to jump right in with a small structure and learn the basics. You’ll gain a load of confidence this way, and the building itself can be practically free if you use recycled bags, etc.

        • Jay says:

          There are other important activities that can (should) be addressed this summer.

          Inspect the property carefully. Are there areas of standing water that tend to breed mosquitoes? Cut small drainage ditches to drain them. What about debris that may collect water and become a breeding ground, such as old tires or barrels? Get rid of as many puddle areas as possible.

          Next summer will be far more bearable if you eliminate mosquito habitats now. I spent some time in WV one summer and nearly got eaten alive by all the blood suckers. The time to evict those vampires is NOW. (I’m cringing right now just from the memory. Perhaps the worst mosquito experience of my life happened in WV. I ran out of repellent and got bit 184 times in one day. Yes. I counted. Was miserable for a week afterward.)

          You can also start thinking about your water supply. It sure is nice to have water available at the building site during construction that does not need to be hauled in. Think about 2 classes of water. Potable for drinking purposes, and general purpose water (perhaps non-potable), useful for construction purposes. Can you tap a spring or stream and gravity feed a hose or a plastic pipe to fill a tank near the construction site?

          Clearing the building site from trees can be accomplished this summer. If the wood is cut and stacked, even placed in a woodshed, it will have time to age and dry so that some of it can be used next summer for firewood. Longer poles can be set aside to be used as construction poles.

          The list of small projects that are important to the larger project are numerous. Many can be started immediately for minimal or very low cost. With the right group of people helping, many of those projects can become fun activities during a “vacation” camping trip to the site.

          • Owen Geiger says:

            Good points. You can easily spend months building a storage shed and gathering materials. I would probably build two sheds — an earthbag shed for tools and valuable supplies, and an open air pole shed for drying lumber and poles. And like you said there are endless things to do around a homestead: start composting garden beds, plant fruit trees, build fences and roads, etc.

    • Faith and Malcolm Alkire-Eaton says:

      I should have mentioned that the site is 5 hours away from our current residence has been part of a hardwood forest for over 100 years and is half way up the side of a mountain (no standing water). we are planing at least a weekend up to do a walk around and mark the trees that have to be removed for the house, and do a few soil tests. I keep reminding myself that for every tree removed we will replace it with a new young fruit or nut tree so i don’t feel to guilty. but since we can’t be closer to the site till next summer i have to rely on my dad to do most of the site prep for us. it is a good thing him and mom live across the access road from it.

  67. Jay says:

    Everyone, please take the time to send your best to the residents and victims of Moore Oklahoma.

    If you believe in the power of prayer, now would be a good time to ask for blessings.

    If you believe in Karma, please go out and do a really good deed today in hopes that the goodwill you generate will ripple through to those in need in Oklahoma.

    Whatever your beliefs, please send your best to the most recent victims of building codes. It wasn’t a tornado that killed children today, it was governmental stupidity believing that building codes will protect people from disasters.

    We must educate the world how to build structures that do not kill people when mother nature does what it always does.

  68. Dee Pyle says:

    I am planning on building an earthbag dome on my sons land about 35 miles from Ft Worth, Texas, sometime in the fall. Any help or suggestions would be appreciated.

    • Owen Geiger says:

      Texas is one of the easiest places to build due to minimal building codes. Domes tend to overheat in humid climates due to lack of windows (you can only add so many in a dome). And, domes are vulnerable to roof leaks. So consider building a roofed dome (info available on our sites for free) and adding extra ventilation (vent pipe, ceiling fan, openable skylight, etc.).

      • Dee Pyle says:

        I am very interested in The Honey House design but have been wondering if that would work well here in Texas. I was wanting to do the dome because I am in tornado alley and worry what kind of roof might stand up if we were to have a tornado or even just really high winds. I want to do a 20 ft inner diameter with a loft area and don’t really know what kind of roof to go with. Thanks for the help and the wonderful resourses you have here.

        • Owen Geiger says:

          We’ve discussed this repeatedly on our blog. Domes overheat in climates such as Texas where it doesn’t cool off at night. And because there’s a limit to the number of windows that you can add, there’s insufficient ventilation. Two main options: Build a roofed dome and add extra ventilation tubes and roof vent. Or build a roundhouse with strong hurricane resistant roof and lots of windows with shutters.

  69. Mike says:

    Looking for up to date supplier information on magnesium oxide type concrete suppliers or formulas. I am in the USA Oregon

  70. Owen Geiger says:

    Ed, this is the Bulletin Board page where readers announce their projects. It would be best to move this to a page with related content and then I’ll answer your questions. (Most any blog page talking about soil, earthbags, foundations, etc. — just pick one.) And then I’ll delete this comment. Thanks.

    Quick answer: the soil mix doesn’t have to be perfect and it doesn’t have to be stabilized. Most any soil will work. Try hard to minimize extra mixing to save labor.

  71. Ed says:

    Several places I have read to latex paint for protecting bags from UV damage. Will the natural plaster stick to the paint or do you have to do something else to make that work.

  72. Tony Simpson says:

    Thanks Bruce.

    I hope that by next year I will have some real practical experience myself.

    Remember to try and get contacts for the Ugandans trained by the Japanese. They will make life easy for you.
    If you have time, pay a visit to that Eco-village. They will almost certainly be residents of that area, Entebbe, the site of the international airport.

    If you are planning a visit to Nairobi, mail me and we can meet.

    Best regards

    Tony

  73. Bruce says:

    Tony,
    Thanks for the great information and advice. We have pretty much decided to wait on this project until we can get some experience and solidify our contacts. We will use the trip in July to make those contacts. I really appreciate the suggestion about contacting Polysacks customers. Also if we wait a year I hope to, have some valuable experience behind me from building our house. I hope we get to meet at some point. Hope your project goes well.

    Bruce

  74. Tony Simpson says:

    Hi Bruce

    For speed of material supply, I would suggest you buy new tube or bags from Polysack. They are probably already supplying Ugandan customers so can get the material to a contact in Jinja fairly easily. Please note that you enter Uganda from Busia via Kisumu to get to Jinja. The main road, Nairobi – Kampala, enters at Malaba and does not go through Jinja. Check your maps.

    As you are a charity requiring only a small number of bags (Owen’s E-Book tells you how to calculate how many), I suggest you email Polysack and ask them who their largest customers are in Uganda and request their mail addresses.
    You then ask each to name their largest customers and ask each of them to donate or sell to you the number of bags you require. Please note that S/H PP bags are valuable here as almost everything is recycled due to the high poverty levels in East Africa.

    If you google earthbag buildings Uganda you will find an eco-village shown on Lake Victoria near Kampala. The architect is Japanese and may well be able to give you contact for one or more of his key supervisors (fundi in Swahili) who will have the experience you need. He should also be able to advise on supplies, soil etc etc.

    My fundi can build with blocks but has never had earthbag experience. I am planning to build a simple building with him so we both learn by experience.

    Your 2 day estimate sounds wildly optimistic to me if you will be dealing with people who have had no experience. Please bear in mind the language factor – most labourers will speak their tribal dialect with limited English or Swahili. You will have to have all the materials and tools organised before you start. From experience, beware leaving preparations to your church contacts and if you ask for anything double check their promises and declarations of “done”. I have spent 10 years in elevator engineering in Nairobi and I speak from bitter experience! But God does look after his own so you may be lucky and prove me wrong.

    Since I started this typing, Owen has added his comments which are based on experience and sense. I doubt you will be able to buy road base in Jinja. Most road contractors buy land and mine their own materials, leaving the road fringed at intervals with “borrow pits” Perhaps one of your congregation is a builder or has a builder friend who can help.

    If I am free in July I may be able to visit you but I have never built earthbags before so cannot lead you. However I find Owen’s E-book pretty self explanatory.

    Please feel free to contact me by mail for more info.

    Tony

  75. Ed Konderla says:

    Wanted to let you know how impressed I am with your site, your ebook and your videos. My wife and I moved to Ecuador 3 years ago. We have a couple of apartments in Cuenca but wanted to get to the country again and bought a little 16 acre farm at about 8,000 ft alltitude that has a tiny cinder block house. These cinder blocks here aren’t like the blocks in the US. I think they have much less concrete in them, that while making them cheaper they aren’t near as strong. We have almost no seasons here. Basically rainy and dry. The highs in the summer run about 70 deg. F and 66 deg. F in the winter. The nights are always cool with the variation being low of 50 to 46 deg F. We are the only Gringos in this area and in fact have one of the few cars. Most people still ride horses. Needless to say we get lots of attention. I’ve shown a few of the locals my plans and they are extremely interested. The concrete blocks are expensive to use in their world and they still require lots of cement and rebar to build correctly(which many aren’t) and they have zero insullation value. What happens outdoors happens immediately inside. The poly bags are readily available. The soil is all clay that expands about 9% from wet to dry although there are many older adobe structures in the area that appear very sound. Road base is readily available at a reasonable price. My feel is that if I can do this successfully it may be a great alternative for these folks. They are wonderful people, hard working and I would love to expose them to some options. So thanks for your help and I’ll be asking for much more.

    • Owen Geiger says:

      This sounds like a near ideal scenario for earthbag building. Old homes in the area are probably adobe and so people will understand the process.

      Uninsulated concrete block houses in hot climates = an oven. Sometimes they’re so hot that people can’t stay inside during the day. But somehow people think concrete block is the best material.

  76. Bruce says:

    Owen,
    Thanks for your perspective. Perhaps this project needs to be done on a separate trip. We definitely so not want to do a poor job or hurry and get someone hurt. Would still like to pursue planning and contacts for a future project there. I will try to find some sources while there and if successful will pass the information on.

    Bruce

  77. Bruce says:

    Tony,
    Thanks for the information. We ourselves are in need of expertise in Earthbag techniques. If we do this project it will be a small addition to an existing structure, a church in this case. We only have a couple of days to do this as our main focus is Christian ministry. I have purchased Owens ebook and it seems to cover what we need. Our prayers are that if God intends us to do this that He send us people with the contacts and skills needed to do it. This post is my first attempt at gathering data.

    I am planning an Earthbag home in Texas which is still in the process of being engineered to meet state codes. I will be learning, I am sure, a great deal over the next year about this style of building. In Uganda I think our biggest struggle is finding the contacts and supplies needed to have on the ground so time is not spent collecting these once we are there. I believe we can learn through study and watching others through videos and blogs like this one to effectively build a small structure (10×20′) in a short period of time (2 days) if the proper tools and supplies are there. If anyone thinks this is not possible please correct me. There are some local people that can help us but it would help us greatly if someone that has done one of these projects in Uganda could provide us with supplier information so we would not have the added difficulty of transporting it across country borders.

    Your help is welcome, but unfortunately we do not have a well prepared plan at the moment. This project would be done in mid July this year if it happens.

    Thanks again,
    Bruce

    • Owen Geiger says:

      I would allow at least 5 days. There’s a learning curve to everything. Also, things can vary a lot. For instance, we normally use road base in the earthbags. It comes smoothly mixed and moist and can be dumped right in the bags. (Sometimes it needs light misting.) Today we started an earthbag pump house using typical soil. It’s dry and required adding water, which takes lots of extra mixing. It’s also full of hard clods that have to be removed and smash with tampers. This one little change (buying regular soil instead of road base) is going to double the work and time required.

      So why are we using regular soil? The pump house is actually our UN emergency shelter design. It’s getting published in a journal next month and we wanted photos of a finished structure and make a short builder’s manual using the same techniques disaster victims would encounter. They would have regular soil, not road base.

  78. Ed says:

    Is there any kind of special thread necessary (which they won’t have). They’ll have heavy duty nylon I’m sure but that’s probably the best I can do. Do I just have them run a stitch down the side of the bag and if so what do you do with the flap of excess material. There are lot’s of places with heavy duty sewing machines so that isn’t a problem.

    • Owen Geiger says:

      Yes, use heavy duty nylon thread. Tuck the excess material inside the bag so it doesn’t get in the way. No need to turn the bag inside out. Just tuck in the side the full length and run it through the machine. Very easy. One person could measure and draw a line so they’re uniform width.

  79. Bruce says:

    We will be building an Earthbag structure near Jinja, Uganda this summer. Does anyone know where we can get 18×30″ (46x76cm) gusseted polypropylene bags in that area?

    • Tony Simpson says:

      I am planning on a project close to you but over the Kenya border near Kisumu.

      S/H bags are readily available in Kenya as should be in Uganda but they are not all the same size, some metric and some Imperial (UK/US) sizes. I have located a manufacturer in Thika, close to Nairobi who manufacturer UV treated bags 45 x 80 cm (20 x 36 in approx). They will also supply the PP tubular rolls 45cm dia from which they cut and sew the bags. Cost per bag is KES 20.00 (approx $0.24).
      Cost of roll is KES 260.00 per Kg which gives about 15.50 Mtr tube. Cost of 1 Mtr is therefore approx $0.20.
      Both prices ex-factory and net of taxes.

      The name of company is Polysack Ltd
      Contact rajesh.kumar@polysack.co.ke

      I am trying to find a mesh tube supplier in East Africa but believe there are none and mesh is only available from India or China. The smallest minimum order i have found is 3 tonnes which is enough for a (very) small village.

      Please mail me at tskenya@gmail.com or phone(254) 733 458 101 and we could possibly co-ordinate our buying to get better prices.

      I would be most interested in hearing about your project. Could I possibly send somebody to learn the techniques from you?

      Looking forward to your reply.

      Tony Simpson

  80. Ed says:

    I am wanting to build a house outside of Cuenca, Ecuador. My problem is locating the proper sized bags. I can either find 50 KG bags or 10 KG when what I really need is 25 to 30 KG bags. If all else fails does anyone know of a supplier in the states that I can order the correct bags from. I’ve played around with the 50 KG bags and they are like wrestling an elephant when full and I’m getting to old for wresting elephants. My email is ekonderla@yahoo.com.

    • Owen Geiger says:

      You may have to buy the big bags and sew them to a smaller size. This requires a heavy duty sewing machine.

      Also, check the farmer’s market, etc. for raschel mesh produce bags. They work just as well or better than polypropylene bags.

  81. Francesco says:

    Hi there,

    I stumbled across this blog when looking for earthbag building for canadian climate. It seems you have a brief post on a earth sheltered greenhouse in northern MB (6 hours north of my hometown Winnipeg). Do you have any other information on this project? Is there anyone I can contact as this is exactly the type of project I am looking to build and I live in Winnipeg. Please let me know anything about this if you can. Thanks,

  82. Bruce says:

    I am about to begin an Earthbag structure in central Texas. I would like to make the roof supports out of round timber from oak trees on my property. Does anyone know a good resource I can use to help me work out the details of doing this, from cutting and drying to construction specifics.

    Thanks

    • Owen Geiger says:

      I’ve covered the basics of drying and working with poles on our blog. Use the built-in search engine with search terms such as drying wood and pole building. And everything you need is free on the Internet. The main things include coating the ends of poles with recycled paint or varnish immediately after felling. Store them on racks under cover in the shade with ventilation.

  83. Tim ONeill says:

    I am trying to find an experienced instructor to teach a hands on workshop in Costa Rica with the WISE school. We are an Eco Village that is being developed. The school actually began at our sister development a few years ago and we are renewing workshops and courses that will better match our purpose at new Eco Village.

    We will be wanting instructors for Cob, Earthbag, Bamboo and other sustainable building techniques suitable to the tropical environment of Southern Costa Rica. Part of our community will be tiny homes.

    If you have interest please contact me at your convenience. Gracias. -Tim

    Email: topimages at msn dot com

  84. Annegret says:

    hi, i’m looking for fellow campaigners in germany.

    we want to start a project like already discribed in this board in lithuania. and i would be glad to come in contact with other germans or europeans with the same ideas so we could help each other and compare notes on all that stuff.

    thanks to everybody who could give me contact possibilities (like names, websites, projects, email) in germany /europe!

    my mailadress: mail@annegretvolkmuth.de

  85. Owen Geiger says:

    Superadobe dome workshop in Ireland
    April 11-14, 2013
    http://roundhouses.net/workshops/

  86. kat brewer says:

    Great News in Mendocino County California!!
    Dan Antonioli
    New Event: Zoning & Building Code Changes Supporting Sustainable Development
    Saturday 19 January 2013; 200PM-400PM
    Many people would like to add chickens, goats, solar panels, wind turbines, hydro-turbines, grey water, composting toilets, cob building materials, rammed-earth walls, intentional community and co-housing shared living spaces, eco-villages, and/or other ecologically sustainable infrastructure improvements to their land. But in many cases, they are prevented from doing so by existing County land use laws, or at least strongly discouraged from doing so by complicated, time-consuming, and expensive permit processes, that are based on an outdated 20th century vision of how we should live on the land. The result is that many people are (1) not developing in a manner that is sustainable, (2) going elsewhere to create their dreams, or (3) becoming renegades and scofflaws when they do what is ecologically and socially desirable. None of these three options is desirable for the County or its inhabitants. We seek to legalize and streamline the land development that needs to happen in order for our community to become ecologically sustainable, resilient, and local.

    This event will initially focus on Laytonville Ecovillage as a case study of efforts to develop a Permaculture-inspired community within the constraints of current zoning. We will hear from Dan Antonioli, green builder and organizer of Laytonville Ecovillage, as he talks about his eight-year effort to sustainably develop land in Mendocino County. We will also hear from Michael St. John, a Mendocino-based land development consultant, as he speaks about the Intentional Community & Ecovillage Working Group’s meeting with the County’s Planning Department. Members of the public with similar Mendocino County experience are also invited to briefly speak at this event. The intended results of this event: a draft list of sustainable development zoning and building code changes that we need in Mendocino County, and a draft list of suggested next steps to manifest these changes in County regulations.

    Saturday 19 January 2013, from 2:00-4:00PM
    Community Center of Mendocino (East Room)
    998 School St., Mendocino
    (Go west at Route 1 & Little Lake Rd. stoplight, take first left onto School St., and proceed one block)

    For more information about the event, contact Charles Cresson Wood at 707 937 5572, or email info@transitionmendocinocoast.org.

  87. James says:

    Hi, James Gilligan, I’m a photographer & US Marine veteran 99/05, Combat Engineer was my MOS, & I deployed to Iraq’03 and Afghanistan’04. I’m looking to permanently settle in Southern California for a homebase of sorts. And I really like Earthbag construction as a cheap home and for its utility/durability.

    I’m interested in connecting with fellow veterans & others in the realms of eco-construction gardening Small_Spaces earthbaghomes adobehomes minimancaves

    I have ideas for urban/rural/ & remote, smallfootprint-spaces, low cost, low upkeep, turnkey habitability, retreats, zenspaces, & anything DIY – repurposing – primitive – multipurpose – pet friendly

    Right now I’m looking for land however, as a vet with a VA home loan, you’re quite restricted. I can’t use the loan for purchase of land alone without a residence to reside in upon the property. And wouldn’t even consider using it for a new home(modern box/money pit).. Which brings me to where I am now: I have interest in using can-walls (from Earthship construction techniques) and Super-Adobe and other land sculpting tricks like ferro-cement.

    My sights are set at $5-$12k for a plot of land.

    If I had $5500 today* 02/25/2013 I could nab an amazing plot in the Greater Los Angeles area (minutes from downtown proper) literally 1.5 hours by foot/ 17 min by car: from Dodger stadium. Close to 10 and 110 freeway as well as schools, parks and recreational areas.

    Possibly looking to create/ startup/ or join a small group (preferably 1-3 cheap financial interest shares @most)to pool together and purchase the neighboring plots/ or & potentially other US-CONUS-preferably CA or other state/national parks/rural/urban cheap-chic areas.

    EMAIL POC
    gilligan.james@rocketmail.com
    http://jgilliganphotog.tumblr.com/
    https://twitter.com/JGilliganPhotog
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/68176404@N08/

  88. Cato says:

    Hi There
    Well, I am not in Belize, but not too far. I am working on a social project in Chiapas, México. Visit

    http://moradasverdes.weebly.com/cocinas-rurales-chilon-chiapas-sept-dic-2012.html

    We accept volunteers with a min. commitment of three weeks. No participation fee. The communities offer very simple food and accommodation, I share my superadobe experience with you and you bring your personal stuff, lots of energy and good-will. The work as well as the living conditions are tough. If you have problems adapting or have a “bad-back” this is not for you. Overall, it is very interesting and rewarding.
    Send me an email if interested.
    Best regards
    Cato

  89. Larry Flaming says:

    Is there anyone that is in northern Belize that has Earthbag building experience. I am considering building a home on beach front property very near the city of Sarteneja.

    Larry
    lmflaming@comcast.net
    Denver
    303-923-5800

  90. Thanks, Owen. I am going to do just like you said.

  91. Well, I am thinking about the summer of 2013 as the project date. I’ve seen there are people who have been to Haiti & have worked with locals in some part of the country to build with Earthbags. I would like to come in contact with these people for referrals or recruits new volunteers who can travel to Haiti this summer 2013 to help.

    Also, how many bags or roll of bags does it take to build the three (3) dome style house? Number of rolls of barbed wires? I noticed there is a company in Haiti selling these bags already.
    Thanks for posted replies.

    • Owen Geiger says:

      I suggest contacting the groups who have built with earthbags and talk with them. They will have helpful suggestions. Every country/area is different and it’s always best to talk to those with actual experience where you live.

      You’ll have to calculate your materials. We have some advice for calculating bags. See: How Many Bags Does it Take on our FAQ page: http://www.naturalbuildingblog.com/faqs/

  92. Owen Geiger says:

    From Carlene Murphy:
    http://www.hcdpinc.org

    I want to build a small (approx. 500 sq.ft.) eco friendly house on a small lot in Haiti. I already have a small food garden on the lot and would like to build around it. For some reason I have the feeling this type of homes are not expensive because I don’t have money, and that’s the reason I am looking at this concept to rebuild my family home after the quake. I could later on expend the construction with an addition of an art center/retreat if the Not For Profit organization I coordinate can raise the funds for it. I can’t handle this project alone. I will need help from a group of experienced volunteers to put it together with me once we are in Haiti. That’s in addition to locals who will be hired to work. Is it possible to recruit a group here to help me with this project? And how much money does a small 2 bedrooms, 1 bath, kitchen, living/dining room will cost? An estimated figure will be helpful in determining if such construction is for me or if I should consider cheaper methods. I will appreciate a response very much.
    Thank you,
    Carline

  93. Eric says:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hesco_bastion

    A earthbag wall possibility? I came across the hesco basion sandbag and I imediatly thought of earth bag home construction. While the big size isn’t exactly suited for a home, I hope most of us aren’t having guns fired at our homes/live in a dyke, the concept of a large bag is interesting. I wonder if a bag and exo frame could be designed for home wall construction. Something like a larger bottom that narrows towards the top for a home wall. It could be big bags that go from foundation to roof or multiple bags, but still more volume per bag than a traditional sandbag. I kind of imagine it would work like a rammed earth/sandbag hybrid. I would love to get peoples thoughts on this.

  94. Steve villa says:

    I have excess 14″ & 18″ wide rolls of UVI stabilized woven pp tubing available for sale from our facility in Southern California at great prices.
    Call me at 949-338-5978
    Thanks

  95. southerngardener79 says:

    Where can you get the woven tubing for the Hyperadobe construction method. I live in the U.S and all searches are directing me to China exports websites. Please help. Thanks

    • Owen Geiger says:

      Everything you need is on this blog and EarthbagBuilding.com. Search for discount mesh and/or raschel mesh on this blog. Search our Resources page at EarthbagBuilding.com. And read our FAQ page on this blog.

  96. Pamela says:

    We built an earthbag tornado shelter. It is ten feet diameter inside. We added lots of pvc pipe vents by incorporating them into the rows of bags and a wind turbine vent on top that spins in the wind and draws in lots of fresh air. Lots of room for people during a storm. We used it during the high wind storm of June 29th 2012. We were safe and cozy inside. It really was labor intensive but worth all the aching muscles as now I have piece of mind for my family and can keep them safe even in a tornado. Just wanted to say many thanks because we couldn’t have done it without sites like these and all the information on them.

    • Owen Geiger says:

      Thank you very much. That’s good news. Maybe you have 1-2 good photos and brief description you could send for our blog? This is something I’ve thought about for years — How can we spread the word about these low cost storm shelters? So far we’ve put out free plans and instructions. Stories like yours will bring this to the forefront, get it in the local paper, etc. and protect more people. I don’t know of any simpler, lower cost way to build storm shelters.

      • Pamela says:

        I have lots and lots of pictures, I documented everything from beginning to end. If I had an address to send it to, I would mail you my story and you can choose what to put on your site. It has over 50 pages and is in a plastic folder. If I can help someone else do this it would be great! I can upload some pictures too if you tell me how to do it. You would be welcome to use it freely however you need to.

        • Owen Geiger says:

          Thanks, Pamela. My address is at the top of the page: naturalhouses [at] gmail dot com
          Ideally you’d select only the best 2-3 images and reduce the text to the most important information.
          Thanks in advance. This should help lots of folks.

  97. Marc Jolin says:

    Hello Owen,

    Can you tell me the approximate dimensions of a “tamped” 18” x 30” earth bag; I’m asking so as to calculate how many course’s or layers of bags high I would need go to achieve an 7.5 ft wall height…

    Please and thank you !!!

    MJ

    • Owen Geiger says:

      Earthbag courses (after tamping) are on average about 5″ thick if you fill them completely full and tamp the contents in the bag lightly after each bucket is filled. That’s the process I recommend in my YouTube Natural Houses videos and book. This reduces the number of bags needed considerably. http://www.youtube.com/user/naturalhouses

      But maybe you don’t want to tamp the contents after each bucket is dumped in. Then your courses of bags may be 3″-4″. You could end up using twice as many bags! These and other basic questions are answered on our FAQ page: http://www.naturalbuildingblog.com/faqs/

  98. Lisa says:

    Hello, I am a disabled veteran, single mother and I live in the north east corner of Oklahoma, I have 6 acres of rocky land and lots of slopes on my property. What would be the best type of home for me to build and can I do most or all of it on my own? I want to be off grid and have a garden also.
    Thank you, Lisa

    • Owen Geiger says:

      You can build most any kind of house out of earthbags. So focus on the size, layout and style of what you think works best for you.

      Earthbag is labor intensive. You’ll need to be strong and healthy. It works best if you have several people. Start with something small to build your skills. Try it and see how you like it at low risk.

  99. Jim says:

    (a note from a friend)

    Very interesting blog. I got carried away and read through it all… including the raised bed gardening with wood chip trench composting! A great service Owen Geiger and Kelly Hart have done to gather all the earthbag building info on one site with a willingness to answer questions for would-be builders. Great to see a growing interest in this kind of building all over the world.

  100. Tikker Jones says:

    Great source if information, thanks. Couldn’t help but notice that the earthbag structure being constructed (and completed) as shown as the masthead on this page is located in the valley where I live. Anyone with contact information ?

  101. steve villa says:

    Hi
    I have rolls of 14″ & 18″ wide tubular woven PP fabric available for sale. The material is UVI stabilized for 2000hrs and is perfect for earth bag structures. I have sent these rolls all over the country with 100% satisfaction from everyone. The rolls are 6000/lf long and sold by the roll only. They are prices at $0.14/lf ($840) and $0.16/lf ($960) FOB our facility in Southern California plus the 2.9% Pay Pal fee. Tax is included in the price. We have a freight broker with excellent freight pricing to your location. Give me a call at 949-338-5978 Best of Luck!
    Steve

  102. My wife and I are hoping to construct a medium-sized home out of earthbags north of Laurel, Montana (near Billings). I’m in the military for a few more years, but I have a long leave period coming up. We’re hoping to build the basic walls and ceiling over the course of three weeks, and are interested in anyone who may want to come help. We don’t have a lot of experience, but we’d love to share the opportunity to learn. We’re also interested, once we live there, in helping other people explore their own alternative construction dreams. If you think you might be interested, please contact me at alexanderskingsbury@gmail.com

  103. Cato Arce says:

    Hi Owen
    This is Cato, from Chiapas, Mexico.
    I am currently leading a social project in rural Chiapas, southern Mexico. The project is to build 25 kitchens (4×4 meters) with a wood-saving-stove included using the superadobe technique. We started on Sept-11th-2012, We have nine structures going, in different stages of construction. Six have roofs and electrical wiring, five of those have the first coat of plaster, and the last three are waiting for carpenting components. The work is tough but the spirit is high. I am shearing-teaching the technique to low income coffee farmers at different communities in Chiolon county (municipio) about one hour northwest from Ocosingo, Chiapas. The quality of the work is very good.
    We are looking for volunteers who may be in the area.
    Right now there are three volunteers, one guy from Mexico, one from Lichtenstein and a girl from Puerto Rico. We are asking for a minimum stay-commitment of three weeks. We pay for your transportation from San Cristobal de las Casas to the community. The people offer you very simple food (beans, rice, tortillas, soup, bad coffee) and lots of smiles. We sleep on mattreses on the floor, and there is no hot shower. We start our day around 6;15 am (getting ready, morning coffee etc) and work from 7, lunch around 10 and finish work around 3 pm, monday to saturday. It may sound tough, and it is, but at the same time I feel is worthwhile.

    Altough not updated with the project I´ve just mentioned, Pls. visit moradasverdes.weebly.com. There you will see last year´s project (the building of a rural clinic), a multidome house in Betania, Chiapas, and some private jobs. You can fill up the volunteer`s application (sort of).
    I hope to herar from ya. Saludos
    Cato

  104. Samuel says:

    Just starting our eco-village outside Tucson, AZ. Will be building flexible formed rammed earth homes from 400 to 1600 sq feet using different designs from Own, CalEarth, etc. Looking for interested people with either “experience” or volunteers to help. Likely start date of first construction Jan 2013 (assuming most of us are still here ;). Contact us through ttev.org.

  105. Eva says:

    Hi everyone!
    I am planning to build an eco-resort in Sri Lanka being part of a charity project, and my original idea was to build superadobe domes ( as I have participate in couple of workshops in Spain), but bearing in mind that the climate in Sri Lanka its quite wet, with a couple of monzoons per year, I am not quite sure earthbag building would be the best construction method due to risk of humidity on the buildings.
    I still dont want to give up the idea of superadobe domes,I love them, but…would you still build them with such a wet climate? Timber, bamboo better??

    thank you and great page!!

    • Owen Geiger says:

      Domes evolved in desert climates and present some major problems in humid, rainy climates. We’ve covered this in detail on our blog. Use the search engine on the right side of the page if you want all the details. One dome project in Texas suffers from lack of ventilation (because it’s hot and humid). Normally you’d just add more windows to improve ventilation, but this weakens the dome. There’s also a failed project in the Philippines that’s been abandoned due to roof leaks. Without a roof to keep the rain off, water will eventually get into every crack (plaster always cracks). So even though domes are possible in climates like this, they’re not recommended because of these problems. I would mimic the local style in size and shape and build the same thing with earthbags.

      • Eva says:

        Owen, thank you so much for your fast answer. I am quite sad because I really love domes, but yes, I guess you are right… One last question…would this happen even if the plaster is with cement??
        I guess I will end up doing superadobe vertical walls and then wooden roofs…

        thank you and great work!!

  106. Rosie says:

    It is not my first time to go to see this site, i am browsing this
    website dailly and get pleasant data from here everyday.

  107. Owen Geiger says:

    Hi Geiger,

    We BRIO team looking for Eco friendly house plans for our agro tourism site at east of Sri Lanka.

    We would be greatfull if you can help us by sharing ideas , plans & other resources what you can share with us.

    we suppose to do grate job in eastern Sri Lanka after end of conflict to enhance the living standarded of innocent people there.

    We are working to grab 100 acre land from valaichenai-Batticoala district for this project.You may see the location thru Google earth ,

    L- 7°55’39.19″N
    LG-81°30’28.73″E

    Kindly come up with your valuable contribution !!

    B’regards
    Channa
    http://www.brio-ventures.com

  108. Prometheus says:

    Hello everyone,

    While in the process of looking for natural building projects to participate in, I came across a seemingly new website which is the natural building equivalent to WWOOFing! This is very exciting as it can provide a much more effective method for builders to find projects, and vice versa, through social networking! Please, if you have a project under way, register it on this website, and help builders like me find you!

    (PS I don’t work for the website I just want more people using it)

    http://www.thepoosh.org

  109. Chrystal B says:

    Hi Everyone! I am in South Mississippi and am curious if anyone has built an earthbag home here in MS. I would be greatly interested in visiting a local earthbag home, as I am soon to begin construction on my own. Any MS specific tips would be greatly appreciated!

    If you have any helpful information, you can pass it on to me at beutywithn@hotmail.com

    Thanks in advance,
    Chrystal

  110. Gert Eussen says:

    Dear Builders,

    I am looking for an experienced earthbag builder to travel to africa to build a main building for a small eco resort, and at the same time instruct our local building team. If anyone is intersted, please send you resume with some photo’s of pervious work to my email adress. The starting date for building in not yet established but will be in begin 2013.

    Salary and duration is nogatiable.

    Gert@visueleprojecten.nl

  111. Owen Geiger says:

    To whom it may concern,

    My name is Dave Charley and I’m currently traveling around Asia and I’m extremely keen to find a bio-construction/sandbag building project that I may be able to volunteer my time to.

    I live in Mozambique and see a desperate need for such construction to be implemented there, and would relish the opportunity to learn and experience building such homes, and to be able to take this back to Africa and start something there.

    I would be so grateful for any assistance you might be able to give me.

    Kindest regards,

    Dave Charley

    • Owen Geiger says:

      Also search the Internet for blogs and forums. Find projects you’re interested in and write those involved.

    • Gary Green says:

      I live in Jakarta and I’m looking to get started in Earthbag construction. The problem is getting the materials. Forget about 2×4′s. With all the termites wouldn’t want to use them anyway. The bags for putting the dirt in could be another big challenge. Shipping anything in will get the attention of Customs and they will rape your wallet especially if you are a foreigner. One possibility is alibaba.com. China recently signed a free trade deal which helps with customs. I was looking and they had sand bags and other bags and I’m wondering what anyone with experience thinks of them. Please have a look and comment. Thank you.
      http://www.alibaba.com/product-gs/386293474/PP_SandBags.html?s=p
      http://www.alibaba.com/product-gs/226856576/PP_Woven_Roll.html
      http://www.alibaba.com/product-gs/369242464/PP_woven_fabric_roll.html

      I’m sure I can get around the minimum order by ordering one roll as a sample.

      • Owen Geiger says:

        Standard earthbags are 18″ wide x30″ long, measured when flat and empty. Don’t buy narrow sandbags or the walls won’t be stable.

        Use 18″ wide tubes. Most people seem to prefer building with tubes.

        I would guess there’s already at least one supplier in Jakarta, since sand bags are commonly used by the military and for flood control.

        And yes, suppliers typically send a small swatch as a sample (not a roll).

        The white, woven polypropylene shown in the links is standard for earthbag building.

        Search our site for raschel mesh bags and tubes (hyperadobe). This new material has numerous advantages and may save you money. I buy used mesh vegetable bags locally for a few cents each. This is a tiny fraction of the cost of new poly bags or tubes. This is obviously my first choice, and so I suggest looking hard to find this material. I’m almost certain there are suppliers in Bangkok, etc.

    • Tony Simpson says:

      Hi Dave Charley,

      I am planning a small eco-lodge on Lake Victoria in Kenya and could use a volunteer.

      I have never built earthbag buildings before but have had some experience with aspects of 12 storey offices, which maybe more difficult. Everything is possible in Africa!

      If you are still looking for something please mail me at tskenya@gmail.com and we can discuss it more.

      Tony

  112. Joe B. says:

    Hello, we are very interested in undertaking an earthbag structure, particularly the “Torus” design. Thus far in researching I haven’t found suitable information about raised or elevated flooring. Our property here in Florida is reclaimed land from phosphate mining industry and local code requires either significant vapor barriers or sufficiently ventilated raised flooring to prevent radon gas exposure. Personally I like the idea of raised flooring for crawlspace access and also for potential flooding, but haven’t quite worked out how to incorporate that into the earthbag design. Can you help or suggest an avenue of research? We will definitely tackle a smaller earthbag structure before undertaking the Torus!

    • Owen Geiger says:

      Floors, roofs, interior walls, etc. are pretty much the same as conventional building. Get some carpentry books from the library and read up on the various floor building systems. TJIs are fast and easy and often don’t require center supports.

      Standard radon protection measures can be incorporated.

  113. Amelia says:

    hi, Im looking for wall materials

    I’m confused because I read somewhere that corrugated iron walls can maximize and insulate the solar energy from the panels.

  114. CHECK IT OUT!

    We want to create earth building awareness by running a campaign on Kickstarter.com.
    To do this we need a line of products. We want to represent the culture to the best of our ability by asking you first, what would you like to see?

    The line will allow us to offer materials specifically for building in local U.S. stores. To get the raw materials in stores we must market the line as well in more comprehensive kits. These kits will allow people to adopt the process more naturally by giving them experience threw small projects. Designed properly can allow not only adults but children to adopt the method as well as strengthen bonds between builders. The line will feature categories like kid castles, skate ramps, club houses, sheds, fire pits, seating areas, dog houses, walls and steps. The bags will be specially designed for building and come in various types woven, mesh, 3tube eternal, bar loop bags/rolls.

    Please send your design and support to our email BetterBuildingBags@gmail.com

    The project will allow us to establish the facility and distribution network required to get these bags to anyone who needs them.

    We will be launching as soon as we feel the support of our community behind us. We have designed bags, blueprints, and prototyped. Now we are ask you to do the same. What can you build with 250ft of material and a $25 additional material allowance?

    Tip: incorporating building lessons in the design is key to a great starter project.

    Thank you for reading and stay tuned to,

    Betterbuildingbags.webs.com

  115. Amelia says:

    Hi, I have some questions regarding constructing bamboo walls for properties.

    Does it help to keep the heat out in summers and let the heat in in winters?
    If I have solar panels on all sides of the buildings, will bamboo walls impede the insulation?
    Are bamboo walls soundproof? in the sense that people outside would not hear the sounds in the house.

    Thanks!

    • Owen Geiger says:

      Bamboo walls have very little insulation and so the heat would pass right through. That’s why this type of building is mostly in the tropics where it never gets cold. Plus, that’s where the bamboo grows. Very little soundproofing as well. Cold climate houses definitely benefit from insulation.

      • Amelia says:

        hi Owen!
        So if I have a building that is really noisy inside and I need to have solar panels on the roods and walls of the building, what is a good building material?

        Currently, the walls are made of corrugated iron which helps to insulate the heat from the solar panels.

        • Owen Geiger says:

          Are you looking for wall materials or roof materials?

          Corrugated steel roofing is not insulating, so it’s not clear what you’re saying.

  116. Simonas says:

    Hello everyone, 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. The project is funded by European Europe so expert and workers are well payed. Let us know if anyone could join us and bring earthbag building methods to Eastern Europe. Please contact us for more details at a.simonas@gmail.com

    • Owen Geiger says:

      We’ve done a few blog posts on hemp houses, here and on my Geopolymer House Blog. https://geopolymerhouses.wordpress.com/

      Building with hemp deserves more attention, but we don’t cover it much since it’s illegal to grow in the US. Just imagine how many jobs could be created from a thriving hemp industry, and from other types of natural building if the building codes were more relaxed. Hmm… now that I think about it, that angle would make a good story.

  117. Ron and Zo says:

    Will do! Oh Gee, Off Grid, Owen Geiger – cool! Thank you!

    • Owen Geiger says:

      I used to drive through western and northwestern NM quite a bit. There are lots of places of interest if you have time to seek them out. Now I think I’ll write a blog post on Remote Rural Land.

      Also, note the typo in the previous comment. It should say $2,000-$5,000.

      • Zo says:

        Looking forward to the article on Remote Rural Land. Would be nice to have some direct online sources for community bulletin boards, small town papers and such. Thanks again, Owen!

        • Owen Geiger says:

          I just finished a lengthy blog post on this subject that I’ll probably run tomorrow. I’m pretty busy now, but it’s such a fun topic that I couldn’t help myself. (As explained in the blog post, I’ve lived in areas like this for years.)

          Many small towns have free newsletters and real estate flyers. Once you know approximately where you want to live, you could probably have these mailed to you by a local realtor for free or very low cost (postage). Just be aware that most realtors are focused on maximizing profit (who isn’t?) and will likely be primarily interested in selling expensive land. But still, they can be a good source of info and point you in the right direction.

          Also, there is extensive info online if you spend a lot of time searching. Google Earth, CraigsList, rural real estate websites, etc. are good starting points. But again, some of the best deals probably won’t be advertised. You’ll have to spend a lot of time touring back roads to find the best land.

          Some of my favorite spots are southwest, west and northwest of Taos and Santa Fe.

  118. Ron and Zo says:

    Man and woman (w/four dogs, trained & socialized by the man writing this ad, who is a former professional K-9 trainer) desire free or inexpensive piece of land in which to build off-grid self-sustainable home and gardens. Access to water located in New Mexico would be ideal. Other offers and climates considered. We have decades of diverse experience with all manner of fixing, building, mechanics, gardening, childcare, caregiving to disabled, office business, writing, typing, editing, homeschooling, domestic homemaking, sewing, animals, teaching, training and more. Will trade our time and labor. We want our own space and freedom. Will work with the community, not feed personal egos and agendas. Serious inquiries only. Peace and Joy! zo.valentine(at)gmail.com

    • Owen Geiger says:

      There are remote places in NM where land is very inexpensive. For instance, you might be able to buy a small lot for $2,000-$5,000. Deals like this may not be advertised. You’d have to drive around a lot looking and checking bulletin boards for real estate listings as you pass through small towns. Codes are not strictly enforced in some remote areas. One guy said the only enforced code was taking a photo of the septic tank before backfilling. Check online real estate sites for starters and do lots of online research to reduce driving. Challenges include finding water (a well could cost more than the land), lots that are not too remote, forest fire conditions. One option is buying a tiny homestead with water and power that’s been abandoned (meaning it’s probably very old, but could be fixed up).

  119. greg says:

    I think this link is relevant to this site its about info on solar ovens:

    http://inspirationgreen.com/solar-cookers.html

  120. Steve villa says:

    I have rolls of both 14 k18″ woven pp continuous tubing to sell. Rolls are 6000/lf long and UVI stabilized for 2000 hrs. I have sold hundreds of rolls to the Earth bag community all over the nation and have received nothing but thumbs up. Sold by the rolls only at $780 & $900 per roll FOB my facility in Southern California. Steve 949-338-5978

  121. Melinda Wilson says:

    My family and I are starting to build a four bedroom earthbag home. We will be working on it for months if we do not have any volunteers. We have free camping and meals for volunters that help us either with building or just guidence. We have a pool to cool off in during the hot part of the day. We live on a farm 110 acres and we do not have any building codes. We do not have any experience so we need someone that does. People that don’t have any are welcome also we will learn together. Right now we are living in a two bedroom mobile home which is very crowded. We have three small children ages 6, 3 and 1. My parent and brother and sister will also be helping. We are not asking for it to be built for us, just help! We live in Thayer, Mo right on the Missouri-Arkansas line. Thanks, Melinda and Jeremy Wilson My email is sunshine0507@hotmail.com!

  122. Peter Kennell says:

    Hi I was wondering about my project I have a 30 foot diameter round house made out of clay and limestone filled earth bags 50 pound size and I want to go up two floors first story 8 feet and second 7 all earth bags. hen a pole beam roof round with Tin. I have laid a foundation of 6 inches of gravel, then three rows high of gravel doubled bagged then the rest earth. I am in Belize and the ground is very moist and much top soil we put about 3 feet of clay and limestone road fill on top of that soil after clearing it. In someones experience or opinion, Is this enough foundation to support a building that tall? Thank you , Peter

    • Owen Geiger says:

      Yes, you can build two stories. It’s best to do a soils test if you’re unsure of about the soil under the walls. At minimum, talk to experienced builders and study other houses in your area. Some soils are much stronger than others. Rocky, gravelly soils are best, but other soils can work.

  123. Owen Geiger says:

    Workshop suggestions sent by Luke:
    There is a free superadobe workshop 2 hours from Madrid, Spain. I just learned of it through the earthbag builders group on facebook. The only way to join online is on facebook, but he’s also left his e-mail and phone number in the description. Here is what he wrote in Spanish, then translated to English.
    Amigos,empezamos una construccion de superadobe que nos tomará mas de 3 meses.Empezamos el 4 de junio.Para esto,sin duda necesitamos vuestro apoyo.Si os interesa aprender esta técnica, esta es una oportunidad de aprenderla disfrutando de un entorno maravilloso,Gredos.
    Ofrecemos la posibilidad de alojamiento en pequeña casa o plantando tienda.Tampoco os teneis que preocupar de las comidas.
    En principio recomendamos una estancia mínima de dos semanas,para la mejor dinamización del grupo,pero dinos cual es tu disponibilidad o la de tu grupo (max 5 personas).

    Para cualquier duda e información: superadobefeliz@gmail.com 622 398 249 Jose Pedro
    Muchas Gracias y Mucha Vida,

    Friends, we started a superadobe construction that will take more than 3 months. We started on June 4. For this, we certainly need your support. If you are interested in learning this technique, this is an opportunity to learn to enjoy a wonderful environment, Gredos.
    We offer the option of staying home or camping. You will not have to worry about meals.
    In principle we recommend a minimum stay of two weeks, for the best of the group dynamic, but tell us your availability or your group (max 5 people).

    For questions and information: 622 398 249 superadobefeliz@gmail.com Jose Pedro
    Many thanks, and much life

    Also, another earthbag building workshop was brought up on facebook in North San Juan, CA. Here’s the link: http://www.facebook.com/events/195948303861265/
    All the events are listed in full detail on that page. It looks very involved.

  124. Owen Geiger says:

    Earthbag domes in Romania:

    We have 5,3 hectar land near Cluj-Napoca (12 km) where we settle our self sustaining earthbag community. The plan for 2012 is a bermed storage dome to gain experience for second half of July and then a 3 Dome building from August till October for the shell. We have an architect to adapt the construction to the extreme climate of Transylvania. The plan is to construct each Dome different to gain experience for the next domes we are going to built next and following years. If anyone is interested to come and help, would be great! There is enough space for camping and it is a beautiful place above the city with panoramic view of 3 mountain ranges.

    My contact is kalikamataAThotmail.de, I will post some pictures in my blog: http://www.rohkostnomade.blogspot.ro

    Best wishes, Simone

  125. Mike says:

    Outstanding! — Thank you for such a fast response again. I will scratch the living roof idea, then… maintenance – free is the way to be & I’m all about that… I’m also very much all about saving money & I was reading where another TX fan of yours was attempting to build for around $2 to $4 a foot… I think his name was Rex(?)…

    If you could pass along my info to him I’d like to exchange ideas with him & maybe we can help one another… just don’t know how to get in touch with him now.

    Without going PAHS, I reckon, just a “standard” solar passive with the low berms & maybe a bit of a wind-catcher design for cooling, then?

    BTW, apparently, the entire state of TX prohibits composting toilets… At least, that is what the local inspector wants me to think.

    In lead-up to this project, I am getting ready to get more familiar with the cob/adobe itself… & have been watching a few videos on youtube about building adobe ovens… with basically the same material… & so — being that I am about broke, I hope to build a few for profit to help finance the (1-at-a-time-room) home.

    For what its worth, (maybe some other readers would like to know about it)… I have looked all over the web & those things sell for an ungodly amount — I’m talking — in the thousands!!

    I bought a few 50 pound sacks of dry, Old Hickory TI-21 clay, 2 yards of sand & am ready to begin mixing… & would love to share the experience on your blog here — after we have done the 1st one — maybe somebody else would like to know how… & I have done a good bit of research on the “how” thus far… so I could probably help in that area.

    One thing I am a little “stuck” on at this point, however, is what the best type of base might be for these things… & so… if you have suggestions on a lightweight, yet strong material to build from, I’d appreciate that. I was inquiring about Hebel stone earlier, as its strong but costs about 2X what regular firebrick does… & I’m trying to keep the thing within a 4X4 size for logistics (in case we do actually sell some)… to fit on a standard pallet.

    In fact, if you are stateside, I’d love to give you one as a token of appreciation for your philanthropic work… (after we get it built).

    Lightweight is going to be the name of the game for a supporting frame so we can add adobe or adobe tile around it for aesthetics as long as the frame itself doesn’t get too heavy. BTW, Is there a surface that the clay/adobe/cob will not stick to? Thanks in advance & if you are ever up to it, I’d love to jaw with ya sometime… Take care!!

    • Owen Geiger says:

      The $2/ft. house in Texas is now up to about $4/ft. Still very, very inexpensive. They’re making excellent progress. They decided not to use pallets. Stay tuned. They’re making a blog and the details should be coming out soon. I think they’re doing the roof now.

      Sounds like your home plan is moving in the right direction. You don’t need a wind chimney. They’re only needed in deserts.

      I don’t see anyway to build a lightweight base that’s strong enough to support a portable cob oven. Cob ovens are too heavy to be portable. Maybe you could make a reinforced concrete base that can be hoisted onto a truck. It’s best to build traditional cob ovens one at a time on-site or go to a lightweight factory type production using thin shells. These are already on the market.

    • Laura W-A says:

      About composting toilets in TX – I know they are in use by some down by Terlingua, and in this ehow article – http://www.ehow.com/about_6048742_residential-composting-toilets-code-regulations.html – they say that Nevada is the only state that prohibits them. Texas is lumped in with the states that allow them but require state or local approval.

      I’m not sure when the article was written – according to them, Sun-Mar is the only one that has toilets approved for residential use (and TX requires that they be so approved). I thought Nature’s Head did and was planning to use theirs since they are about half the price. I guess I will find out when I get to that point… I’ll be building in NE TX (probably – that’s where I have found land I like right now) and am planning to be completely off-grid.

  126. Mike says:

    The 5 acres I am purchasing here in the TX Hill Country has 3 levels… But mostly sloping…

    The perk test holes revealed mostly clay & limestone… & — as the septic installer said… Bad news for a less costly septic system but great news for digging a pond later. Looks like I will need to build the adobe mixture with sand brought in from somewhere nearby, as well.

    QUESTION:

    With the slope, the levels, the type of soil in mind, how can I best work WITH the land?

    I am thinking PAHS, earth-berm, and hyperadobe… With 1 high sided wall, providing for both a single-sided slanting roof, & a living green roof, if this is strong enough (?)…

    In time, hoping to make a profitable homestead there with about 10 cars a minute… We’re dreaming of being able to even help promote this natural building concept, if not give classes as well… (undernote the word dreaming… Here… Especially)…

    As for now, though, I am still just a little more than clueless… & appreciate you helping me & so many countless others here…

    1 final question if I may: would earthbermed walls require concrete or is the tubular bag structure sufficient?

    • Owen Geiger says:

      Make at least one test earthbag with your soil. It may be fine just as it is. Let it dry completely, cut the bag open and see if it turns really hard. Drop on one corner and see if it shatters. Research the adobe drop test (adobe bricks) and try to achieve something similar.

      Start digging the pond and use that soil for earthbags. This assumes you have a tractor or backhoe for excavating. Otherwise it’s easiest to have road base or other suitable soil delivered.

      You don’t need PAHS in your climate.

      Earth berm about 30″ high for maximum cost/labor/thermal benefit. Add two layers of 6 mil poly between the berm and wall. One layer goes directly against the wall, the other layer goes out an angle to help divert water. No concrete needed, not even on the foundation. Use gravel bag foundation if you don’t have codes.

      Living roofs are a lot of work, especially in terms of ongoing maintenance. Approach with caution. Do you really want to climb around on your roof on a regular basis to take care of it? In arid climates it might very well die anyway.

      Start small with one simple structure to develop your skills.

      A composting sawdust toilet works great if you don’t have codes.

  127. Mike says:

    As always, sir… thank you very much for your timely reply…

  128. Mike says:

    Dr. Geiger,

    What do you recommend for TX — Between more thermal mass & more insulation?

    I really like the new hyperadobe mesh bags’ ease of use compared to the normal but with rice hulls, not sure how to approach it… & I was wondering anyway, what would be better for my area (close to Austin, TX)… insulation (rice hulls) or thermal mass (adobe infill)… or would you recommend mixing the 2 in a cement mixer?

    Also,

    trying to save $ on a roof — is dome a better way to go than a center pole style roof? Unless I have it miscalculated the roundhouse option is less expensive… not sure how wide the diameter needs to be… but I’d like to build something just large enough to hold up in while we save money to add-on… Thank you!!

    • Owen Geiger says:

      Adobe is the traditional building method in your area, and so I would go with tamped earth. Using mesh tubes or bags works great, especially when it comes time to plaster. It sticks perfectly. Add plenty of insulation in the roof to prevent overheating. That may mean you want to build a ceiling so there’s attic space for insulation. You don’t necessarily need a center pole. It all depends on how you build the roof. Search our blog and other sites for info on roofs.

      You can make any size roundhouse you want almost. Plan ahead for future doors so you can connect to the next structure. See this article: http://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-Build-an-Earthbag-Roundhouse/

  129. Dena says:

    Hi! I want to build a small studio and fulfill a lifelong itch to build something. There are so many different ways to do this. All I know is that I want the building to be round, to be cheap, and to be natural (no concrete if I can help it). I’m thinking 16′ in diameter with a flat, living roof. Something a (vigorous) old lady can manage. Is there a forum where the experienced and inexperienced (me!) green builders meet and where I can get some guidance and find answers to my (many) (present and future) questions? (Ideally this forum would have a good signal to noise ratio and some experienced builders.)

    Thank you!

  130. Laurie says:

    Thank you Owen. I have another couple of questions about ideas for using recycled mateterials in the house. I am thinking of making a cob floor but possibly using lime in the mix to make it stronger, what do you think? Also linseed oil is impossible to get here, are there alternatives to protect floors and plasters? As I understand it gravel is used for the base layer when making a floor, I was thinking of smashing glass bottles do you think this is a possible alternative?

    For the roof I had wanted to use thatch as this is something locally available, beautiful and warm yet there are down sides. The grass is being cut too soon so can rot and then needs to be replaced, as water is scarce I really want to collect rain water in an underground tank. So I have decided on a metal roof, then to insulate this I was thinking of closed plastic bottles between the metal roof and reed ceiling, do you think this would work?

    Thank you for your help

    Laurie

    • Owen Geiger says:

      Use the built-in search engine and look for the previous blog post on 11 earth floor methods. Those links should cover everything you need to know.

      Broken glass can serve as an aggregate, however, working with glass is dangerous. At minimum you would want special gloves like glass workers use, goggles and sturdy shoes. Be very careful.

      Plastic bottles in the attic are a fire hazard, although they would provide some insulation. Reed ceilings without fire resistant backing is also dangerous. But this may be acceptable if the house is a simple, dirt cheap home and the risk of fire is low.

  131. Laurie Simpson says:

    Hi Owen, thank you for the fast response! The mortar between the rocks is a sand clay and lime mix, the lime has hardened it so it feels like cement. The foundations are 1m deep and there is a stem wall above ground level. I have heard conflicting opinions on whether it is best to leave the cob walls to breath so that if moisture gets in it can dry out again, others say it is best to have a damp proof course, what do you think? the drainage on the site is very good as is very sandy. The rainy season lasts only a few months in the year, the rest of the year there are no rains. what is water glass? I have some borax which I am planning to use to treat wood for the roof and for the doors and window frames, is this the application you are refering to? I’m wondering whether termites will be able to get into the walls at the straw, with the foundations to protect and a lime plaster over te walls? I had considered making a termite barrier but I’m not sure this will make a huge difference as I would have to make my own from recycled materials there are no commercially made here, I’m not sure how efficient it would be and I’m worried about the cob not being able to connect well wig the foundation if I did this. Sorry lots of questions but I’m in the middle of the bush doing this with no expert support!!
    Thank youfor your help!

    • Owen Geiger says:

      The main thing is to make wide roof overhangs so rain doesn’t hit the walls. Don’t forget about blowing rain.

      Google waterglass. It’s a very good, all natural material.

      Maybe you can get by with just sprinkling borax around your house every 6 months or so. Test this out on a small structure first.

      Water probably won’t wick up into the cob since you’re building on sand. (This assumes the wall and foundation are protected with wide roof overhangs.)

  132. Laurie says:

    Hello,

    I am currently building a cob house in Zimbabwe, this is my first natural building project and any input and help would be really appreciated. Anyone who is interested please have a look at my blog which is all about the building process. http://dancelikeanelephant.blogspot.com

    Thank you

    • Owen Geiger says:

      Your foundation is made with earth mortar? It will be essential to keep water away.

      Termites will likely get in the walls eventually. Try waterglass or borax to thwart the termites.

  133. Owen Geiger says:

    Earthbag Workshop in San Luis, Colorado
    July 14 – 31

    Eighteen days of intensive learning at a remote site in Southern Colorado. We will build a Earthbag Earthship home for Tetsuko, a friend and buddhist practitioner. Experience an amazing natural setting! A stream runs by the site. Learn all the details of construction with lectures, slides, and hands on classes. You will come away from this experience ready to build your own home with little further guidance required.

    $1500

    Lunch included. Camping onsite.

    contact: scott (at) earthenhand.com

  134. Mike says:

    Expect to finally be closing on our 5 acres of TX hill Country in less than a month now — & so the pressure is on as we are mostly unprepared. After 7 test holes were dug, the land may require an aerobic septic system but the good news is that there is a lot of clay & limestone so I think that can be useful for something but not exactly how to make use of it. I was thinking of trying to separate the limestone, sand & clay for building… What is the best method of doing this? Thank you!!

  135. Mike says:

    GETTING REAL: THE REALITY COME TO LIFE…

  136. Mike says:

    Roger that, Dr. Geiger… where is the best tube bags & the best deals on them, anyway? Do ya’ll sell them or can you at least point me somewhere for them, please? Thank you!!

    BTW, I am pretty intent of doing the system as I described it to you several months ago but now that we finally have found a property that we like… I am considering working with the terrain & maybe digging into a hill to have a semi-buried home but not sure which is less expensive…??

    Out of 7 perk test hole today — none perked & we will likely have to go with an aerobic system so not sure if that would be a concern with doing the “dig-ins”…

    • Owen Geiger says:

      This is the best deal I know of on raschel mesh tubing: http://www.naturalbuildingblog.com/discount-raschel-mesh-tubing/

      Digging into the side of a hill can be an excellent long term strategy to cut energy costs, however it will add complexity, require careful waterproofing and likely more time and labor than simply building above grade. It’s probably not worth the trouble if you live in a rainy climate, where you run greater risk of moisture damage.

  137. Mike says:

    Is the mesh tubing for hyperadobe walls a good option for rice hulls & — if so, where can the mesh tubing be purchased? Thank you!!

    • Owen Geiger says:

      I would use regular poly tubes for greater moisture protection and to make sure they don’t fall out.

  138. Hello!

    Please check out and like my facebook page
    search (earth friendly homes) on facebook and you will see it

    feel free to message me on facebook with ideas to make the page better… pictures, videos, or your story!

    thanks : )

  139. Jesse says:

    Has anyone ever considered the use of Hesco Barriers in building an Earthbag “type” home?

    Hesco barriers were used extensively in Iraq and Afghanistan to build quick protective barriers. It seems that these could be used to greatly improve the speed of construction of an earthbag type home. This website describes the barriers.

    http://www.hesco.com/rhouse/home.html

    I am not sure of the cost of these barriers but they could possibly be diy constructed using cattle panels and some kind of poly.

    The only thing that I haven’t worked out is how to leave windows and doorways open…

    Any thoughts?

    • Owen Geiger says:

      They’re bulky and awkward and create excessively thick walls that waste space. They’re also expensive. It would be time consuming to make something equivalent. Much easier to use something already readily available such as sand bags (earthbags) or straw bales.

  140. Jim says:

    Does anybody know or can recommend a builder/contractor in Tonga Vava’u-Hunga Island that can help with the building of earth bag homes, and how I may get in touch with them?

    Thank you so much for your time and energy.

    • Owen Geiger says:

      I think that’s the place where someone warned us of a scam. Be careful and research everything in detail.

  141. Aimee says:

    Hello all,
    Our family just purchased 8 acres of wooded land in Greene county PA and will be building a 3 bedroom underground earthbag home. Anyone looking for volunteer experience is welcome to come out and lend hand or if anyone has experience with this type of project and would be open to answering questions and offering pointers please send me an email. You can reach me at lovelyanaii@gmail.com.

    Ps There is alot of available information on the Internet about building the outside of earthbag homes but I cannot find information on the inside (how to finish it). Things like installing cabinets,pantry setups, closet and bathroom design. If you watch videos of convential homes being built you see tons of plumbing pipes so you do this with an earthbag structure?

    • Owen Geiger says:

      Run plumbing underground and up through an interior plumbing wall. Everything else about the plumbing is standard.

      Interior walls: most people build wood framed walls. You could use pallets, etc. if you don’t have codes.

      Cabinets: You can embed wood blocking between courses of earthbags and screw the cabinets to these.

      Attaching small items: search our blog for “other uses for 1/4″ rebar” where list various uses for 1/4″ rebar.

      99% of the interior is conventional carpentry and building. Check out books from the library.

      We answer general questions on our blog. Use the built-in search engine first because almost every topic has been covered multiple times.

      • Aimee says:

        Thanks for the info. I will look into conventional plumbing and framing I will also make sure to video the interior finishing of our project as I am more of a visual person and I still cannot find very many informative videos. I really like the idea of using pallets to frame so again thanks Owen for giving me some keywords to search for.

  142. Lanae Oskerson says:

    I am hoping to find many volunteers that would be willing to help build a earth bag home for a family of four in Northern Arizona. This project will start in June of 2013 with lots of room and land to build. I am also open to allow anyone or sponsored projects that are needing to teach seminars or workshops with allowing the build process on my land. I would love to be able to find a volunteer engineer in the area of Navajo County that would like to have the recognition behind their back for this particular build. This project has been on hold for me as I have broken my back and neck in a bad accident and would appreciate any and all help I could get. The plan is to do this next Summer to allow me to recover from the second back surgery. I am very motivated and willing to provide food. Camping items will need to be supplied on your own. If anyone would be interested and would like to volunteer please notify me. I am a single mother with a special needs child and an older one serving our country, and a grandson just learning to walk. So, I am limited on my helpers. After barely surviving this medical and physical disaster during our great recession, I have to reconsider my options of sustainability.I think this would be a great project from start to finish and would allow a documentary film as well. I am a huge supporter of education and would love to make that imprint with this build for others to learn from. Please let me know! Thank you.

  143. Fox McBride says:

    We are looking for women to join us this summer in a 10-week earthbag dome apprenticeship in Canada. Participants will learn to build an earthbag dome from start to finish while producing a Cultural Arts Centre in St’at’imc Territory in the beautiful mountains surrounding Lillooet, British Columbia in Western Canada.

    See details and contact information here:

    http://www.kleiwerks.org/wasi-canada-earthbagdome-apprenticeship-2012/

    Build with love!

  144. Peter says:

    We have been painting the bags to protect them from deterioration, but noticed when turning them inside out they seem to be coated. By turning them inside out will that protect the bags? Thank you

    • Owen Geiger says:

      They’ll still likely need to be protected. Turning them inside out is to help the plaster stick.

  145. Michael Rushing says:

    Hi everyone, I was wondering if anyone has built or is currently building an earth bag home in or near West Tennessee? If you are my wife and I would love to come visit it to get an idea of how it performs in our hot humid summers and cold winters. email me at micrus1968@gmail.com

  146. Carl Reichard says:

    FREE EARTHBAG BUILDING WORKSHOP!!!
    Weekend of MAY 25Th. SATURDAY (FULL-DAY) AND SUNDAY (HALF-DAY)
    Camping on site! Bring Food and Snacks. Water will be provided!

    LOCATION:
    NASELLE, WASHINGTON (RIGHT ACROSS THE ASTORIA BRIDGE!!!)

    I want to post a FREE earthbag building workshop. I want to lead a small group of interested volunteers to finish my earthbag project in one full day and another half day. I have everything almost prepared to bring help in to the site. The house is half done and I started it last summer. I have 155 bags made ready to be stacked up and I plan to make a 100 more this week.

    The building is simple, just a 17 foot diameter roundhouse. I have the southeastern side exposed and I have 5 brand new windows I need to install. I already even have the “velcro plates” and wood frames made for them! I plan to bring it up 2 or 3 more feet then start going in. The building is 7 feet high 3/4s of the circle. I will have lumber to start going 3 feet in then have a recycled 10-15 foot satellite dish to go over it. Exciting!!!!!

    I just got a brand new stucco sprayer gun from “mortarsprayers.com” and plan to have a cement mixer brought in order to mix lime-cement, stucco plaster then plaster with a high-powered air compressor over the exterior and roof. Also, if we have time then spray the interior.

    I just really need some help! I have been doing everything myself except for a couple work parties that I made here.

    SERIOUS INQUIRIES ONLY!!!
    You can reach me at: creichard@gmail.com

    -CARL

    • Owen Geiger says:

      Maybe I’m misunderstanding you, but just in case you don’t know it’s best to fill the bags with moist soil right before stacking them. Stacking bags of dry soil doesn’t make solid earthbags.

  147. LoriKim says:

    Hello,
    I just bought 2.5 acres of raw land in Ocotillo Wells, San Diego County, CA. We are starting to build a Natural Pool, and 5 Tiny Adobe/Rock houses surrounding the pool. If anyone would like experience in Building a Natural Pool contact me at the Email listed below. Free food, drinks and plenty of sunshine!!
    Kim at
    Email: lil_lady_19622002@yahoo.com

  148. ray says:

    Hi i am in puerto rico, i want to build an earthbag house using the hyperadobe method on top of an existing home that is made of cement. The roof is flat. Would i be able to do this and do i need to put anything on the cement floor or can i just lay down the bags on it. thanks

    • Owen Geiger says:

      It would probably be okay if the building is well built, but that’s impossible to judge from afar. Consult a local engineer for their opinion. Also note, in general earthbag is less efficient for 2nd story structures or higher because you have to move a lot of heavy soil high on the wall. This is most practical if you have a good strong crew or somehow mechanize the process.

      Use gravel-filled bags or stabilized fill material for the first course.

      • ray says:

        thanks for responding. the building is very stable. concrete and cement. I wanted to make the earthbag home small for my self. I was planing on doing it by my self. little by little, no rush. maybe set 5 bags a day or so. Don’t have much money to afford a crew. Wanted a small bedroom, kitchen and bathroom. DO you think that would be doable to do alone. i am think of building a pulley of some sort to left the dirt up. thanks again

        • Owen Geiger says:

          It’s possible to do what you’re saying, although it’s not the most efficient. But sometimes you have to do things less than optimum due to a limited budget. Paint the earthbags with recycled paint so they don’t deteriorate in the sun (just the inside and outside of bags that are in the sun).

          • ray says:

            thanks for the help, i was planning on using the mesh bags instead, since it seems easier, no barb wires and all. it is pretty hot up there. so i was planning on making lots of wide windows. i am on a mountain so we get a nice breeze where the back of the house would be. i think 300 square feet would be the ideal size. i assume 500 bags. I liked the hnc house design. I think i will use those dimensions and modify it a bit. I figure that should not cost more than 1000 to make. i will be looking for salvaged windows and doors. not sure about the roof. Hard to find thatch here. plenty of bammboo near my house. thanks again love the site.

          • Owen Geiger says:

            Sounds like a fun project. And I like your plan for starting out simple.

            Search ‘how many bags’ in the search engine to determine how many bags you’ll need.

  149. Kathleen says:

    We have purchased property that had a mobile home on there previously. The septic system in in place but due to the fact that the mobile home sat about 3 foot above ground and the septic hook up is above grade by 2 plus feet. Is it feisable to connect into the existing septic or will this make the walls too high for earthbag building?

    • Owen Geiger says:

      You should be able to cut the pipe and build the earthbag house at whatever height you want.

  150. Pra Tierra says:

    We are looking for a natural builder who wants to live/work with a bunch of awesome people, in an amazing eco village in beautiful Costa Rica :) This is an unique opportunity for a educated natural builder who would like to host sustainable retreats & workshops … members can host as many retreats/workshops as they like and there will be MANY projects to work on.

    If you or anyone you know may be interested in this please come our way.
    info@puratierra.org

    Thank you,
    Leslie & Neil

  151. Chuck Rogers says:

    Hi,
    Fist off Thanx for looking at my posting. I am a disabled person building a home for my family 25 miles from St Johns on a natural ruarl landscape. I only mention the disablement because i need help. The home is around 470sqft at the base. I need to complete the project by winter for my family (Oct). I can offer meals, enlightening conversation and instruction in alternative fuels, energy, housing & food production. I am an inventor and have patents in some of these areas. I am working on setting up a website at http://www.earthbaghome.com. Please email contact info.

  152. Anna says:

    Hello all,

    We are planning on building a 10-ft replica of the low-cost multipurpose minibuilding from Owen’s design (http://www.motherearthnews.com/Do-It-Yourself/Earthbag-Building-Garden-Shed.aspx). There are a number of design considerations I am unsure about.

    1.) I would like to bury the structure at least four feet. Should I use gravel filled bags until I reach ground level, or will the normal road base mix be fine for those underground courses? I also have a ton of urbanite available on site, and was wondering if that could be used for part of the foundation.

    2.) How many courses of bags should be left between the top of the door frame and the top of the dome? I can’t seem to picture how the door and door area can be worked into the design of a buried structure.

    Thanks in advance for any help!

  153. alex says:

    I will be holding a workshop near Dallas this summer to build an earthbag earthship hybrid home. anyone interested in attending? it will be a full build from the ground up. It will be a full education on sustainable building. visit my facebook page for more info and contact info.

    http://www.facebook.com/EarthshipDallasTx

    • S&D says:

      Hi Alex,

      My partner and I would be very interested in attending this workshop! Are there any specific lengths of time that you would like people to stay? We are interested in a somewhat long term opportunity to learn (not just a week) as we are complete novices, and would like to learn as much about Earthbag building uninterrupted.

      Please contact me at msrondys@gmail.com

      Thanks,
      S

    • Glenna says:

      I would love to come. Can I get more information from some site or e-mail … other then ?? Sorry, don’t do face book. glenna

    • Donald says:

      I live in oklahoma and would love to attend. I am about to purchase some land and, I am looking for any resource on earthbag building. jaspermulenhead@gmail.com

  154. Earthen Hand says:

    Earthen Hand Natural Building is planning several workshops near Veracruz. We will keep you posted here. You can always stay tuned to the latest workshops at http://www.EarthenHand.com. Our workshops leave students with the confidence to complete their own buildings safely and economically. We throw workshops world wide on various topics such as earthbag, cob/adobe, vaults, domes, earthships, rocket stoves, plus water / power systems and much more. We also advocate using as little cement as possible in every project.

    Everyone into earthbag building would really benefit from purchasing owen’s latest book- the Earthbag Building Guide. We recommend all of our students read this first.

    Please be in touch with us via our website or facebook.
    Earthen Hand is always open to considering new workshop locations, so let us know what you may be planning.

    Life is great and mysterious!

  155. iamfound74 says:

    To whom ever it may concern;

    Does anyone have earthbag type projects or have had any of these type projects anywhere in Mexico? Better yet! How can our company become involved with-in your profession? Does anyone offer any courses or training in Mexico? In case you do not; would anyone be interested in giving training in Mexico? Or would it be possible to work together in potential projects ranging from rural to actual urbanization somehow? We thank you for your time and inspiration.

    Respectfully submitted,

    Antonio Found
    Aterh₂sol, SA. De CV. Founding Leader

    • Owen Geiger says:

      Hello, there are lots of earthbag projects in Mexico. It’s one of the most popular areas. Most don’t advertise their home, but some do. Search our blog and EarthbagBuilding.com for some examples.

      The Children of the Dump.org is one excellent example: http://earthbagbuilding.wordpress.com/2011/02/02/puerto-vallarta-model-home/

      My Earthbag Building Guide is currently being translated into Spanish and should be done by the end of the year.

      I’m pretty sure some groups do teach earthbag building in your area. All these groups are listed on our blog and website.

    • We do not have any in Mexico right now, but we do offer workshops where you can learn the full process and participate in a owner/builder project in Southern California. Check out our website – http://www.unitedearthbuilders.com

      Otherwise Chihuahua, Mexico always has something going on as well. My friend Jesse Meisler was heading down there to help out but I’m not sure how far along they are.

    • Cato says:

      Hi there. This is Cato from Chiapas, Mexico. Visit our website. I will update it in a couple of days with new photos from our current projects here in Chiapas.
      We are half-way building a multi-dome. Lots of hard work but it is looking pretty good. We have to stop due to the rain, will cover the structure and wait for the rain to pass us by. We will restart in late September.
      Do tell me about your company.
      Best regards
      Cato

      Hola, Saludos desde Chiapas. Visita moradasverdes.weebly.com. Dentro de unos dias la actualizaré con fotos de un par de proyectos en los que he estado trabajando. En estas semanas detendremos la construcción de un multidome debido a la temporada de lluvia.. Lo recomenzaremos a finales de septiembre.
      También, estoy buscando un terreno por esta zona para comenzar un proyecto relacionado con permacultura-eco-construcción etc.
      Ponte en contacto si lo deseas. Coméntame de tu iniciativa.
      Saludos
      Cato

  156. Maya says:

    Hi all!

    I’m moving to Colorado in mid April and would like to help out on any earth building, strawbale, recycled materials, whole tree, etc construction projects in the area. I have a fair bit of experience building in general and specifically with super adobe. If you have a project or know of any ones that might be of interest, please let me know.

    Also, if you know of any good architects in the area working with sustainable methods and materials, I would be excited to hear about them!

    Thanks,
    Maya

    mayawk@gmail.com

  157. Damon Mabry says:

    I appreciate the offer but it would be too short of notice. Keep me posted and maybe I can come down for a portion of it later in the process. Good luck and take pictures!

  158. Damon Mabry says:

    David, if you get in on a project let me know. Would like some experience before I build mine.

  159. hampmac says:

    I have been working on a plan to build a hybrid earthbag home. I live in South Louisiana where rice hulls are plentiful. Has anyone ever built a home using a typical lumber frame, but then using bags of rice hulls to build the walls? I’ve seen this method done using straw bales in videos. Has anyone ever done this before? Is this a feasible idea? Does anyone have any suggestions or advice?

    My thought is to build the frame and the roof first, and then use this structure along with temporary tarp walls to keep my bags of rice hulls dry.

    I am just now learning about natural building, so of course, I have no experience. If anyone in my area needs help with their project, I would be more than happy to lend a hand simply in return for some experience. Thanks to all.

    • Owen Geiger says:

      There are lots of possibilities — wide walls or double frame walls with rice hulls inside. But the main thing is to prevent moisture damage. I think the hurricane/high wind and blowing rain situation in Louisiana makes this a high risk option. Sooner or later rain will likely get into the walls and the rice hulls will rot. Better to mix the hulls with something like lime and coat with lime plaster to reduce risk of moisture damage. This is a centuries old building method.

    • MM says:

      Yes hampmac someone built one in Washington, LA. Shoot an email to bigav8r at hotmail as I live in S. Louisiana also.

      http://www.thebiopod.com/pdf/ricehull-ss.pdf

  160. Suzan Erem says:

    Well, James, you’re doing an excellent job of convincing us to cancel our entire project but we simply don’t have another couple thousand bucks to blow (actually more) to fly back out to California to learn more and better from you guys, if that’s what it would be, and yeah, it would be hard to convince me that in Joshua Tree there’d be similar conditions to Iowa, wash or no wash. So I see our efforts here in the northern climes to promote earth bag domes going to hell. Better it happen now than before we build the darn thing and watch it fall apart in a couple of years. Owen, my apologies for the stupid question about roofing – of course it’s in your blog! Good luck to all of you.

    • Owen Geiger says:

      There are various viewpoints on these issues and obviously not everyone agrees. No big deal. Try out various things and we’ll eventually see what works and what doesn’t.

    • James G says:

      That’s not my intent at all, perhaps I came off a little slanted at their approach. But I have seen it fail many times. The point is that you can use many viable solutions to amend the problem such as a parasol roof that can, in your case, withstand hurricane forces as well. Using elastomeric or dry-lok? You guys have plenty of time to research the options of waterproofing because as you know it is important. On Camano Island, Washington, which is very wet, we built a large dome/artist studio that has a large french drain system and is having a parasol roof installed. It was not at much more cost either. Thankfully we have this forum so that no one has to fly back and forth for minute details that can be shared here.

  161. James G says:

    Also, I would like to announce the United Earth Builders 10 day intensive workshop beginning in April! Located in Joshua Tree we will be teaching attendees how to build a standard 8′ earthbag dome and a retaining wall.

    Participants in this workshop will be led through a series of intellectual, cognitive, and physical exercises that seek to strengthen mind-body connections to both the technical processes, as well as the creative processes underlying the art and skill of earthbag design and construction. From structural principles and design, soil practicum and on-site planning this 10-day workshop will supply the attendee with full confidence in the building process and instill a renewed sense of community through building with the earth.

    A dome was chosen for the first workshop because they are the instructors favorite but we will also be covering traditional roofing design and parasol roof design. It is the desert but this particular site is in the middle of a wash so waterproofing will be covered as well! T

    The Bonita Domes project will also be a part of the course in order to gain hands on experience with a seasoned crew, an outstanding owner builder couple (Lisa Starr and Gabriel) and an idea of how you will be able to build in your community and deal with your building department! This course will be $850 for 10 days and you will not be disappointed. WE LOVE EARTH BAG!!! UEB is an Oregon non-profit and all tuition goes to materials and instructional costs. Camping and a place to cook and shower will be provided. There are 12 slots left open, we are planning to begin April2nd, please check our website http://www.unitedearthbuilders.com for the application.

    Build community with earth and the Earth with community!

  162. Suzan Erem says:

    We’re still discussing a roof actually…ideas?

    • Owen Geiger says:

      I cover many roof building methods on this blog. It’s a huge subject. In some ways roofs are more important than walls. Walls are easy. Roofs are usually more difficult and require more planning. Hot air rises and so heat tends to escape out the roof or along the edge of the roof/wall junction. You have to figure out how to prevent roof leaks, what materials to use and still be affordable, roofwater collection, etc.

      • James G says:

        Owen,

        Cal Earth unfortunately has no experience in waterproofing and suggests using Henry’s 107 as an easy way to waterproof. The reality is that it is an irresponsible, toxic and poor way to actually waterproof earthbag homes as I have tested in on three projects and it has failed every time. Not to mention the toxic fumes make you just feel sick. Basically they smear Henry’s all over the building, dip woven PP bags in the 107, then slap that on to be then covered in earth cement plaster. Not long after the plaster begins to crack because they are putting wet plaster on a surface that repels water (tar) and you have to scrape all of the gunk off and start over. If you leave Henry’s out in the sun for too long to dry, then it is useless and/or chips off. They continuously teach this unfortunate method. There are better ways to waterproof a dome but the best is, as Owen said, a roof. Otherwise there are ancient methods of Tadelakt or Quidad that are being rediscovered and are nearly waterproof lime methods. Those, combined with great planning are your best bets.

  163. Suzan Erem says:

    Owen, the liquid asphalt is a waterproofing agent, taught by Cal-Earth. We dip leftover bag ends in it and layer them like fish scales onto the dome. Then put on the scratch coat and finish coat. What do you use for waterproofing?

  164. CarolAnn says:

    Thank you. I do need a graden shed so I think that will be a good start. We are putting a used trailer on the property to live in till we finish building. So we can do a small shed first and go from there.

  165. James G says:

    I have heard he is a great builder, I am sure his workshop will be great! If you know anyone who would like to host a workshop or attend the Bonita Domes Project, just direct them even Erik to http://www.unitedearthbuilders.com! Thanks and good luck!

    • Suzan Erem says:

      Thanks James, I sent him your way as well. Any help drumming up interest in the Midwest project greatly appreciated. Owen, we’ll be laying 6 inches of gravel under the foundation and buttress bags as was done for our house built into a hillside to help alleviate freeze/thaw issues. We’ll also be plastering with round balls instead of a smooth finish (which works really well since the final product will – we hope – end up looking like a dragon!) And of course, will use the bags dipped in asphalt emulsifier to waterproof. It’ll be interesting to see how long it looks good…but since it’s an out building and not a home, there’s less at stake.

  166. James G says:

    Uncommon Goods ‘Greenspace’ LA COUNTY

    Hello All!

    The non-profit Uncommon Good (www.uncommongood.org) has spent the last year or so planning, organizing and now building their headquarters in Claremont, California which lies in the San Gabriel Valley in LA County to which I had the pleasure of supervising. Designed by Claremont Environmental Design Group (CEDG) and built with an average of 9-12 people of varying ages, and a Bobcat. The walls were built shovel full by shovel full and we have community volunteers that come and help build the vaults, all by hand. We have been building the wall and barrel vaults since October 3rd, 2011. It has been a truly enlightening experience being involved in this project and I hope we are able to break more ground in the mainstream culture.

    There was a lot involved in the engineering and permitting process due to the county buildings codes, but Claremont was eventually nice enough to allow us to build. Provided we had two engineers to sign off on it ;) The footings are approximately 450-500 psi of stabilized earth mix, and the vaults are about 1400-1500 psi. Rebar is all over the place and bond beams (headers) were added to the design. The thing is like a fortress compared to the surrounding buildings which are typical square 60′s to 70′s designs fully loaded with asbestos.

    Overall it is a beautiful example of how much better we can get at building by using at least less cement. I believe, and so do most of my fellow earth builders, that we can build with 0% cement. It’s obvious really. Cement is great but not all over the place. Modern Romans we are.

    Our organization, United Earth Builders, wants to get these structures seismic shake table tested so that we can show the ICC that they are viable buildings that can withstand high magnitude earthquakes with no cement. After asking city and officials, builders, architects, engineers and whoever has had experience with building they have all told me that the Cal Earth ICBO dead/live load test was great, but it doesn’t meet the requirement to get this fully accepted by not only the mainstream, but for humanitarian efforts as well. I personally love every aspect of building with earth and this structure was a great leap forward in promoting earth bag building. But an earth builders work is never done ;)

    Any questions, feel free!

    Peace and Love!

    James G.

    Anyhoo, enjoy the photos and there are more here:
    https://www.facebook.com/pages/United-Earth-Builders/309610242427347

    • Owen Geiger says:

      The vault project looks good enough for a future blog post and so I’ve added it to my list. Good job. Feel free to email me a brief description about the building process and design.

  167. Edward Wilkins says:

    Hi I live in Maine and I started looking at this form of building about 3 months ago. Since that start I have spent on average about 2 to 3 hours a night searching for anything and everything that can be incorporated into this form of building. I was dissapointed to find nothing in Maine except one straw bale house which I have ruled out due to the humid summers and cold winters that may promote rot or persuade field and forest rodents that my house would make a wonderful home for them too. Interest is starting to build among my friends but even though I talk about everthing that I have learned they are still hesitant. They are willing to help me build but want to wait a couple of years to see how I fare. Eventually though I can see a possible community growing from this which excites me to no end.
    My ultimate thought is to get one or more local green state organizations into the mix and create a hands on learning environment for this amazing building process. So no specifics yet for my personal house as I am just now really looking for land and am hoping to start building in either the fall of 2012 or the spring of 2013 after the sale of my father’s house. I know the pitfalls about codes and such that have been continually stated and have been doing the research it will take to get there when I start weeding out the land that I don’t want, and I have read extensively on Kelly Hart’s house which is more suited for colder environs. My question is does anyone know anyone that has built or is building up here or in the New England area that is either open to an educational brain picking or that needs help so that I may gain practical experience? And don’t worry as things take off I fully intend on starting a blog with information so that other’s in this neck of the woods (literally) can benefit from my trials and tribulations.

    • Owen Geiger says:

      You can pass a few questions my way. Post them here so others can benefit. But choose a blog post that’s related to insulated earthbag houses so more people will see it.

      The main key is finding an affordable, practical insulating material. Scoria and pumice would likely be too expensive due to transportation cost. Did you see the posts on expanded clay? Check into local availability. http://earthbagbuilding.wordpress.com/2011/12/11/juergens-earthbag-house-in-hungary/

      The other possibility is using recycled styro peanuts like the Solar Pit House: http://earthbagbuilding.wordpress.com/2011/09/15/solar-pit-house-building-details/

      I assume you’ve seen this: http://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-Build-an-Insulated-Earthbag-House/

      • Edward Wilkins says:

        My questions mostly deal with how they got through the code process, (which is why I was hoping to find someone in Maine where I plan to build) and where they procured their materials. I wanted to find out if there were any special challanges with the building process here that have not been mentioned on yours or Kelly’s blogs. Ideally I would love to find someone who has done it and is willing to coach a group of us in a workshop environment or is in the process of building who wants help where I and a few others can pick up some practical experience before we tackle even a shed.

        I have read two of the other links but not the one using expanded clay and that looks interesting as an option that I will have to look into. I was thinking that one of your round house/dome clusters bermed with a reciprocal living roof on the round house would be a good start. We have a company that mines and produces perlite in the state and I was thinking of using bags filled with that and rebarred for stability as it has an R rating 2.7. I still have to find out if I can purchase right from them or have to find out where they distribute to. On the inside I was looking at Cob with an earthen plaster for it’s artistic appeal and thermal mass. Outside I’m also thinking about Cob with a plaster. I think Limestone is what I’ve seen suggested for places that get a good deal of rain. I’m still not sure what to do for a floor. I know what Kelly did and I may do that with the perlite instead of scoria but I really want to see first hand examples. I really like the idea of the rocket mass stoves and want to get the Rocket Mass Heater’s book as well as your book and the Earthbag Building book by Kaki Hunter and Donald Kiffmeyer. Eventually I would like to live off grid, but there is more cost in setting that up then I am ready for yet so I will work towards that goal.

        Right now Maine itself has adopted a set of building codes which more or less has to be adopted by any town that has more than 2000 people in it. Without talking to anyone and just looking up codes it looks like Brooks Maine would be the most open to this sort of building as they are part of an energy efficiency project sponsered by Build Green Maine. http://www.buildgreenmaine.org/ibrooks/ibrooks
        This is one of the groups that I’m looking at approaching and seeing if they have ever done anything like this before and if not would they like to work together to introduce it and possibly work on getting it code approved, and of course along those lines PSE is certified in Maine.

        I’m super excited about this system. I’ve been talking non stop about it for the last month. I just would feel alot better with some practical experience under my belt at the hands of someone who has done this before. If this is not possible then I am ok with doing the best i can and eventually being that person for someone else. If there isn’t a house like this in Maine maybe I’ll start a revolution by trying to build a community, or maybe I’ll be limited and shut down. Only time will tell at this point. Like I said right now I’m still looking for porperty and to learn anything I can about this, so any suggestions would be more than welcome.

        • Owen Geiger says:

          You bring up some good points. Network with people/groups with similar goals in areas you’d like to live. Search for eco-villages and similar back to the landers on the Internet. People like this have already located the most lenient areas, and likely they’d have similar interests in gardening, etc. I’m 99% sure there are numerous natural building projects in Maine such as strawbale, pole building, cordwood, etc. What they went through as far as code compliance will pave the way for you and your friends. In general, the more rural the better. Many places don’t even enforce codes if it’s truly rural. The codes may be there, but sometimes no one cares. You may only need plumbing, electric and septic inspections.

          Perlite is an excellent insulator. I read an article in The Last Straw journal that explained how perlite is excellent for underfloor insulation. Get to know someone at the factory and buy it by the big truckload and you’ll probably save a lot of money. Best to buy it in big bags, and wear a respirator when working with it.

          Domes are not the best choice in snowy/rainy climates. Moisture and ice will get into every little crack in the plaster (plaster always cracks a little) and eventually the plaster will break up due to freeze/thaw cycles. Metal roofing is the fastest and easiest. Reciprocal roofs are good because the poles are available locally. Consider a double pole roof so you can add loads of insulation: http://earthbagbuilding.wordpress.com/2010/11/08/double-pole-roofs/ Actually, any type of pole truss would work good as long as you have adequate pitch and roof overhang.

          Add lots of south facing glass. You might want to add a greenhouse on the front. Something like this Two Roundhouses with Greenhouse would work great: http://earthbagplans.wordpress.com/2011/12/25/two-roundhouses-with-greenhouse/

          Read the current discussion at the Rice Hull House blog post (another good low cost insulator): http://earthbagbuilding.wordpress.com/2012/01/14/rice-hull-house-wall-section/ We’re talking about ways to build pole frame walls in two concentric circles and filling the space between with insulation.

  168. Suzan Erem says:

    David, Riley and others! We’re hosting a 6-day Superadobe workshop in Eastern Iowa (7 miles north of I-80) June 26-July 1 professionally taught by Cal-Earth journeymen for only $900 per person. We also need VOLUNTEER help before that for the first story – a six-foot-high, 12-food diameter springline essentially, which will be built into the side of a hill as a root cellar. We live on 73 rolling acres of prairie and timber on the Cedar River with nearby cheap and nice hotels, KOA and primitive camping locations. If you’re interested in either opportunity or more details, please contact me at suzan@lastdraft.com and put “workshop” in the subject header. Thanks!

  169. Hi everyone,

    We are organizing an earthbag building workshop for February 2013 and are looking for an experienced builder/workshop leader to come teach the basics and assist in the construction of our first earthbag building.

    We run a rustic yoga center and sustainable living project in southern Costa Rica. You would stay with us free of charge for the week, food and yoga included, and we can arrange profit sharing of the course tuition.

    If interested, please contact us at theyogafarm@gmail.com. You can also learn more about our project at http://www.yogafarmcostarica.org.

    Cheers
    Pat

  170. Dan says:

    How does one “seal
    ‘ / close the bag after it i has been filled?

  171. William says:

    Hi!!!

    I live in Germany in an old house that is extremely hard and expensive to keep warm in the winter. I want to build a couple of inexpensive Cob style closed fireplaces to warm it up. Can anyone direct me to some websites that have this kind of stuff?

    • Owen Geiger says:

      Most fireplaces are not energy efficient. They lose more heat than they produce. Search our site for low cost wood stoves that can be made from barrels, kegs, pipe and other recycled materials.

  172. majorsway says:

    MAJORS WAY Earthbag Home & Garden Tours

    Date: MARCH 10, MARCH 24
    Time: 9:00am-11:30am
    Address: 12711 Ventris Road, Garfield, AR 72732
    Costs: Adults $8, Children free under 12
    Call or text: 479-409-9115
    Email: majorsway@ymail.com
    Facebook: LisaMajors

    Topics Cover:
    Earthbag Home Construction
    Permits, Designs, Costs
    Rocket Stove Heating System
    Incorporating Recycled & Unwanted Materials-Tires, Bottles, Cans
    Natural Building Resources-Clay, Rock, Cedar
    Adobe/Cob & Lime Stuccos
    Gardening Techniques, Soil Building

  173. Working on developing an Earthbag build child rescue center. Looking for volunteers with and without experience willing come down for at least a month at soon at Fall 2012. We would provide room and board. Email if interested in more information.

  174. Jeremy says:

    @ Owen Geiger

    Are there any Earthbag Internships scheduled in the near future that I don’t know about? Seems like there are a lot of eager hands ready to work but nothing to work on with you…

    • Owen Geiger says:

      No projects are planned in the near future. I live in a remote area that’s half a world away from most people. The airfare alone can cost more than taking several local training courses. Plus, we’ve used up all available space on our land. There are lots of good groups offering workshops now. You could also locate some volunteer work/trade projects near you.

    • Suzan Erem says:

      Jeremy, in case you didn’t see my post (still learning how this system works) I wanted you to know we’re hosting a workshop in eastern Iowa June 26-July 1 run by Cal-Earth journeymen instructors. Contact me at suzan@lastdraft.com for more information.

      I want to thank Owen for this great blog – Cal-Earth has one for all its graduates but this is supplementing what we’ve learned about earth bag construction very nicely.

      • James G says:

        The Cal-Earth forum is horrible and moderated (when people post, which is maybe once every 6 months) by people who know next to nothing about building or have not built since before Nader was alive. It’s unfortunate and dangerous. I love Nader and his work and am incredibly thankful for all the prosperity and joy it has brought to my life, but Cal-Earth he is not. Suzan, who is running the workshop you speak of? I have been looking to find some of the old apprentices who have been ‘blacklisted’ by the new Cal-Earth profit machine so we can continue to build our network of builders and collaborate on future community projects.

      • Suzan Erem says:

        Well, James, the blog didn’t allow me to reply to you, so i’m replying just above you. I wasn’t aware of the internal politics of former and current grads of Cal-Earth – all I know is that I’ve got a guy who did his 6 months there and was there when my husband and I were, whom we liked and who was a good worker and easy to get along with, who happens to also be a mechanical engineer as well as a race car driver (talk about varied life experience!) who is going off on his own to do earth bag workshops his way and make them affordable at $900 for 6 days with as many as 3 instructors for 20 people. His name is Erik Ven – likely you don’t know him, but he’s also a poet and is translating Rumi into his native Hungarian so seems like a sincere follower to me. I haven’t found the forum particularly useful either, but I know Erik will be using it to get the word out about the workshops he already has scheduled, so you’ll be able to find him there. We don’t live in the Southwest and don’t have the advantages of the weather or network down there, so we’re very thankful for someone with his knowledge willing to come to the Midwest and make this affordable for those of us who’d like to learn it here.

  175. Donna says:

    Hello there.

    I am sending this to commend your works on responding to the very basic human need of shelter through an environmentally sound manner: earth bag home construction. Living in the Philippines, I share that aspiration too and dream of building a home someday without being overwhelmed by the cost and environmental impact of my dream.

    I hope you can share your technology and expertise here as well (given that reading it from the web wont be the same as seeing and learning from the actual thing).

    Hope to hear from you soon.

    Donna

  176. Riley says:

    Hello, I am currently living in Arkansas and seeking some type of internship or similar experience (my labor in exchange for learning how to build).

    What I most want to learn is: Earthbag, earthship, and other sustainable building methods, permaculture and organic farming, construction basics involved, renewable energy systems installation, composting toilets and water collection and distribution systems, and I am open to a variety of realated things, such as having experience in an intentional community. Also, I greatly look forward simply to working with other like-minded people!

    I have been searching online and most of the internships that I see require too much money for me at this point, it would probably take most of my money simply to travel to whatever location. I do have a car that gets good mpg and I can make due with sleeping in my car or perhaps I can get a tent, but I guess I would be in need of some type of bathroom facilities. If there were any room and board opportunities I would gladly take them, but I can figure out a way to make due without. I am seeking opportunities primarily in the US and Canada, because I probably couldn’t afford to fly anywhere overseas, unless circumstances were just right. If there was a way for me to live in a tent while there, then I might be able to save up enough money to travel overseas or to South America. I don’t have much to offer but my labor, but I want to gain these skills and utilize them towards building a better future for mankind. This is something I have wanted to do for a long time, and I have decided to finally act on it.

    I have basically no experience, up until this point I have been a student. I have never worked with construction, carpentry, I do have a little bit of gardening experience, but that’s just about it. However, I am enthusiastic about learning all of these things, which is why I am seeking this type of opportunity in the first place!

    I am flexible about when this happens, if the opportunity is not until the spring or summer, that might be best because it gives me time to work and save money, but if it were immediate and feasible, I would go right now!

    If anyone has any project or even just knows of any internships that seem like they would fit my needs, I would love to hear about it. The best way to contact me is to email me at rileyiley AT gmail.com, or I suppose you can respond to this comment and it will probably notify me via email.

    Thanks!
    -Riley

    • Owen Geiger says:

      Riley, most people that could be of help probably won’t see this page. It’s just one small bulletin board on the vast Internet. I suggest seeking out the projects you’re interested through searching the Internet and then volunteering to help. I’m sure lots of people would love to have some help.

    • David Langston says:

      I am in the same boat as you are Riley, I would love some experience before I purchase and start building willy-nilly. I Live in Tulsa, OK, so if you find somewhere in the midwest that is starting a project let me know and I will see you there.

    • Suzan Erem says:

      Riley you might consider joining WWOOF – it’s just what you describe. Labor for learning on organic farms all over the world but also invites folks like us who are looking for people to help with sustainable building projects and other on-farm or on-acreage projects. There is NO money exchanged – just a half-day’s work for room and board. (Of course, a half day on an organic farm might not be what it is elsewhere…) Just do a search on it and you can learn a lot before joining, plus joining is incredibly cheap (the $5 to $10 range I believe…)

  177. We would be delighted if you could assist us in Dominica. You would be very welcome indeed. We hope to begin sometime in February if we can get the earthbags here on time. We have been trying to source the cheapest bags and we would appreciate any helpful information on where we can get them.

    Unfortunately, only one of us has had any experience with earthbag construction, so there is going to be a steep learning curve.

    This project should be very interesting indeed, because it will be accompanied by some publicity in an attempt to popularize the notion around the island. What we are trying to do is to combine comfort with consciousness of the need limits of such comfort in the era of climate change, but to still achieve something that the ordinary person can relate to.

    I will be in touch again as our plans become more concrete

    Bernard Wiltshire

    • Adam Harris says:

      I’m very interested in what you’re doing there. I’ve never been to Dominica but it looks and sounds amazing. I saw 2 earth bag dome project on the east cost of Malaysia in October and it was really great to see! I feel that Dominica could be a great place to promote the concept or earth bag domes and get feedback from the public. Word spreads very quickly on a small island. I would imagine the majority of people there would be very open and interested in these building techniques. It would provide even the poorest people ultra secure housing for a lifetime.

      Sourcing the cheapest bags in Dominica is going to be an interesting challenge. I will do some searching and see if I can stumble on anything. No guarantees though.

      What about volunteering in Dominica? As a US citizen I believe I’m only allowed a 30 day tourist visa. Do you know of any other volunteering or work visa options that would allow people working on the project to become more involved and stay for longer?

      I look forward to talking to you more in the coming weeks and discussing possible opportunities! Feel free to email me directly at aus.machen(at)gmail.com, maybe we can Skype or something at some point!

      Take care!

      • Bernard Wiltshire says:

        Adam, Our plans are nearing completion. Our projected construction start date is March. I am not yet able to give a specific day. You would be most welcome to come to Dominica, I can arrange your accommodation. We think the house will take about 5 months to complete. I will send you a copy of the plan soon.

        my colleagues and I look forward to seeing you. This could be a most interesting and rewarding exercise.

        We are hoping that Owen will help us with advice or any other subscriber to the blog. We have kept the plan simple, since we do not have the experience in this island of such construction, so the walls are virtually all vertical with few rounded shapes which we thought might be more complicated to handle.

        We are trying to source the bags. if you have been able to identify a reasonably cheap source please let me know

        looking forward

  178. adam harris says:

    Hello everyone!! I’m extremely keen to volunteer on an Earth Dome project to gain more experience in this amazing art form! Please email me anytime at aus.machen(at)gmail(dot)com

    I am willing to travel to most places in the world to work! I have experience with many types of buildings as well as plumbing, electrical, and flooring! I am super excited and passionate about this. Please let me know if you need a hand!

  179. Steph says:

    Hello Earthbaggers
    I am really keen to build an earth dome in Coffs Harbour area in NSW as have land up there for it. Wondering if there are any Australian alternative builders who have a project on and could do with an extra set of hands or would like to get in on my one.
    Look forward to hearing from you

  180. Gerry McGahan says:

    Hi everyone,
    We are in the final stages of the design phase of an earthbag house, in Maun Botswana. We have plenty of Kalahari sand on a 167 hectare farm that we are about to develop too.
    The plan is to build 2 staff houses, 2 roundhouses and then a main house – all under thatch. Summer temps are very warm +40C and winter night temps very cold -6C.
    My partner suffers from the cold a lot and I am looking for ideas for underfloor heating using solar heated water and 1/2inch PET pipe(comes in 1000ft rolls) This heating will be on an earth floor. I also want to try to use a Rocket Heating unit to assist in heating. So I am looking for ideas.
    We are hoping to use as much solar as possible to run the house. I have looked into solar for center pivots and drip and the amount of power I require would use about 5 hectares of panels – not cost effective.
    Earth bags are to be filled with a mix of sand, calcrete, and hydrated lime. Plaster and floor to be finished with cattle dung, elephant dung – Have to collect, abandon termite mound clay, and sand. Any comments/thoughts. I am not concerned about the termite mounds as they have been abandoned for a while.
    Foundations are going to be 750mm deep and backfilled with crushed gravel. We are hoping that aside form the bags, this is the only thing needed to be purchased for construction. Roof trusses will be treated gum poles and then thatched with 300mm deep grass.
    I have been devouring all the books and articles I can find on construction using this method. It is interesting that most people I talk to about this, nearly fall over laughing and the general comment is —— Are you stupid or just nuts.
    Any suggestions/comments or help would be appreciated and I will post photos and videos as we progress

    • Owen Geiger says:

      Let’s see who is laughing when your roundhouse costs a fraction of typical houses. Give a little dose of reality.

      Sounds like you’ve got it pretty well figured out. I assume you’ll build a ceiling and add lots of roof insulation. Choose something that won’t attract rodents or other pests like termites. Do you have porous volcanic rock like scoria? Consider mesh tubes instead of standard poly bags for speed and ease of plastering. Lower courses could be scoria bags to insulate at the frost line. It’s fairly easy to install radiant floor heating. Hook up a water jacket to the rocket stove and add a circulating pump so the floor is always warm in winter. Be sure to insulate under the slab so all the heat radiates up into the room. Calculate your roof overhangs for solar design so summer sun is blocked and winter sun penetrates into the home.

      Did you know you can post your project on our Bulletin Board (see top of page)? You might get some volunteers. Keep us posted and feel free to ask questions. Maybe we can help.

      • Gerry McGahan says:

        Hi Owen, No ceilings except over the walk in pantry which is basically to keep out the bugs. because we are 40kms to the nearest town, groceries are going to have to be bought in bulk. From the floor to the top of the roof is 6 meters. Sorry we are using 50kg Fertilizer/feed bags which means that our walls at the end of the day are going to be 600mm thick. However, the walls are only going to 2.15m.
        Unfortunately there is no scoria in the area.
        I am hoping to kick off the project in march with the 1st small cottage/roundhouse. I am hoping it can have it finished and complete to move into in less than 4 months as we will be living in tents in the beginning. The problem is the thatching is only available at certain times of the year which is June. So we will be waiting on a lot of things until then. Fortunately the rains stop in March and maybe I can get everything else done and wait for the thatching to finish.

        • Owen Geiger says:

          Hi Gerry. That means all the hot air will rise up to the roof and it will be more difficult to stay warm. Why can’t you add a ceiling? Even a lightweight ceiling of bamboo mat would keep the warm air down at body height. You could do this by making a drop grid ceiling.

          Wider bags are more work, but they will help keep your house warm in winter and cool in summer. Are you going to get some workers to help out? One or two strong workers will really speed things up.

      • Gerry McGahan says:

        Owen, it looks like I will be running around like a chicken without its head for a while. We also have to clear the land, install the irrigation and get 2 crops in. So yes I am hoping that I will have about 8 unskilled laborers helping on this project. So there will be a lot of time spent running between the projects.
        I think that once I have the labor trained, I dont want them to stop and have to retrain them in the laying of earthbags. So maybe we will just get all the walls up and the roof trusses on and get the floor roughed in until the thatching is ready
        Your point on the ceilings is taken. However, our cold winter temperatures are only for about 10 weeks and it is mainly at night. Daytime temps are around 24C in winter. Our summer temps of between 40 and 45C means whatever hot air I have, i want it vented somehow. Thatching without ceilings in this part of Africa has always been done without ceiling.
        The walk in pantry is something that I have been thinking about as we want to try to keep this as cool as possible and it is a place where a solar geyser for the kitchen area is going (panel outside) I have been thinking of a set of joists and then earthbags on the joists which will help keep everything cool.
        The idea behind the houses and the farm is to be as eco-friendly as possible while teaching others that there are alternative ways to farming and sustainable agriculture

        • Well the adventure starts this weekend with the move to Botswana. The great trek is on 1,200kms from door to door and then the fun begins. Everything is ready except ……………… ME But who said challenges werent fun!!! And this one is about to be the biggest one of my life.

          Follow us on the above blog. I dont know why it asks for passwords when you comment. I am hoping to update the blog weekly with text and photos.

          There will be a posting from me – as the builder and one from my partner – as the woman viewing everything from a woman’s perspective of building in Botswana.

          Any one who wants to come out for a week or two of building volunteering – You also have three of the most incredible wild life reserves in Africa within one hour. [

  181. Barry Kungu says:

    I am planning an earthbag house in Kenya and would be interested to have a shared experience of those who have done similar houses in Kenya especially where to obtain the earth bags.

    Would used cement bags do the job or it has to be constructed from manilla bags. What are the constrains in interior/exterior plastering/finishes and the climate effect on those that are dome shaped

    I would appreciate if someone shared the floor plan layout for a two bedroom house with all internal plumbing and natural light arrangement/window opening sizes etc.

    • Owen Geiger says:

      The bag material is the same as sand bags. Sometimes cement bags are made the same, but not always. Make a sample earthbag with moist soil and test it out by tamping the bag really hard. The bag should not break. The soil should dry very hard.

  182. Courtney Bradley says:

    I am excited to find such a plethora if information in one consolidated site! We have been given land to build on by in-laws. That being said, we also have 7 children to consider when building. We will be doing a rammed earth home and I just have to say finding out about structure1 has abated some fears. Although it looks like my county (lexington) here in south carolina, has a looselly worded clause that allows for building with “new technologies” that promote saving energy, and material in addition to approving recycled material as well on, a case by case situation. Anyone in the state of South Carolina that has any useful information would be appreciated.

    Thanks Owen..and everyone else.

    Best Regards,
    Courtney Bradley

    Courtney or Jonathan Bradley @ facebook

  183. I am from the island of Dominica in the Eastern Caribbean. Dominica is famous as the “Nature Island of the Caribbean” because of the largely pristine condition of its natural environment, its 365 rivers, many though under severe environmental pressure, are as pure crystal streams.

    I belong to an organization called the Waitukubuli Ecological Foundation (WEF) and our aim is to extend our ambition to become known as “nature island of the world” and to specialize as a small island nation in a natural economy in which natural building would be a significant component.

    The opportunity has arisen for me to build a dwelling house for myself and I have decided to build with earthbags, a living roof and a earth floor. There is only one other earthbag building in the island and we think that this would present an opportunity to broaden knowledge and interest in this exciting form of construction. The island has been experiencing severe economic conditions with youth unemployment a particularly difficult problem to solve. And with it goes a severe housing problem especially among the young. We think that earthbag building can contribute to a solution.

    I would welcome the opportunity for networking and would be grateful for any assistance or advice that may be available at present, and we would be particularly interested in any volunteers who would like to help us while visiting the Caribbean.

    • Owen Geiger says:

      Hello Bernard,

      Email me at strawhouses [at] yahoo.com and we can discuss your situation.

      • Tom Burgess says:

        Hi Owen,
        Firstly thank you for sharing your wealth of knowledge with the world, it is greatly appreciated. My name is Tom Burgess, i will be co-ordinating the Earthbag build for Bernard Wiltshire in Dominica. We are looking for any interested persons who would like to be involved in the project, which we are hoping to start early in March. Dominica is a very unique and beautiful island in the Caribbean, and this project could certainly offer a fantastic opportunity to anyone looking for hands on experience in Earthbag construction.
        You are welcome to contact myself or Bernard regarding the details of this project, and please feel free to point any interested persons in our direction!

        Many thanks
        Tom.

    • Adam Harris says:

      I am looking for a great project to devote my time and energy to. I love to volunteer on building where I can continue my education in this amazing art.

      I am 27 years old, fit, smart and totally excited about this style of building and willing to travel anywhere in the world to volunteer and continue me education!

      I think that your focus on alternative building in Dominca is exactly what future generations all over the world need to free themselves from environmental and economical hardships that face us. I would love to talk to you about your goals and see if I can be any help with your project!

      Thank you for your time!

      -Adam H.

      • Tom Burgess says:

        Hi Adam,
        My name is Tom Burgess, i will be co-ordinating the Earthbag build for Bernard Wiltshire in Dominica. Please feel free to contact me regarding the project, or any other relevant issues you might want to discuss. I am looking forward to the project, which will be the third Earthbag construction that i have managed here on the beautiful island of Dominica. We would be very happy to receive you for the duration of the project which we (roughly) estimate being a 6 month build. Please feel free to contact me with any questions.
        Thanks
        Tom.

  184. Barry Coffman says:

    i want to visit some earthbag homes in New Mexico or Pueblo Colorado area instead of having to go to California site. Any suggestions?

    • Owen Geiger says:

      Let’s hope someone in the area contacts you. Most prefer anonymity to avoid lots of strangers coming to their home.

    • SoCo Gal says:

      Barry,

      Check out Crestone, Colorado – lots of alternative building, esp with straw bale in that area. Also lots of alternative building all over the San Luis Valley and we’re not that far from Santa Fe where the world-famous Mike Reynolds started the Earthship movement.

      I am not too sure as to what is up in Pueblo area, but definitely the SLV has many alternative buildings, including shipping container homes and we even have a guy who converted an old bread truck.

      • Owen Geiger says:

        Crestone is definitely worth a visit. They have more homes built with natural materials like straw, poles, adobe, etc. than any other place in the US. There are sustainable homes on almost every block largely due to minimal building codes, healthy dose of common sense, open minded people. And — gasp — they’re not blowing up or blowing away or falling over. Just the opposite. Locals make fun of stud framed houses with their “skinny walls”.

        Michael Reynolds is about an hour south in Taos. Santa Fe also has nice adobe and straw bale houses. Pueblo has a lot but they’re spread out and not as accessible. You would need someone to guide you around in Pueblo.

  185. nogridster says:

    I live nearby – but have not heard of any EB homes in the area. Would be interesting to find out. I am up there from time to time in my business. If you don’t get an answer from their website I would probably be able to get an answer in person – I work with many of the Planners in my business as a consulting Planner and Environmental Permitting specialist. Keep me posted on your success and I will help you as I can.

  186. Kimon says:

    Does anyone know if Park City, Utah allows for earthbag construction?
    Thanks,
    Kimon Haramis
    LB, CA

  187. CarolAnn says:

    Greetings,
    My husband and I are considering building a Sandbag home in northern Minnesota. Is this a good idea? What may be some of the problems we may encounter? Our plan is to be heated by wood. We heard one was built in the Canadian Rockies. Thank you and God bless, CarolAnn

  188. Greg says:

    Greetings,

    I am in the beginning stages of helping my son build an earthbag home. We have decided a practice run at building a earthbag storage shed would not be a bad idea since neither of us have done this work before. We have looked at several roof designs and would like to put in a round tin roof. I have seen many people including a video Owen did in Thailand with a similar thatched roof. My questions involves the compression ring at the apex of the roof. As I am familiar with yurts, I know that this needs to be incredibly strong. I would prefer a metal ring on this structure as I do have to contend with the occasional hurricane as well as the occasional heavy snow fall. Can you recommend where to find such an item or is this a custom build?

    Thanks again for your time.

    Greg

  189. Ron R says:

    Thank you Owen for your advice. Looked at PSE site. It’s a step in the right direction. Seems the best thing to do after writing to them for quote is to begin calling counties In ny state and ask what they require code wise for earthbag structures.
    Thanks again.
    Ron

  190. Fred Geisler says:

    While they’re not licensed in every State, New York does seem to be one of the States where Precision Structural Engineering is licensed.

    http://www.structure1.com/html/thecompany.htm

    (I was disappointed, when I discovered they’re not licensed in Michigan, and I have yet to locate an engineering firm that both is licensed in Michigan, and is willing to do design work for earthbag structures.)

    The construction code for New York State is here:

    http://www.dos.state.ny.us/DCEA/

    This is useful, as the State of New York allows one to read the code online for free. Here in Michigan, I had to pay textbook prices to get a copy.

  191. Ron Russo says:

    Hello Everyone,
    I am in the very beginning stages of planning an earthbag build. I bought a few books, the two that are out, Kaki Hunter’s and Owen Geiger’s plus his video.
    I have begun building a small clay model just to get an idea of what seems possible.
    I am no stranger to hard work, and look forward to building in the not too distant future. Spring/Summer of 2013, figure it would take a year or so to plan, which seems like it’s the most important part.
    My wife and I with our two daughters, (3 1/2 & 1 1/2) are looking for the “ideal” spot in the catskills NY. I am in Norther NJ.
    My big concern is Building Codes for earthbag structures. When we do finally purchase some land I know you just cant begin building, or can you, considering it is an alternative style?
    Does anyone have any insight into this.
    I would hate to put a years worth of planning and dreaming only to find out a municipality says no.
    Thanks for the advice.
    Ron R.
    I also have some questions on climate, but I will save them for future posts.
    Thanks again

    • Owen Geiger says:

      We always recommend researching local code issues before going too far. There’s a huge difference in codes from region to region. Read out blog post about Counties with Few or No Building Codes

      You can get an engineer’s stamp from Precision Structural Engineering, Inc. Search this blog for details and write for a free quote: http://www.structure1.com

    • Suzan Erem says:

      Some rural and ag areas only apply building code on parcels of a certain size. In Cedar County, IA where we live, and which is largely agricultural, building permits were not required for us to build our house because we own more than 40 acres. (State code for electrical and water still applied of course.) Something to consider asking about…hope it helps.

  192. bwilliams says:

    Hi Brady,

    I haven’t heard back from you regarding a commercial vs residential address on your end to ship to so I’ll give you the best quotes I have for both residential and commercial. UPS Residential delivery ( 4 days transit) = $ 360.17. Commercial delivery = $ 262.74. Saia Residential delivery ( 1 day transit) =
    $ 368.79. Commercial delivery = $ 278.79. These quotes are for pickup on 1/2/12. Please let me know as soon as you can.

  193. jamel says:

    merci pour ces information . j’ai choisi les dôme car c’est plus respectable dans notre région (TUNISIE°. .. et tant qu’il serrai habitable et respectable j’aurai plus de chance a convaincre les ” sans abris ou les pauvres a ”’ce faire des dôme ..

  194. jamel says:

    bonjour tous le monde
    et merci pour ces informations très utile .
    je voudrais savoir si ces dôme erthbag ont une limite grandeur de diamètre et hauteur ou non ? et j’ai su qu’il sont thermique .. mais si il fait chaud a l’extérieur de par exemple 40 degrés a l’ombre , pourra t’elle supporté cette chaleur ? comment serra son atmosphère a l’intérieur ?
    et encore merci pour tous ces gents qui on fait de très belle effort pour nous faire naître ce nouveau habitat.

    Hello Everyone,
    and thank you for this information very useful.
    I wonder if earthbag domes have a limit size of diameter and height or not? and I knew that it is heat .. but if it’s hot outside, for example 40 degrees in the shade, can you it supported this heat? how to reduce the temperature inside?
    and thank you again for all the gents who are made of very fine effort to make us rise to this new habitat.

    • Owen Geiger says:

      The maximum dome size is somewhere around 20-25 feet in diameter, depending on your dome building skills. The largest dome so far is the Om Dome in Thailand: http://www.earthbagbuilding.com/projects/omdome.htm

      You can read the article and see how they had problems because the courses were not placed perfectly.

      Domes work great in desert regions where nighttime temperatures cool down. But they don’t work as well in tropical areas where it’s hot and humid all the time. You can only add so many windows without affecting the strength and so it’s difficult to get sufficient ventilation. And domes are more vulnerable to water damage than roofed structures. For these reasons, buildings with roofs work better in tropical climates. My roundhouse, for instance, works perfectly. It’s 8 C or 15 F degrees cooler inside than out. Roundhouses are faster and easier to build than domes. See: http://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-Build-an-Earthbag-Roundhouse/

  195. Ursula says:

    Any particular tips or resources for building earth bag homes in the tropics? I am planning to build a natural home in the caribbean and need suggestions. Can bamboo and earth bags be used together in a structure? Looking for lowest cost, most local resources, low tech. Love this website thanks to all for the advice!!

  196. bwilliams says:

    Brady,

    Will I be shipping to your residence or do you have a commercial address I can ship to. It makes quite a bit of difference in the shipping price with shipping to a commercial address being cheaper?

    • Brady says:

      bwilliams,

      My wife has a gym a mile from my house, I could pick them up there with my tractor if needed. To answer you question, if it needed to be delivered to her gym, we could do that. It is on a major 4 lane highway.

      • bwilliams says:

        Brady,

        Sorry I just noticed your previous message and for some reason I didn’t get notified of it on my email like before. Anyway if you would like one of the commercial delivery quotes I sent to you let me now along with the address and date you want them sent. You can email me directly at docbrian70@gmail.com or call me at 512-786-0020 to discuss payment and any further details. Thanks.

  197. Michael says:

    Hello

    I was wondering how easy it would be to combine the

    Solar Pit House
    http://earthbagplans.wordpress.com/2011/09/16/solar-pit-house/

    and the

    Zero Energy Four
    http://www.earthbagbuilding.com/plans/zeroenergy4.htm

    My wife and I like the size and the Greenhouse of the Zero Energy Four but we love the Earth-bearmed approach to the Solar Pit house.

    Since we live in an area that is susceptible to Tornados and Hurricanes we want to go the Earth-bearmed route for safety from wind, hail, and flooding as well as for increased energy Efficiency. We have even toyed with the idea of having Roll-up doors like you see on a Garage/Metal Building mounted above the Greenhouse windows so that with a push of a button you could completely secure the shelter from most storms.

    We love the Root Cellar as well. The cisterns would be great on helping with water for the Garden.

    We think the 2nd Bathroom needs to be at the right end of the house. This would provide additional protection /buffer for the 3 bedrooms beside it. We also think there needs to be a hallway (preferably in the back of the house) going to that bathroom so that you do not have to go into the greenhouse to go to the bathroom. With that said the convenience of being able to go to the bathroom from the Greenhouse and not have to track in dirt/pollen from the Greenhouse to use the bathroom would be nice and to have this option the Hallway would have to be located on the front of the house. Maybe you could use an enclosed hallway with a solid Earth-bag wall between the Greenhouse and the Hallway to protect people using this hallway.

    Thanks you so much for the great work. You have inspired the entire family.
    Mike and Del

    • Owen Geiger says:

      Yes, you can earth berm the sides of the house, no problem. I already have a custom version of Zero Energy Four with the hallway and extra bath behind the four bedrooms. Just email me and we can talk it over. strawhouses [at] yahoo.com

  198. bwilliams says:

    Brady,

    They are 18 x 30 50 # bags. I will check on the shipping to your location and let you know. Thanks.

  199. bwilliams says:

    Hi Brady,

    Yes they are still available. I am located in Kerrville, TX. Let me know. Thanks.

    • Brady says:

      bwilliams,

      What size are they, and do you know what the shipping would be to Atoka, OK, 74525. Your about 8 hours from my place and it may be easier to just ship them.

      Thanks,

      Brady

  200. Ana Cortez says:

    Hi. I am planning to build a home in Bahia, Brazil near the coast between Ilheus and Itacare. I would like to begin building sometime second half of 2012. I would love help with someone experienced in earth bag building for design and planning, and construction. Plenty of locals to provide help with labor.
    Thank you.

    • aly says:

      Oi Ana,
      Your project sounds great and I might be able to come down and help during that time. Can you email me and send me a bit more info? Also, check out my blog if you like.
      Thanks,
      Alyssa

  201. Marla Jones says:

    I am building a 600 square foot earthbag cabin around the Tulsa, Oklahoma area Summer 2011 and while I have some very enthusiastic friends to help (I hope) none of us has any experience at this. I’m looking for someone that might be in that area during that time that might be willing to hire out to help us. If interested please contact me marlawscc@yahoo.com. I’m not rich so don’t bother trying to quote contractor pricing.

  202. Lisa Starr says:

    Hey Owen,

    Well, our fan page on facebook is full motion and has been for over a year since we began building but, I’m in process of populating the website via word press. So, we would love to be featured on your blog…anytime. Great motivation to get the blog plubished. Let me know what information you would like*** In the mean time here is the url for our fan page. https://www.facebook.com/pages/Bonita-Domes-Project/131821026865069

    Thank you for creating and managing this Earthbag Building forum….nice job integrating “sharing and promoting”!!

    • Owen Geiger says:

      Lisa, what is the price range? The way you wrote it is confusing. I think that’s all I need.

      • Lisa Starr says:

        Hey Owen,

        I think this covers it****Thank you!!

        Lisa
        ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

        At this time we are continuing our Volunteer Community Building program. From now until December 17, 2011 is the last BIG PUSH for building with our hired crew. If you would like to participate, email contact is bonitadomes@att.net. We’re building as weather permits so, we could be bagging, plastering or painting. ****Everyday is a BONITA surprise****

        As our Volunteer Community Building program continues we are also creatively seeking funding that would support and feed an expanded labor force.

        2-7 day hands-on classes and workshop and retreats are now forming slated to begin Feburary 2012. Cost: $25-$300

        Includes work day community meal , tent or dome camping, hot shower, kitchen facilities, wifi and living within a sturctured community model

        Learn and get hands on experience

        Depending on the scope of the project one or more of the following aspects will be presented per class/workshop/retreat.

        *plaster
        *natural finishes
        *earthen floors
        *form building
        *owner-builder how to’s
        *community building

        Includes work day community meal , tent or dome camping, hot shower, kitchen facilities, wifi and living within a sturctured community model.

        Website Address is http://www.bonitadomes.wordpress.com

        In the meantime, if you want to try some really good eats and experience a profound sense of community and learn about Earthbag Building……you know how to find us!!!

        To stay posted on our progess visit our fanpage on facebook https://www.facebook.com/pages/Bonita-Domes-Project/131821026865069

  203. Lisa Starr says:

    Greeting Earthbuilders!!

    Just want to introduce and connect with you all here…..check out our fan page on face book: Bonita Domes Project. We’re working on an off fb blog/website ….coming soon!!

    Anyway, We still need to finish bagging our Triple Dome 1000sqft structure…just about over all the window forms….and we appreciate an extra hand and feed all our participants damn good Earthbuilding food.

    Check us out and see if our Holistic approach to Earthbag building resonates with you!

    with Gratitude and Love,
    Lisa

    bonitadomes@att.net

  204. jim says:

    Greetings Owen, watching and following yours and those who promote earthbag building , has convinced me to build in a remote location in Mississippi.My concern has hit something of a stumbling block.When attempting to build in stages,how would you add a new room to an existing earthbag structure .Your running bond wont be present between the two rooms,how would you join the two and keep a sound structure.Here in MS its not unheard of for settling to produce cracks in concrete. I worry that without a firm hold between the old and new,the wall would open up where they meet.I read your building guide and don,t see this addressed. respectfully Jim in MS

    • Owen Geiger says:

      You can build stepped buttresses where you plan to build the addition. You can leave some rebar protruding from the bond beam to tie into the addition. You can also pound rebar at an angle from the new bags into the old bags as you build the addition.

  205. Michael Corman says:

    It would seem to me that FREE discarded polystyrene foam could be pushed and rubbed through 3/8″ metal hardware cloth to produce small foam particles. Add dry FREE sawdust from a sawmill (to fill the tiny spaces beteeen the foam pellets)and you would have a very high R rating mixture to fill FREE plastic shopping bags which could be sealed. The bags could be sold for in-wall new construction or below ground foundation insulation.

    Would this mixture violate any fire prevention regulations anywhere? Would a chemical fire retardent have to be mixed in?

    If not- this would be a great styyrofoam collection project for schoolkids, churches, etc.

    All the materials are FREE and look at how you can undercut the price of polystyrene foam board with the same R value.

    Mike

    misterfact@yahoo.com

    • Owen Geiger says:

      It should work if you use earthbags (typically polypropylene sand bags) and keep the bags dry with 2-3 layers of 6 mil plastic sheeting on the exterior. Put one sheet against the outside of the wall, then backfill about 2-3 feet of soil, then add another layer to direct water away from the wall. Build on high ground and slope the ground so water flows away from the building.

      It’s almost impossible to gain code approval for ideas like this. New products require extensive testing in government approved labs. Total testing cost is probably in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

      • Michael Corman says:

        To avoid all that government expense, probably best if the filled bags are not sold and marketed as home insulation. Just let the buyer (homeowner, builder) figure out or find out by word of mouth- what they are for and how to use them

        Mike

  206. Jik says:

    Hello,
    I will build the small earthbag house in north of Thailand.
    I cannot find any (on the internet) talk about how to built(in detail) the toilet, installing the outlet, wiring, piping. .
    Any suggestion?
    Thank you,
    Jik

  207. nogridster says:

    A friend recently asked me about the feasibility of buying an abandoned mine site in Northern Nevada. On it’s face it looked great – 600 acres, year round water, remote, inexpensive – with several old shafts and tunnels for storage and other possible uses.

    But as I advised him; I thought I would tell you all. Part of my job is to advise my clients whether a property they wish to purchase is “environmentally clean” that is to say – has it ever been subject to the use, storage, or transportation of hazardous materials. A simple Phase I Environmental Site Assessment (ESA) is the tool we use to determine this. This is a combination of (normally) a site inspection, and a data base search of various RCRA (fed and state hazardous materials) databases to tell us if the property is likely, or known, to have had these materials on it.

    As I advised my friend – with a mine site it may be the case that if the former owner or manager of the mine cannot be located; and a site of contamination is found – the EPA can order the current owner to mitigate and cleanup the site. If the condition affects groundwater (as it frequently does) this cleanup can run into the millions of dollars. The moral of the story – investigate the property well. Know the past uses of the property to avoid future liability. The best way to do this cheaply is to get a Phase I ESA performed ( or at the very least contact me and I will tell you how to order what’s called an EDR report) for yourself. The EDR report in itself is pretty cheap (around $300) and can be deciphered by most people to determine if Haz materials were a factor on their subject property. Where it is a bit more costly and usually essential to have an environmental scientist like myself involved is if a loan company wants to be sure the property is clean before they loan – so they make it a requirement that the environmental findings are certified by a professional.

    Another note – I would also counsel you all to be careful of any property that has ANY easements on it (or adjacent). The government (local, state, and Feds) have the right to enter ANY property WITHOUT your permission if they have a utility easement. This means they can come onto YOUR property to “look around” anytime they choose if they have an easement. Once on the property – they can then note and report any “unusual” or illegal structures or activities. This is yet another way they can violate your private property.

  208. David K says:

    Hello,
    I was just curious to see if the interiors get damp and dank with the limestone concrete and clay in the bags. While I like the idea of earthbag houses, I imagine the interiors feeling like an unfinished basement.

    • Owen Geiger says:

      That can happen in extreme circumstances. That’s why we used earthen plaster on the inside of our roundhouse and added lots of windows. What you’re describing is more likely to happen with domes that are limited to how many windows can be added. That’s one reason I’m more in favor of vertical walls.

  209. bwilliams says:

    I have just under 3000 misprinted polypropylene rice bags that I need to sell. I just had them delivered from NYP Corporation this week. I have had a change of plans and no longer need them. This is by far the best price I have found after searching numerous bag companies for quite a while. Total price is $ 530 for 2941 bags ( .18 cents / bag) plus shipping costs to your location. My shipping was $ 175 from PA to TX. These bags are being stored in an enclosed location away form weather and sunlight.

    • Owen Geiger says:

      Have you made a test earthbag to be sure they are strong?

    • BFath says:

      Hi,

      I live in Southern Oklahoma and am interested in your bags. If you still have them, where are you located? I would like to just pick them up and save an shipping.

      Thanks,

      Brady

      • David Langston says:

        I also live in Oklahoma and am looking for someone who has started a project locally so I can get some hands on experience. I would be willing to help you out for a few days for free as an opportunity to work with the bags. I have the book and video, but no hands-on experience.

  210. thompsonkm says:

    Good deal on bags! I just ordered 500 brand new 18×30 “50 lb.” poly bags from White Bag Company, Inc., in North Little Rock, Arkansas, for 19 cents each! I plan to pick them up in person, so I don’t know what shipping costs are. Innpack quoted me 35 cents each, so I think I’m getting a good deal. The site is http://www.whitebag.com. They said they had no misprints for sale at the moment, though my friend got a couple hundred misprints from them last year.

  211. harvey says:

    My name is Harvey Lacey. I am in north Texas. I’m the inventor of the Ubuntu-blox or recycled plastic block house.

    In Haiti we are using tube material for our blocks. I need about 100 feet or so of tube material if anyone has surplus. I need that to make sample blocks for the stateside examples. There is an urgency.

    @oharveylacey on twitter
    Ubuntu-blox group on fb
    harvey@harveylacey.com

    992 442 3987

  212. Chaya & Aiden says:

    Greetings!

    We are a traveling couple seeking earthbag building opportunities anywhere within the U.S., but especially in or around Washington, Oregon, and California.

    If you or someone you know of could use two very friendly and enthusiastic workers on a current or upcoming project, we would love to be a part of your earthbag building process!

    We are self-contained in our camper van and, therefor, will not necessarily be requesting any room and board. All we wish to receive in exchange for our labor is the learning experience itself.

    We are additionally interested in opportunities to work with any of the following…

    - traditional rammed earth
    - underground shelter
    - earthship construction
    - rocket mass heating systems
    - gravity-fed water filtration systems
    - root cellar construction

    …and may even be open to helping with other types of natural building projects as well.

    Any help or guidance will be very much appreciated. Thank you!

    Sincerely,
    Chaya & Aiden
    (951)526-5203
    theroaringinsideher@riseup.net
    ghostmetropolis@riseup.net

    • Quemao Viejo says:

      Hi There,
      Kind of in the same situation than you.
      Have a plot of land in south spain. Will try to build something summer 2012. Just in case you are around :) or come across somebody interested.
      Good luck and lots of fun.
      quemaoviejo.wordpress.com

      • chaya says:

        thanks for including us in your thoughts and invitation. at this point, we don’t have plans to be in spain, but i’ll keep your project in mind in case i meet anyone who might be interested! (and JUST in case we happen to end up in your neighborhood! ;)
        best wishes to you! <3
        chaya
        theroaringinsideher@riseup.net

    • Simon Fyall says:

      Hello, We are near Tulum Mexico and are going to be starting our earthbag home in the next week or two if you can make it down here you are welcome also to vacat/work. Maybe we could all do a earthbag travel experience! Good Luck.

  213. ron says:

    Just thought id post something a guy who did septic work told me he never saw anything go more than three feet into the ground from any septic system.
    Look up watson wick,that is a setup i will use.

  214. Fred Geisler says:

    About a year ago, there were questions here about building in Michigan. I’m wondering how the builders managed to be Code-approved, or (considering the construction code is State law) how they managed to bypass it.

    • CarolAnn says:

      http://www.usgbc.org/

      Go to this web site it has information about LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is redefining the way we think about the places where we live, work and learn. As an internationally recognized mark of excellence, LEED provides building owners and operators with a framework for identifying and implementing practical and measurable green building design, construction, operations and maintenance solutions. Lots of information on the new building code standards for Green Building. I found a Strwbale home in Minnesota that helped change things here so check out this site. May help you.

  215. yoshhash says:

    I am looking for other canadian earthbaggers, or (anyone from similar cold climates) for discussion, maybe coming to see your project.

    • Pierre Trudel says:

      hey yoshhash, I am building in Cantley Qc next spring if you are close to me……

    • Philip Forrester says:

      Hello yoshhash I am located in Picton Ont and am interested in exploring construction the earthship model using bags instead of old tire. Would the bags be suitable for this cold climate location? I know the tire system is supposed to be good insulator.

      • Brad says:

        I am in the planning and testing stage of building an earthbag keyhole garden this spring. Most of the work will take place on the weekends once the thaw happens, hoping to be completed by mid May.

    • Brennan says:

      Hey I am located in Ontario and was hoping to gain some experience building earthbag dwellings in 2012. If anyone knows of any workshops or needs assistance with their home I would be glad to help.

      Please email me if you hear of anything!

      • Brad says:

        A little more about my Ottawa Project, It will be 16ft diameter circle with a keyhole and a spiral garden within the keyhole. The six inch wide concrete or lime stabilized wall will be built on a shallow rubble trench using bags stitched from old bed sheets The height will be about one to two feet and will be either painted with a petrified hessian type coating, or coated with an earthen plaster. If weather permits we are hoping to do the bulk of the work during the Easter long weekend and have it completed in time to transplant our seedlings in mid May.

        It is a small project and represents my families first tangible step towards our goal of building our own earthbag home.

        We would welcome a few volunteers, if your interested, and would also accept the donation of any of the supplies we don’t yet have, including
        a wheel barrow, 1 -2 yards of reject sand or similar medium, 1/2 a yard of gravel, bags of portland cement or lime, bricks for the spiral garden, 1 yard of sandy clay, advice ect…..

        Anyone interested please contact me here or email earthbagdreams AT gmail DOT com

    • CarolAnn says:

      My husband and I are thinking of doing one in northern Minnsesota. But we need help and would be willing to help anyone else. We have never built one before. Everything we have learned is through books and online blogs and resurch. Anyone got any ideas for us?

      • Owen Geiger says:

        I’ll just briefly chime in. We always recommend starting out with something small and simple like a storage shed or guest house. There’s a learning curve to everything, and starting small is a low risk way of learning the techniques.

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