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Flood resistant earthbag houses in Pakistan

Flood resistant earthbag houses in Pakistan


Today’s post is from a group in Pakistan who’s building flood resistant houses.

“Sir, the size of the structure is 20 feet by 12 feet. We have given a buttress on the back wall. We dug an 18 inch trench and put gravel till 6 inches. After doing so we tampered the gravel so that it becomes leveled. After doing this we filled the first two rows of bags with 6% cement 34% river sand and 60% clay. I should make it clear that the clay available to us is not 100% clay. It has a mixture of silt and sand. The first two rows of the bags have been directly placed on the tampered gravel. After reaching the height of 18 inches, we reduced the amount of cement to 3% but kept the soil ratio the same. For the roof we have used bamboo and iron girders. The height of the house reaches approximately 9.2feet. We have given the house a single slanting roof i.e the back wall is 9.2 feet the front wall is 8.5 feet and the pillars for the veranda are 8 feet. We have also built a veranda and the pillars of the veranda have been erected by using earth bags.

This house took us 17 days to build. The mud plastering of the house will be over by day after tomorrow. I will send you the pictures. We do plan to build more, our target is to build 500 houses.

I would also want to invite you to Pakistan so that you can come help us with this project. There are many people over here who need rehab and experts like you would be a boon for the community.”
Sheheryar Khan Kharal

[Note to builders who are planning earthbag careers: Here’s another good opportunity to learn, help others and gain experience. Email me from our About Us page if you’re interested.]

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I’ve pulled together the recent posts on rubble bag houses, expanded and edited the info, and published a new blog post at Mother Earth News. It includes details on how to build and reinforce rubble walls.

Concrete rubble from collapsed buildings is a huge problem in Haiti. It is blocking roads and hindering reconstruction. Instead of spending millions of dollars trucking the rubble away and disposing of it, why not use it to build affordable housing? Utilizing this abundant local resource would cut building costs, save transport, and create jobs by turning a waste product that’s in the way into much needed housing. (One year after the quake, over one million people are still homeless.)

Note: There’s no shortage of rubble in Haiti. This Oxfam site says only 5% of the rubble has been cleared. That’s a lot of free material sitting close to future building sites just waiting to be used.

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

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PAKSBAB strawbale houses in Pakistan use earthbag (gravel bag) foundations that have passed a shake table test.

PAKSBAB strawbale houses in Pakistan use earthbag (gravel bag) foundations that have passed a shake table test.


As you may well know, the recent floods in Pakistan destroyed or damaged 2 million homes, affecting 20 million people. PAKSBAB, an NGO building strawbale houses in Pakistan, uses gravel-filled earthbag foundations to protect their houses from water damage. To date, 22 houses have been built.

In addition to providing flood protection, PAKSBAB uses earthbag foundations because they are earthquake resistant. A shake table test at the University of Nevada, Reno, simulated the devastating Northridge (Canoga Park) quake that occurred in California. According to their report, “the house survived 0.82g, twice the acceleration of the Canoga Park record. Although severely damaged, the building did not appear in danger of collapse, even at the end of the test sequence.”

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One of the greatest needs in the world is disaster-resistant housing – houses that can hold up against hurricanes, earthquakes, fires, flooding and other natural disasters. If you follow the news like I do then you’ll realize that tragic disasters affecting tens of thousands or millions of people occur almost daily. It’s sad and painful to see so many lives lost, and so many families and homes upended. But it’s even sadder and more painful when you know most of this tragedy is preventable by using sound construction methods. Properly designed structures that can withstand natural disasters can save millions of lives and millions of structures every year.

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

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