One of the most frequent questions people ask is how much do earthbag houses cost? It’s a little difficult to answer because there are many factors that affect the total cost. A lot depends on what features you want to add, whether or not you have building codes, how much work is done by the homeowner, and the details of the building itself.
A small, simple house made of natural building materials could be built by a DIY builder for about $10/sq.ft. This assumes doing most everything yourself and using the low-tech building ideas explained on our websites. It doesn’t include things like land, building permits and utility hookups, since the price of these things vary wildly.
Keeping in mind it is much easier and lower cost to build with earthbags in rural areas with minimal building codes, let’s look more closely at one example. Here are the approximate costs of a 15’ interior diameter roundhouse with earthen plaster and floor, recycled materials where feasible, and reciprocal pole roof with sod on top.
Recycled earthbags @ .20/bag = $108
Soil = $100 (bag fill, plaster, floor)
Gravel bag foundation = $20
Barbed wire = $35
Roof poles = $25 (with firewood permit from national forest)
Salvaged barn wood roof decking = free
6 mil poly = $25 (for roof)
Reinforced concrete bond beam = $100
Doors, windows, hardware, bathroom fixtures, tile, etc. from yard sales/barter = $175
Sod = free
Plumbing/electrical = $200
Composting toilet = $20
Earthbags w/rice hulls ceiling insulation = $10
Reed mat ceiling = $40
Recycled wood for cabinets = $100
Nails, screws = $42
Total cost = $1,000
This works out to be less than $6/square foot for this 176 sq. foot roundhouse in a non-code area. I’m sure I’m forgetting a few things, but you could double this cost to cover gas and any extras and still have a nice little house for $2,000. Now you can see why we’re so excited by earthbag building. It’s a real game changer for those in need of affordable housing.