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Archive for June, 2010

As promised, I’m posting more pics of our roundhouse as I get time. I’ve started to upload some of these pics to my new Picasa web album.

Concrete Floor and Earthen Plaster

Concrete Floor and Earthen Plaster

Floor: We opted for a concrete floor colored with natural iron oxide pigment. The pigment is sprinkled by hand and troweled into the top ¼” as the concrete sets up. A little more color was added later during final troweling to even out the color. We were careful to moisten the road base under the floor to slow drying and prevent cracking.

Curved Earthen Plaster around Window Openings

Curved Earthen Plaster around Window Openings


Earthen plaster: Here you can see the natural beauty of earthen plaster that’s been sculpted to gracefully curve around window and door openings. This not only looks good, but also lets in more light and improves the view. I want to emphasize how this simple concept totally transformed our roundhouse from a bunch of bags into a thing of beauty. Click here for more details about rounded corners.

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Earthbag Roundhouse - Exterior View

Earthbag Roundhouse - Exterior View

People keep asking for an update on our roundhouse, so here are some recent pics. Things are coming along nicely, although there are still numerous loose ends to finish: light fixtures, interior plaster touch up, cleaning tile (ugh) and landscaping. We’re very happy with the outcome and, of course, highly recommend this building method to others. I’ll be writing more about the roundhouse in upcoming posts. Stay tuned.

Picasa Photo Album of Earthbag Roundhouse

Another View of our Earthbag Roundhouse

Another View of our Earthbag Roundhouse

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Perhaps workshop fees and travel expenses are not affordable, or maybe you’re busy doing other things and can’t make it to an earthbag workshop. That’s okay because we provide almost everything you need for free on our websites.

You could get started without a workshop by following my step-by-step videos, http://www.youtube.com/user/naturalhouses, reading our websites and Doni and Kaki’s Earthbag Building book, and then building a small storage shed or something similar. It’s good to build something small at first so you can practice on a non-critical structure. You’ll soon learn the basics and then be able to build an earthbag house.

EarthbagBuilding.com
GreenHomeBuilding.com
YouTube Earthbag Channel
GRISB

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Building your own low-cost natural house out of earthbags, locally harvested wood and clay, etc. for cash means you won’t be strapped for 20-30 years paying a mortgage. So, you’ll have thousands of extra hours to spend as you wish. Now that’s a nice thought, isn’t it?

Hmm. Save money. Less stress. Simpler living. More freedom. Stronger families and communities. Live sustainably. Easier to clean and maintain… Makes sense to me.

Earthbag Roundhouse Under Construction

Earthbag Roundhouse Under Construction

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We used pre-made panels of thatch to roof our roundhouse. Thatching is usually very slow and laborious, but we thatched our roundhouse in just one day and for only $100. That’s why I love thatch panels – they’re very inexpensive and all the tedious work has already been done. And they work great on round (conical) and organic shaped roofs because they’re flexible. Just bend them into position and nail in place. We installed the panels using 8” spacing. Plan on rethatching every 3-5 years or so, depending on the quality of your thatch.

See all my natural building videos on my YouTube earthbag building channel.

Interior view of thatched roof

Interior view of thatched roof

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Daniel Jones has a special feeling for the Australian Aborigines and conceived of a project to help them protect their heritage. He built an earthbag dome close to the beach at a swampy inlet that is an Aboriginal heritage protection site where an ongoing blockade against unsustainable greedy mansion development continues.

The History Pod ‘Murrong Gunya’ sand house is a labor of love with a humorous flare of design. You can see this in the fanciful plastered image.

The opening of the History Pod at Sandon point is planned for the 17 th December 2010 celebrating the tenth anniversary of the Aboriginal tent embassy and the continued blockade of the developers.

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Co-founders Hubert Huot and Julien Balmer in Koh Phangan, Thailand have started a new website to promote earthbag building. Their jungle hillside property on Koh Phangan island is a tropical paradise and was the site of a workshop I was involved with in May.

Phangan Earthworks

Phangan Earthworks

There are numerous beautiful structures at Phangan Earthworks that you can tour and learn from, such as Julien’s house shown in the photo above. Their website features galleries that show how these structures were built. As nice as the photos are, I can attest the actual buildings are even more beautiful than shown. Clearly, Hubert and Julien, and those they work with are all exemplary builders, and I’m convinced their buildings will soon find their way into architectural magazines.

Join them July 10-11, 2010 in their next workshop. Go to the Phangan Earthworks website for complete info.

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The current newsletter from CalEarth describes how they have been designing an earthbag shelter/home prototype for use in Haiti.  This structure, consisting of a 10 ft. main dome surrounded by 3 apses (a 7 ft. sleeping apse, a 5 ft. fire cooking apse with storage below, and a 5 ft. apse that can be used for storage or as a sleeping area for small children) was designed to house six people comfortably.

From laying the footprint to applying the plaster, a crew of 9 people worked a total of 15 days to create this prototype. The cost of this structure, including earthbag tubing, barbed wire, cement, waterproofing materials, basic building tools, windows, and a door with a lock, came to under $3,000. According to the newsletter, “Although the cost may seem high, it is important to note that we made it a point to create a permanent shelter thus stabilizing with cement. After visiting Haiti and meeting with government officials, it became very apparent that for those families living in the tent camps, any relocation would be permanent, even if stated otherwise. So we built this structure with that in mind, and included all the amenities needed to live in this shelter for a long period of time. If we were to design a temporary emergency shelter, the costs would be significantly lower.”

How  this dome will be waterproofed is still unknown.  They are planning to experiment with using an elastomeric  roofing compound.  They have already tried using tar compounds, but are hoping that  an  elastomeric paint  may be the simplest way of creating a reliable and serviceable waterproof membrane.

You can read their entire newsletter that describes all of this more fully on their website.

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I’ve just started a YouTube channel about earthbag building in hopes of seeing this building method spread more quickly, and to help improve the standard of construction. It’s easier for many people to learn by watching rather than just reading about it, and it’s a fun way to pass some time. Hope you enjoy it.

The main feature at this point is a 48-part video series called Step-By-Step Earthbag Building. Each segment focuses on one main idea, and is short and to the point – mostly 10-30 seconds long. Text has been added below the video as a learning aid and to make it easy to translate into other languages.

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