You can turn an ordinary post and beam structure into a superinsulated tiny home for very low cost, and minimal time and effort. This project shows how easy it is to wrap a post and beam tiny home with rice hull bags in non-code areas. Bags of rice hulls turn what would ordinarily have been a poorly insulated home into a superinsulated home that’s quiet and comfortable. For practically nothing, recycled raschel mesh produce bags were obtained from the local farmers market. (They got them for free by waiting until closing time.) Everything seems to keep going up in price, including polypropylene bags. Well, this is one way to save money, because raschel mesh bags can be ¼ the cost of polypropylene bags. And since bags are one of the main costs of earthbag/rice hull bag building, this is a good way to cut costs. If you do use recycled bags though, be sure to check the quality. Make a test bag to see if the bags are still strong.

I’ve always been a big fan of post and beam construction and lightweight earthbags with rice hulls or lava rock/scoria. In general, this is one of the fastest, easiest natural building methods there is. The hulls are practically free (especially with a rice mill just a few hundred yards away), and the bags are about as light as bags of popcorn. So clearly, anyone can do this. Just be sure to raise the rice hull bags off the ground with gravel bags and use wide roof overhangs to avoid water damage. You can plaster with lime or cement, or with earthen plaster if you have wide enough roof overhangs. The mesh bag material (raschel mesh) is absolutely ideal for plastering. Plaster sticks to the mesh like glue.

The bags can go between the posts as shown if you want to hide unsightly posts. You can also set bags on the outside or inside of posts if you want to leave the wood exposed. Be sure to stuff the bags tightly full to minimize settling. Bags can be shaped by hand to uniform size. (This eliminates award bulges and keeps courses of bags level.)

Last but not least, here’s the key step for stacking and securing rice hull bags. You need to brace the bags since they’re so lightweight. One method is to nail bamboo, a wood strip or sapling between the posts above each course of bags. Tie the bags to the bamboo or whatever material you use for bracing to hold in place. This is particularly easy to do with raschel mesh, because you can form a hook with wire and add the tie in seconds. Experiment to see what length of wire works best and have your kids pre-cut the wire ties with snips. In addition, you can tie the bags together as shown in the video for greater stability. That’s it! This is as simple as it gets if you have a post and beam frame to work with.

YouTube


Comments

Rice Hull Bag Tiny House — 3 Comments

    • It’s way better to use regular earthbags. However, if you build small and round it is possible to add enough reinforcement and cement plaster to make it work. If you want to try it out, email me for details. My email is at the top of the page.

  1. Numerous people have successfully built small structures with bags of rice hulls. Search this blog for previous stories using keywords rice hulls. The two main steps are 1. protect the bags from moisture damage, 2. secure the bags with ties, poles, bracing to stabilize the walls. The walls need to be stable enough that they don’t move around when you push plaster on the bags.

    If you build with rice hull bags, please document your project and share with others.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.