$5,000 Earthbag House in Senegal

“My name is Cheikh Pape Cissé, I am a former Peace Corps volunteer and now a community developer in Illinois. I first got interested in earthbag building in 2009 when I was researching ways to build a home for low cost.

With the help of Brandon Rogers from Migrating Culture (he has built several structures in Ghana) I was able to design and build a house in Senegal. Building the structure took about two weeks. Plastering consumed more time than the actual building process. I started the foundation in November of 2016, took a break for the holidays then finished up the plastering in May 2017.

Scoria is easy to use because it compacts well and we didn’t have to mix it with water. We had about 3 people working at a time on average, the most efficient and fastest work happened when I had 7 people to work with me. I plastered the entire house and will finish the roof and windows after graduate school. I spent about $5,000 including labor and materials. I was able to keep the costs low because of help from family and local labor. Cost includes transportation (rice bags and other supplies from the city), labor, foundation, walls, and plastering. Truck loads of sand and scoria are cheap in Senegal. Just wanted to share my experience.”

Thanks for sending us your project info Pape. It’s great to see new content and get firsthand details from builders. This project helps show how housing costs have been artificially inflated beyond the reach of most average people. The most common number I keep seeing is houses are about 10 times higher than need be due to codes, regulations, unnecessary materials (ex: concrete foundations instead of gravel bags), engineering fees, contractor fees and so on. In other words, a typical house of say $100,000 in the city could be built for around $10,000 in a rural area with few or no building codes. Plus, in rural areas you’ll likely have more space for a garden, lower taxes, lower population, less pollution, etc. But research the area carefully! I just heard a horror story about rural housing in North Carolina due to manure from factory farms. I haven’t confirmed it yet, but I heard that more animal wastes from these farms is dumped in North Carolina than from the entire human population on the eastern seaboard! Please correct me if this isn’t true, but if it is then this is really important to know.

6 thoughts on “$5,000 Earthbag House in Senegal”

  1. I am so intersted in this way of living. And would like to purchase a house for this price. Can you tell me how to connect with these people and begin the foundation of building my own home?

  2. Right now I’m gonna stay two years in the Caribbean with my daughter and go to Senegal that’s where I’m from and I would like to know more about who I can find to work my project seriously concerning earth bag building…I say seriously cause I already had my hard times in Senegal , loosing my land of 2,5 ha so right now have to find a land again and step forward ! Peace

  3. Wow! Would love to have more information on the work that Brandon has done in Ghana. I’m not sure if the originator of this post will be checking the comments, but I am currently based in northern Ghana and exploring my options for earth bag building here.

    Through my poly-roll supplier, I have been informed that there are at least two sites in the Eastern Region and one site in Central Region that have built structures with earth bags, but I don’t know who is working on them. The communities are Akwamofea (spelling my be off, but it is pronounced Ah-kwah-mo-fee-yay) and Akosombo in the ER and Bogease in the CR. I will be building just north of Tamale in the Northern Region, so slightly different local materials available up here (i.e. not as much bamboo, different soil that is heavily mixed with clay and scoria, more rocks available, etc.).


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