Welcome to our Natural Building Blog. Like the title says, we’re experiencing record traffic. Most new readers are going to our Earth Sheltered / Underground House Plans page. First, I’d like to encourage new readers to search our site for low cost innovative building ideas. There’s over 1,460 blog posts on many different topics. Our focus is often earthbag building (building with sand bags), but we also cover many other natural building methods such as compressed earth block (CEB), adobe, bamboo, stone, etc. We believe using locally available minimally processed natural materials along with recycled materials will produce the lowest cost houses. Be sure to see our FAQ page where we address the most Frequently Asked Questions. You can search our site with the built-in search engine, or browse by topic. Our related websites are shown on the right hand side of the page. Altogether we have thousands of pages of free content, including articles, image galleries, recommended videos, detailed drawings, complete how-tos, free plans and much more.

On a more personal note, this site isn’t focused on commercializing anything. We’re here to see these ideas spread around the world. Kelly and I have been long term advocates of natural building and have spent years building up our websites to where they are today. So with that, I’d like to offer a free design to our new readers — some sort of earth sheltered greenhouse or underground home plan. Your suggestions will greatly improve the design and increase the number of structures built. Leave a comment below and I’ll respond usually within a short time period.


Comments

Record Traffic on our Blog and Free Plan — 9 Comments

  1. Owen,

    Have you considered using pre-stressed T-beams for support for earthen roofs? The cost here is around US$45 for 20ft length. These would be used instead of wooden beams and placed on the bond beam with a slope and topped off with the parapet walls. An engineer friend tells me they can hold up weight for second level floors and placed side by side act with double the inertia.

    • Yes, that’s an option. We don’t talk about things like this too much because in most places they’re not affordable and are made of high embodied energy materials. But for your area they may be the best solution.

  2. I am planning to build a earth bag home in my home town Bangalore, India. My plan is to build a Dome or Quonset-style home. with kitchen,bath and living room on the first floor. 1 bed room on the top. I also want to have the restroom/toilet as separate entity with any technique which does not use water & not stink. The design should help keep the house warm in winter & cool in summer. Floor should be completely earth based (even dragging heavy stuff like sofa or bed should not loosen it). Will you be able to help me?

    • Yes, we can share ideas. You’re in a hot, humid climate and so I recommend earthbag roundhouses:
      http://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-Build-an-Earthbag-Roundhouse/

      Domes require a lot of maintenance to prevent roof leaks, and would not be as cool and comfortable as roundhouses.

      An earthbag roundhouse will be comfortable year-round. No need for air conditioning.

      Joseph Jenkin’s sawdust toilets have been thoroughly tested for safety. There is no odor. Free instruction here:
      http://humanurehandbook.com/humanure_toilet.html You can search for his free book online.

      Earthen floors: Here are the best earth floor methods. You’ll want to add a stabilizer to harden them. http://www.naturalbuildingblog.com/ten-earth-floor-methods/

      • Thank you very much for the pointers. I have gone through many of your videos in youtube and read some of the articles on earth bag homes. But I failed to understand, what is the technique used to build multi-level(storey) houses. Is it concrete or wood&plywood or earth. And what is method involved.
        Based on your suggestion. I have come up with very very rough sketch of the round house with 2levels – http://i.imgur.com/7IyRRse.jpg. I need your architectural insight to understand where to place Kitchen, bathroom, living room, etc.

        Sawdust toilet suggested was great but I’m building it in a semi-urban area. So composting the waste will be a challenge. I was looking for some underground kind of solution which requires attention every 6month-1year.

        I have not yet gone through the floor methods. What are the stabilizers I can use.

        Also another question I have is, wood is very costly in India so I will not be able buy the logs to form the roof of the rounded house. are there any alternatives for it?

        My dream after looking at all the articles and videos. build a earthbag home with earthbags, earth plaster interior & exterior and earth flooring. Also another goal is to make it last longer (from weather, wear & tear,….)

        • Your drawing looks good. I would rotate the bathroom a little so the door is next to the kitchen cabinets instead of under the stairs.

          Multi-story: same as one story. You need a concrete bond beam at the top of each story. But one story buildings are more practical than multi-story, because you have to move a lot of heavy soil high up on the wall.

          There are lots of composting toilets like you describe. Google composting toilets.

          Stabilizers: cement, lime or soil stabilizers made from fruit extract, such as terrazyme or polypavement brands.
          http://www.naturalbuildingblog.com/terrazyme-soil-stabilizer/
          http://www.naturalbuildingblog.com/polypavement-natural-soil-pavement/

          Floors: one option is concrete T-beams or pre-stressed concrete. Talk to local builders for the best option in your area.

          Make sure you have wide roof overhangs so the exterior plaster is long lasting.

  3. Free plan? Personally I’m interested in earth sheltered earthbag designs but beggars can’t be choosers ;). Therefore, any plan you offer for free that helps me to see the future build I have been dreaming of for the past two years would be appreciated. Thanks for your work in earthbag building. I find myself coming back to your site when my imagination and desire to work with earthbags kicks into high gear.

    • Post your ideas here and I’ll think them over. Keep in mind that my focus is small, affordable designs. Also, it’s great if the design is easy to expand.

  4. Well, since no one else has made a request I’m going to selfishly ask for a plan that addresses the issue of building on a steep slope – stepped I imagine. Or if you’re sure underground is the more popular design, maybe include some ways to incorporate underground building techniques with those used for building into a mountain. I know you’ve done a few posts that deal with slopes, but the details that a plan includes would be invaluable, I think.

    So exciting how natural building is catching on – hopefully 2013 will mark a terrific explosion of eco–awareness and people acting on that awareness. Finger crossed.

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