If you’ve never heard of earthbag home building, it’s a simple, DIY construction technique that can help you build an earthquake-, flood- and bullet-resistant home on the cheap! Here’s how it works….
There are many different eco-friendly and sustainable home-building techniques out there, but earthbags may just be one of the simplest and most unique. It is also one of the most economical ways to build a home for the do-it-yourselfer.
Since the home is built of earth-filled bags, the cost is very low indeed, although of course you will need to source materials for the roof, plaster, supports, etc. However, it is possible to build a quite nice earthbag home for around $11.50/square foot, and they are also very energy efficient, so your cost for heating and cooling can be very low as well.
For those new to the term, earthbag building uses bags (often polypropylene grain bags) filled with dirt or other mineral-based materials that are tamped down in place – similar to laying bricks in courses – which creates an incredibly strong and durable wall. It’s a bit more involved than that, as you’ll see shortly, but in essence, it allows for the use of minimal off-site materials, mostly for the roof (if you aren’t building a dome), and windows and doors, and is considered to be one of the easiest methods for the average person to build. It doesn’t require huge external energy inputs for tamping (as rammed earth does), or making and drying adobe bricks in advance, and once the walls have been plastered over, it is virtually indistinguishable from any other building.
One of the leading lights in earthbag construction is Dr. Owen Geiger, who also happens to be the former Director of Builders Without Borders, and his book, Earthbag Building Guide, is considered to be an authoritative guide for both the DIY builder and those in the alternative building trade. The following playlist, which is comprised of some 49 step-by-step videos of earthbag building techniques, is well worth watching and bookmarking for future reference.
Check out the videos and more information on earthbag homes at TreeHugger.com.