How To Build An Earthbag Home

Earthbag (aka superadobe) structures have been used for strong, protective barriers that resist severe weather including floods and earthquakes.  They are even bullet resistant!  So why don’t we all build homes out of them?

Earthbag homes are essentially stacked sandbags filled with soil.  The soil provides thermal-mass (the soil absorbs heat during the day and releases it at night) making them extremely energy efficient.  Earthbag homes may eliminate the need for common building materials like wood and steel (depending on the shape of the structure), which is easy on the wallet and the planet!

One potential challenge you may face while constructing your earthbag home is, they are not recognized as an alternative construction by building officials in some cities.

Earthbag homes are quick to assemble and require little skill.  Materials and tools needed to build your earthbag home include:

  1.  Shovel
  2. Buckets
  3. Garden hose
  4. Tamper
  5. Metal sheet slider
  6. Gravel and soil
  7. Polypropylene sand bags (burlap bags can be used but they are susceptible to rot)
  8. Barbed wire
  9. Wire cutters
  10. Level

Once you have developed the design of your earthbag home, you’ll want to dig a trench around the perimeter of your design about a foot deep.  After you have damped the soil with water, fill the bags for the first course with a gravel and soil mixture to increase stability.  Sand bags for the remaining courses can be filled with only dampened soil.  Barbed wire should be placed in between each course in order to hold the sandbags in place.

After you have placed in the frames for the windows and doors and finished stacking the walls, wood can be used to build a roof.  Or you can go with a dome design which eliminates the need for wood.

Plaster or cob should cover the bags to provide protection against noise, fire, etc.

You have now just built your own eco-friendly home!

Watch the construction of an earthbag home!

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