Building Earthbag Houses for Profit

One of the biggest issues in society is the cost of housing. Hundreds of millions of people can’t afford housing (even in the US, Europe, etc.). So, there’s a huge demand, but a lack of affordable supply. Here is a prime business opportunity for those who are knowledgeable about earthbag building, since earthbag (sandbag) houses are strong, low cost, durable and can be built to match virtually any style.

Whoever builds good quality houses at an affordable price will be swamped with orders. It almost doesn’t matter how you do it (cluster development, spec building, building to customer specifications, etc.). The key is providing the right house design at the right price. With the right plan, you could build a small, simple house every few weeks, sell it and build another one, over and over and over. (Example: Double Wide Earthbag House Plan, a house that mimics trailer houses, but can be built on the ground.)

While competing builders use expensive manufactured materials like plywood, 2x4s, fiberglass insulation, sheetrock, concrete foundations, linoleum, etc., you could build with low cost natural materials like earthbags, rice hulls, earth plaster, floors of earth, stone, recycled brick or tile, and so on, and sell at a lower price. Sure, people will have some uncertainty about buying a house made differently than the norm, but at the right price they will come around. The bottom line is people need affordable housing and virtually no one else is offering it.

I would look for a small town with minimal building codes to speed the process along. Find a community who is receptive to these ideas and isn’t totally destitute. Make sure you have a house plan that people like! Build one or two earthbag houses to get skilled at the process and refine your techniques. Have an open house, rent a booth at a home show and start taking orders.

8 thoughts on “Building Earthbag Houses for Profit”

  1. Building a new house is a big challenge for anyone in the modern age. So when we start to construct a new house then we should try to minimize the cost of every thing.

    Reply
  2. Hello,

    I am trying to figure a way of building these Domes commercially in large quantity for low cost. My main problem now is trying to find a way of filling the tubes quickly. Do you know anyone that used concrete pumps or sand pumps successfully? or anything else?

    I think i can use the mortar spray guns to apply the plaster coats needed on the outside and inside, so that problem is hopefully solved. I am looking at building in SPain but im open to anywhere in the world really, Colorado, Texas. Wherever.

    Thanks

    Matthew Forster

    Reply
    • Yes, concrete pumps have been used. Search our blog and EarthbagBuilding.com for keywords ‘mechanized earthbag’ for articles on this topic.

      Be sure to build in a climate appropriate for domes. Domes evolved in deserts. There will be moisture, heating and ventilation problems in the wrong climates. Roundhouses are actually faster and simpler since the walls are vertical, and the roof helps protect the walls.

      Reply
  3. Gary, if resale value is a concern, I recommend building a conventional looking house. Domes are not as popular in the US and are harder to sell. Ask any realtor. Domes are very popular among earthbag builders, but the odds will be against you if/when you ever try to sell. Find out what is most popular in your area and build something that fits right in.

    Also, I read the other day about a study of strawbale houses and how they concluded building with bales neither increased nor decreased average resale value. I suspect something similar would be true with earthbag houses. And with the growing trend toward sustainable housing and energy efficiency, things should improve in the future.

    Reply
  4. Have you Owen, or anyone else out there, heard of an earthbag house that has successfully been sold?
    (I don’t want to build something and find I can’t sell it in 5 or 10 years if I move).

    How much would an earthbag house sell for as compared to similar dwellings (size, layout, etc.) that used conventional building methods?

    Reply
    • Hi, this is Kelly who shares the blog with Owen, and since I once sold the earthbag house that I built, I can share this with you. I sold a 1200 sq. ft. earthbag house that I built around 2000 in the mountains of Colorado in the US about 4 years ago. We had about $50,000 into the land and house when it sold for nearly $250,000…so that was a pretty good profit. That price was comparable to what other more conventional houses in the area were selling for at that time. I know of several other earthbag houses that have sold, including the one profiled at http://earthbagbuilding.com/projects/hawaii.htm

      Reply
  5. Hi Owen,

    Yes, this is my exact plan. I intend to get started on it after I return from Iraq next year.

    One question I have is about the availability of builders with earthbag experience. I know Cal-Earth has been training folks for years… You’ve been around the earthbag movement for a long time, what do you think? Are there skilled people out there just waiting to build?

    Reply

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