Stepped earthbag foundations for sloped building sites

Stepped earthbag foundations for sloped building sites

One of our readers requested information on how to build on sloped terrain. They want to minimize excavation work. The drawing above shows how to build an earthbag foundation in ‘steps’. The basic process involves: 1. determine the slope of the land: change in elevation (‘rise’) over horizontal distance (run), expressed as a fraction (example: 5’/20’), or express as a percentage (example: 10% slope); 2. draw the slope to scale (example: 1 square on the graph paper = 1 foot); 3. draw the foundation in steps to best fit your house design. Note: the drawing above shows the basic idea. You’ll have to adjust the size of the foundation steps for your house. The floor can be one or more levels. Consider using piers or poles for real steep slopes.


Stepped Earthbag Foundations — 4 Comments

  1. Hello Mr. Geiger, I´m planning on building an earth bag house of 1 and 1/2 stories high (first floor whole area and second floor only half of first floor area) on a slope. I plan on having first floor door looking down slope and second floor door looking up slope. The problem I have is that I don´t want to have the down slope fachade two stories high (as I also want a green roof as a hobbit´s house) can I build the side walls with this same stepped foundations technique? as they should be sloped as well (not leveled) but how can I do the top beam? thanks for the attention. Regards, Felix from Colombia.

    • Yes, nearly anything is possible. You can make the roof almost any shape you want. Simple shapes like shed roofs are easier to build and less expensive.

    • That’s the side view of the earthbag foundation and the beginning of the earthbag wall. The dashed line is the grade line.

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