I just finished reading Building an Earthbag Round House by Morgan Caraway of the Sustainable Life School. This PDF ebook describes Morgan’s experience of building his first attempt at earthbag construction some 15 years ago. As he says, there are many ways he would do things differently these days, but he basically got most of it right the first time… and I applaud him for that.
This 106 page book is lavishly illustrated with photos taken during construction that show him and his wife taking the building process from initial planing through all of the stages to final completion. You see the creation of a rubble trench foundation and stem wall, the installation of door and window bucks, the use of a central compass for creating symmetrical and level wall courses, on up to framing a circular roof and waterproofing it. Earthen plastering, both inside and outside, and then the application of a lime finish are explained, as is the creation of a lovely tiled floor and some beautiful bottle walls.
There is very little I would criticize about this book; what he describes is very sound and worthy of duplication by aspiring earthbag builders. Morgan prefers the use of rather small bags that create walls that are about 1 foot thick, while I prefer larger bags that produce more stability, especially with walls that are rectilinear, domed or of more than one story, but for this simple vertical walled round house, the small bags are certainly adequate. I am also not a fan of flat roofs, unless it is for a very well designed and executed green roof; I think that flat roofs are an invitation for eventual leakage, but as far as I can tell, this has not been a problem with their first little home.
All in all I can heartily recommend reading this book which can be purchased at sustainablelifeschool.com
Morgan has several more books he is planning to write and publish, and I look forward to seeing what emerges.