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Posts Tagged ‘earthbag houses’



The number of new earthbag videos is growing fast. I did a quick check yesterday and found quite a few new ones. Many of them are in other languages and probably won’t make it onto our Video page, so I’ll post them here on the blog.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JkhfzCbT_fE&feature=related
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5HCoLhqj4fY&feature=g-vrec
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ExYPG5pJdgE&feature=related
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ODUj3bKA_pE&feature=related
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nGX7y_hK5u0&feature=related
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gEOihnulpmA&feature=related
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s80_rSOygR8&feature=related
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ekj-vws63II&feature=related
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ITqg445P7hg&feature=related
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iDSlIUX-9vc&feature=related

Our main Video page at Earthbag.com has all the best earthbag videos. This page will save you from clicking through a bunch of poor quality videos.

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We know of earthbag structures in the following US states: AR, AZ, CA, CO, FL, GA, HI, ID, KY, MD, MI, MN, MO, NM, NV, NY, OH, OR, PA, SD, TN, TX, UT, WA

We know of earthbag structures in the following countries: Argentina, Australia, Bahamas, Belize, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Czech Republic, Dominican Republic, England, Gaza Strip, Ghana, Greece, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, India, Israel, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Mali, Mexico, Mongolia, Nepal, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Puerto Rico, Republic of Djibouti, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Spain, Thailand, Turks & Caicos Islands, United States, Uganda

Please leave a comment if you know of other locations, and include a link to more info if possible. [Note: sorry, I don’t have time to answer questions like “where is the project in X?” You’ll have to google that information. Try our new improved search engine at EarthbagBuilding.com.]

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We’re very happy to hear of a project in Pakistan for 100 earthbag houses. The text below has been pieced together from the Pakwheels forum.

Earthbag Houses in Parova, Pakistan

Earthbag Houses in Parova, Pakistan


Parova is 30 km from Dera Ismial Khan, badly effected from recent flood & now we are building the latest & economic free cost houses for them with the support of Pakistan Army, donors, Team leader Mr Sajid & backup support of 4×4 Engaged & Saj Engineering. The team has a project to make 100 sand bag homes with two 12×12 rooms in each house. This is Canadian design.

Why janj and sajid sb’s team working there? Well, because of security reasons large NGOs have just dropped off a few tents to the affected areas and ran out of there.

The construction: Well its a pretty straight forward design based on a badminton court layout, but the ground has to be dug to 2 feet and leveled back to have a flat surface, otherwise the sandbag walls will tilt and a single cm out would destroy the whole alignment so excavators, tractor trolleys and compaction equipment is involved to have the thing done – not so easy now. The raw materials are sand (soil), jute bags, iron barbed wire. One house requires between 600 to 800 sand bags.

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I just found this video on YouTube. Take a look. All content shown here is from Guiding Star Creations.

The focus of this workshop was building in a way that connected the structure and the people to the energy flows of the universe. Stella reminded participants to use all of their six senses to touch, listen, taste, smell, see, and intuit their surroundings.

Extra care was taken to build this dome as a living structure with breathable walls and natural waterproofing and plasters. The building will serve as a meditation dome and was built with a mix of raw earth and scoria rock. Lime was used as a stabilizer in the foundation and stem walls. The exterior plaster is cob made from a mixture of horse manure, clay, and sand which will be finished with a thin lime plaster for water proofing.

18 participants built the 2.5 meter (8ft) dome during the 5 day course. Participants ranged from 21-60+ years young and covered multiple states in Mexico. Participant’s backgrounds were architecture students, engineers, artists, permaculture educators, indigenous organizers, teachers, construction workers, a Haiti relief organizer, and people interested in esoterics and sacred geometry.

We want to thank all those who attended and especially to recognize Angel who hosted and organized the workshop for all his efforts. Thank you also to Ge for translating and Angel’s Aunt for the amazing meals.

If you are interested in hosting a workshop or participating as a student please contact us at:
Guiding Star Creations
Adine (Stella) Michaels, Neil Decker

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Earthbag in Djibouti

Earthbag in Djibouti


Djiboutian Red Crescent Society (DRCS) volunteers learned how to build an earthbag structure, during a two-day training seminar held by DRCS, October 28, 2010. The training took place on October 28 and 29 in partnership with a team from the U.S. Army 418th Civil Affairs Battalion.

U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Joshua Erickson, a graduate of The California Institute of Earth Art and Architecture (Cal-Earth) Superadobe training course, led volunteers through step-by-step instruction, which provided students with the fundamental skills to build a dome. Each student worked on an example dome at the DRCS compound in Balbala. Sergeant Erickson and a team of military volunteers recently built an example structure on base at Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti. Many expressed their desire to teach others what they learned.

Click here to read the full length article.

Image credit: U.S. Army photo by Specialist Sheri Carter

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Mortgages are unaffordable to many millions of people who would love to have their own home. Here’s one low cost option that may prove helpful. Farmers often need extra help, and so you may be able to find a trustworthy farmer who is willing to trade your labor for a free place to build your dirt cheap home. The key word here is trust. Ideally, you’d be a long term member of the community and know who’s reliable and needs help.

What makes this plan feasible is building something small out of local inexpensive materials. It doesn’t make sense to spend a lot of time and money on something you would never own. But it does seem reasonable investing some time building rent or mortgage-free shelter if the job seems stable.

For building materials, use whatever is ultra low cost or free. Find out what materials are available. Maybe the farmer has used grain bags, old barbed wire from a fence he tore out, extra straw bales, extra wood fence posts and so on. Every case will be different. Be adaptable and go with the flow and you may find a very good situation with an organic farmer who’s eager for help. The right situation could provide rent-free housing, food and a job. If you’re unsure how permanent the job would be, you could start out living in a camper, van, tipi or yurt.

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Reader’s have asked for our YouTube videos on DVD. Even though they’re free on my YouTube channel, some people have slow Internet access and can’t watch them. Some may prefer to watch them on TV. So we’re now offering a limited number of DVDs that include all 61 videos (as of October 30, 2010) and a text file (NotePad format) with all the text. The text is provided so you can easily print and read everything, and/or translate into other languages. Again, everything on the DVD is already available for free on my YouTube channel. This is a special offer for up to 20 readers who really want/need the information on DVD. Note: Sorry, but it’s impractical to sell more than 20 at this time. If there’s a big demand, I’ll look into selling a downloadable version.

Ordering instructions: Be patient. Your order may take three weeks or so. The nearest bank is about 60 miles away and we go only every two weeks. If you’re still interested, the cost is $15, limit one per customer. First come, first serve. Email me at strawhouses [at] yahoo.com. Please put Earthbag DVD in the subject line of your email. If you’re selected as one of the lucky ones, I’ll email you my mailing address in Colorado, where you can send a check for $15 made payable to Owen Geiger. The cost includes postage and handling.

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600 year old Hohokum dwelling made of caliche. Tamped caliche in plastered earthbags would be even more durable.

600 year old Hohokum dwelling made of caliche. Tamped caliche in plastered earthbags would be even more durable.


Certain types of soil for earthbag fill material may be available for free or dirt cheap. Excavation companies typically want to empty their trucks as quickly as possible to reduce labor and trucking costs. Ask them for ‘clean fill dirt,’ which is low cost soil free of debris. It’s best to avoid problem soils such as expansive clays.

One example of low cost soil that’s sometimes available from excavation companies is caliche. Caliche is calcium carbonate or decomposed limestone soil. Its nickname is nature’s cement, and covers about 12% of the earth’s crust. I’m referring to soil with calcium carbonate, not the stone. It’s widely available in Texas. Sometimes caliche is used in adobe, compressed earth block, rammed earth construction, and earthen plaster and floors.

Quentin Wilson, a leading authority on adobe construction, mentions the use of caliche on his website. He recommends a mix of 70% limestone fines, 30% caliche and 3% asphalt emulsion. The asphalt emulsion isn’t needed if you put the mix in earthbags and plaster the walls.

Pliny Fisk of Center for Maximum Potential Building Systems says caliche performs very well when mixed with sand and about one percent Portland cement. They have a demonstration building with walls made of caliche mixed with fly ash and Portland cement to form calcrete. Caliche can reduce the use of Portland cement by two thirds.

The Caliche Report – The Distribution and Use of Caliche as a Building Material: This is the best source I have found on building with caliche. The composition of caliche varies widely and so you’ll want to apply the findings in this report to ensure good results.

Photo credit: http://woodsworth.ca/IMG_1436_edited.JPG

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Roof maintenance: Merle Alix mows the roof of his family's undergound house.

Roof maintenance: Merle Alix mows the roof of his family's undergound house.


I came across this great article at Mother Earth News magazine and just had to share it. Merle Alix describes his family’s experiences of living in an underground house for the last decade. They love the energy savings, low maintenance, quietness and privacy.

The biggest downside is the difficulty of obtaining financing for underground houses. According to Alix, “It’s unfortunate. We live in what could be one of the best housing options for reducing our dependence on foreign oil and curbing our carbon footprint at the same time, but banking policies and politics have made it difficult — if not almost impossible — to buy and finance this kind of house. That said, aside from a few stumbling blocks in the beginning, the benefits of living underground far outweigh the few difficulties.”

Their house is made of concrete, but I’m posting about it because you could enjoy the same benefits of underground living by building with earthbags. And since earthbag building is obviously less expensive than concrete, you could build your home without bank financing.

You can read the article for free at Mother Earth News.
Original article by Merle J. Alix, October/November 2010, Mother Earth News
Image credit: Gil Grinsteiner

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What does it take to build truly sustainable houses – the kind people really want and can afford – and not some greenwashing hype? Most contractor-built houses are not affordable to the masses, so obviously something is amiss. And because buildings account for the largest share of energy use and cause devastating effects to our world, most are not sustainable.

If you build small and use natural building materials, then most likely you’ll be able to build your own home in a reasonable amount of time for cash. That’s right, you can eliminate the most expensive part of the home when you build your own small, sustainable home – the mortgage. Natural building materials are ideally suited for DIYers on a tight budget. Most are dirt cheap or even free.

You can read the entire article for free at Mother Earth News Blog.

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