Bulletin Board

This is an opportunity for visitors  to post their own bulletin board announcements on the Earthbag Building Blog. The way to do this is simply to post your announcement as a comment to this page, so that others might browse these announcements. If you want a direct response from people who read your announcement, be sure to indicate how folks can contact you.

712 thoughts on “Bulletin Board”

  1. Lachlan has sourced A LOT of Hyperadobe rolls and he is offering them for less than anyone else. It’s been a headache to sell these online, and he’s only lost money trying to advertise with google and start a website and e-commerce solutions. He just want to offload them. visit https://www.Down2EarthAdobe.us to get yours for $100 off per roll.

  2. Hi! I have been lurking on EB forums for years, occasionally coming out to post a question and advance my knowledge. I have read both of your books – awesome! I have a dream that is a bit ambitious. I would like to build a small house (800 sq ft), a utility building a small guest house (300 sq ft), a greenhouse and an 8 ft wall around the area. The soil on my property is about 16% clay. I was thinking of using earthbags that are 36″ x 18″ x 9″ once they are filled. Yes, they will be heavy (about 250 pounds)! No, I am not superman. I have a friend that used a backhoe with a “thumb” at his work to very accurately place bags of cement (50+kg) accurately on a palate for shipping and storage. He and a few other “experts” have assured me that, with practice, placing bags accurately (within 1/8″) is doable. Big bags + a backhoe = much less time and less wear and tear on my body. It is more expense but the cost can be spread over a big project. They also produce, nice thick walls. I was also thinking of using a pug mill mixer, often used for mixing soil cement and materials that are drier than common cement. It is more equipment than is normally used, but, then again, it is a bigger project. If all of my ducks line up, I hope to begin the project (ground preparation in 2022. I have sent requests to 4 mfg to get their advice on the thickness required of such bags, as well as a quote. My questions: has anyone used this large a bag before? Will it need some kind of internal support? i.e. a couple of rods of rebar? chopped wire? I am afraid bamboo would decompose. Some applications are now using polypropylene rods or straw instead of steel rebar. Or would it be ok just stuffed with the soil mix? need more stabilizer?

    • As you probably know from reading my books, I prefer filling bags in place on the wall, which does not require lifting. This could be done with larger bags as well. Bags that large may have been used on some projects that require thicker walls, such as for first floors on a two-story project. If your native soil has about 16% clay, then you may not even need to mix the soil before using. Larger bags do not inherently need more support, only that normally required for building walls.

        • You say, “I was thinking of using earthbags that are 36″ x 18″ x 9″ once they are filled.” I would expect that once they are well compacted they might measure more like 36″ x 20″ x 7″.

          • I would choose the heaviest bag material available for this purpose, but even the standard bag material should still work; it is very robust.

  3. Anyone have experience making an earthbag jacuzzi outdoors? Any recommendations for more info would be appreciated. I am in Vista California.

  4. Building a long and short (3.5′) earthbag retaining wall. Covering bags with a cement based stucco mix (1p-portland cement, 1p-lime, 3p-sand). I plan on using fish netting as stucco netting and using a polypropylene twine (secured with a long staple) to tie netting into place. What is a sufficient tensile strength for twine. I have available 110 to 325lb in 1 ply and higher in 2 and 3 ply.

  5. Kelly and forum members,

    I’m blowin up the Natural Building Blog bulletin board! LOL

    The bond beam sketchup drawings at http://www.earthbagbuilding.com/articles/bondbeams/bondbeams.htm are a great resource. Thanks for those.

    For off grid and no regulations build using no concrete, do you think a top of wall bond beam could be made using 15″ log screws (https://www.fastenersplus.com/products/0-220-x-15-Strong-Tie-SDWS-Log-Screw-E-Coat-Pkg-200) @ 12″, 16″, or 24″ o/c, sandwiching 2 or 3 courses of earthbags between 2 wood plates? The screws could just be hammered down to the bottom plate and then screwed in, right?

    I suppose the bottom plate could be pinned to the lower wall with 12″ nails @ 8″ or 12″ o/c or a short spacing like that (https://www.homedepot.com/p/Grip-Rite-3-8-in-x-12-in-Galvanized-Spike-Nails-12HGSPKE/100156844)

    Was there a weight determined necessary in the number of courses for the bond beam, or is it primarily a compression / friction issue?

    Thanks again for the great content!

    • This is an interesting idea that I suspect would work fine. The screws might not be quite as strong as through bolts, but they would be way easier to install. I didn’t realize they made screws that long.

      The effectiveness of a compound bond beam of this sort is a matter of both weight and compression/friction.

  6. Recently saw discussion about the inclusion of cob construction (I think that’s what it was) into either the IBC or UBC (don’t recall which one) in 2021.

    Does anyone recall hearing about that?

    I was wondering if Earthbag construction might be fitted into that category for code approval? Thought maybe the bags could have a comparative value to strands of straw.

    Looking for ways to get local code offices in the US to sign off on an Earthbag building.

    • Quail Springs in California has been working toward this goal; see https://naturalbuildingblog.siterubix.com/testing-and-code-approval-for-monolithic-cob/

      Earthbag and cob might share some of the same ingredients, depending on what the bag fill is, but each bag acts as a discreet unit and is welded to the others with barbed wire, so the engineering and requirements would be different.

      Getting earthbag building into the codes is a lengthy and potentially costly affair, involving many controlled tests and advocacy.

      • Kelly, thanks for your reply.

        Have you heard of anyone obtaining (or trying to obtain) code approval by treating individual earthbags like concrete masonry blocks, and using the recommended bond beam and vertical rebar requirements for those?

        • I have not heard of anyone doing this. Without specific earthbag codes, the best way to get approval now is to engage a state licensed engineer or architect to stamp the plans, which of course can cost money, but it is a route.

        • Hi.. I am looking for an earth bag builder in Northern New Mexico, I’m wanting to start my build in Spring 2022.. I need someone to manage the project… looking to build a fully permitted 800 sqft home.. I would like to be involved in the build and have a couple of friends who would like to be involved as well.
          I have no idea where to begin . Please contact me if you’re interested or know of someone who might be. Thank you!

  7. Howdy,
    Anyone know of any builders or contractors who specialize in earth bag construction? I currently work for a high-end custom home builder in efforts to learn as much as I can about building before I build my own. I’d much rather be building earth bag homes, etc. full time. I’m living in the Philadelphia, PA area. Any info would help (job boards, etc.). Thanks. BTW, I just found this site, and it’s going to be a gold mine for me and the family as we plan our future home!

  8. Hello! Has anyone successfully permitted or built a superadobe in Santa Fe County, New Mexico? I am looking to build specifically in Rio en Medio which is Traditional Community (TC) zoning. Thank you! You can reply here or at kulp.daniel@gmail.com. Willing to share any information I find along the way.

    • Patti Stouter says, “I know a couple of buildings have been done. You might ask architect Mark Goldman about the process. My impression is that as of this date since earthbag is not covered in the NM earth building code you would need to have some help from an architect or engineer to get approval, unless it was a building smaller than 120 sf.
      But since architects are not required to seal drawings for modest size residences, perhaps a professional could give some input instead of doing the whole drawing set so it would not be a costly process. Not sure if your area has lower requirements for permits. The building code follows the IBC and requires a lot of insulation or filling out of a complex solar gain worksheet. One way to workaround this is to build insulated exterior walls and add earth veneer inside and solid earth partitions also. Let me know what happens.”

    • Hi Daniel —

      I’m north of you, up near Taos. I just got my owner-builder plans approved in December 2020 from Taos County — but it’s for an adobe house; not superadobe. But I found the county building people to be fairly friendly to me as an owner-builder. I submitted 2 copies of my hand-drawn plans, and they asked for some additional details, and then approved them. I didn’t need an engineer or architect stamp. — So, perhaps a takeaway from my experience is to get to know your building inspectors and ask lots of questions — they are there as a resource, in my opinion.

      • New Mexico is one of the few states that has specific codes for adobe construction, so this may be why they didn’t require the stamp.

  9. ALOHA! My wife and I are moving back to The Big Island of Hawai’i. I’d love to build an earthbag home in the volcano/mountain view area. I KNOW I will need help and I am hoping to find some future friends here on the Big Island who would be interested in helping my wife and I build our home. My wife is From Ka’u so there is a base of family to help but I would love to meet & work with some folks who have completed these before on the Big Island. Anyone can cut a tree down, doesn’t mean that anyone should. Just because I can fill a bag with dirt doesn’t mean I should go out and start stacking lol.

    We will be using as much recycled items as possible. I’d very much like to know if the red dirt down south point is something that could be used for the plaster? Hopeful to meet some people here on the Big Island! Thank you for this website!

  10. Hello Everyone!
    Misprinted 14″ x 6000′ Rolls of UVI stabilized woven PP earthbag tube for sale. $850/roll will call my facility in Southern CA. Call for door to door pricing direct to you. Same product I’ve been selling to the earthbag community for over 20 years. 100% thumbs up from all my customers.

  11. Hello, I am new to the group and I am planning to start this project in Kenya. Is there anyone here who has conducted such project in Kenya and would like to share their experiences? The pros and cons especially considering the climate.

  12. Our company uses scoria to create an environmentally safe Traction Agent for winter time. We have over 500k lbs of scoria and are looking to unload this bulk material at aN extremely discounted price. We need the warehouse space for other endevours. We would be willing to sell @ $45.00 per ton or price match whatever else anyone would bring to the table. Also, if anyone is interested we could discuss the freight situation after that. Our scoria ranges from 3/4″ to 2″ in size We also have an abundance of pre-packaged 45lb bags that contain scoria and 2 different types of lime chips. We are located in Pennsylvania and our warehouse is in East Greenville. Contact Jared Gibson, Director of Operations, Gaia Enterprises Inc. Phone: 215-355-7841 ext. 109 jared AT gaiausa.com


  13. Here is a foam wall,it is built on a 8 inch footing with a two ft deep column every 8 ft.it has re bar in it that is tied through the wall at each end of the 8 ft panels.There is a tube cut out of each end with a hot wire.This is filled with concrete and has re bar that ties it to the foundation.
    Then there is a channel cut into the top of the wall that has re rod and a concrete cap. Its not much of a footing but then there is little weight.
    At this point the epoxy mortar with fiberglass is put on at about 3/8 to 1/2 inch thick and then the stucco is shot on with a texture hopper that has been opened up to about 3/8 inch orifice. This is shot at about 35 to 45 psi.
    and mixed to a pour-able thickness.
    I will post some pics of the wall in process. THANKS AND ENJOY DENNIS

  14. Hell I am located in the Snowflake Arizona area,up in the mountains.
    We are at around 6000 ft elevation THIS IS WHY THE R FACTOR !!!!
    Is there anyone building with solid Styrofoam blocks for construction.
    There have been a few homes built in Phoenix by green rhino homes.
    We are using 1 1/2 pound density foam,the walls are 8 inches thick and the roof is 10 inches thick.All this is glued together and then covered with an epoxy, mortar mix layer for incredible strength and then we stucco over the exterior and use drywall compound on the inside.
    When all is done,it looks like an old adobe,that has incredible R FACTOR.
    Even the roof is foam and covered with the epoxy coat then covered with
    rubberized coating for an extra measure.

    The first project we built was a double outhouse building at a local swap meet. It is 12×12 it has 4 inch walls and a 6 inch roof.
    it took 4 days with 2 guys,one man was 77 years old and I am 60, when done it was very efficient at 0 degrees outside,it was 38 inside, with no heat.
    We will be building are house and out buildings with this method on our
    85 acre ranch. I will have to figure out how to post pictures,when I do,
    I will get them up for you. Any input or questions just fire away.

    • I haven’t heard of anything built with solely with solid EPS blocks, outside of floating docks.

      Compressive loading, shear resistance, and a way to join the discrete panels means that they need to be shotcreted, ferrocemented, ICF poured, epscrete, rastra block, etc…

      I know you’re asking about masonry-eps, but I’ll tell a related little story. I have been romantically and closely following steel-eps SIPs for over 10 years. No thermal bridging like the osb variety, because they utilize T&G steel connections. They are commonly found in commercial/industrial and sometimes residential structures. Especially common in walk in coolers, food processing facilities, restaurants, and the humid southeastern hurricane prone areas. Sometimes over red iron framework if the structure has big spans. Easily engineered (I think, often included in house from manufacturer for free). Outspans and far lighter than traditional SIPS. Shipping would be rediculious to AZ though.

      Chris Steen

      • Hi Kelly thanks for the input. Check out green rhino or just you tube foam houses in phoenix, the owner is Dan Dwyer. He has been building these for years.They pass code in Phoenix With the larger structures there is a concrete core/tube put in the wall for foundation tiedown and rafter work.
        because of the epoxy, the strength is incredible,it is put on inside and out to create a complete shell that is so strong its crazy.
        This is a great way, but it is labor intensive,do to the fast work time per batch,around 20 minutes per 5 gal bucket.its ok to work with the time but you have to stay right on it,to keep flowing on your wall.
        With three guys this would be a much better flow.
        The epoxy mortar dose have fiberglass in it.They use to put mesh on the wall but with the fiber put into the mortar it cuts out the labor of putting up mesh.If the pics loaded take a look at the outhouse.
        Thanks Dennis

    • why not use hempcrete. Not only does growing it help the planet but its much better on your health certainly to live in a hemp home than a foam one.

  15. Hi there I am in Norther Arizona and the main structure of my dirt is loamy sand with a medium percentage of clay. I am in the forest so there is a large amount of pine needles around. I am wondering if I can use this type of dirt with the pine needles for filler in the bags without having to mix in another type of soil that may not be found on my property. Follow up, is this ok for me to use as a base coat for my plaster. I will finish the outside off with a NHL mixture for weather proofing, as I am trying to keep my home as natural as possible.

    • Your soil sounds nearly perfect for earthbags, but I would not include the pine needles, as they would likely decompose over time and cause problems. If there is enough clay, that soil might be good for earthen plaster as well.

      • Thank you for this information, that is a huge relief.
        I am not sure if there is enough clay for the plaster. I am going to do a earth content test this weekend, with a large jar and water. I believe I read in a post I can fill the jar half to three quarters with dirt and then top it off with water, shake and let settle to see what the consistency of each layer will be. What is a good ratio of clay to soil for plaster?

        • Hi Jacob. In the forest you will have topsoil, so don’t use that upper layer for building. It’s great for gardens.

          The ratio of clay to not clay (sand and silt) just shows you if it will be easy to build with. At least 30% grainy material (sand) is easy to build. But that test doesn’t show if it holds together well since different kinds of clays are stronger or weaker.
          If you’re in NW arizona I’d check the actual strength of the soil. If your site is in Category C in the low-rise map (2nd image under maps) at https://www.fema.gov/earthquake-hazard-maps that’s enough quake risk that earth buildings should be built well. If most of 10 different 3 mm dia. dried balls of your soil can’t be crushed by a 120 pound person standing (gently) on them you have soil that’s near 190 psi, a good minimum strength. More info at https://buildsimple.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/how-strong-is-my-soil.pdf

        • I’ve tried making my own earthen plaster and compared it to bought plaster- spread a thin coating on some wood or an adobe block. I save cattail heads and use the fluff as fiber in finish plaster, or use short straw (pre-digested in dry horse droppings work well). Mix soil and fiber with water, spread, let it dry out of the sun, then see if it cracks or leaves dust on your hand when you touch it… Some soils have too much silt or a type of clay that is soft. The mixes you can buy from American Clay are sturdy and beautiful.

    • Hi. I used to add those pine needles to my earthen plasters. Then, I started using wild grass “Zacatón Muhlenbergia macroura”. I will never go back to pine needles for the plaster. Hwoever, when I used the pine needles I made sure to harvest only the top layer of needles laying on the ground. The ones on the bottom, having being there for longer, were brittle and not that strong. Cheers

  16. hello….I am a 70 y.o. man who is sick and tired of working ( I have been at it since I was 17). I don’t have a pension so must try to live on SS and a PT job. I am not making it in expensive NY ( Duchess County). My rent increases each yr tho I am in a senior apartment complex. I am not poor enough to get any assistance. I thought of building a SMALL energy efficient house to get rid of 1) rent and 2) Central Hudson utilities…one of the most costly energy Cos., in the usa. After much reading I have decided upon a house close to passive standards to save on energy that is OFF THE GRID using solar PV…I like the idea of building with pre-built SIPS but do not want foam insulation prefer cellulose…straw…wood or something natural….not foam…I don’t need a big house just room enough for the three of us me my wife and 35 yo son…thats 3 br and two baths…If there are any architects, builders designers who can work with me to put together an affordable home pls contact me. I am not alone. One million people left NY state in 2017…or 2018 ( you can Google this)…becasue its just too damn expensive to live in NY unless you are making BIG money or have a pension…I am sure YOUR IDEA can be used by THOUSANDS of others like me…so I can be an investment for you…IF interested in helping pls email me at barbuto@optonline.net….thanks….anthony barbuto..poughkeepsie NY 12601

  17. Hi all, I was wondering if anyone may know of any resources (such as hireable labor and tips and tricks) for those looking to eventually build an Earthbag home or some other green option? I have a fairly severe disability but I still want to do my best for the planet and my wallet. This is all very much in the early planning stages as I have no income or property. But eventually I’d like to have a home and a garden to practice permaculture (I think that’s what it’s called where you’re self sustaining for the most part). Any kind of tips would be great! Whether that’s about the garden or the home building. So far for the house I’m thinking Earthbag because that seems the most stable and safe. But if anyone can think of a better option please let me know!

    • I can recommend several of my other websites shown at the bottom of the side bar where there is a wealth of information about earthbag building and other green technologies, along with house plans that can be built that way.

    • There’s lots of info in books and on the web, but the zoning restrictions and local soil and climate of where you build will narrow your choices.
      If your disability makes heavy work difficult, also look into using light straw clay, perhaps for the upper wall on an earthbag base.
      Check back if you get to a point of having a place to build, sometimes Kelly or I can recommend some pr that might encourage volunteers, but you need a strong and committed main builder or volunteer workers can’t accomplish quality stuff.

      Patti Stouter


  18. I am considering converting (recycling!) an old agricultural steel-framed building in southern France into a house. I would like to keep the simple steel posts and roof as the main structure but then use light straw-clay for all the walls. Does anyone have comments or suggestions on this idea? The steel would be completely enclosed inside the straw, so I am hoping that condensation issues would not be a problem, but I am a novice in this area, so advice or thoughts from people who know better would be much appreciated!

    • If the steel posts are set into or bolted onto a concrete foundation, and if the foundation is not insulated to the outside, then the posts will get cold in the winter by conducting heat to the cold concrete. Cold steel posts inside a warmer straw-clay wall will tend to act as condensation surfaces as warm air migrates through the wall. There are a few things I can think of that would help this situation: 1) insulate the exterior of the foundation. (This will be a good start, but the ground underneath the foundation can still get cold, so the concrete will still be much colder than the interior of the building.) 2) Don’t bury the posts in the middle of the wall, but leave them exposed on either the interior or exterior surface of the wall. This way the amount of condensation will be reduced and any condensation in the wall can evaporate more easily since it will be close to the surface. Another possibility that would probably help would be to wrap the posts with a non-biodregadable insulation such as building foam, and seal this up tight so that moist air can’t get into it. You might want to run this last proposal by somene else, but I suspect that it would help a lot to address your concerns.

      good luck!
      Michael G. Smith

  19. I recently purchased a home in Valley WA which is an hour North of Spokane, WA. It sits on 27 acres and the sellers left behind stacks of used tires. I would estimate 1500-3000 tires of all sizes. Even some of those huge crossfit tires.. Its important that I find a new home for these tires as I need them cleared off the property for the new buyers. If you think a stock pile of free tires would be of benefit to you or any other organization you know of please contact me at your earliest convenience! Dont let the distance be an issue. The cost for me to discard these or even sell them to a recycler is very costly so popping them in a huge truck and driving them to the desired location is something I’m sure we can work out. Thanks again and I look forward to hearing from you…. Matt 509-218-6065

  20. I disagree with the initial premise of this page, in that if it is not made of concrete it is somehow better for the earth. Yes, the process of making cement is to drive off CO2 from marble, but when cement sets that same CO2 is regained.
    Plus, this sites endorsement of earth bag houses ignores the obvious carbon footprint of plastic bags, and plastering using high ratio cement sand.
    I feel that if less cement could be used it would be more eco friendly than any system suggested here before.
    The key would be using less overall, ie, thinner slabs.
    I have tested a system of casting in place where most of the wall is only 4.5 CM thick, but fully reinforced (think stucco). I used less cement than it would have taken to plaster one side of the wall, had it been earth bags.

    • Yes, I am replying to my own post, ran out of space.
      Envision a cast section 3M high and 2.5 wide. At the top is a thicker section(beam) 25cm tall and 4 wide, at one edge a “post”(the whole wall section is a post and beam) 13CM wide 16CM deep. This cast contains 2/5 Cu M of concrete, ad a small footing (cast monolithic with the wall), then exactly 2 sacks of cement will make 2.5 M of wall, footing included.
      Compared to plaster, that would be 15sq M of plaster using only 2 sacks of cement? Impossible.
      If you ask me I can tell you how to make a low cost form that will last 100 casts in a developing country setting.

    • Greetings Earth-builder Aficionados,
      You’ll be glad to hear that I have invented patent-pending technology to make prefab earth walls, which I sincerely believe will revolutionise our built environment from production to construction to operation. As I’m sure you all know, earth is the most eco-friendly building material, but earth building is very labor-intensive and thus, quite expensive in the Western World. But not for long, because my prefab earth walls are made by a machine, I significantly lower the production cost and because these walls are cured, lime-washed and/or waterproof, you can quickly and efficiently construct a building. In fact a small one-storey house could be built in a couple of days. And guess what? I just did it. Check out my website: http://www.ecoearthwalz.com to learn more about my prefab earth walls and the world’s first prefab earth shack. We are still prettying up the dirt shack and we are currently installing a dirt floor. See our blogs for further details. Last but not least, these prefab earth structures will also save big bucks on operating costs, as earth walls passively regulate temperature and humidity and they are mould-free. BTW, I purposefully made my technology to be low-energy and hope to power the entire operation with solar PV power. I don’t think you can make a more eco-friendly product than this. I am looking to bring this product to market and expand operations. Please let me know if you have any interest. My email: info@ecoearthwalz.com


    I have lots of leftover 3” and 4” PVC tubes, cut about 17-18” long and colored glasses (several boxes of new glasses too as well as cut glasses that I used to make light tubes.

    I would invite someone who can use them for earth bag building (the diameter and length worked great to insert between the large sand bags and then glasses glued onto each side)

    I live in Temecula, CA zip 92592 (in between San Diego and Los Angeles) and you are welcome to pick them up. Call me 951 764-2626 or email: maydayeh@peoplepc.com

    If you are interested, I can email you the pics of exactly how many and what I have. Also pics of how I have applied them to my little meditation earth bag hut that we just finished.

    Please, no texting. Phone is the fastest and email slower.

    Cheers and Happy building!



    Hi, everyone. My brother and his wife are trying to get their tiny home built this summer. He works at the Toyota plant and thought he could go part time for a spell so he could get some work done each week, but they are discontinuing this option and now they’re stuck. He’ll have to quit his job to be able to get the work done.

    So I’m reaching out informally to see if there are some people in the area who may want to get some tiny home building experience under their belt and also help out a young couple. If anyone has any suggestions on other communities I or they can reach out to, I’d appreciate the recommendations.

  23. My kids are starting an earthbag house on their property outside Richmond,KY. They need a volunteer workforce!!
    Any ideas…suggestions?

    • Oh wow! I wish I was home. I’m from Louisville, but have lived in Ghana for the last 10 years.

      I’ve seen a lot of cool natural building efforts coming out of the Berea area, which isn’t too far. Check on Facebook with the search function to see some recent posts.

    • I would start asking for volunteers. I am starting a single parent community to rescue single parent families from the streets. I am building earthbag and looking for donations of bags that are extra from sites no one is using. All of Northern, Arizona businesses and non profits BUT 1, has refused to help since they say it won’t make them any money for their needs or they cannot get media attention, which we don’t want. We are looking for bags first, then tools second. We are at Freedom Acres on Fb and Freedom Acres US on wordpress dot com. Currently there is a list of 6,000 families waiting for a home. We can house up to 10, then we need to consider donations to buy more land to house 30 more.

      • Hi, look at your ad late, but if it still works, I can donate a roll if someone pays for the shipment I live in Austin Texas and I can also donate my time for the construction project because I have the experience of working on several projects keep up the good work.

  24. I’ve been building a totally ‘Off the Grid’ home in No. California for a few years. It’s on 115 acres with half a mile of Trinity Riverfront. Is there any interest in people who want to take over and somewhat update current ‘Off the Grid” property?

    • Hi Bonnie! I live in San Diego.. my girlfriend & I are looking to move into a space where we can practice some natural building … we currently have experience in putting together permaculture systems… is there a way I can contact you & discuss your project ??

    • Do you mean buy it or help out with construction or buy part of the parcel or are you asking if there is interest in forming an intentional community?

  25. HI i’am new to air crete but worked with cement for many years. I want to know if i should use block air crete for my dome or would using triangle blocks be better. I was allso considering doing sectional form poring.I will be useing rebar for the dome as well as fabric.

    • Chris Steen suggests: Form and mud a Ferrocement shell. Then cut in metal electrical boxes and run ENT Smurf tube conduit outside then pour aircrete on top. Plumbing in interior framed walls.

  26. We have the following for sale. A Sandbagger 2 Chute machine (Some bags come with it along with a Portable Bag closer) , We also have a Stucco sprayer, Mortar Sprayer, Epoxy grout pump, Fire Proofing sprayer (used for strawbale and earthbags) The Sandbagger machine we are wanting $3500 and the Stucco Sprayer we are wanting $4500. See: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6XdG2yJ3Mx8, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I-C_V87i8YE, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SrrzxBtjHeE

    Contact Environmental Energy Consultants (Dan Payne) enviroec AT gmail.com


    • Any time there is wood against possibly moist soil there needs to be a moisture barrier. I have used two sheets of 6 mil polyethylene for this, but EPDM or pond liner would be more durable probably.

  27. Hi, I am planning to build a earthbag house of total space (15 ft * 18 ft) with vertical walls and place asbestos sheets on the top with the support of iron pipes. The height of the wall would be 10ft, do I need buttresses?
    Please suggest…

    • The rule of thumb with earthbags is that you need buttresses at least every 10 feet, but these can be interior walls that are integrated with the earthbags exterior walls.

    • Asbestos? Really? I thought by now it was forbidden everywhere. Don’t use that man, people are still dying of cancer because of that.

    • Closest that I know of is David Easton in Napa. I have a Hydraorm compressed earth machine that I imported from Johannesburg, South Africa for building compressed earth wall systems. I have, as yet, had Washoe County “approve” due to the required testing for the material. I have conducted my own tests and the block exceed minimum masonry code. rongray66@gmail.com

      • Hi Ron, I would like the chance too involve myself with your endeavor. I am located in Washoe county as well. I have been interested in a compressed earth block building option for a lot I have in the Virginia city highlands (Storey County) Please let me know how we could combine efforts ? I would at least like too share in your project and efforts. Scott Olson

  28. Hello all. Morgan of Sustainable Life School, here. We’re offering a natural building intensive on Sept 7th – 9th at Bottom Leaf Intentional Community, one hour North of Asheville, NC. Participants will get hands-on experience with earthbag, cob, cordwood, bottle wall, and earth plastering. We will also go over many other aspects of natural building including roofs, foundations, etc. More information at http://sustainablelifeschool.com. Hope to see you there!


    Houses and buildings are the “nuclei” of any site, through which the majority of energy and resources flow to be either wasted or maximized for best use. And yet, most permaculture courses barely touch on physical structures! We here at Atitlan Organics think that your house and other structures deserve a LOT more attention as integral and essential parts of your overall permaculture design. That’s why we’ve teamed up with Abundant Edge to offer the Natural Building Course, a one-week course founded in the permaculture principles and covering all things natural building. From stone to cob to natural plasters, you’ll learn a wide range of natural building styles and technique which can be put to use in any climate or region of the world. Learn how to reduce your footprint and maximize your efficiency all while creating beautiful, durable structures! We like to think of it as “Permaculture for Zone 0.”

    Each day is split into two parts: a hands-on practical in which you get the chance try out different techniques in natural building, and a classroom session which delves deep into topics such as stone foundations, building with cob, and troubleshooting design flaws.

    Upcoming Courses:
    October 21-27, 2018
    December 16-22, 2018
    February 24-March 2, 2019

    • Hello from Canada. I’m very interested in your workshop offered feb24-Mar2/19.

      Could you please send me the details, or info package, registration forms etc..

      Kindest regards,

  30. Hello good people,
    I have a 33 acre riverfront property in Crysal Rey, Cayo district of Belize that myself and a friend are designing to be an organic aquaponic greenhouse farm and perma food forrest. There are already 50 mature fruit trees, each a different variety. The land is from river to mountain and has been used for grazing pasture since the 1960’s until we purchased it. I’m looking for people to partner with who have various skills to help the project like building homes with natural materials, permaculture gardening, etc. I’m a song writer and my friend has 2 decades experience in aquaponic greenhouse growing. We both live in the Northeast of USA and have only visited Belize. I would love to partner with a Belizian however we are interested in considering all who reach out. Please be in touch if this interests you- Kier

  31. Sale of 30-foot renovated trailer and homesteading resources.

    This is a package deal, with a 30-foot 1987 renovated Nomad travel trailer, and more than another $2,000 in homesteading resources included. Much more than $4,500 worth of resources for $2,600.

    We are liquidating our estate in order to move on to other adventures. And we would really like for this to go to someone who can use it. There are so many folks out there looking for such a bargain as this.

    The estate sale is listed on craigslist here:

  32. Greetings, All-

    I’m interested in off-grid homesteading in Klamath County, OR. Looking for thoughts from folks familiar with the area. Anything in particular I should be especially aware of? (i.e. peculiar building codes, contaminated areas, weather issues, etc.)

    Many thanks!!

  33. Hi,
    From the cold state of Maine and own land here, but have had enough of the cold! Want to find good land to homestead in Arizona or somewhere near the red rocks. would like a couple of acres or more and as little hassle with municipalities as possible. Will consider other warm states. Land must be under 5,000 or owner financed, legally.

  34. Hello all!
    We offer one-week INTRODUCTION TO NATURAL BUILDING courses at Lake Atitlan, Gautemala. Our course covers a variety of natural building themes and techniques, such as floor and wall systems, roofing, fuel-efficient stoves, and building with cob, stone, and natural plasters. Throughout the week you participants get in-depth lectures on natural building to deepen their understanding, and participate in practicals every day. Throughout the week you will build a complete rocket-stove in a local household! The course is super fun and you leave with real, applicable skills. Cost of USD $595 includes all course facilitation, materials, and field trips as well as all meals and lodging at the beautiful Bambu Guest House in Tzununa, Lake Atitlan, Gautemala.

    UPCOMING COURSE DATES: December 17-23 2017; January 14-20 2018; February 11-17 2018; March 11-17 2018; April 8-14 2018

    MORE INFO: http://www.atitlanorganics.com/natural-building

  35. mr. owen i am looking for the video of you building a water cistern out of earthbags i want to send a link to mylittlehomestead (on youtube) they have made 4 working on the 5th earthbag buildings and i wanted them to see the cistern in hopes they might be able to use it. if you could help i would greatly appreciate it

  36. We have a fairly large amount of kiln dried milled cypress, ranging from 1″ to 3″ thick and up to 30” x 19′.

    The largest slabs are 3″ x 30″ x 19″.

    We are looking to sell off some to help cover rebuild costs of our river property in Wimberley (wiped out by the 2015 flood). Would love to talk about selling some of this. Some is pecky, some has great blue mineral patterns – all is good wood. Let me know. – Tom Tom@wenneson.com 408.598.5634

  37. This is not a comment per se but a request for action.
    I attended a workshop at the Cal-Earth institute in California last year and now I am beginning my own earth bag dome on my 20-care property in SW Utah.
    This is a remote part of the Escalante semi-desert and there are few people around to help with the construction.
    And I have lost the list of email addresses I once had of the people who went to the workshops and built a dome with me.
    So I would like to put the word out – if anyone is interested in getting hands-on experience in earth-bag construction, experience community, a chance to camp out on my land, where the deer and the antelope play, free water, one meal a day, and my offer to reciprocate on your earthbag project please get in touch with me at the above email addy.

  38. We have a bag filling machine for sale, I t has a ss hopper with a 4-5 cy capacity, 8 inch auger and ss chute, runs on 220v power but might could be easily converted to use a small gas engine. photos or video available.

  39. Natural Builder wanted for 3 months at a sustainable yoga community in Portugal.

    We need you to build a water tank, round house for storage of garden tool and receptacle roof for a shaded area.

    – 500 EUR per month
    – at least 1 yoga class per day
    – accommodation in tent
    – 3 healthy vegetarian meals per day
    – Community based living

    – 3 month commitment
    – Lead the project with volunteers at hand
    – advise other residence on natural building for their projects
    – work 5 days per week, 6 hours per day


  40. Hello out there – first of all thanks so much for this great site and all the great information!
    My family and I plan to build with earthbags in Thailand in a remote place in the middle of rice fields. My question is – what do we have to consider about lightning protection? The house(s) will be placed near a group of trees, not far from some fishponds. Do earthbag buildings need lightning protection (like lightning rods etc.)?
    Kind regards from Germany – Chris

    • Virtually no one in Thailand takes any precautions against lightning except on tall commercial buildings, temples, etc. Never heard of any problems.

    • If you are building in the middle of a flat rice field, lightning protection would be a good idea. For lightning protection, you need some pointed non corrosive rods sticking up as the high points on the house. These rods need to be connected to wire (copper or copper clad) that go smoothly to the earth. In the earth, you should drive or bury ground rods. The wire should be in a smooth (no sharp bends) path to earth, as lightning does not like to make sharp changes in direction when following a ground path. You should read up on lightning protection, as there is a lot more to it, but essentially you are providing the easiest path to the earth, where the charges coming out of the sky will combine with the opposite charge coming out of the earth.

      Without lightning protection, being a tall structure above the flat rice field will tend to attract the lightning. A lightning hit to your house could do significant damage and could even electrocute people inside.

    2 or 4 day weekend workshop

    MAY 12-15
    Tuition: $210 – $365, camping and meals provided
    REGISTER: http://www.earthbaghouse.com/workshops.html
    (*Alumni special price and registration: see below)

    COME COMPARE and EXPLORE BUILDING with earthbag, cob, wattle and daub, strawbale and new techniques while learning how to tie them into your pièce de résistance, a unique, durable and efficient LIVING ROOF!

    DAY 1
    Jump right in with earthen building and outdoor ‘class’ of theory.
    DAY 2
    We’ll start from the origins of Scandinavian Torvtak Roofs with bark as waterproofing up to modern Green Roofs On Austin City Hall and the Dearborn Truck Plant – Ford Motor Company to name only a few.
    Green roofs are durable and funtional from a shed to an industrial building.
    continuation of Earthen wall from previous day.
    DAY 3
    Living Roof and Earthen Walls climb even farther. Discussion and explanation expand into design and implementation
    DAY 4
    Roof and wall final construction push. Introdution to earthen plasters and finishes plus maintenance for your new roof!

    REGISTER: http://www.earthbaghouse.com/workshops.html
    (*Alumni special price and registration: http://www.earthbaghouse.com/ALUMNIPAYMENT.HTML)

    We’re looking forward to an interesting and fun weekend to kick off the beauty of Natural building of Spring 2017!

  42. Hi,

    I’m 25 years old and I have a degree of civil engineering obtained in Belgium last year. In september I will start a second Masters degree at CAT (‘sustainability and adaptation in the built environment’). This degree is only parttime so I’m looking for a job in the natural building world at the same time. If anyone is looking to hire someone motivated and willing to learn please let me know.

  43. Not sure where I should post this question so I’ll post it here..

    We are considering an earthbag home for our Northern Ontario land but have concerns about the bags freezing if we can’t finish building, insulating and earth-berming before winter. Would the bags suffer catastrophically if a half-finished wall had to ride out a winter with minus 40deg temps?

  44. Thanks for this site! Been watching for years. Great resource…

    Im about to build several earth bag structures of the likes i have yet to see. two stories with cement and rebar second floor and roof/gardening space. I have built with earthabag and know what I’m doing, to an extent. Im hoping to run my designs by you and get your honest feedback.

    Im going to build fast with a big team.

    Think traditional condo units but change the walls out for earth bag. I plan to build mostly contagiously round walls and cut out the windows and some of the doors after. I will do that for speed. Second story floor will be traditional cement and bond beam.

    Anyway, just thought i should tell you about the project and hope to have you involved when things become a little more clear next year.

    Blessings and thanks again for this site!

    • Glad to hear about your project. Sounds good. Feel free to email me occasionally. My email is at the top of the page under About Us.

  45. I’ve been absent for some time, but now I remember why I used to love this site. Thank you, I’ll try and check back more frequently. How frequently you update your website?

  46. BELIZE Caretaker/Builder needed. Hi everyone, I have an earthbag project in Belize, Central America with a fairly large two story earth bag home on the beach. This home is fully furnish on Solar and wind power. Working on another smaller guest house, need a caretaker / people interested in making it better, and growing more to achieve an self sustaining environment. If interested to seeing Belize you can contact me at four07 4171679 Peter

  47. Hello Dr Geiger, my name is Travis Plank and I live in Northeast Ohio, and have been researching alot of layouts on the greendreamhomes site. I really like the Earth Lodge plan and would really like to build one since it seems to be the most functional and logocal design for my needs. I am currently saving and have a 5 year goal to build in a rural area around here. I was wondering about the possibility of adding a 17′ round room off of the bedroom of this plan that I might use as a music practice and recording area. I would want it also to be eath sheltered (bermed), and be under the living roof. I see that the timber is placed strategically in the main living area to support the roof and the buttress surrounds the walls, my question is this would it be feasible to add a room like this to the existing plan, and if so what is the best strategy for support placement for the roof, and how would it effect the layout of the buttress you have in the plans? I see that there is a design for a cluster of lodges, and there is a round room off of the central structure, however it does not specify the size of said room, nor is there any indication of whether it is built into the “hill” or if it is more like a roundhouse attached to standing on the outside of the berm. I’m not sure if it would be more effective to purchase the plan for the cluster Lodge and only construct the central pod, or to layout the initial Lodge plan and add a room to it. Any input related to these questions and or tips or resources that you can suggest are greatly appreciated. Thank you for your time and attention.

  48. I live in Central Maine. I would like to build a undetground room, mostly for storing canned goods and such. I would like to have at least a 8’x 8′ roomwith 6′ highwalls and the ceiling about 6′ underground. Is this structurally possible? And what would you advise to use for the walls, floor and roof? Ive never built even so much as a basement before. Though I have constructed homes above ground. I have experience in plumbing and electrical as well, I have run conduit through concrete before but not plumbing. Any advice you could offer would be very appreciated.

    • Yes, that’s possible with earthbag walls and logs across the top. The biggest challenge is keeping water out so build on high ground, add a French drain, etc. We have lots of related information on our sites (thousands of pages).

  49. HELP RANSOM RANCH GO SOLAR through our GoFundMe

    Ransom Ranch is a project that is home to an earth bag dome, straw bale house, papercrete, hybrid buildings and a large garden. I’m off grid and hoping to convert my water pump from reliance on generator to solar.

    Check out my GoFundMe campaign. And please share it with one and all!

    If you can think of other groups or places I can pass this along to please let me know!

    My website documents the adventure I’ve had so far.

    • Earthbag House Workshop ‘Sexy Walls deserve Sexy Roofs’
      Nov. 5-6, Bastrop, TX
      Let’s talk about the exciting world of roofing options that
      strong earthen walls open up!

      Come learn to lay courses of an earthbag round house and actually frame 2 roof options; a reciprocating roof and a hip roof!

      A well built roof is a sexy roof and thick earthen walls give you the opportunity to explore so many more options than conventional building, like…..
      living roofs
      reciprocating roofs
      steam bent shingles
      earthbag domes
      barrel tile
      thatch and more……

      Do you know how to frame a reciprocating roof and attach it to a circular top plate?
      Do you know what ‘mushroom insulation’ is?
      Do you know the difference between dense packed and loose fill cellulose?

      And, how do you determine the cost, time, skill, labor and accessibility of the materials? We’ll discuss, look at samples and even build some of these roofing options, from practical with excellent performance, to whimsical and classic. We will cover ‘best practices’ for attaching a roof to an earthen structure and the most efficient and accessible green ​insulation options.

      You’ll come away with an understanding of the prices, practices and labor to help you determine which is a sensible option for your project …. or where you might be able to splurge a little to get the house of your dreams.
      Join us for this fun weekend getting dirty and learning…
      -to lay earthbag top courses with deadmen sleepers
      -options of roofing an earthen structure
      -to install top plates
      -study the critical point of joining a roof to an earthen structure
      -demonstrate the installation of a living roof
      -framing a reciprocal roof and a hip roof
      -appropriate green insulations
      -basic natural plastering

      Read more and register at:

  50. Invitation to all volunteers interested in gaining some free earth bag building experience in creating a 10 foot diameter meditation round house that will be sunken in 3 feet in Temecula, CA 92592 after the Cal-Earth workshop during the week of September 19th to 26th.

    We are located 90 miles or about 2 hours away from Cal-Earth in Hesperia, CA and if you are interested in working with a sand/clay mixture instead of stabilized soil with cement, this is the opportunity to do so. Also, 18″x30″ sandbags will be used most likely with the possibility of some sandbag tubing. This requires less people involved in case you want to try this method vs the Cal Earth tubing method when you build your own structures.

    This will take place in a rural setting on 5 acres. Accommodations will be available in a 3 bedroom manufactured home, and depending on the number of people, there is additional room for camping or staying in an enclosed gazebo, a covered greenhouse for the outdoors type. Nights are cool and mild. All healthy meals will be provided for. And for those that really want to be under the stars, there can be camping (your own tents) on a raw, pristine 20 acre property in Aguanga, CA about 1 hour away from the house.

    We are 15 minutes away from the numerous wineries here and about 25 minutes from 2 large casinos, Pachanga and Pala Casinos. To help you relax and unwind, free acupuncture treatments available to all, as we are acupuncturists by profession.

    If interested call me, Helen, at (951) 764-2626 or email me at: maydayeh@peoplepc.com

  51. Hi,
    This is more of a materials question. I am wondering if rather than utilizing earth bags and the natural soils in the area, which for myself are not really suitable, do you think it would be acceptable to use the commercially available concrete/sand mix materials that come pre-bagged as a replacement? The thought was to stack, wire and tamp as you would with the earth bag system, and then thoroughly wet down the bags so that the water penetrates into the concrete or sand mix so that it hardens. And in your building experience, do you think there would be any problems using that type of material considering that it would become so ridged. I believe the assembly process would essentially be the same.
    Any thoughts you may have would be greatly appreciated.
    Thank you so much for your time and insight.

    • The BLM built a ranger station foundation in Utah this way. So it will work. The drawback of course is the high cost and high embodied energy. You’d have to water each course as you go. It would be tricky making partial bags (custom bags) in the center of walls. It seems like you could put the material (often called ‘pre-mix’) in typical sand bags to make the few custom bags needed.

  52. I was just browsing and then I realized the importance of aknowledeging those who help others.

    Owen shows that technical knowledge, and Hands-on experience, grow in value when they are shared in the spirit of colaboration and service to others.

    that inspires me.

    In running this blog, and thus, volunteering his time, Owen shows the meaning of generosity.

    Gracias Owen, you inspire me +


  53. Hello all! We’re excited to present that we are building an earthbag house in Ghana. We have no experience in building and are a family of 4 sharing our story on Facebook too: http://www.facebook.com/earthbagghana

    Owen Geiger you were the inspiration behind our house design, so hoping everyone will stop by and click Like and say Hi.

  54. hi! does anyone know of any groups/activity in southern maine? i would like to learn as much as possibile! this is the first site that has given me hope that i could sell our current home and use the equity to build a home for my son and myself. thank you and any maine insight and connections much appreciated!

  55. GARDEN OF EDEN, GRENADA Seeking Earthbag Build Volunteers

    Work/Stay Volunteer in Grenada’s Rainforest
    Learn how to build Hyper Adobe Earthbags
    6-8 week: Project Start Date July 01, 2016
    We are putting together a team of hardworking volunteers with a sense of humour and adventure.
    You will work and learn while participating in the building of an Earthbag House in Grenada’s Rainforest.
    This is a unique opportunity to experience our genuine Caribbean lifestyle – while also learning natural building skills.
    You will be immersed in the island culture and way of life. Working side-by-side with the locals and other international volunteers.
    And – toward the end of the project – we will celebrate Grenada’s Carnival, an amazing island wide fete.
    Jason and Laura will share their natural building experience with like-minded volunteers.
    We will be using the newly developed Hyper-Adobe Earthbag technique, along with clay plasters and earthen floors.
    Recycled glass bottle elements will be utilized along with other salvaged materials.
    We hope to work with local bamboo as well.
    The natural building techniques you learn will give you the skills necessary to build your own Earth Bag dwelling.
    The building site is the spectacular slopes of Mt. Agnus, about 4 miles straight up from our seaside residence – Garden of Eden.
    Garden of Eden is a Seaside B&B, consisting of the Main House – where our B&B guests are accommodated – and cottages, where volunteers are housed.
    The cottages have comfy king-size beds, screened windows, private verandas overlooking the sea and cooling ocean breezes.
    Although the cottages do not have electricity or running water, they are quite comfortable.

    Physically fit, hardworking volunteers with a sense of humour and adventure
    Experience is not required, but a good work ethic and keen interest to learn is essential.
    Tell us about yourself and your building skills/experience too.
    The team is expected to work 5-6 days a week for the duration of the project.
    Shared housing is provided.
    Meals provided – breakfast and one main meal.
    Limited spaces available.
    Please send us an email: lauraingrenada@gmail.com
    Tell us about yourself and your building skills/experience too.
    A good work ethic and keen interest to learn is essential.
    Experience is not required.

    For additional information about the Building Project see -http://www.thepoosh.org/buildproject/laura-marecheau/hyperadobe-earth-bag-round-house
    To have a look at Garden of Eden B&B and the surrounding area see -https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/5452050?s

  56. Hola Owen
    Great to see the work done in Nepal, as often, you inspire me. I would like to ask you if you have knowledge about reconstruction-humanitarian superadobe projects as a response to the earthquake in Ecuador? Is there anybody interested in such an effort?
    Best regards

    • Some people have mentioned going there to help but I haven’t heard or had time to research projects there. The larger goal in Nepal is to provide ‘proof of concept’ on a large scale and be able to share the lessons learned, technical info, etc. with other countries.

  57. Natural Building Comprehensive Workshop Series in Willits, CA led by Michael G. Smith and Amanda Fischer.
    May 21-24: Earthbag Foundation & Cob
    June 4-7: Light Straw/Clay & Cob
    June 11-14: Cordwood, Cob & Earthen Floors
    June 18-21: Straw Bale & Clay Plasters
    June 25-28: Natural Floors, Plasters, Paints & Finishes
    For more info and to register go to http://www.walltowallworkshop.com

  58. GO AHEAD LEAVE THEM OUT IN THE SUN!! 14″ & 18″ wide UVI stabilized(2000 hr rated) woven polypropylene tube. 6000/lf long rolls. Sold by the roll only. Selling to the earth bag community for the past 15 years and still at the best pricing out there. Multiple roll discount. Better bag better price!
    Steve 949-338-5978

  59. Thank you so much for your feedback. I think I will do exactly that, try and build up the site first and use this confined method that you spoke of also. If I build up may gravel trench foundation to say 18 inches above grade using gravel bags, do you think I could fill and tamp the area inside thus create a slab/foundation 18 inches above. Or would sufficiently compacting the earth put too much pressure outward on the gravel bags? This is just in case getting truckloads of dirt to raise a larger area is too expensive. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate this. I wish there was a way to post a photo here and update you on progress:)

    • There are too many variables to give you more specific advice. Follow my previous recommendations and you should be fine. Ideally, you’d build up the site and let it compact through a rainy season. Make sure it slopes away in every direction. I recommend using road base for this. Search this site for ‘road base’.

  60. Greetings again Dr. Geiger and all from this amazing community. I want to thank you all in advance because with out this website and info on it I would never try to attempt a project like this.

    I am getting ready to start my earthbag home in Nicaragua and have some questions about foundations. I am building in a very flat area prone to flooding in the rainy season on some very dense clay soil. I will be building mostly in the rainy season. We have earthquakes here as well so a lot of interesting things to consider here.

    1) If I do a gravel trench foundation is it possible to build what would be the floor up a couple feet to avoid flooding? Build the earthbags above grade and fill inside with earth?

    2) In this area people use polished concrete floors which I would like to incorporate as it is durable and this home will be a vacation rental. Is it possible to build the earthbag foundation up and then fill with concrete and cover the earthbags with concrete to create basically a concrete slab/foundation/flooring that is tied to the earth??

    3) Since this is my first project I was thinking to have the local contractors build concrete pillars and beams and set the roof so that I can take my time to figure out the earhtbag process filling in the wall system and not have the sun or rain hitting the bags all day. Is it practical/possible to incorporate the the gravel trench and foundation system mentioned above with concrete pillars? Will that cause a break in the continuous foundation that will sacrifice stability??

    Knowing Dr. Geier you will say yes yes it is all possible:) but any insights are greatly appreciated!!

    • 1. Raise the building site first. Spread out dump truck loads of stable soil and drive the trucks back and forth over the site until you have a mound of the desired height (above flood level). This will take a LOT of soil, but this is the best method. The soil needs to be slightly moist so it compacts solidly. Then add the gravel trench and gravel bags. Extend the gravel bags above grade to gain a little extra height.

      2. Now you can pour concrete floors if everything has been compacted solidly. Add a layer of heavy plastic under the floor to prevent wicking.

      3. Yes, this is an excellent method. See previous blog posts called ‘confined earthbags’. Ex:

      • We are building an earth bag home in central Texas. We are building on clay that is moderately swelling. After speaking with engineers we decided not to go with a rubble trench because it will cause what they call “the bath tub effect”. Water will collect in the trench and cause clay to swell to a much deeper level and therefore cause much greater pressure on the foundation. Some people in our area are doing cement pier and beam foundations. We decide this was not an option for us due to the very high cost. We found a company that has a system called “Wafflemat Foundation” where boxes are laid on top of the compacted clay or fill dirt and cement is then poured over the boxes leaving voids between the cement beams to allow space for the clay to swell into without producing so much stress on the foundation. Here is the link to the companies website http://www.thebestbase.com/wafflemat/description. We are about to start our foundation so I can not give you details on how well it is working but it makes sense to me and the company has been great to work with providing valuable expertise. Hope your project goes well.

        • Thanks for sharing. That was the standard foundation method where I used to live in Colorado that had expansive clay soils. The boxes were added under the foundation every few feet to reduce heaving and cracking the concrete.

  61. Earthbag, Straw Bale, Permaculture
    Natural Building Ecovillage Cottage Workshop Build
    Bag Blitz Intensives

    On the ‘Ranch Crawkiss’ Eco Village in Hotchkiss Colorado
    July and August 2016

    Join us this summer for and learn how to build your own super efficient Earthbag, Strawbale hybrid cottage in our Permaculture Natural Building BAG BLITZ!
    Get dirty and learn about creating an ecovillage.

    This Summer, 3 Day, 7 Day, 9 Day or 16 Day
    Intensive Bag Blitz
    Earthbag / Strawbale / Natural Building
    Bag Blitz Workshops
    Beautiful Hotchkiss, Colorado!

    read more at: http://www.earthbaghouse.com

    Interviewing NOW!
    Community Rebuilds 2016 Summer and Fall semesters will be held in the town of Mount Crested Butte! We will instruct 14 students and 2 families to build a 3-story, straw bale duplex!  The project will still hold true to the CR mission of building energy efficient housing for low-income families and educating students on natural and sustainable building practices.  As always, our program is free of cost to our interns and includes hands on instruction on straw bale construction and natural building.  We also provide a food stipend, bulk food items and housing in exchange for the labor of our interns.
    Apply At: http://www.communityrebuilds.org for our programs

  63. I’d like to reach out to whoever might be interesting in coming to the Aeneas Valley above Tonasket Washington to help us with a “natural building” project this year.

    Beginning in late April, we’re going to start building our home using natural building techniques, specifically, we’re planning on earthbag domes.

    What do we need?

    – A crew of 3-4 people, static or rotating, spending at least 3 weeks each onsite from the end of April until the end of September.
    -You would of course, have the opportunity as you need it, to take time away for your own personal matters.
    – If you are local and would like to help but stay in your own home your help is also welcome!

    What’s in it for you?

    – A beautiful place to pitch your tent for the Summer.
    – Food, showers and laundry facilities.
    – Knowledge of some alternative building practices.
    – Comradery and satisfaction of doing something fun with fun people.
    – Helping our family get into a home before Fall of this year if all goes well.

    What else do you need to know?

    – In addition to this 3-4 person rotating crew, myself and members of my immediate family will be working onsite as well.
    – We are planning on having a “foreman” someone with a good amount of building experience onsite, as well as myself to help make decisions and to guide and direct.
    – Send me a message at elisa_breland@yahoo.com, find me on Facebook under Elisa Breland or leave a comment if you have any questions.

  64. Hello all, I am new to the site so if there is a better way to search or other resources, please let me know.

    I bought 75 acres in east Tennessee to retire on in a few years–just land, very wooded, rocky, big hills. I would love to have a small community of like-minded people who help each other out. There is an abundance of clay, dirt, rocks, trees…and any type of house can be built with natural resources and a lot of work (cob, strawbale, earthbag, timber, etc).

    My mother lives nearby, and she has had MASSIVE problems with renters on her property. I mean the type of problems where people who seemed nice at first, maybe a bit down on their luck, and turned out to make very poor decisions regarding alcohol, drugs, and likely other illegal activities. Tools have been stolen, and a few months ago, an antique handgun and jewelry were stolen.

    My question is this: how can I find truly like-minded, reputable, hard-working people to share my space with?

    • One way is to attend natural building workshops, weekend ‘wall raisings’ and similar events, and maybe join a natural building organization. Some practical hands-on courses at a local community college can be helpful (basic carpentry, etc.). I doubt if you’ll have any of the problems you mention with people who attend these things. Along the way you learn all sorts of useful interesting information as well as meeting great people. This doesn’t have to cost a lot of money. Some people do it entirely by volunteering or some sort of work/trade. Search the Internet for natural building workshops in your area. No need to travel all over.

  65. I am looking to build 8’x 24’underground shelter as I live in tornado alley. Concrete is too expensive and I will be building alone. I will have a concrete floor poured. My questions is can the smaller bags 15″x 27″ be turned the other way short placement instead of long placement, for a more stable wall? I will also be adding a cement/sand and native clay to the mix and rebar into the walls. The roof will be 2″x12″ wood frame. Dirt will be about 18″-24″ over the roof.

    • Yes, that’s possible. Plan for drainage and waterproofing the walls and roof. Its best to build on high ground and slope the site away from the building in all directions. Bituthene is best for the roof even though it is pricey. Roots will eventually puncture plastic sheeting. I use several layers of 6 mil plastic sheeting on the sides plus French drain.

      Have an engineer calculate the load on your roof. You’ll likely exceed the bearing capacity of the 2×12’s with that much soil. Remember soil is much heavier when wet or with snow on top.

  66. Hi all I have a question that has has a couple parts to it. I am going to build in Nicaragua where it is Hot year round. Bone dry six months and rainy six months. I think Scoria (porous volcanic rubble) is available and cheap here. Clay and sand are also readily available.

    I have seen sand clay mix recommended in hot climates and also pure Scoria bags for good insulation in cold climates.
    Could Pure Scoria work in a hot Climate as well?
    For walls on a home is it practical to use Scoria as an aggregate mixed with a clay sand mixture to help lighten the bags?
    This will be less insulated when the pores are filled with sand and clay but could this still have practical value?

    Another question is are Earthbags practical for a wall at the perimeter of the property?
    This will obviously be exposed to the elements with no roof so maybe sand/clay mix is not practical.
    Could I use Scoria bags for a property perimeter wall and use a cement stucco in this case?

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated!!

    • Yes to all your questions about scoria houses. We have lots of content about building with scoria because it’s such a great material. Search this blog for more info. The only tricky part is stabilizing the walls. You’ll need to take steps to reinforce the walls and the perimeter walls.

      The labor/benefit ratio is lower for retaining walls than houses (houses are way more valuable). I’d focus on the house and figure out the perimeter walls later. You’ll need cement stucco or lime plaster plus a waterproof cap on top such as clay tile. Zig zag the perimeter wall, add lots of buttresses, etc. so it’s strong.

      • Thank you for your feedback Dr.Geiger it is much appreciated. So it sounds like anything is possible!:) I was thinking to start on a wall to grasp a few concepts, but maybe I will start on a Bodega(storage shed) first and grasp some of these concepts. I have learned so much on your website here thanks for spreading the knowledge. Ideally an all earth mix sounds suited to the tropical home just thinking how to lighten the load and thus speed it up a bit. I’ll let you know how I go.

        • Scoria is a wonderful way to lighten the load. Search this blog for Scoria Casita. He shows how to reinforce scoria bag walls.

  67. Open Arms Domes needs assistance from the Superadobe dome building community!

    I am looking for a qualified Superadobe builder or team who has a serious interest in helping me turn
    this boondoggle of a project into a home I can move into. In order to get an occupancy permit from the
    Las Vegas Building Department, I must have a kitchen, a full bathroom, and 120 additional square feet of
    living space. In addition, I must have all exteriors, a 2-4 foot tall front fence, and final grading
    finished. I would like to utilize as much as I can of what has already been built. I am willing to change
    any of the originally designed & unproven passive systems for energy efficient conventional systems if it
    will be more cost effective.

    I am reaching out to the worldwide Superadobe community for proposals and bids to do this. I need a person or team with proven experience in managing & completing a multiple dome build with plumbing & electric. I am unwilling to finance any more experimentation.

    I have posted a current video of the site, and PDFs of some of the permitted plan pages on http://www.OpenArmsDomes.com (the computer files of my plans have not been returned to me; if & when they are returned, I will post the complete set of plans).

    Because my former employee has removed me as an administrator of my original Open Arms Domes Facebook
    Group and Page, please do not use those venues for discussion or to contact me. I can be reached at 702-628-8776 (messages only), or at openarmsdomes@gmail.com. I have also created an official Open Arms Domes Owner Facebook page, which you can find at http://www.facebook.com/openarmsdomeslv (make sure to put the LV on the end, or you will be directed to the wrong page). I invite the many friends who continue to support me and Open Arms Domes to contact me in the above ways. You are very much appreciated!

    My gratitude and blessings to everyone, and I look forward to hearing from you!

  68. Hi all!

    Looking to start an earthbag build in SE Missouri first week of March (weather permitting). Hoping to find volunteers interested in assisting for experience.

    Offering camping space/facilities, 1 meal daily and reference after.

    Not horribly distant from town, just a person rebuilding after a fire last year.

    Respond here and we’ll connect!

  69. can you supply the name of the gent who has the permaculture farm in Quebec? would like more info on permaculture farm in southern Quebec , would like to set up this type of operation in Haiti have obtained land in the mountains of Haiti and would like to add this to the earthbag home which will house the farmers that will oversee the operation , I am also looking for talent that would like to aid this project skills in solar, water purification and toilet aystems my goal is to create a fully organic living enviorment which is self sufficient and self sustaining

    • They made a documentary about this farm. This place is very famous so I’m sure you can track down the address and their contact info. Permaculture works in all environments, although the solutions in Haiti will be somewhat different.

  70. Maya-Lenca Spiritual / Eco Center
    marthacd@earthlink.net • 520-822-9302

    This center is a place that Martha Dominguez, Maya-Lenca is developing to provide employment for our people and inspire sustainable ways which are the way the ancestors meant and Creator meant for us to live and enjoy.

    The Maya-Eco Center offers many opportunities for people to be at peace with themselves and to enjoy communal conversations of practices that can help to alleviate inner disconnection that is necessary to be human in the sense of balance and to heal old wounds, and learn how you can work to repair these wounds through your own work and to look at loneliness as even having many resources it can drain our energies. We can recover community harmony to take back into your lives to live in the spirit of joy and natural happiness in the garden of Mother Earth.

    Location: Rain forest La Esperanza-Intibuca. Honduras, Central America(About 4 hours by bus from the Capital Tegucigalpa.

  71. Reading this blog reminds me of the time where we built our own mud brick hall for our church fellowship, every weekend we would have a working bee where all members of the church would get together to help build.

    It was a fascinating structure and many people would comment on how natural and green our building was, it was that good (very cool in summer) that we went on to build a Sunday School using the same materials, only this time we did improve on the process using stronger materials that didn’t break down so quick.. love your blog..

  72. Second thought:
    Hmmm, refugees. Earthbag has been turned down in the past because it is too permanent for a refugee camp (heavy, will take a lot of effort to disassemble).
    Also Calais is quite northern. You should really find out whether some pottery type clay is in the region and look into using straw wattle upper walls. They have an r-value of about 3.5 and are easier to disassemble than any type of earthbag.

  73. Hi,

    A good friend is helping refugees in Calais, they predominantly live on sand dune lands and she has been granted money to build housing.

    Is it possible to do basic earthbag structures with just sand fill? materials such as wood and cement could be carted for roof and finishes etc.

    Ewen Beard

    • Hi Ewen
      Always do a preliminary check for the seismic risk with the gshap maps at http://www.seismo.ethz.ch/static/GSHAP/.
      If very low seismic risk (green) sandbags sewn into 2 sections or channel bags might also be a possibility.
      I’d try Anderton’s type of narrow wall sandbags if rebar is not too expensive. They could function for upper walls on a base to the window sill level of split or ‘channel’ sandbags of a normal width. This provides a stronger base, but I’d use gravel bags for the first 2 or 3 courses above grade. If it was my house, I’d bring in earth and use it as fill on the bags next to all door and window openings, at all corners, and every 5th course up the wall. You can shape bags filled with cohesive soil (not sandbags) and cured earthbag fill is not damaged if the bag is punctured.
      Sand fill should probably be rinsed with rain or freshwater. If it is salty, the salt may be able to migrate out to damage plaster and/ or reinforcing steel. Let me know if you build something… simple_earthATyahoo.com

  74. Hi. I want to share a project I’m working on to open a sustainable community laundry center in Taos, NM. Our plan is to integrate solar power, rainwater harvesting, and greywater irrigation of an attached greenhouse and community garden on the premises to keep our carbon and water footprints as low as humanly possible.

    I’m also working with an international team to eventually use 10% of our profits to partner with NGOs and bring this model to developing countries.

    Currently we’re running a crowdfunding campaign and it would be great if folks could check that out and back us with whatever you can: igg.me/at/beyondlaundry.

    I also blogged about the rationale behind this project here: http://taoshivehome.blogspot.com/2015/07/beyond-sustainability-beyond-laundry.html


  75. Hello everybody,
    My name is Thomas and I just completed a 4 months internship at Cal-Earth, in the institute founded by Nader Khalili in Hesperia, California. I am now looking for a serious relief project that I could join to put my skills to good use – right now the first thing that may come in mind is probably “Nepal” and I would be delighted to go and help rebuild there, but I am not focused on one destination either.
    I visited several times Natural Building Blog and it seems a good place to start offering my skills.
    The skills I learnt at Cal-Earth include building with Superadobe and teaching all aspects of the construction (planning, building, using the compass, etc…) but also some project management, a lot of finishing work, design… both on the dome structure and vault structure. Oh, and I am French but I am also fluent in English and Spanish.
    If anybody would know of a project in need of a skilled builder, or if anybody has any good advice or know persons or groups to contact, please do not hesitate to contact me: thomas.superadobe@gmail.com.
    Thanks a lot!!

    • Nepal is a top choice. There are dozens of projects already taking off. Some groups are planning to rebuild entire villages with earthbags. The lady who’s planning my trip in Sept. is in contact with all of these groups. Contact Vava at likeyourreflection AT gmail.com (fix the @ symbol and her address will work).

    • hey there, not sure if ur just interested in building 4 the sake of building? or ur a survivalist also for what is soon coming upon this world?? I am in Australia by the way and a prepper for what is coming. regards steve

      • Our main audience is people who want to build very low cost houses. See today’s blog post for one example. This includes people interested in off grid living, natural building, homesteading, self sufficiency, permaculture, survivalists, etc. etc.

  76. Namaste Earthbag Builders

    I’m currently in Nepal and will be working on a large earthbag project in Dolakha region of Nepal.

    There are many groups are in Nepal doing different projects and sourcing the same products.

    I propose that we get together and create a distribution base that can order in very large quantities for the best value.

    Please email me if you are interested in working together for this and other information sharing.


    Thank You

    Jay Cameron

    • Thanks, Jay. You might put this message on First Steps Himalaya’s facebook page. That seems like the largest networking site now. Another idea in the meantime is to create a list somewhere of all the recommended suppliers of bags and tubes. Someone like yourself has to inspect the bags and tubing to make sure it’s strong and the right size (18″ wide). Bags should be at least 30″ long. A little longer is better. Note how recycled rice bags may be different sizes or possibly weakened from exposure to sunlight. I’m all for using recycled materials when practical, however in this case we’re talking about a severe earthquake zone where strength is critical. The gravel bags hold up the whole houses and so it seems prudent to use the strongest material available.

  77. I would like to know if there’s people near Kenya willing to go to Nyangatom in Ethiopia to teach for free a missionary and the people of that place how to build with earthbags.

    I would like to start a fundraising using the “gofundme” webpage in order to try to get enough resources to help a really small community called The Missionary Community of St. Paul the Apostle and Mary, Mother of the Church. (www.mcspa.org) They are no more than 40 persons who are working in Kenya and Ethiopia to help the people there. Right now Father Angel Valdivia is starting a new project in Nyangatom where there is nothing, just misery, hunger and poverty. He is working with another priest, living in tents.

    The idea is to get enough resources to help Father Angel to build some little houses, one for him and the other priest, others to be used as a clinic, dining room, kindergarden, etc

    In this way, this people, along with Father Angel can start going to other places in Ethiopia and teach this technique, we will teach them “how to fish instead of just give them one fish”

    That is why I need to know if someone could give them a free course or a good Price for this training. I need to know how much would it cost in order to make the Budget for the funraising.

  78. Hello Earth Builders!
    Circle Pines Summer Camp is seeking a dedicated work project leader for construction. The construction leader will plan, oversee, and assist teams of counselors and campers in small, sustainable building projects throughout the summer. Ideally, campers who participate in these projects will gain skills in design and tool safety while seeing a building project through from start to finish.

    The construction leader should reside on site during camp. S/he will be asked to help out with maintenance tasks around the grounds when work projects are not in session.

    June 17 – August 5, 2015

    Passionate about sustainable, alternative building practices and about working with children. S/he should have experience and competency in at least one of the following fields:
    Earth Building
    Recycled building

    -Plan and design several creative, affordable, small scale projects to complete with teams of 10-20 campers over 5 weeks of camp. Examples include outdoor showers, garden sheds, picnic tables, a tree house or a cob oven.
    -Prioritize camper safety by clearly communicating and enforcing best practices with all tools
    -Provide effective instruction to counselors and campers.
    -Delegate less specialized tasks to create a fair working environment with maximum participation
    -Adapt to inclement weather or unexpected changes.

    Circle Pines Center is a member-based, non-profit, 501(c)3 education and recreation center. We run a children’s summer camp and year round retreat center with programs for families, children and adults. We also organize and host an annual music festival, the Buttermilk Jamboree, the second full weekend in June. The organization owns 294 acres of land with rolling hills, hardwood and pine forests, meadows and frontage on Stewart Lake. We have miles of trails for hiking and cross-country skiing, diverse wildlife and an organic garden and orchard. The mission of Circle Pines is to teach peace, social justice, environmental stewardship and cooperation. The Center aims to demonstrate cooperative alternatives for economic and social issues and to teach cooperation as a way of life.

    Please email summer camp@circlepinescenter.net for more details.
    Thank you for the work that you do, natural builders!

  79. We live in Costa Rica and are planning on building a small earthbag community near the beach on the Pacific side. We’re facing the challenge of heat and humidity and plan on using several of your suggestions Owen for keeping the house cool.

    We are also thinking of building a solar chimney coupled with earth tubes. We’d love some help building from like-minded people who want to visit CR. While we don’t have any accomodations, we could figure out where to stay that is close to the build site.

    Comment here with times you might be able to come to CR and we can see about scheduling something.

    • In case I didn’t mention it, search this blog for Passive Cooling Strategies. Choose 10-15 techniques and your home will stay cool year round. No AC needed. Mostly keep the sun off the walls so they don’t absorb a bunch of heat

      Earth tubes are not recommended because of mold issues. The solar chimney is more appropriate for deserts. Again, not needed and it’s too much work. Use the methods above and you’ll be fine.

  80. hi Earth-bag community.
    I am currently living in Nepal and working on the earthquake relief. I have built my own house here from earth-bags and it has suffered no damage at all. i am hoping to use Earth-bags as part of the longer term shelter for communities that need that. I am looking for some resources to spread simple information about building with Earth-bags. a small flyer or something of that size. with picture would be great.

    Cheers, Shaun

    • Shaun, thanks for writing. It’s good to hear from someone in Nepal. How badly damaged are the houses in your neighborhood? How are they built?

      Flyer: how many pages do you want? We have about 3,000 pages of free information. Just tell us more about what you need. The Step-by-step Earthbag Building Instructable linked in today’s blog post is really good. You can print it as a PDF. But maybe you want something shorter. You can make your own flyer by copying and pasting photos and text. Let me know if I can help.

      I’m moving your comment and my reply to today’s blog post: https://naturalbuildingblog.siterubix.com/houses-in-nepal-gone-in-the-twinkling-of-an-eye/ Please go there to respond.

      • Good questions. We want to document details like these to help clarify what works best. There is some latitude in technique though. The earthbag buildings in Nepal were all built slightly differently and yet they all withstood the quake. Still, it would be good to identify Best Practices.

        • My house was not build with steel other then the barbed wire. ill talk through hwo my house went up.
          the foundations are a 40cm deep 50cm wide trench filled with rubble, stones of all sizes. with a drainage pipe at the bottom.
          on that i lay a course of Earth-tube. we mixed in lime. then i had a double layer of flat paving stones as a capillary break followed by another layer of limed earth tube.
          from there on up all the courses are laid with only subsoil. I have two strands of barbed wire between each course.
          the joins and corners are a running bond and the wire just turns the corner and keeps going.
          I’ve plastered with clay and straw.
          the roof is a steel truss system that sits on the bag work. it feed are sitting on the bags second from the top, so the weight of the last set of bags is holding it down.
          the roof is clad with corrugated metal sheeting.
          the floor was installed afterwards in between the walls. it is a cob (straw and clay soil) floor.

          there appears to be no damage at all to any of the house. how ever my inspection was a quick one, we are still very busy here in Nepal. my house is in Ranikot, Kavre.

          for any of you here in Nepal we are having a meeting tomorrow at 10am at the Yellow House in Sanipa to talk about what needs doing in regard to long term housing relief. feel free to call me, Shaun if you want 9860477275.

  81. Has anyone tried using natural rubber as a replacement for polyethylene? It is more expensive but appears to have good tensile strength, heat retention and waterproofing.

    Also, has Perlite or Vermiculite been used as a replacement for polystyrene?

    • I’ve never heard of bags made with rubber, but there are lots of products available made with all sorts of materials. Some are used for rebuilding slopes along highways, some for landscape retaining walls, some for giant industrial projects. Also, many different fill materials have been used. Search our blog for all things related to earthbags. Experiment and share your stories with others.

  82. Thank you Owen for posting my first announcement. I’ve added some changes:

    IS THIS YOU?!! WOULD LOVE TO HOUSE YOU IN SOME COMFY COZY SLEEP PODS FOR YOUR PARTICIPATION!! Seeking volunteers: 2-4 earthbag builders and 1 assistant/cook.

    May 4-7 and May 11-14.

    We’ll be bagging the rest of the courtyard seat walls, rough coat plaster and finish plaster. 5-6 hour work days including lunch break. EASY BUILDING FUN!
    Sleep Pods single occupancy or double occupancy if you have a friend/partner. Use of outdoor kitchen and bathroom facilities. Lunch is provided. Small stipend for qualified applicants*

    You must be self sufficient and have your own vehicle.
    How did you hear about us?
    Are you a Cal Earth Alumni?
    What is your goal for the participating?
    What is your communication style?
    What are your three most important values in living with others?

    email bonitadomes@att.net
    Please include dates of availability.

  83. Earthbag workshop
    Seeking volunteers: 2-4 earthbag builders and 1 assistant/cook.
    May 4-7 and May 11-14.
    We’ll be bagging the rest of the courtyard seat walls, rough coat plaster and finish plaster.
    Sleep Pods single occupancy or double occupancy if you have a friend/partner. Use of outdoor kitchen and bathroom facilities. Lunch is provided.
    email bonitadomes@att.net
    Lisa Starr
    Drum Medicine Woman

    Earth Dome Rentals
    Joshua Tree, California

  84. Hello all,

    I just moved to New Mexico a year ago. I really want to build my earth-bag home here, but I have limited economical resources. Is anybody out there who may know of a small, economic piece of land closed to the Madrid, new Mexico area, where this eco-idea may become a reality? I may be able to make payments on it.

    • There’s quite a bit of inexpensive land in NM. It’s mostly remote desert/scrub land with junipers. Probably no water. The trouble with NM is the state-wide code. But I’ve heard if you’re in a very remote spot that they don’t even come out to check on you. They mostly want a photo of the septic system being installed correctly. Build a small cabin in a remote spot and no one should mess with you.

    • There is a lot of advantages to going bootleg. You dont get caught up in the whole home is a asset thing. A building inspector is basically the guy that gives you a permit to make $ if you are a contractor. The people who pay him want their cut. Some building inspectors dont care in the least about bootleg structures. Why? He hasnt given you the permit to call it a house the sacred certificate of occupancy. He has not given you the permit to make $ off it- nor have you asked him to-so in his eyes its nothing a non enity- and you have no relationship. On the other hand I have known people who got caught and had to tear down a bootleg, but it was a high dollar county. Stay where everyone’s poor, live a simple life. and dont put a lot in it. Way to go anyhow. Just be prepared it will take only one guy opening his mouth and county will make you take it down. Maybe. If the county shows up “its not a house, Im not living there, its a storage structure. I dont mean to be impolite but I did not invite you on my property please leave” Being employed by the county is not a license to trespass. Be polite but firm- get off my property. Your attitude should be im just another human on the planet trying to eke out a space. Hopefully they have better things to do. If you piss them off they will make life hard for you. If you catch their eye- go somewhere else for awhile, see if you can fade away.. then return. Not a bad idea to have backup boot in a different county. The key is to do it where everyone is living in shacks. Dont try it where people are building mansions. Your shack becomes a threat to their empire then. Lots and lots and lots of people living in boots in NM.

      • Yes, lots of people do this. People do what they have to do to get by. But if possible I suggest moving up a step as I describe in various blog posts. Ex: Buy a run down mobile home with septic and electricity or really old house as your official residence. It can be in very bad condition. Then build a ‘storage shed’ in a hidden spot.

  85. Earthbag Building Experience
    Forest City, North Carolina
    June 10, 2015 2 pm – 8:80pm

    Learn and experience building with earthbags. Experience will include bag prep, filling and closing bags, laying barbed wire and placing the bags in the construction of a 9 x 12 chicken coop. Group limited to 10 persons, so that each participant will have adequate experience with each element of building the walls. Email to make reservation: Gta04@yahoo.com.

  86. Hi David
    I’ll be emailing you directly also.
    Workers in Gonaives with HCDP.net are quite good at making quality walls of earthbag. They may need some direction selecting soil. And the amount and type of reinforcement should be planned for the level of quake risk.
    A volunteer engineer has helped Build Simple with structural information related to the USGS worldwide seismic risk level maps that has not yet been published. Jacmel could use some special reinforcement a little above the standard earthbag reinforcement (or else thinner upper walls with rebar). I would love to discuss all this with you.


    My name is David Palmer and I am the founder of the Joan Rose Foundation, joanrosefoundation.org. I am looking to pay an EXPERIENCED earthbag builder to come help me get a significant Earthbag construction project started. We would ideally looking to start construction in May but the process is fluid.

    We work with impoverished Haitian children in the Dominican Republic. We provide 145 children with 3-5 plates of food Monday-Saturday, clothing, medical treatment as needed, some legal documentation and of course love and support.

    The racial situation in the Dominican Republic has been poor since I got here in 2010 but has become significant worse in the last 3-4 months.

    I am moving our core families, about 150 people in total, to Jacmel Haiti. I have found a 1.5 acre piece of land and want to use Earthbags to make the walls of the families buildings.

    I have a significant labor force, 20-25 men, at my disposal but could use an EXPERT to help get the building started and workers trained.

    I would PAY all of the expenses for the person to come down to Haiti and help plan the construction and train the labor force. There will be men experienced working with cement and so they only need to be trained in the Earthbag building techniques. I can also pay a small per diem wage to whoever comes.

    If anyone is interested email me at palmer1471@gmail.com

  88. Hello All!
    I have some great news about a resource for the mesh needed in Hyper- Adobe!
    The retailer is located in the USA and appears to be the only supplier for this product!
    you can purchase any of these three…19″ x 2000′
    14″ x 5000′
    12″ x 8000′
    Yes Folks thats written correctly! in x Feet
    Any who I have not even told you the best part!
    After taxes S&H all three items each totaled under $300.00!
    This is a break through!
    So scoop it up! I got all I needed last night on ebay but the direct link is http://www.avisag.com and here is why it was so hard to find it is labeled as…..
    Vexar Mesh Lay Flat Spool…..
    So this actually pushes up the Starting Days of my Build and reduced my cost by $900.00!
    I can put in my Garage/Shop and have some fun with the interior wall layout!
    This site has been so helpful to me and I hope that this will help many as well!
    Do well everybody! We’re off to SW Colorado!
    Until next time…..
    Silver and The Bambino’s

    • Warning: A quick google image search turned up pictures of very weak bags for keywords avis bag Vexar Mesh Lay Flat Spool. If this is what they’re selling then it won’t work for earthbags!

      Always request a small sample before ordering large quantities from any company. Make a test earthbag with the sample to be sure it can withstand hard tamping. Some bags are made from very weak materials and are inappropriate. Some are intended for lightweight produce and will burst if used for earthbag building.

      Edit: Avis Bag sells woven leno bags that might work. You don’t need the drawstrings, and the price is probably higher than Bag Supplies Canada. https://naturalbuildingblog.siterubix.com/discount-raschel-mesh-tubing/

    • Bag Supplies Canada quote for raschel mesh tubing:
      Current price is $337.00/ 14-16” loose x 3,000’ long. So we offer 1,000’ more for just S37.00 extra. For ordering, contact Maurice at info@bagsupplies.ca.

      Note: this size (14-16” loose, as they call it) stretches to create an 18″ wide earthbag wall the same size as standard polypropylene bags and tubing.

  89. H if you are looking for research that is already done for earthbags and such check out our projects site at my link. I personally have done some of the research myself. We are on open source non-profit posting all of our activities to share with other sustainable endeavors.

  90. Hi Owen;
    We are considering using your Torus home to build a clinic for providing returned combat veterans with PTSD and TBI diagnosis with therapy and counseling services. The services will also extend to their family members. We are looking at the earthbag system for constructing small cabins for them to reside in while attending the clinic. Each family will assist in the construction of a new cabin for the next family to visit until we have room to house 6 to 8 families at a time. Is it possible to obtain a “semi-engineering” set of plans for the Torus that we can use to see if it will fit or can be modified to make it work?

    • Email me. My address is at the top of the page under About Us.

      What do you mean by cabins? Will these be separate structures? What’s the location? What resources are most readily available? All too often people don’t fully consider the climate and local materials.

  91. Has anyone you know of tried applying polyurethane foam to polypropylene bags? Does open or closed pu foam adhere to pp? Maybe pu can be used to fill in the cracks between bags and then painted?

  92. Earthbag and Clay Plastering Workshop
    May 4 – May 10 2015
    Near Alicante, Spain

    Come to our beautiful olive grove in the mountains of Spain and learn in a fun and hands-on way how to make a disaster resistant eco dome with earthbags and no cement.

    The workshop will be lead by Earth, Hands and Houses founder Paulina Wojciechowska, a qualified architect who has over 17 years of experience building with earthbags in communities all around the world. Paulina worked alongside Nader Khalili at Cal-Earth in 1996 and is the author of “Building with Earth”, one of the leading earthbag construction books.

    Earth, Hands and Houses workshops are always a wonderful opportunity to enjoy learning and relaxing amongst like minded people, some who may become your friends for life!

    See earthhandsandhouses.org for more information or email info(at)earthhandsandhouses.org.

  93. hello. we are looking for someone to share/rent strapping tools and possibly split an order of strapping as they come in huge quantities. We would be willing to purchase leftovers as well. 600 lb minimum weight bearing as it is intended for roofing. We are in North Texas. If interested please contact me at juliemayo52@yahoo.com. thanks and happy building

  94. I have been reading a lot about earthbag construction and will be building a house in April in the Philippines. I have a question. Is it possible to paint the polypropylene bags (inside and/or outside) with a primer and then an enamel or latex based paint?

    • Test it out and see if it works. Some people paint the bags to temporarily protect them from UV damage, but I’m not sure of long term results. Maybe paint the bags for temporary protection, save up money and then apply plaster later.

      • I will be building on Cebu (about 2 hours south of Cebu City) up in the mountains in a small village called Bae on the Vegetable Hiway. I haven’t done any research trying to find pp tubing since I plan on using woven polypropylene rice bags. I find it very frustrating trying to track down sources for some of the items used in earthbag construction, such as pp tubing, rice bags, paint, etc. Since I an not yet in Bae I will have to visit the stores in Cebu City. I am moving the end of March and will start construction the beginning of April. If you live on Cebu maybe we can hook-up?

        • Polypropylene bags are used for rice, animal feeds and many other purposes. It takes a bit of time and effort, but you can track down suppliers.

    • Hi Dean. Where will you be building in the Philippines? I am from the Philippines and have just recently returned from my superadobe course at Cal-Earth. I need help in sourcing PP tube bags to build my earthen home.

    • Seems funny that no one has tried painting earthbags especially considering the advances in paint design. If specialized paints do the job It would sure be a lot quicker to spray it on than applying 2 or 3 coats of plaster by hand.

      • Yes, but most people prefer a smooth plaster finish than the rough shape of bags. People worldwide in general prefer neat, smooth, easy to clean, attractive finishes.

  95. Hi Michael and all,
    We are two families from Pelech, Israel.
    We are planning to start building our earthbag houses in july this year.
    We’ll love some help from volunteers, so please contact us.
    Michael, i tried to write you but your email address didn’t work…
    phone number : 0587905454

  96. my name is michael. i am 25 years old from israel. i am looking for an earthbag building project to volunteer. I want to experience the method, and get more knowledge about it. i am a hard worker and i have experience working with mud… my email is michaelalomg@yahoo.com

  97. I am looking long and hard into earthbag construction and the wall I’m hitting is actually the walls. Here in the NE US we need excellent insulation, but I don’t think I’m willing to make an entire house out of rice hulls.

    Instead, I was looking at the method that uses rice hulls to insulate roofs. Could I suspend chicken wire (or something like it that’s a bit more sturdy) about 3″-4″ off of the interior wall with large masonry screws, insert unfilled bags and then fill them with rice hulls, thereby creating a continuous and fitted layer of insulation that can be covered in cobb and makes a warm earthbag home a real thing up here in cold and rainy PA?

    I will continue to do my research and also we’re thinking of building a small shed in our back yard (hurricane Sandy made off with our metal one) using earthbags to see if the method is for us.

    Thank you for your consideration!

  98. does anyone have a formula for window placement to maximize air flow and cooling in an off grid hot desert environment? I’d love to know of a book, tutorial, etc. that teaches some systematic way to orient and place windows.

  99. For those in the Northeast– Sowing Solutions is offering a weekend series PERMACULTURE DESIGN CERTIFICATION COURSE ~

    Three inspiring and informative weekends: March 6-9, March 27-29, and April 18-20

    Weekend Series Course Format at Sirius EcoVillage near Amherst MA.

    Gain ecological design experience for your home landscape, as well as an internationally recognized permaculture design training and certification. Gather sustainable living skills alongside leading permaculture designers and educators while participating in life at a world-renowned ecovillage. Optional: 3 college credits are offered through the Five Colleges. Attend an experiential and life-changing permaculture training!!


    The Sowing Solutions Permaculture Design Certification offers a unique opportunity for students to gain hands-on permaculture experience and immerse themselves at Sirius EcoVillage- one of the most successful of intentional communities and ecovillages in the Northeastern, U.S.A., demonstrating community life, natural buildings, and well established permaculture designs!

  100. I really want to build an earthbag round home with reciprocal roof in Canton, TX. I live by myself so I am hoping that this project can become a workshop. I would be happy to volunteer on someone else’ earthbag home if it is within driving distance from me.

  101. Hello everyone interested in Rammed Earth Building 

    We are stoked about the beauty & functionality of Rammed Earth and would like to share our journey.
    We are very excited about our projects and other peoples as well as there are so many different ways in which to build.
    There are so many cool aspects of Rammed Earth building, the best ones being environmentally friendlier than current practices and of course it’s longevity.
    We encourage others to build with Rammed Earth. Here is a link to our projects,

  102. I had been asked to do a few sketch designs for Haiti and they asked for the same thing. They wanted to join two domes together in order to create a larger community room. I suggested that using earthbag domes as a large community space is not the best idea due to the limitations of the technology in regard to that particular design. You are correct in utilizing a straight wall to connect the domes together. It is a good plan and will succeed but in my experience, not worth it. Using a vault connection like Owen said is most likely the better option.

    Here is a link to some pics of the design.


  103. Superadobe Earth Dome workshop in Italy.

    23-29 August, Pontestura, Italy.

    Vide Terra organizes a 7 days superadobe workshop during which it will be built a 1.8m (6feet) internal diameter earth dome with a door and a window opening.
    The course will be held in English and Italian.
    The trainers will guide you in the construction of the dome and will share the practical and theoretical knowledge they gained during months of apprenciceship at the Cal-Earth Institute.

    More info: http://www.videterra.org/workshops.html

  104. Hi,

    I wanted to ask about building two connected domes – intuitivly it seems to me than at the plane of intersection of the domes should be built a flat vertical wall (which will have the shape of an arc on top I suppose). Like when two soap bubbles get connected you can see a flat surface connecting them.
    This have the big benefite of a flat wall inside a dome, and seems stronger in the way of whight bearing.

    what is your opinion?


  105. Hello –
    I work with a nonprofit Moab, UT building super energy efficient passive solar strawbale homes for low-income families through an affordable program that leverages volunteer labor from student interns from around the world. Our mission is to provide energy efficient housing, provide education on sustainability and improve the housing conditions of the workforce through an affordable program. And we’re looking for a natural building instructor for our Fall build! Here is the job description:

    Natural Building Instructor for Community Rebuilds
    Based in: Moab, Utah
    Reports to: Eco Logic Design Build

    Eco Logic Design Build seeks a qualified Natural Building Instructor / Project Supervisor for the Fall 2014 Community Rebuilds low-income straw bale home construction project.

    Key responsibilities and accountabilities:
    • Construction of a straw bale home from foundation to finish, using an all-volunteer intern crew
    • Application and instruction of both natural building and conventional building elements
    • Explanation of various benefits and drawbacks of building elements in both conventional construction and natural building
    • Application of best methods to meet building code and USDA standards
    • Proper tool use instruction and site safety supervision
    • Effective project scheduling, resource management and intern motivation to ensure home completion in 19 weeks
    • Foster working relationships with Community Rebuilds project coordinator and home owner
    • Creative problem solving around dwelling design elements and finishes

    Minimum requirements: Foreman experience in both conventional and natural building. Experience instructing preferred. Ability to read, understand, and teach residential architectural plans. Extensive experience in adobe floors, straw bale walls, cob walls, earth and lime plasters. Knowledge of advanced framing techniques and truss erection. History of maintaining quality builder/client relationships. Experience in accurate material take-offs, ordering and selection. Ability to maintain quality sub-contractor and supplier relationships. Understanding of the current IRC and energy codes.
    Position runs from July 28th, 2014 to December 20, 2014. Pay based on experience.

    Eco Logic Design Build is the intern instruction sub-contractor for Community Rebuilds. We are based in Moab, Utah and build energy-efficient commercial and residential structures integrating various building methods. We build structures beyond conventional, incorporating natural building techniques wherever appropriate and desired.

    At Community Rebuilds we aid income-qualifying families in building affordable and energy-efficient straw bale homes. We are a nonprofit that provides assistance during all stages of the build. Before breaking ground we act as a free consultant for interested families, by connecting them with low interest rate loans and supplying stamped architectural plans free of cost. During the build we manage the build process and budget, and we provide a labor force of unpaid volunteer interns. http://www.communityrebuilds.org

    Interested parties may email a cover letter, resume, and two references from a related field to:

    Eric Plourde, owner Eco Logic Design Build eric@ecologicmoab.com

  106. Round House For Sale or possible partnership or caretaker, due to illness, on a 33 foot Round Earth Bag home on the Beach, 2 stories, Metal Roof in Belize Central America 3/4 acre, great soil for growing, wind and solar powered off Grid. Very private Road and Beach. Concrete Stucco over bags inside and out, Double screen rooms on upper and lower floors 2 foot thick walls. Very cool inside great Sea breezes. My Dad got sick and I can’t be there anymore. I am reducing it to $175,000 for a quick sale. You’re paying for the sea front land and the building. Deed in English. The only English speaking government and documents in all of Central America. Belize was an English Common Wealth at one time. Contact Peter in USA 4o74l7l679 I have construction pictures and videos also. I followed Owen’s Building techniques. No Zoning you can build whatever you like in Belize.

  107. I’m finally heading up to my build site to get the last bit of planning done and start work. Once I’ve got some work done I’ll post something.

  108. Dear All, I am thinking about building – or arranging a team to build with myself working alongside – a natural (preferably round) home in Barbados. Is there anyone out there who has built in the Caribbean or would please be able to put me in touch with someone who knows? I am brand new to this movement, very interested and keen really to work with a team who would let me learn as we go. I’m attracted to natural house-building aesthetically,ecologically and financially! I’m after something visually lovely. That’s important for me. Something that complements the land. Please feel free to contact me via my website http://www.realrevolutionhealing.co.uk Many thanks.

  109. I just posted this to a comment section on a post about poly bag prices, and realized that this would be the best place to post, so I’m reposting here. (sorry)

    I did just did a Craigslist search and this is what I found:

    FREE used feed bags, woven poly bags, 50# size (Milwaukie)-
    We have about 32 cu ft of these bags, they are bundled into 3 big plastic bags. They can be used for all kinds of things. Earth Bag Buildings are the most popular use I know of. They are mostly white with red writing, but other misc feed bags are mixed in, too.
    link to the ad:


    It seems to have been posted about 16 hours ago (from now) so if you’re in the Portland area, this might be a good find for you.

    Good luck!

  110. Hello Owen –

    Thanks for your blog. Lots of great information. I am considering adding a blog link on our rural arizona land site at http://www.azcabin.com and I am wondering if you would allow others to grab info from your site (like the recent story on evaporative refrigerators) and give you credit for the work (and also link back to your site). It would be great if we could do that. Let me know. I have been reading your blog posts for a year or two now and I really appreciate the work you do.

    • This is common practice on the Internet. You can quote a reasonable amount of text and then cite the reference.

  111. Hi Owen,

    I would be interested in getting involved in Community One or a similar project, and helping to build the pods. It looks like a great plan. Hopefully the permitting of the structures goes through. If you know of any communities that are currently in the building phase, I’d be happy to get involved this summer. Here’s some info on me that I posted recently.


    • Consider going to a place like North Dakota, Wyoming or Montana where there are more jobs. Alaska is very beautiful, but also very remote, lonely and extremely harsh.

      And remember earthbags filled with soil is all thermal mass, which means it has virtually no insulation. Either add rigid board insulation on the outside (easy way) or fill the bags with insulating material such as scoria/lava rock (slightly more tricky but more natural). Lava rock is available in many places. Search our blog for Earthbag Casita for one example.

  112. Hi, just wondering if there are any existing earthbag communities out there to move to. Preferably in the US… I could buy my own lot, or buy a section of someone’s existing lot. Thanks, Pyrrho.

  113. Also for Anna:

    I happened to find these as well:


    Mother Earth News also has a significant amount of information:


    I could easily post a dozen more links to Goat articles from Mother Earth News.

    The point I’m trying to make is to read and learn from others who have worked successfully with whatever animal you are keeping. See what features they find most helpful in whatever structure you seek for your animals.

    For example, the first M.E.N. article I listed speaks of including a small insulated viewing room for humans with a window looking out on the kidding area. It helps keep the humans comfortable during long waits. Something I never would have considered without reading that article.

  114. Anne:

    There are multitudes of free plans available for the types of structures that you describe.

    Most of those plans are geared toward today’s commercialized wasteful expensive construction practices.

    However, it is not particularly difficult to learn from those designs and adapt them to be built with natural materials.

    One of the best resources I have ever found on this subject is the Canadian Plans Service. I encourage you to browse through these plans and find structures that have the functions and features that you seek. Then look into methods of building those structures with inexpensive natural materials. At least that gives you a good starting point.


  115. I am taking on a hybrid dome project. Still in the design phase of it. The steps I’m taking is paper > scale model > build. 10 meter round house walls, ferrocement dome or monolithic roof, living roof. I need a fireproof home since I will be living in timberland country of eastern Washington state. Have you seen anyone try it this way?

    • That can work. It’s best to build a small tool shed or something similar first so you can practice your skills.

      Living roofs are very heavy so be sure to build the roof extra strong and use good waterproof membrane.

  116. Hi all,

    We will near Portland, Oregon and have lots of rain (especially this winter but better than all the snow most of the country had!) and we want to start building earthbag shelters for our animals. We have mostly sloped ground and were hoping to use the earth as well as earthbags to construct permanent shelters to our Heritage Guinea Hogs (250 lbs full grown), Nubian Dairy Goats (150 – 200 lbs full grown) as part of a rotational grazing system (we might get to the point where we try intensive rotational grazing but the animals still need shelter so not sure what to do with that). We have chickens that free range with the goats and hogs and we plan on chicken tractors for those down the road.

    My question is, are there “plans” we can purchase somewhere for animal shelters? We would like some light to come in but more importantly we need them to be water proof and dry in the winter so we can put hay in for bedding and the animals in that rotation can go in and bed down in there for warmth or shade in summer.

    Also, is there a list of people by area who have built these so we could enlist the help of someone who has done this or learn by helping them build structures nearby?

    Thank you in advance!


    • There are no plans, but you don’t need any for something this simple. Our websites have thousands of pages of free information. All you have to do is read some general information like this article: http://www.instructables.com/id/Step-by-Step-Earthbag-Building/ Watch some of my free videos: http://www.youtube.com/user/naturalhouses Then decide if you want to build small domes or small roundhouses/oval designs (curved shapes are strongest). You can berm the sides of each shelter with earth to divert water and improve insulation. Face the doorway toward the sun. Plaster the outside with cement plaster and the inside where the sunlight can hit the bags. You can often find recycled bags at feed stores. That’s about it. No need to research this for days and days.

  117. Hi. My husband and I are thinking about building a rectangular earthbag home. We live in Iowa so winter is a concern. We are thinking of filling bags with crushed limestone and water. To those experienced with earthbag building does this sound like a good option? Obviously we know we need to do some test bags first.

    Second question- does anyone have a good formula for calculating how much fill is needed to fill x amount of bags?

    As far as added insulation- Iowa gets super cold- we are thinking about spray foam insulation on the outside of the bags before our exterior treatment.

    Any thoughts would be much appreciated! Thanks!

    • I was born in Iowa and spent time there growing up on a farm. You definitely want to add exterior insulation. Most modern adobe houses use foam board insulation coated with plaster. Two inch rigid foam is common. Same thing can be done with earthbag houses. You could also add vertical nailers with foam board between and siding. I’m more of a carpenter person so siding is appealing more so than plaster.

      Fill material can be calculated by testing one earthbag. Measure how much you put in the bag (ex: 5 buckets). Tamp it solid. If the final dimensions are satisfactory then you can use this to calculate the volume for the entire house by multiplying times the total number of bags. Another way is to calculate the total volume of the walls using basic volume equations (ex: volume of a rectangle, volume of a cylinder). These can be found online in case your math is rusty. Then add extra because the soil will compact quite a bit. Compaction varies from material to material, so do your own test bag.

  118. Rory:

    If I understand your question correctly, you are interested in becoming a professional builder of natural homes, and are not sure where to start.

    My recommendation is that you find someone near you that is already building the types of natural buildings that you want to build, and try to get a job working for them.

    Learn everything you can from experienced builders. Become a sponge. Absorb every bit of knowledge and every time saving trick. Learn from others’ successes as well as their mistakes.

    This time will become invaluable to you.

    While you are working for someone else, take the time to supplement your skill set as appropriate. Do you have experience in business management? Do you know how to perform quality bookkeeping? Even if you hire someone to keep your books for you, it’s important to be able to know if that bookkeeper is doing their job well.

    Natural Builders tend to be the most open and accepting of new builders. They tend to love to share what they know with others much more than typical builders today. Take great advantage of this opportunity. It will greatly enhance your chances of success.

    Don’t be shy about working with several different builders. Learn several different types of Natural Construction. Decide for yourself what makes sense for you to focus your efforts on.

    Spend your evenings reading this entire blog. Dig into every link Owen and Kelly provide and read as many other blogs as you can find. Learn from the successes and failures of others.

    What types of construction work best in the region you want to live? What is most popular? What is most popular?

    Once you have learned enough to satisfy yourself that you are ready, then strike out on your own and start your business with confidence.

    In the end, your business success will be determined by the QUALITY of the work you perform, and how well you control your bookkeeping.

    Remember the time honored axiom. “You can have it Good, Fast, Cheap, but you can only have two out of the three. Pick which two you want, because you won’t be able to get the third once you have the two you chose.”

    I wish you great success. Enjoy the journey you are starting.

    A lot of what I just said is simple common sense, and perhaps you have already thought of a lot if not most of what I said. In any case, hopefully there is something in my comment that will be helpful to you.

  119. Hi, My name is Kennedy Im from Colorado. I just retired from the army. I enlisted young and retired young. Im seeking a new career path in this field. Hope you professionals can advise me how can i start please

    • We have thousands of pages of free information on our sites. Read what we have published and let us know if you have questions.

  120. Thanks for the answer! I appriciate it and your greate work of making your expansive and helpful experiance so avaliable.
    I have another question,
    I live in The north of Israel, on a windy hill which can rain about 800mm in a typical wet winter. Also winters here can be pretty cold, with an daily average of 8 degrees celsius in the cold part of the winter. I think about using polyurethane fome as outer isolation, for a few reasons whinch include complete water resistance, resistance to crackes which comes from it’s flexibility, the best r value around and ease of aplication. Also it becomes totally inert when cured immidiatly after application.

    What is your opinion?

  121. I’m planning on building an earthbag home.
    I want to rise again the question of rust and barbed wire.
    I’ve seen on your page on durability of barbed wire outside that it will last for >100 years if not tuching the ground. In an earthbag bulding it will touch earth, that if not entire sealed will “breath” and retine some precentage of moisture.
    Moreover, in my site the earth contains lots of lime, And that i know iron, evey zinc coated, rust rapidly when in tuch with limestone.
    What is your opinion?
    What about experiance in examining consistancy of barbed wire in old earthbag building?

    Thank you,

    • Very few earthbag buildings have been torn apart and examined and so there’s a lack of hard evidence. I would say buy high quality barbed wire and you should be okay. Always raise the building site or build on high ground so water drains away from the building in all directions. Use gravel bags on lower courses so water can’t wick up in the wall. Use wide roof overhangs to protect the walls.

  122. Hi, my husband and I have been researching earthbag building as a way to build our home (we are in a small temporary cabin.) I am on board with the dome home idea, but do have some questions.

    We live in south central Alaska. Plan to start building this summer. We would like to build a earth bermed (including sod roofed) multi-dome structure. One of the domes would be a garage. With a good arched opening, would it be possible to install a garage style door? Something large enough to pull a good sized pickup truck through? Or would a dome not handle this?

    Our soil here is mostly gravel and sand which is what we would use to fill the bags and would include a bit of portland cement in each bag to help hold it together as we do not have much for clay here.

    Have you heard of anyone building earthbag in Alaska? We did find something about a man in Fairbanks but tried emailing and posting on his page to ask questions and received no response. Would love to find someone building in similar conditions even outside of Alaska to correspond with.

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated. We are on a very tight budget so can’t afford to have the thing collapse and have to start over.

    • Doni and Kaki’s earthbag book does a good job describing how to build earthbag domes. Domes are best for small structures in dry climates. It takes a lot of effort to prevent moisture damage. And if you get a leak, it’s awkward to fix. Also, there are size limitations on window and door openings since domes are in compression. It would be difficult trying to install a garage door in a dome. Lava rock would be the best choice for bag material in cold climates. Search our sites for information on scoria (lava rock).

      I recommend something like my Zero Energy One earthbag house if you can get local wood for the roof: http://earthbagplans.wordpress.com/2010/09/14/zero-energy-one-2/
      Building vertical walls like this would be much more straightforward, especially if you use a post and beam frame so you can work under cover and protect the bags.

      Also note, always make a small tool shed, etc. so you can learn the basics at low cost/low risk.

    • I think they use the Alternative Building Materials section. The engineer/architect must make their case to convince the building officials it’s safe.

  123. Hi, My name is Kennedy Im from Colorado. I just retired from the army. I enlisted young and retired young. Im seeking a new career path in this field. Hope you professionals can advise me how can i start please

  124. Hi All I have just purchased half a ton of burlap coffee sacks,850 give or take a few, boy do they stink, they are raw beans not the roasted variety and they kept me company for about 300 miles. Now the problem arises that it is better to use a magnesium oxide phosphate cement on organic material. Well just try to get magnesium oxide here in Beaufort North Carolina I am having a very hard time locating magnesium oxide I want the reactive variety. I can get it from china or india min order 100 metric tons but very difficult locally. Anybody have any ideas about how to get it?e-mail nihongo@embarqmail.com Thanks

  125. Hi all,

    My name is Grzegorz. I am an architect from Poland, but for last 3 years I have lived in Romania with my wife Maria. We are trying to promote natural building here. Please have a look at our recent campaign on Indiegogo.
    We need your support us! We are trying to spread the word about straw bale building in Romania. This technique is virtually unknown in this country, so we need to reach as many people as possible. We want to attend a big construction fair in Bucharest, the capital of Romania, and we are unable to cover all the expenses on our own. We are addressing our appeal to all straw bale builders, straw bale house owners and straw bale enthusiasts. 
    Help us spread the knowledge and the joy!
    Please share and if you are feeling generous your small donation will mean so much for us!


    Best greetings to all!

  126. Hi Owen,
    Hoping you could comment:

    I’m in Australia and we have very strict building codes. Nonetheless, I’ve been looking at Goulburn Yurts http://yurtworks.com.au/ and wondering if there’s some way of combining earthbag building with their Yurt frames.

    They sell ‘skeleton kits’, and if you have a look you can get an idea of their building process; http://yurtworks.com.au/skeleton-kit/ – Although their yurts larger than 5.1metres obviously have vertical walls. Do you think a straight infill earthbag wall system might work for a 6.1 metre/8.4 metre yurt? How could we stabilize the walls?

    Also, they build on raised platforms. Would earthbags work under those circumstances?

    Last question – have you got any courses coming up?


    • I believe I wrote a blog post about insulating yurts with bags or tubes of insulation. Straw bales are too thick for most applications. They take up too much space. But bags or tubes could work perfectly in yurts. Read my blog post about Thin Wall Earthbags. Watch for more blog posts on this topic. I may do a thin wall earthbag workshop in the future. December would work well for me.

  127. Speaking of dome homes we have a blueprint design and materials list for a small 200ft dwelling on our website.
    It is an open source portal for world change, all information is free to use and to share. I can’t wait to get started on the earth bag homes.

  128. YAY Adam!!!! Kauai has been on our “to go” list for while….for me way before I knew I was going to build a dome home. Also, have made a couple of connections in Kauai re: dome building. The circles are starting to connect!!!!

  129. Does anyone have any experience of building with earthbags in Britain or Northern Europe please?
    I’m trying out a retaining wall but everything I look at for advice is in warm climates.
    I live in Wales, it’s wet, cool to cold in Autumn and Winter. Any advice? Thanks

    • Use gravel bags and allow for drainage as outlined in our blog posts and my ebook and you’ll be fine. Always protect the bags from UV or buy special bags made for retaining walls (= much more expensive probably).

    on north shore KAUAI
    -building a Music Studio Dome / Hurricane Shelter on our Organic Farm!!!!

    I have followed this blog for some years!
    I love this site and respect Owens opinion greatly.
    This is my first time contacting you about earth bag building. I am friends with FOX, James Goulab, Gabe and Lisa Starr. I helped bag Bonita Domes in Joshua Tree CA in 2011.

    The reason why I am posting on the blog for the first time is:

    I am currently drawing up plans for a 15′ dome built on an 18″ high double buttressed stemwall using: Raschel Mesh Bags filled with native Oxisol soil, lime and Coconut Husk fibers woven between double strand barbwire atop a cement foundation.

    I have done numerous soil tests and I am very very pleased with the results. Coconut fibers are one of the strongest natural fibers I can find and work amazingly incased in Earth and Lime.

    I am calling for help.
    I am looking for 2 experienced earth-bag builders to come live and build on our organic farm on north shore kauai. We offer a place to camp, produce from the gardens, fruit from the orchards, small stipend, and the experience of living and working on an organic farm.

    Maybe you have the experience / drive / time/ willingness to learn / curiosity to come help.

    I would love to have people email me if they are interested in coming to kauai and working on this project with us.

    aus.machen at gmail.com

    We have the crew ready to mobilize and
    We have all the supplies ready to go.

    • 1 yard cement mixer w/ conveyer
    • Kubota Tracktor w/ loader
    • 3000′ Raschel Polymesh bag
    • Custom Aluminum Center Pole Compass
    • 1 Pallet Construction Grade Lime
    • Coffee Cans, Shovels, and all Misc. Tools
    • 16″ PVC window forms
    • Double Door Form

    I look forward to hearing from anyone at anytime!

  131. Permculture Design Course at Ashevillage Institute in Asheville, NC
    We are seeking support from like-minded organizations such as yours to help spread the word that registration is open for Ashevillage Institute’s PERMACULTURE DESIGN COURSE in Asheville, NC, April 12-26.
    David Holmgren, the co-originator of Permaculture will be a live-stream guest presenter!

    Website: http://ashevillage.org/PDC. Many thanks!!
    Jess Gulla jess@ashevillage.org

  132. Hi Owen,

    i am following your projects since long time and i am about to start my Earthbaghouse pretty soon.

    As you showed in some video some bag/ soil tests i did so as well on the soild we had on the property.

    We removed around 50 cm of topsoil to have mostly organic matter free soild for the bags, deeper would prolly be better thou, but after digging 2 meter deep the soil fills with water already, so cant go much deeper with the pool and hence therefore have less soil for my bags.

    My Bag Test so far are a bit confusing to me.
    1 Bag i did with just pure roadbase, some yellowish clay with lots of stones. it had lots of crackles after 3 weeks drying but kinda survived the drop test (1m falling into gras) although maybe one 3rd cracked away

    2 Bag was normal soil with 10% cement added, this one seems to be the strongest, still lots of crackles thou, but it survived the drop test the best.

    I did some other bag tests, but they are far worse not worth mentioning.

    Comparing my results to your video, its that our soil here still looks brownish, and not reddish like yours. We are here in Chiangmai area. And my idea was to buy some clay i could add to the mix, but nobody seeem to be able to tell me where to buy clay and what the thai name for it might be.

    I am bit clueless on my building material at the moment, any advice / input would be appreciated. None of my bag tests where as solid as yours.

    I have to admit thou that i made mini bags, just cause i dont have so much soil to fill a normal bag yet. but the minibags they had proper dimensions compared to the big bags.

    thank you

    • Some cracks are okay. The main thing is the earthbags should hold together, not just crumble or easily break apart. Any type of road base should be fine. Yours would be stronger with added clay. Talk to a university art professor for natural clay deposits in your area.

  133. Bruce, where is Texas? We also live in Texas (near Glen Rose) and are researching this as an option. If you needed it we may be interested in helping you as a learning opportunity for us….email me at tebar24@aol.com. Thanks!

  134. Good Evening Mr. Geiger,

    It’s a pleasure to see your beautiful work with Earth bag. Watching your video motivate me to build my house with Earth bag. I plan to build about 2000 Sq ft, two stories home and 20 feet high. I would like to ask you, if you would please give me an estimate of how many bags you think I will need. I am thinking about 7 bedrooms 4 Full baths and 2 (1/2 bath) 1 kitchen, 1 family room, 1 dining room and 1 LV room. Also will it be possible to give me an estimate of the roofing cost? IS it possible to put the roofing after I built only the outside walls without the inside wall? What is the best building material to use for roofing and flooring? Do I need any kind of Insulation? Would you consider travel in the Caribbean Island to do a project? If yes, how much will you charge to travel? Thank you for your time.



  135. Mr Geiger,

    Once again thank you so much! I have taken all of this advice to heart, and landandfarm.com does seem to be a very good site, in less than an hour I found about 30 properties of interest.

    What are your thoughts on the 35 acres min. to get a domestic well permit in CO? That has been our base requirement thus far in our land search. Given the water shortage issues in some parts of CO it seems to make the most sense to me to look for 35+ acres.

    Eventually we would like to have some livestock for butchering etc as well as a large garden for growing veggies.

    We could go with a smaller parcel but logically to me 35+ acres makes sense and it seems as if plots that big are readily available for $18K-$65K. Of course cheap is good…but water is better!:) I see how this could be a lengthy process to find that “perfect” spot.

    • It’s getting increasingly difficult to get well drilling permits due to the ‘water wars’ in the West. Water is like liquid gold and so there have been decades of litigation over who gets it. It’s also getting more difficult and expensive to drill wells due to dropping water tables. So research this carefully.

      It’s easy to find land for sale, but very difficult to find good land. You could look at 100 pieces of land and find they’re all over grazed wind swept barren prairies of tumbleweed. So plan on a year of searching or be prepared to pay more money for land around Crestone or some place similar.

      Any good land won’t be cheap. Cheap land is cheap for a reason. Almost nobody wants it.

  136. Mr Geiger,

    Thanks so much for all the information you provided. There is so much information online that it’s actually confusing! Straw bale was my original choice, then we found earthbag, then rice hull bags…they all sounded so very promising.

    I grew up on a farm in rural Missouri and am somewhat familiar with at least “basic” construction, and post and beam sounds as if it might be the way to go.

    It does sound like Colorado might be the place to go, even counties that have a building code seem like they are willing to entertain alternative ideas.

    Do you,or any of the other readers here have suggestions on a specific area? We are hoping to be able to find the magic 35 acres that gives us domestic well rights but also have heard horror stories about 700ft wells!!Cisterns are not out of the question but with a large family we would really like to have an on-site water supply.

    I really enjoy your website and will be taking all the advice you have offered me and others and when we do get started I will be sure to video the process and start a blog.

    • All the natural building methods discussed here are promising. The challenge is to learn what works best in a particular situation.

      You’ll probably want to move to the area. Buying land is a time consuming process. Sort of like finding a needle in a haystack. Plan on doing lots of driving. Get a vehicle that can maneuver rough roads if you’re looking for rural land.

      Make a list of things you’re primarily interested in. Driving distance to the nearest town that has a building supply center, supermarket, etc.? Remote location? Adjoining national forest or BLM land? Price range? Community? Do you want to be near other like minded people? Climate? Number of acres?

      There are real estate websites where you can search for various parameters. We’ve covered this on our blog before. Here’s one: https://naturalbuildingblog.siterubix.com/land-and-farm-com/

  137. We are looking to build either with straw-bale or earthbag…thinking southern Colorado. I have tried to research rice hull construction or some other readily available form of insulation. What would work best say at 7500 ft in southern CO? We have a large family of 7, we don’t want something huge but a dome seems way small. Would it be possible to use rice hulls AND earthbags like 2 rows of bags side by side?

    Also, do you think it would be possible to partially set a quonset hut into a hillside then go over the top with rice hull bags and cob? Basically using the Q-hut as a “form” and for support?

    I have tons of questions, we currently live in western Florida and it’s just not “us”…we want to be back on the land. We both come from rural backgrounds and want to raise our family in a more simple fashion.

    Does anyone know of any quality workshops or of anyone in Florida that is building with earthbags? Would love to help and of course learn before taking on this project.

    Also if anyone knows of 35+ acres reasonably priced in S. Colorado we would love to hear from you as well. Or from those already living in that area.

    Best Wishes to all,
    The Robertsons

    • Southern CO is an excellent choice. That’s where I lived for 30 years or so. Look for micro-climates that aren’t too harsh. Some areas get brutally cold. Search for areas with ground water. Avoid high fire risk areas. Lots of places have minimal building codes. That’s why there are alternative structures all over.

      Scoria (lava rock) is readily available south of Alamosa near the NM border. This is the optimum material in the area. (That and straw bales.) You can order by the dump truck load. Get 1/2″-3/4″ screened lava rock.

      One good combination: post and beam frame using wood from local saw mills or forests, scoria earthbags for insulated foundation, 12″ scoria under the floor, straw bale walls. Get the roof up first. Use metal roofing for roofwater catchment. Add rain barrels. Buy bales in Alamosa from Albert Francis (famous for best bales in the multi-state region). The beauty of this plan is the speed and ease of construction. No reason to buy books, search online for hundreds of hours or attend workshops. Relax. It’s super simple. And you don’t have to be built like a linebacker. Everyone can contribute. The main thing is to read up on standard carpentry. You need to know basic carpentry. Check out a book from the library that has lots of drawings and photos. Skip over complicated parts. Focus on learning the basics.

      Start small and add on later! Jumping in over your head is an invitation for disaster. If your plan can’t be easily expanded later, then build a guesthouse first.

      Start a free blog and watch how the stars align in your favor. People want to learn and do what you’re doing and will gladly come by to help for a day or two. Give them a place to camp or have a campground nearby and supply two meals a day plus water.

      Also, I highly suggest taking a tour of alternative homes in Crestone. There are somewhere around 125-150 sustainable homes in this small town. You can learn a lot here. There are expert natural builders all over the place. They’ll gladly flip open their portfolio and share this experiences.

  138. HELP

    Is there any one ho can help us to build a house in long earth bag in THAILAND -SISAKET
    I have 5 ore 6 men ho can do the job ( filling the bags) bud we need somebody whit experience to lead the project .
    The house is around 130 m² .
    If interested i can send some photos from the plot

    • See today’s blog post about confined earthbags. Thais know how to build posts and beams with concrete and so this is a very good and easy way to utilize earthbags. Email me if you have questions.

  139. I am about to start an earthbag project inTexas. I have located 18″x30″ polypropylene bags for 20 cents each. They are imported and the weave is 10×10 and 800 denier. Can anyone tell me if these bags will work well for building earthbag walls?


  140. we know it is a large dome. Our starter house still has to hold all 6 of us with out a murder being planned. It can be cramped in the sleeping loft but the main floor needs to feel spacious. That is divided in to 2 floors only 952.6 sq ft for 6 people. Please don’t suggest a round house because every roof option we can find would almost triple our budget. So all we are trying to figure out is buttressing how many how far apart and I have read lots of your blog and have not found a definite answer. If you could point us to the entry that says a formula or something of that nature. I would be just as happy. Thank you

  141. hi owen we have finally decided on what we think we want to do so one question for a 27 foot interior diameter dome how much buttressing would we need. for earthbag done with a stabilized earth fill?

  142. Due to the recent natural disasters happening all over the country this past year we have decided to design an earthbag Storm Safety Shelter! It has been designed using the ICC-500 and the FEMA 320 as the guide and is in the process of being sent to the National Storm Shelter Association for further review in order to get fully certified. The current plans are for underground but can be used for above ground as well. They are available for purchase @ http://www.unitedearthbuilders.com/#!archplans/c1w0w

    Thank you for this blog and all you earth builders that make it happen everyday!

    • James, this gave me a big smile. As you know, I’m been promoting earthbag shelters and storm shelters for a long time. You’ve done an excellent job in taking the idea to a new level. Looks great. I’ll probably run this tomorrow on the blog. Thanks for sharing.

  143. Earthbag Building organization team member wanted. We organize workshops
    and facilitate building projects around the world, from Africa to
    Europe, Asia to USA. You have to be able to pay for your own food in
    between projects and pay a 300 euro/month apprenticeship fee for the
    first 3 months.

    • I have been using this cool smart phone application from Stanley and it works quite well. There are dozens of pre-loaded items, from electrical, to appliances, to furniture, all standard sized, so once you set up your room and the appropriate square footage, you can also see what the various furniture items might look like inside.



  145. I need to construct a 1000 sft 12′ high building. I prefer an earthbag roundhouse because of the stability and cooler interiors. I am in dilemma regarding the roofing. To achieve 1000 sft, the radius of the building will be about 20′. Please suggest me a suitable perrmanent/semipermanent roofing for this proposed 40′ dia eb roundhouse. Thanks.

    • Earthbag buildings over 30 feet in diameter need some sort of buttressing ore reinforcement, as do long straight walls.

      Smaller diameter buildings are also easy to roof.

      Our blog has lots of roof options. You can browse our blog by categories (see right side of page). Click on Roofs and you can read about many different projects.

      I like reciprocal roofs, pole roofs made with compression rings (like our earthbag roundhouse) and manufactured trusses. It’s hard to find really long poles in most places and so you may have to build trusses if you go with 30′ diameter.

    • I don’t know exactly what your design criteria are, but I’ll throw in a few thoughts that may or may not be applicable to your particular situation.

      Does your 1000sqft HAVE to be all in one room?

      Does the structure HAVE to be a roundhouse?

      Roundhouses are great, but anytime somone create a very large roof span, the difficulty, complexity, and the cost of the project goes up very rapidly.

      I suggest taking a good long hard look at exactly how you anticipate using the structure to determine if it is absolutely necessary that the interior space be all one room, and round.

      If you will be dividing up the large space anyway, then it makes sense to design smaller spaces that are easier to span roofs over using inexpensive commonly available materials.

      Alternatively you can change the shape. A long narrow structure can still provide 1000 sqft, but the narrow width can be very simple and inexpensive for a roof to span.

      My comment isn’t inteded to provide you with the answers to the questions you posed, but to encourage you to ask yourself questions about whether the design you are considering is the best one for your situation.

      Architects such as Owen are a great resource to help you think through these kinds of questions.

      The best designs begin by asking what they need a building to do, and then design the optimal structure to satisfy those needs.

      Perhaps you have already gone through this process. I have no way of knowing.

      In any case, never be afraid to question your own assumptions. Make certain that you are building the best structure for what you need it to do for the price you can afford.

      I wish you well with your project.

        • I thought you might like that. :p

          My Grandpa used to say that too many people build houses the same way the get a dog.

          They say they want a nice dog to sit on their lap, then fall in love with an extremely cute puppy and take him home. A puppy that turns out to be a Great Dane.

          Nothing against Great Danes. If someone knows how to handle one.

  146. I was once going to build an earthbag house, but things change, so…..

    I have 6000 polypropylene bags. 32″x15″ w/4″ gusset. Rated at 1200 uv hours. The gusset ensures that you have a full 15″ width when the bag is filled.

    I live in Montana, near Red Lodge. I’m asking $0.20/bag, but will negotiate a price for larger quantities. Buyer would probably have to pick up.

  147. Hi, I am Jacqueline.
    I want to build a home in Canada, have very little money.
    but I want it to be on stilts, how do support the floor
    with possible concrete, due I build a sub-floor and pour concrete over it. Of course I will have helpers

    • You could pour concrete on top of a wood floor, but why? Is it for radiant heat flooring (PEX)? Make sure the floor joists are strong enough. Talk to a carpenter if you’re not sure. Get a book from the library for details.

  148. Hi Barry

    I am about to start building an eco-lodge to the west of Kisumu at Kisian. I have gathered a lot of info including Owen’s DVD and E-book.

    Please call me on 0733 458 101 if you need assistance or email me at tskenya@gmail.com.

    Are you filling with the local black cotton clay or mixing in sand? Is it strong enough?

  149. At last I have enough polypropylene bags to switch on the button for a school I have designed at my village land in Kano Plains, Kisumu in Western Kenya. The villagers are curious to find out why I am filling these bags with earth. But am keeping it all under wraps until I have over 2000 bags filled ready for the realization of this dream school.Am really excited at this prospect that an earthbag school will take shape at our village where people are struggling to put up decent shelter.

  150. Hey friends,

    Volunteer in Your Community (VIYC) is calling for volunteers to help build a cob structure in Pleasant Garden near Greensboro, North Carolina on the weekends of August 3 – 4, 2013 and August 10 – 11, 2013 from 1 pm to 4 pm each day. Help this community get a new building and learn cob building techniques.

    VIYC’s mission is to actively provide assistance to the impoverished, connect them to available resources that address the causes of their poverty, educate them and support them in reaching stable financial independence.

    Cob is an ancient, inexpensive building method comprised of sand, clay, and straw that VIYC is using to construct a meeting place for their volunteer group. The demonstration cob house will be on the community garden site and function as a community kitchen. It will also be an example of “a cost effective environmentally friendly house that can help combat homelessness.”

    Wear comfortable clothing and shoes that can get muddy.

    Please join us at 805 Stoney Hill Circle, Pleasant Garden, NC 27406.

    For details, directions, and to sign up contact Tinece Holman-Boykin at (336) three,three, four -2984 or email viyc.volunteers(at)gmail.com.

  151. Hello,
    My husband and I are about to start building a sandbag home in Southeastern Oklahoma. If you have built a home or working on a home we would love to hear from you and learn more about building a sandbag home. Thanks!

    • Hi Sherlynn,

      We are getting ready to build an earthbag home on our property in East Central Oklahoma……north of Okemah. Would love to connect with you guys and exchange ideas.

  152. hi I am very interested in volunteering to help build an earthbag house for my own experience. I am not great with lifting but I am great at organizing, motivating and many other activities I have seen in the building videos. If you need help in the Illinois/Wisconsin/Michigan TriState area please send me an email. I am excited to learn more and help others in the process. Sometime in the future I hope to build a home of my own.

    Email me, namaste203@gmail.com, thanks.

  153. Hi,
    Please do you supply detailed construction drawings for your house plans?
    I am planning a small strawbale cabin (800 – 950 sq ft) and actauuly really need a foundation plan (I thought maybe slab on grade) and a post and beam framing plan.
    Thank you and regards,
    Annette Kennedy

  154. Hi Owen,

    i read pretty much everything on Earthbags what i could get in my hands including your book. However all books sort of miss out to have a good explanation on how to do the floor in the EB house later on.

    So at my current state of planning i couldnt find a good answer on those questions, i would be happy if you comment on them.

    1) i belief a living roof should be the best heat protection, but for a massive weight of 40 cm soil my quess is that i need a reinforced cement layer as roof which is like 15 cm thick i guess, would you put the ceiling above the bond beam are same with the bondbeam?

    2) i read somewhere (no idea where it was) its better to remove most of the organic topsoil, so i did, but we removed like 50 cm of the topsoil now, and i am wondering with what to fill it up now, (removing 50 cm topsoil was prolly not smart i slowly figure) – is there a good idea to solve this issue with a earther floor?

    thx in advance

    • You can do floors pretty much any way you want. The lowest cost would be some type of earthen floor. Search our blog for earthen floors and the number eleven (I source 11 earth floor methods). Example: CEBs set on a bed of sand is very efficient. That eliminates waiting months for the floor to dry. Put 6 mil poly under the floor. Consider adding insulation such as scoria under the floor.

      Living roofs are tricky. They’re heavy, require special construction methods to support the extra weight and take a lot of maintenance. It’s far simpler to use metal roofing, MCR tile or wood shingles. But they sure look good.

      Topsoil: The fastest way is to have a tractor scrape the site before you build. Stockpile it out of the way and put it back around your house after construction is complete.

      Road base: Build up the site with compacted road base so the land slopes away from the house in all directions. Add the moist road base in 6″ layers and then drive a truck or tractor back and forth to compact it. Ideally you’d let it sit one year, especially if there’s a lot of fill.

      Concrete roof: You could pour the roof and bond beam at one time (monolithic). That’s the strongest. Working with concrete though (especially up off the ground) is hard work. It might be easier for you to do the bond beam first and then do the roof later. Do it in two steps so it’s not so overwhelming. Study the details on how this is done.

  155. ok I’m sure someone has asked and i just missed it some where but how much do you charge for a custom plan that can be engineer stamped? it would need to be something that would at least pass the UBC. we have 2 designs in mind 1 is for the ok we get a loan and do it all at once and one is the ok we need to do it in stages so stage one has to still be livable by 6 people and stag 2 would mean we had more then just mattress space and space for guest if need be. with a connecting pantry corridor.

  156. ok help. sort of my mother decided to give me part of my inheritance early so i now own 1 acre in wv. we had been talking about doing a project at some point and had tried to find a design that would work for our large family and we finally found one that we will modify. well now instead of a someday time line we plan on starting construction in june of next year. so has anyone on this blog done any earthbag construction in north central wv or southern pa. even if it was just a dog house I would love to find out how it went if anything went wrong and any advise on how to do it with the fun soil in the area. I remember as a kid actually using the layer under the top soil to sculpt. I have so many fears and questions i can’t even think of them all. I mean we learned about this just this year i had never heard about it before march then i stumbled on to it on youtube now i have a year to do paperwork, site prep and design not to mention find a contractor who won’t look at me like I’m nuts and talk all 30-100 family members to volunteer for some hard work in exchange for a few good meals. :)

    • Owen has just given the best advice anyone could possibly give you.

      In fact. I would encourage you to build a small shed THIS SUMMER. Perhaps have a group of family/friends get together for a weekend or two?

      You’ll learn a lot, and you’ll create a valuable shed that will help store tools and materials when you undertake the larger project.

      If you have more time this year, consider building other helpful accessory structures. Perhaps build a outdoor kitchen with a roof for shade? This area can be a valuable respite during construction. A place to share meals with the construction crew. A place to wait out a sudden storm during construction.

      What about building a composting privy? You’ll be glad to have a place with privacy to do your business during construction next year. Don’t be afraid to dress it up nice. Make it a THRONE ROOM. (Here is a rule of thumb for encouraging volunteer builders to join your efforts. The cleaner, fresher smelling, and more comfortable the toilet facilities are, the more likely workers are to hang around and keep working.) Make a poo “palace” this summer, and it will pay back your efforts next year many times over.

      Break your project into smaller projects. Find ways to accomplish parts of your dream a bit at a time. Learn as you build them, and apply those lessons learned to your major construction efforts next year.

      • Good advice. All too often people get overwhelmed and not sure what to do. Many people keep putting things off and never get started. It’s way better to jump right in with a small structure and learn the basics. You’ll gain a load of confidence this way, and the building itself can be practically free if you use recycled bags, etc.

        • There are other important activities that can (should) be addressed this summer.

          Inspect the property carefully. Are there areas of standing water that tend to breed mosquitoes? Cut small drainage ditches to drain them. What about debris that may collect water and become a breeding ground, such as old tires or barrels? Get rid of as many puddle areas as possible.

          Next summer will be far more bearable if you eliminate mosquito habitats now. I spent some time in WV one summer and nearly got eaten alive by all the blood suckers. The time to evict those vampires is NOW. (I’m cringing right now just from the memory. Perhaps the worst mosquito experience of my life happened in WV. I ran out of repellent and got bit 184 times in one day. Yes. I counted. Was miserable for a week afterward.)

          You can also start thinking about your water supply. It sure is nice to have water available at the building site during construction that does not need to be hauled in. Think about 2 classes of water. Potable for drinking purposes, and general purpose water (perhaps non-potable), useful for construction purposes. Can you tap a spring or stream and gravity feed a hose or a plastic pipe to fill a tank near the construction site?

          Clearing the building site from trees can be accomplished this summer. If the wood is cut and stacked, even placed in a woodshed, it will have time to age and dry so that some of it can be used next summer for firewood. Longer poles can be set aside to be used as construction poles.

          The list of small projects that are important to the larger project are numerous. Many can be started immediately for minimal or very low cost. With the right group of people helping, many of those projects can become fun activities during a “vacation” camping trip to the site.

          • Good points. You can easily spend months building a storage shed and gathering materials. I would probably build two sheds — an earthbag shed for tools and valuable supplies, and an open air pole shed for drying lumber and poles. And like you said there are endless things to do around a homestead: start composting garden beds, plant fruit trees, build fences and roads, etc.

    • I should have mentioned that the site is 5 hours away from our current residence has been part of a hardwood forest for over 100 years and is half way up the side of a mountain (no standing water). we are planing at least a weekend up to do a walk around and mark the trees that have to be removed for the house, and do a few soil tests. I keep reminding myself that for every tree removed we will replace it with a new young fruit or nut tree so i don’t feel to guilty. but since we can’t be closer to the site till next summer i have to rely on my dad to do most of the site prep for us. it is a good thing him and mom live across the access road from it.

  157. Everyone, please take the time to send your best to the residents and victims of Moore Oklahoma.

    If you believe in the power of prayer, now would be a good time to ask for blessings.

    If you believe in Karma, please go out and do a really good deed today in hopes that the goodwill you generate will ripple through to those in need in Oklahoma.

    Whatever your beliefs, please send your best to the most recent victims of building codes. It wasn’t a tornado that killed children today, it was governmental stupidity believing that building codes will protect people from disasters.

    We must educate the world how to build structures that do not kill people when mother nature does what it always does.

  158. I am planning on building an earthbag dome on my sons land about 35 miles from Ft Worth, Texas, sometime in the fall. Any help or suggestions would be appreciated.

    • Texas is one of the easiest places to build due to minimal building codes. Domes tend to overheat in humid climates due to lack of windows (you can only add so many in a dome). And, domes are vulnerable to roof leaks. So consider building a roofed dome (info available on our sites for free) and adding extra ventilation (vent pipe, ceiling fan, openable skylight, etc.).

      • I am very interested in The Honey House design but have been wondering if that would work well here in Texas. I was wanting to do the dome because I am in tornado alley and worry what kind of roof might stand up if we were to have a tornado or even just really high winds. I want to do a 20 ft inner diameter with a loft area and don’t really know what kind of roof to go with. Thanks for the help and the wonderful resourses you have here.

        • We’ve discussed this repeatedly on our blog. Domes overheat in climates such as Texas where it doesn’t cool off at night. And because there’s a limit to the number of windows that you can add, there’s insufficient ventilation. Two main options: Build a roofed dome and add extra ventilation tubes and roof vent. Or build a roundhouse with strong hurricane resistant roof and lots of windows with shutters.

    • Did you ever finish your project? I live in Dallas and am very interesting in building an earthbag home and looking for locals to share their experiences and ideas.

  159. Looking for up to date supplier information on magnesium oxide type concrete suppliers or formulas. I am in the USA Oregon

  160. Ed, this is the Bulletin Board page where readers announce their projects. It would be best to move this to a page with related content and then I’ll answer your questions. (Most any blog page talking about soil, earthbags, foundations, etc. — just pick one.) And then I’ll delete this comment. Thanks.

    Quick answer: the soil mix doesn’t have to be perfect and it doesn’t have to be stabilized. Most any soil will work. Try hard to minimize extra mixing to save labor.

  161. Several places I have read to latex paint for protecting bags from UV damage. Will the natural plaster stick to the paint or do you have to do something else to make that work.

  162. Thanks Bruce.

    I hope that by next year I will have some real practical experience myself.

    Remember to try and get contacts for the Ugandans trained by the Japanese. They will make life easy for you.
    If you have time, pay a visit to that Eco-village. They will almost certainly be residents of that area, Entebbe, the site of the international airport.

    If you are planning a visit to Nairobi, mail me and we can meet.

    Best regards


  163. Tony,
    Thanks for the great information and advice. We have pretty much decided to wait on this project until we can get some experience and solidify our contacts. We will use the trip in July to make those contacts. I really appreciate the suggestion about contacting Polysacks customers. Also if we wait a year I hope to, have some valuable experience behind me from building our house. I hope we get to meet at some point. Hope your project goes well.


  164. Hi Bruce

    For speed of material supply, I would suggest you buy new tube or bags from Polysack. They are probably already supplying Ugandan customers so can get the material to a contact in Jinja fairly easily. Please note that you enter Uganda from Busia via Kisumu to get to Jinja. The main road, Nairobi – Kampala, enters at Malaba and does not go through Jinja. Check your maps.

    As you are a charity requiring only a small number of bags (Owen’s E-Book tells you how to calculate how many), I suggest you email Polysack and ask them who their largest customers are in Uganda and request their mail addresses.
    You then ask each to name their largest customers and ask each of them to donate or sell to you the number of bags you require. Please note that S/H PP bags are valuable here as almost everything is recycled due to the high poverty levels in East Africa.

    If you google earthbag buildings Uganda you will find an eco-village shown on Lake Victoria near Kampala. The architect is Japanese and may well be able to give you contact for one or more of his key supervisors (fundi in Swahili) who will have the experience you need. He should also be able to advise on supplies, soil etc etc.

    My fundi can build with blocks but has never had earthbag experience. I am planning to build a simple building with him so we both learn by experience.

    Your 2 day estimate sounds wildly optimistic to me if you will be dealing with people who have had no experience. Please bear in mind the language factor – most labourers will speak their tribal dialect with limited English or Swahili. You will have to have all the materials and tools organised before you start. From experience, beware leaving preparations to your church contacts and if you ask for anything double check their promises and declarations of “done”. I have spent 10 years in elevator engineering in Nairobi and I speak from bitter experience! But God does look after his own so you may be lucky and prove me wrong.

    Since I started this typing, Owen has added his comments which are based on experience and sense. I doubt you will be able to buy road base in Jinja. Most road contractors buy land and mine their own materials, leaving the road fringed at intervals with “borrow pits” Perhaps one of your congregation is a builder or has a builder friend who can help.

    If I am free in July I may be able to visit you but I have never built earthbags before so cannot lead you. However I find Owen’s E-book pretty self explanatory.

    Please feel free to contact me by mail for more info.


  165. Wanted to let you know how impressed I am with your site, your ebook and your videos. My wife and I moved to Ecuador 3 years ago. We have a couple of apartments in Cuenca but wanted to get to the country again and bought a little 16 acre farm at about 8,000 ft alltitude that has a tiny cinder block house. These cinder blocks here aren’t like the blocks in the US. I think they have much less concrete in them, that while making them cheaper they aren’t near as strong. We have almost no seasons here. Basically rainy and dry. The highs in the summer run about 70 deg. F and 66 deg. F in the winter. The nights are always cool with the variation being low of 50 to 46 deg F. We are the only Gringos in this area and in fact have one of the few cars. Most people still ride horses. Needless to say we get lots of attention. I’ve shown a few of the locals my plans and they are extremely interested. The concrete blocks are expensive to use in their world and they still require lots of cement and rebar to build correctly(which many aren’t) and they have zero insullation value. What happens outdoors happens immediately inside. The poly bags are readily available. The soil is all clay that expands about 9% from wet to dry although there are many older adobe structures in the area that appear very sound. Road base is readily available at a reasonable price. My feel is that if I can do this successfully it may be a great alternative for these folks. They are wonderful people, hard working and I would love to expose them to some options. So thanks for your help and I’ll be asking for much more.

    • This sounds like a near ideal scenario for earthbag building. Old homes in the area are probably adobe and so people will understand the process.

      Uninsulated concrete block houses in hot climates = an oven. Sometimes they’re so hot that people can’t stay inside during the day. But somehow people think concrete block is the best material.

  166. Owen,
    Thanks for your perspective. Perhaps this project needs to be done on a separate trip. We definitely so not want to do a poor job or hurry and get someone hurt. Would still like to pursue planning and contacts for a future project there. I will try to find some sources while there and if successful will pass the information on.


  167. Tony,
    Thanks for the information. We ourselves are in need of expertise in Earthbag techniques. If we do this project it will be a small addition to an existing structure, a church in this case. We only have a couple of days to do this as our main focus is Christian ministry. I have purchased Owens ebook and it seems to cover what we need. Our prayers are that if God intends us to do this that He send us people with the contacts and skills needed to do it. This post is my first attempt at gathering data.

    I am planning an Earthbag home in Texas which is still in the process of being engineered to meet state codes. I will be learning, I am sure, a great deal over the next year about this style of building. In Uganda I think our biggest struggle is finding the contacts and supplies needed to have on the ground so time is not spent collecting these once we are there. I believe we can learn through study and watching others through videos and blogs like this one to effectively build a small structure (10×20′) in a short period of time (2 days) if the proper tools and supplies are there. If anyone thinks this is not possible please correct me. There are some local people that can help us but it would help us greatly if someone that has done one of these projects in Uganda could provide us with supplier information so we would not have the added difficulty of transporting it across country borders.

    Your help is welcome, but unfortunately we do not have a well prepared plan at the moment. This project would be done in mid July this year if it happens.

    Thanks again,

    • I would allow at least 5 days. There’s a learning curve to everything. Also, things can vary a lot. For instance, we normally use road base in the earthbags. It comes smoothly mixed and moist and can be dumped right in the bags. (Sometimes it needs light misting.) Today we started an earthbag pump house using typical soil. It’s dry and required adding water, which takes lots of extra mixing. It’s also full of hard clods that have to be removed and smash with tampers. This one little change (buying regular soil instead of road base) is going to double the work and time required.

      So why are we using regular soil? The pump house is actually our UN emergency shelter design. It’s getting published in a journal next month and we wanted photos of a finished structure and make a short builder’s manual using the same techniques disaster victims would encounter. They would have regular soil, not road base.

  168. Is there any kind of special thread necessary (which they won’t have). They’ll have heavy duty nylon I’m sure but that’s probably the best I can do. Do I just have them run a stitch down the side of the bag and if so what do you do with the flap of excess material. There are lot’s of places with heavy duty sewing machines so that isn’t a problem.

    • Yes, use heavy duty nylon thread. Tuck the excess material inside the bag so it doesn’t get in the way. No need to turn the bag inside out. Just tuck in the side the full length and run it through the machine. Very easy. One person could measure and draw a line so they’re uniform width.

  169. We will be building an Earthbag structure near Jinja, Uganda this summer. Does anyone know where we can get 18×30″ (46x76cm) gusseted polypropylene bags in that area?

    • I am planning on a project close to you but over the Kenya border near Kisumu.

      S/H bags are readily available in Kenya as should be in Uganda but they are not all the same size, some metric and some Imperial (UK/US) sizes. I have located a manufacturer in Thika, close to Nairobi who manufacturer UV treated bags 45 x 80 cm (20 x 36 in approx). They will also supply the PP tubular rolls 45cm dia from which they cut and sew the bags. Cost per bag is KES 20.00 (approx $0.24).
      Cost of roll is KES 260.00 per Kg which gives about 15.50 Mtr tube. Cost of 1 Mtr is therefore approx $0.20.
      Both prices ex-factory and net of taxes.

      The name of company is Polysack Ltd
      Contact rajesh.kumar@polysack.co.ke

      I am trying to find a mesh tube supplier in East Africa but believe there are none and mesh is only available from India or China. The smallest minimum order i have found is 3 tonnes which is enough for a (very) small village.

      Please mail me at tskenya@gmail.com or phone(254) 733 458 101 and we could possibly co-ordinate our buying to get better prices.

      I would be most interested in hearing about your project. Could I possibly send somebody to learn the techniques from you?

      Looking forward to your reply.

      Tony Simpson

  170. I am wanting to build a house outside of Cuenca, Ecuador. My problem is locating the proper sized bags. I can either find 50 KG bags or 10 KG when what I really need is 25 to 30 KG bags. If all else fails does anyone know of a supplier in the states that I can order the correct bags from. I’ve played around with the 50 KG bags and they are like wrestling an elephant when full and I’m getting to old for wresting elephants. My email is ekonderla@yahoo.com.

    • You may have to buy the big bags and sew them to a smaller size. This requires a heavy duty sewing machine.

      Also, check the farmer’s market, etc. for raschel mesh produce bags. They work just as well or better than polypropylene bags.

  171. Hi there,

    I stumbled across this blog when looking for earthbag building for canadian climate. It seems you have a brief post on a earth sheltered greenhouse in northern MB (6 hours north of my hometown Winnipeg). Do you have any other information on this project? Is there anyone I can contact as this is exactly the type of project I am looking to build and I live in Winnipeg. Please let me know anything about this if you can. Thanks,

  172. I am about to begin an Earthbag structure in central Texas. I would like to make the roof supports out of round timber from oak trees on my property. Does anyone know a good resource I can use to help me work out the details of doing this, from cutting and drying to construction specifics.


    • I’ve covered the basics of drying and working with poles on our blog. Use the built-in search engine with search terms such as drying wood and pole building. And everything you need is free on the Internet. The main things include coating the ends of poles with recycled paint or varnish immediately after felling. Store them on racks under cover in the shade with ventilation.

  173. I am trying to find an experienced instructor to teach a hands on workshop in Costa Rica with the WISE school. We are an Eco Village that is being developed. The school actually began at our sister development a few years ago and we are renewing workshops and courses that will better match our purpose at new Eco Village.

    We will be wanting instructors for Cob, Earthbag, Bamboo and other sustainable building techniques suitable to the tropical environment of Southern Costa Rica. Part of our community will be tiny homes.

    If you have interest please contact me at your convenience. Gracias. -Tim

    Email: topimages at msn dot com

  174. hi, i’m looking for fellow campaigners in germany.

    we want to start a project like already discribed in this board in lithuania. and i would be glad to come in contact with other germans or europeans with the same ideas so we could help each other and compare notes on all that stuff.

    thanks to everybody who could give me contact possibilities (like names, websites, projects, email) in germany /europe!

    my mailadress: mail@annegretvolkmuth.de

  175. Great News in Mendocino County California!!
    Dan Antonioli
    New Event: Zoning & Building Code Changes Supporting Sustainable Development
    Saturday 19 January 2013; 200PM-400PM
    Many people would like to add chickens, goats, solar panels, wind turbines, hydro-turbines, grey water, composting toilets, cob building materials, rammed-earth walls, intentional community and co-housing shared living spaces, eco-villages, and/or other ecologically sustainable infrastructure improvements to their land. But in many cases, they are prevented from doing so by existing County land use laws, or at least strongly discouraged from doing so by complicated, time-consuming, and expensive permit processes, that are based on an outdated 20th century vision of how we should live on the land. The result is that many people are (1) not developing in a manner that is sustainable, (2) going elsewhere to create their dreams, or (3) becoming renegades and scofflaws when they do what is ecologically and socially desirable. None of these three options is desirable for the County or its inhabitants. We seek to legalize and streamline the land development that needs to happen in order for our community to become ecologically sustainable, resilient, and local.

    This event will initially focus on Laytonville Ecovillage as a case study of efforts to develop a Permaculture-inspired community within the constraints of current zoning. We will hear from Dan Antonioli, green builder and organizer of Laytonville Ecovillage, as he talks about his eight-year effort to sustainably develop land in Mendocino County. We will also hear from Michael St. John, a Mendocino-based land development consultant, as he speaks about the Intentional Community & Ecovillage Working Group’s meeting with the County’s Planning Department. Members of the public with similar Mendocino County experience are also invited to briefly speak at this event. The intended results of this event: a draft list of sustainable development zoning and building code changes that we need in Mendocino County, and a draft list of suggested next steps to manifest these changes in County regulations.

    Saturday 19 January 2013, from 2:00-4:00PM
    Community Center of Mendocino (East Room)
    998 School St., Mendocino
    (Go west at Route 1 & Little Lake Rd. stoplight, take first left onto School St., and proceed one block)

    For more information about the event, contact Charles Cresson Wood at 707 937 5572, or email info@transitionmendocinocoast.org.

  176. Hi, James Gilligan, I’m a photographer & US Marine veteran 99/05, Combat Engineer was my MOS, & I deployed to Iraq’03 and Afghanistan’04. I’m looking to permanently settle in Southern California for a homebase of sorts. And I really like Earthbag construction as a cheap home and for its utility/durability.

    I’m interested in connecting with fellow veterans & others in the realms of eco-construction gardening Small_Spaces earthbaghomes adobehomes minimancaves

    I have ideas for urban/rural/ & remote, smallfootprint-spaces, low cost, low upkeep, turnkey habitability, retreats, zenspaces, & anything DIY – repurposing – primitive – multipurpose – pet friendly

    Right now I’m looking for land however, as a vet with a VA home loan, you’re quite restricted. I can’t use the loan for purchase of land alone without a residence to reside in upon the property. And wouldn’t even consider using it for a new home(modern box/money pit).. Which brings me to where I am now: I have interest in using can-walls (from Earthship construction techniques) and Super-Adobe and other land sculpting tricks like ferro-cement.

    My sights are set at $5-$12k for a plot of land.

    If I had $5500 today* 02/25/2013 I could nab an amazing plot in the Greater Los Angeles area (minutes from downtown proper) literally 1.5 hours by foot/ 17 min by car: from Dodger stadium. Close to 10 and 110 freeway as well as schools, parks and recreational areas.

    Possibly looking to create/ startup/ or join a small group (preferably 1-3 cheap financial interest shares @most)to pool together and purchase the neighboring plots/ or & potentially other US-CONUS-preferably CA or other state/national parks/rural/urban cheap-chic areas.


  177. Hi There
    Well, I am not in Belize, but not too far. I am working on a social project in Chiapas, México. Visit


    We accept volunteers with a min. commitment of three weeks. No participation fee. The communities offer very simple food and accommodation, I share my superadobe experience with you and you bring your personal stuff, lots of energy and good-will. The work as well as the living conditions are tough. If you have problems adapting or have a “bad-back” this is not for you. Overall, it is very interesting and rewarding.
    Send me an email if interested.
    Best regards

  178. Well, I am thinking about the summer of 2013 as the project date. I’ve seen there are people who have been to Haiti & have worked with locals in some part of the country to build with Earthbags. I would like to come in contact with these people for referrals or recruits new volunteers who can travel to Haiti this summer 2013 to help.

    Also, how many bags or roll of bags does it take to build the three (3) dome style house? Number of rolls of barbed wires? I noticed there is a company in Haiti selling these bags already.
    Thanks for posted replies.

    • I suggest contacting the groups who have built with earthbags and talk with them. They will have helpful suggestions. Every country/area is different and it’s always best to talk to those with actual experience where you live.

      You’ll have to calculate your materials. We have some advice for calculating bags. See: How Many Bags Does it Take on our FAQ page: https://naturalbuildingblog.siterubix.com/faqs/

  179. From Carlene Murphy:

    I want to build a small (approx. 500 sq.ft.) eco friendly house on a small lot in Haiti. I already have a small food garden on the lot and would like to build around it. For some reason I have the feeling this type of homes are not expensive because I don’t have money, and that’s the reason I am looking at this concept to rebuild my family home after the quake. I could later on expend the construction with an addition of an art center/retreat if the Not For Profit organization I coordinate can raise the funds for it. I can’t handle this project alone. I will need help from a group of experienced volunteers to put it together with me once we are in Haiti. That’s in addition to locals who will be hired to work. Is it possible to recruit a group here to help me with this project? And how much money does a small 2 bedrooms, 1 bath, kitchen, living/dining room will cost? An estimated figure will be helpful in determining if such construction is for me or if I should consider cheaper methods. I will appreciate a response very much.
    Thank you,

  180. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hesco_bastion

    A earthbag wall possibility? I came across the hesco basion sandbag and I imediatly thought of earth bag home construction. While the big size isn’t exactly suited for a home, I hope most of us aren’t having guns fired at our homes/live in a dyke, the concept of a large bag is interesting. I wonder if a bag and exo frame could be designed for home wall construction. Something like a larger bottom that narrows towards the top for a home wall. It could be big bags that go from foundation to roof or multiple bags, but still more volume per bag than a traditional sandbag. I kind of imagine it would work like a rammed earth/sandbag hybrid. I would love to get peoples thoughts on this.

  181. I have excess 14″ & 18″ wide rolls of UVI stabilized woven pp tubing available for sale from our facility in Southern California at great prices.
    Call me at 949-338-5978

  182. Where can you get the woven tubing for the Hyperadobe construction method. I live in the U.S and all searches are directing me to China exports websites. Please help. Thanks

    • Everything you need is on this blog and EarthbagBuilding.com. Search for discount mesh and/or raschel mesh on this blog. Search our Resources page at EarthbagBuilding.com. And read our FAQ page on this blog.

  183. We built an earthbag tornado shelter. It is ten feet diameter inside. We added lots of pvc pipe vents by incorporating them into the rows of bags and a wind turbine vent on top that spins in the wind and draws in lots of fresh air. Lots of room for people during a storm. We used it during the high wind storm of June 29th 2012. We were safe and cozy inside. It really was labor intensive but worth all the aching muscles as now I have piece of mind for my family and can keep them safe even in a tornado. Just wanted to say many thanks because we couldn’t have done it without sites like these and all the information on them.

    • Thank you very much. That’s good news. Maybe you have 1-2 good photos and brief description you could send for our blog? This is something I’ve thought about for years — How can we spread the word about these low cost storm shelters? So far we’ve put out free plans and instructions. Stories like yours will bring this to the forefront, get it in the local paper, etc. and protect more people. I don’t know of any simpler, lower cost way to build storm shelters.

      • I have lots and lots of pictures, I documented everything from beginning to end. If I had an address to send it to, I would mail you my story and you can choose what to put on your site. It has over 50 pages and is in a plastic folder. If I can help someone else do this it would be great! I can upload some pictures too if you tell me how to do it. You would be welcome to use it freely however you need to.

        • Thanks, Pamela. My address is at the top of the page: naturalhouses [at] gmail dot com
          Ideally you’d select only the best 2-3 images and reduce the text to the most important information.
          Thanks in advance. This should help lots of folks.

  184. Hello Owen,

    Can you tell me the approximate dimensions of a “tamped” 18” x 30” earth bag; I’m asking so as to calculate how many course’s or layers of bags high I would need go to achieve an 7.5 ft wall height…

    Please and thank you !!!


    • Earthbag courses (after tamping) are on average about 5″ thick if you fill them completely full and tamp the contents in the bag lightly after each bucket is filled. That’s the process I recommend in my YouTube Natural Houses videos and book. This reduces the number of bags needed considerably. http://www.youtube.com/user/naturalhouses

      But maybe you don’t want to tamp the contents after each bucket is dumped in. Then your courses of bags may be 3″-4″. You could end up using twice as many bags! These and other basic questions are answered on our FAQ page: https://naturalbuildingblog.siterubix.com/faqs/

  185. Hello, I am a disabled veteran, single mother and I live in the north east corner of Oklahoma, I have 6 acres of rocky land and lots of slopes on my property. What would be the best type of home for me to build and can I do most or all of it on my own? I want to be off grid and have a garden also.
    Thank you, Lisa

    • You can build most any kind of house out of earthbags. So focus on the size, layout and style of what you think works best for you.

      Earthbag is labor intensive. You’ll need to be strong and healthy. It works best if you have several people. Start with something small to build your skills. Try it and see how you like it at low risk.

  186. (a note from a friend)

    Very interesting blog. I got carried away and read through it all… including the raised bed gardening with wood chip trench composting! A great service Owen Geiger and Kelly Hart have done to gather all the earthbag building info on one site with a willingness to answer questions for would-be builders. Great to see a growing interest in this kind of building all over the world.

  187. Great source if information, thanks. Couldn’t help but notice that the earthbag structure being constructed (and completed) as shown as the masthead on this page is located in the valley where I live. Anyone with contact information ?

  188. Hi
    I have rolls of 14″ & 18″ wide tubular woven PP fabric available for sale. The material is UVI stabilized for 2000hrs and is perfect for earth bag structures. I have sent these rolls all over the country with 100% satisfaction from everyone. The rolls are 6000/lf long and sold by the roll only. They are prices at $0.14/lf ($840) and $0.16/lf ($960) FOB our facility in Southern California plus the 2.9% Pay Pal fee. Tax is included in the price. We have a freight broker with excellent freight pricing to your location. Give me a call at 949-338-5978 Best of Luck!

  189. My wife and I are hoping to construct a medium-sized home out of earthbags north of Laurel, Montana (near Billings). I’m in the military for a few more years, but I have a long leave period coming up. We’re hoping to build the basic walls and ceiling over the course of three weeks, and are interested in anyone who may want to come help. We don’t have a lot of experience, but we’d love to share the opportunity to learn. We’re also interested, once we live there, in helping other people explore their own alternative construction dreams. If you think you might be interested, please contact me at alexanderskingsbury@gmail.com

  190. Hi Owen
    This is Cato, from Chiapas, Mexico.
    I am currently leading a social project in rural Chiapas, southern Mexico. The project is to build 25 kitchens (4×4 meters) with a wood-saving-stove included using the superadobe technique. We started on Sept-11th-2012, We have nine structures going, in different stages of construction. Six have roofs and electrical wiring, five of those have the first coat of plaster, and the last three are waiting for carpenting components. The work is tough but the spirit is high. I am shearing-teaching the technique to low income coffee farmers at different communities in Chiolon county (municipio) about one hour northwest from Ocosingo, Chiapas. The quality of the work is very good.
    We are looking for volunteers who may be in the area.
    Right now there are three volunteers, one guy from Mexico, one from Lichtenstein and a girl from Puerto Rico. We are asking for a minimum stay-commitment of three weeks. We pay for your transportation from San Cristobal de las Casas to the community. The people offer you very simple food (beans, rice, tortillas, soup, bad coffee) and lots of smiles. We sleep on mattreses on the floor, and there is no hot shower. We start our day around 6;15 am (getting ready, morning coffee etc) and work from 7, lunch around 10 and finish work around 3 pm, monday to saturday. It may sound tough, and it is, but at the same time I feel is worthwhile.

    Altough not updated with the project I´ve just mentioned, Pls. visit moradasverdes.weebly.com. There you will see last year´s project (the building of a rural clinic), a multidome house in Betania, Chiapas, and some private jobs. You can fill up the volunteer`s application (sort of).
    I hope to herar from ya. Saludos

  191. Just starting our eco-village outside Tucson, AZ. Will be building flexible formed rammed earth homes from 400 to 1600 sq feet using different designs from Own, CalEarth, etc. Looking for interested people with either “experience” or volunteers to help. Likely start date of first construction Jan 2013 (assuming most of us are still here ;). Contact us through ttev.org.

  192. Hi everyone!
    I am planning to build an eco-resort in Sri Lanka being part of a charity project, and my original idea was to build superadobe domes ( as I have participate in couple of workshops in Spain), but bearing in mind that the climate in Sri Lanka its quite wet, with a couple of monzoons per year, I am not quite sure earthbag building would be the best construction method due to risk of humidity on the buildings.
    I still dont want to give up the idea of superadobe domes,I love them, but…would you still build them with such a wet climate? Timber, bamboo better??

    thank you and great page!!

    • Domes evolved in desert climates and present some major problems in humid, rainy climates. We’ve covered this in detail on our blog. Use the search engine on the right side of the page if you want all the details. One dome project in Texas suffers from lack of ventilation (because it’s hot and humid). Normally you’d just add more windows to improve ventilation, but this weakens the dome. There’s also a failed project in the Philippines that’s been abandoned due to roof leaks. Without a roof to keep the rain off, water will eventually get into every crack (plaster always cracks). So even though domes are possible in climates like this, they’re not recommended because of these problems. I would mimic the local style in size and shape and build the same thing with earthbags.

      • Owen, thank you so much for your fast answer. I am quite sad because I really love domes, but yes, I guess you are right… One last question…would this happen even if the plaster is with cement??
        I guess I will end up doing superadobe vertical walls and then wooden roofs…

        thank you and great work!!

  193. Hi Geiger,

    We BRIO team looking for Eco friendly house plans for our agro tourism site at east of Sri Lanka.

    We would be greatfull if you can help us by sharing ideas , plans & other resources what you can share with us.

    we suppose to do grate job in eastern Sri Lanka after end of conflict to enhance the living standarded of innocent people there.

    We are working to grab 100 acre land from valaichenai-Batticoala district for this project.You may see the location thru Google earth ,

    L- 7°55’39.19″N

    Kindly come up with your valuable contribution !!


  194. Hello everyone,

    While in the process of looking for natural building projects to participate in, I came across a seemingly new website which is the natural building equivalent to WWOOFing! This is very exciting as it can provide a much more effective method for builders to find projects, and vice versa, through social networking! Please, if you have a project under way, register it on this website, and help builders like me find you!

    (PS I don’t work for the website I just want more people using it)


  195. Hi Everyone! I am in South Mississippi and am curious if anyone has built an earthbag home here in MS. I would be greatly interested in visiting a local earthbag home, as I am soon to begin construction on my own. Any MS specific tips would be greatly appreciated!

    If you have any helpful information, you can pass it on to me at beutywithn@hotmail.com

    Thanks in advance,

  196. Dear Builders,

    I am looking for an experienced earthbag builder to travel to africa to build a main building for a small eco resort, and at the same time instruct our local building team. If anyone is intersted, please send you resume with some photo’s of pervious work to my email adress. The starting date for building in not yet established but will be in begin 2013.

    Salary and duration is nogatiable.


  197. To whom it may concern,

    My name is Dave Charley and I’m currently traveling around Asia and I’m extremely keen to find a bio-construction/sandbag building project that I may be able to volunteer my time to.

    I live in Mozambique and see a desperate need for such construction to be implemented there, and would relish the opportunity to learn and experience building such homes, and to be able to take this back to Africa and start something there.

    I would be so grateful for any assistance you might be able to give me.

    Kindest regards,

    Dave Charley

    • I live in Jakarta and I’m looking to get started in Earthbag construction. The problem is getting the materials. Forget about 2×4’s. With all the termites wouldn’t want to use them anyway. The bags for putting the dirt in could be another big challenge. Shipping anything in will get the attention of Customs and they will rape your wallet especially if you are a foreigner. One possibility is alibaba.com. China recently signed a free trade deal which helps with customs. I was looking and they had sand bags and other bags and I’m wondering what anyone with experience thinks of them. Please have a look and comment. Thank you.

      I’m sure I can get around the minimum order by ordering one roll as a sample.

      • Standard earthbags are 18″ wide x30″ long, measured when flat and empty. Don’t buy narrow sandbags or the walls won’t be stable.

        Use 18″ wide tubes. Most people seem to prefer building with tubes.

        I would guess there’s already at least one supplier in Jakarta, since sand bags are commonly used by the military and for flood control.

        And yes, suppliers typically send a small swatch as a sample (not a roll).

        The white, woven polypropylene shown in the links is standard for earthbag building.

        Search our site for raschel mesh bags and tubes (hyperadobe). This new material has numerous advantages and may save you money. I buy used mesh vegetable bags locally for a few cents each. This is a tiny fraction of the cost of new poly bags or tubes. This is obviously my first choice, and so I suggest looking hard to find this material. I’m almost certain there are suppliers in Bangkok, etc.

    • Hi Dave Charley,

      I am planning a small eco-lodge on Lake Victoria in Kenya and could use a volunteer.

      I have never built earthbag buildings before but have had some experience with aspects of 12 storey offices, which maybe more difficult. Everything is possible in Africa!

      If you are still looking for something please mail me at tskenya@gmail.com and we can discuss it more.


  198. Hello, we are very interested in undertaking an earthbag structure, particularly the “Torus” design. Thus far in researching I haven’t found suitable information about raised or elevated flooring. Our property here in Florida is reclaimed land from phosphate mining industry and local code requires either significant vapor barriers or sufficiently ventilated raised flooring to prevent radon gas exposure. Personally I like the idea of raised flooring for crawlspace access and also for potential flooding, but haven’t quite worked out how to incorporate that into the earthbag design. Can you help or suggest an avenue of research? We will definitely tackle a smaller earthbag structure before undertaking the Torus!

    • Floors, roofs, interior walls, etc. are pretty much the same as conventional building. Get some carpentry books from the library and read up on the various floor building systems. TJIs are fast and easy and often don’t require center supports.

      Standard radon protection measures can be incorporated.

  199. hi, Im looking for wall materials

    I’m confused because I read somewhere that corrugated iron walls can maximize and insulate the solar energy from the panels.

  200. CHECK IT OUT!

    We want to create earth building awareness by running a campaign on Kickstarter.com.
    To do this we need a line of products. We want to represent the culture to the best of our ability by asking you first, what would you like to see?

    The line will allow us to offer materials specifically for building in local U.S. stores. To get the raw materials in stores we must market the line as well in more comprehensive kits. These kits will allow people to adopt the process more naturally by giving them experience threw small projects. Designed properly can allow not only adults but children to adopt the method as well as strengthen bonds between builders. The line will feature categories like kid castles, skate ramps, club houses, sheds, fire pits, seating areas, dog houses, walls and steps. The bags will be specially designed for building and come in various types woven, mesh, 3tube eternal, bar loop bags/rolls.

    Please send your design and support to our email BetterBuildingBags@gmail.com

    The project will allow us to establish the facility and distribution network required to get these bags to anyone who needs them.

    We will be launching as soon as we feel the support of our community behind us. We have designed bags, blueprints, and prototyped. Now we are ask you to do the same. What can you build with 250ft of material and a $25 additional material allowance?

    Tip: incorporating building lessons in the design is key to a great starter project.

    Thank you for reading and stay tuned to,


  201. Hi, I have some questions regarding constructing bamboo walls for properties.

    Does it help to keep the heat out in summers and let the heat in in winters?
    If I have solar panels on all sides of the buildings, will bamboo walls impede the insulation?
    Are bamboo walls soundproof? in the sense that people outside would not hear the sounds in the house.


    • Bamboo walls have very little insulation and so the heat would pass right through. That’s why this type of building is mostly in the tropics where it never gets cold. Plus, that’s where the bamboo grows. Very little soundproofing as well. Cold climate houses definitely benefit from insulation.

      • hi Owen!
        So if I have a building that is really noisy inside and I need to have solar panels on the roods and walls of the building, what is a good building material?

        Currently, the walls are made of corrugated iron which helps to insulate the heat from the solar panels.

        • Are you looking for wall materials or roof materials?

          Corrugated steel roofing is not insulating, so it’s not clear what you’re saying.

  202. Hello everyone, we are making project here in eastern Europe, Lithuania for sustainable living, which includes permaculture gardening and natural building. We’re looking for someone who could teach our team how to build with earthbags. The seminar would include theoretical and practical aspects. It will be held here in Lithuania next spring. The project is funded by European Europe so expert and workers are well payed. Let us know if anyone could join us and bring earthbag building methods to Eastern Europe. Please contact us for more details at a.simonas@gmail.com

    • We’ve done a few blog posts on hemp houses, here and on my Geopolymer House Blog. https://geopolymerhouses.wordpress.com/

      Building with hemp deserves more attention, but we don’t cover it much since it’s illegal to grow in the US. Just imagine how many jobs could be created from a thriving hemp industry, and from other types of natural building if the building codes were more relaxed. Hmm… now that I think about it, that angle would make a good story.

    • I used to drive through western and northwestern NM quite a bit. There are lots of places of interest if you have time to seek them out. Now I think I’ll write a blog post on Remote Rural Land.

      Also, note the typo in the previous comment. It should say $2,000-$5,000.

      • Looking forward to the article on Remote Rural Land. Would be nice to have some direct online sources for community bulletin boards, small town papers and such. Thanks again, Owen!

        • I just finished a lengthy blog post on this subject that I’ll probably run tomorrow. I’m pretty busy now, but it’s such a fun topic that I couldn’t help myself. (As explained in the blog post, I’ve lived in areas like this for years.)

          Many small towns have free newsletters and real estate flyers. Once you know approximately where you want to live, you could probably have these mailed to you by a local realtor for free or very low cost (postage). Just be aware that most realtors are focused on maximizing profit (who isn’t?) and will likely be primarily interested in selling expensive land. But still, they can be a good source of info and point you in the right direction.

          Also, there is extensive info online if you spend a lot of time searching. Google Earth, CraigsList, rural real estate websites, etc. are good starting points. But again, some of the best deals probably won’t be advertised. You’ll have to spend a lot of time touring back roads to find the best land.

          Some of my favorite spots are southwest, west and northwest of Taos and Santa Fe.

  203. Man and woman (w/four dogs, trained & socialized by the man writing this ad, who is a former professional K-9 trainer) desire free or inexpensive piece of land in which to build off-grid self-sustainable home and gardens. Access to water located in New Mexico would be ideal. Other offers and climates considered. We have decades of diverse experience with all manner of fixing, building, mechanics, gardening, childcare, caregiving to disabled, office business, writing, typing, editing, homeschooling, domestic homemaking, sewing, animals, teaching, training and more. Will trade our time and labor. We want our own space and freedom. Will work with the community, not feed personal egos and agendas. Serious inquiries only. Peace and Joy! zo.valentine(at)gmail.com

    • There are remote places in NM where land is very inexpensive. For instance, you might be able to buy a small lot for $2,000-$5,000. Deals like this may not be advertised. You’d have to drive around a lot looking and checking bulletin boards for real estate listings as you pass through small towns. Codes are not strictly enforced in some remote areas. One guy said the only enforced code was taking a photo of the septic tank before backfilling. Check online real estate sites for starters and do lots of online research to reduce driving. Challenges include finding water (a well could cost more than the land), lots that are not too remote, forest fire conditions. One option is buying a tiny homestead with water and power that’s been abandoned (meaning it’s probably very old, but could be fixed up).

  204. I have rolls of both 14 k18″ woven pp continuous tubing to sell. Rolls are 6000/lf long and UVI stabilized for 2000 hrs. I have sold hundreds of rolls to the Earth bag community all over the nation and have received nothing but thumbs up. Sold by the rolls only at $780 & $900 per roll FOB my facility in Southern California. Steve 949-338-5978

  205. My family and I are starting to build a four bedroom earthbag home. We will be working on it for months if we do not have any volunteers. We have free camping and meals for volunters that help us either with building or just guidence. We have a pool to cool off in during the hot part of the day. We live on a farm 110 acres and we do not have any building codes. We do not have any experience so we need someone that does. People that don’t have any are welcome also we will learn together. Right now we are living in a two bedroom mobile home which is very crowded. We have three small children ages 6, 3 and 1. My parent and brother and sister will also be helping. We are not asking for it to be built for us, just help! We live in Thayer, Mo right on the Missouri-Arkansas line. Thanks, Melinda and Jeremy Wilson My email is sunshine0507@hotmail.com!

  206. Hi I was wondering about my project I have a 30 foot diameter round house made out of clay and limestone filled earth bags 50 pound size and I want to go up two floors first story 8 feet and second 7 all earth bags. hen a pole beam roof round with Tin. I have laid a foundation of 6 inches of gravel, then three rows high of gravel doubled bagged then the rest earth. I am in Belize and the ground is very moist and much top soil we put about 3 feet of clay and limestone road fill on top of that soil after clearing it. In someones experience or opinion, Is this enough foundation to support a building that tall? Thank you , Peter

    • Yes, you can build two stories. It’s best to do a soils test if you’re unsure of about the soil under the walls. At minimum, talk to experienced builders and study other houses in your area. Some soils are much stronger than others. Rocky, gravelly soils are best, but other soils can work.

  207. Workshop suggestions sent by Luke:
    There is a free superadobe workshop 2 hours from Madrid, Spain. I just learned of it through the earthbag builders group on facebook. The only way to join online is on facebook, but he’s also left his e-mail and phone number in the description. Here is what he wrote in Spanish, then translated to English.
    Amigos,empezamos una construccion de superadobe que nos tomará mas de 3 meses.Empezamos el 4 de junio.Para esto,sin duda necesitamos vuestro apoyo.Si os interesa aprender esta técnica, esta es una oportunidad de aprenderla disfrutando de un entorno maravilloso,Gredos.
    Ofrecemos la posibilidad de alojamiento en pequeña casa o plantando tienda.Tampoco os teneis que preocupar de las comidas.
    En principio recomendamos una estancia mínima de dos semanas,para la mejor dinamización del grupo,pero dinos cual es tu disponibilidad o la de tu grupo (max 5 personas).

    Para cualquier duda e información: superadobefeliz@gmail.com 622 398 249 Jose Pedro
    Muchas Gracias y Mucha Vida,

    Friends, we started a superadobe construction that will take more than 3 months. We started on June 4. For this, we certainly need your support. If you are interested in learning this technique, this is an opportunity to learn to enjoy a wonderful environment, Gredos.
    We offer the option of staying home or camping. You will not have to worry about meals.
    In principle we recommend a minimum stay of two weeks, for the best of the group dynamic, but tell us your availability or your group (max 5 people).

    For questions and information: 622 398 249 superadobefeliz@gmail.com Jose Pedro
    Many thanks, and much life

    Also, another earthbag building workshop was brought up on facebook in North San Juan, CA. Here’s the link: http://www.facebook.com/events/195948303861265/
    All the events are listed in full detail on that page. It looks very involved.

  208. Earthbag domes in Romania:

    We have 5,3 hectar land near Cluj-Napoca (12 km) where we settle our self sustaining earthbag community. The plan for 2012 is a bermed storage dome to gain experience for second half of July and then a 3 Dome building from August till October for the shell. We have an architect to adapt the construction to the extreme climate of Transylvania. The plan is to construct each Dome different to gain experience for the next domes we are going to built next and following years. If anyone is interested to come and help, would be great! There is enough space for camping and it is a beautiful place above the city with panoramic view of 3 mountain ranges.

    My contact is kalikamataAThotmail.de, I will post some pictures in my blog: http://www.rohkostnomade.blogspot.ro

    Best wishes, Simone

  209. Outstanding! — Thank you for such a fast response again. I will scratch the living roof idea, then… maintenance – free is the way to be & I’m all about that… I’m also very much all about saving money & I was reading where another TX fan of yours was attempting to build for around $2 to $4 a foot… I think his name was Rex(?)…

    If you could pass along my info to him I’d like to exchange ideas with him & maybe we can help one another… just don’t know how to get in touch with him now.

    Without going PAHS, I reckon, just a “standard” solar passive with the low berms & maybe a bit of a wind-catcher design for cooling, then?

    BTW, apparently, the entire state of TX prohibits composting toilets… At least, that is what the local inspector wants me to think.

    In lead-up to this project, I am getting ready to get more familiar with the cob/adobe itself… & have been watching a few videos on youtube about building adobe ovens… with basically the same material… & so — being that I am about broke, I hope to build a few for profit to help finance the (1-at-a-time-room) home.

    For what its worth, (maybe some other readers would like to know about it)… I have looked all over the web & those things sell for an ungodly amount — I’m talking — in the thousands!!

    I bought a few 50 pound sacks of dry, Old Hickory TI-21 clay, 2 yards of sand & am ready to begin mixing… & would love to share the experience on your blog here — after we have done the 1st one — maybe somebody else would like to know how… & I have done a good bit of research on the “how” thus far… so I could probably help in that area.

    One thing I am a little “stuck” on at this point, however, is what the best type of base might be for these things… & so… if you have suggestions on a lightweight, yet strong material to build from, I’d appreciate that. I was inquiring about Hebel stone earlier, as its strong but costs about 2X what regular firebrick does… & I’m trying to keep the thing within a 4X4 size for logistics (in case we do actually sell some)… to fit on a standard pallet.

    In fact, if you are stateside, I’d love to give you one as a token of appreciation for your philanthropic work… (after we get it built).

    Lightweight is going to be the name of the game for a supporting frame so we can add adobe or adobe tile around it for aesthetics as long as the frame itself doesn’t get too heavy. BTW, Is there a surface that the clay/adobe/cob will not stick to? Thanks in advance & if you are ever up to it, I’d love to jaw with ya sometime… Take care!!

    • The $2/ft. house in Texas is now up to about $4/ft. Still very, very inexpensive. They’re making excellent progress. They decided not to use pallets. Stay tuned. They’re making a blog and the details should be coming out soon. I think they’re doing the roof now.

      Sounds like your home plan is moving in the right direction. You don’t need a wind chimney. They’re only needed in deserts.

      I don’t see anyway to build a lightweight base that’s strong enough to support a portable cob oven. Cob ovens are too heavy to be portable. Maybe you could make a reinforced concrete base that can be hoisted onto a truck. It’s best to build traditional cob ovens one at a time on-site or go to a lightweight factory type production using thin shells. These are already on the market.

    • About composting toilets in TX – I know they are in use by some down by Terlingua, and in this ehow article – http://www.ehow.com/about_6048742_residential-composting-toilets-code-regulations.html – they say that Nevada is the only state that prohibits them. Texas is lumped in with the states that allow them but require state or local approval.

      I’m not sure when the article was written – according to them, Sun-Mar is the only one that has toilets approved for residential use (and TX requires that they be so approved). I thought Nature’s Head did and was planning to use theirs since they are about half the price. I guess I will find out when I get to that point… I’ll be building in NE TX (probably – that’s where I have found land I like right now) and am planning to be completely off-grid.

  210. The 5 acres I am purchasing here in the TX Hill Country has 3 levels… But mostly sloping…

    The perk test holes revealed mostly clay & limestone… & — as the septic installer said… Bad news for a less costly septic system but great news for digging a pond later. Looks like I will need to build the adobe mixture with sand brought in from somewhere nearby, as well.


    With the slope, the levels, the type of soil in mind, how can I best work WITH the land?

    I am thinking PAHS, earth-berm, and hyperadobe… With 1 high sided wall, providing for both a single-sided slanting roof, & a living green roof, if this is strong enough (?)…

    In time, hoping to make a profitable homestead there with about 10 cars a minute… We’re dreaming of being able to even help promote this natural building concept, if not give classes as well… (undernote the word dreaming… Here… Especially)…

    As for now, though, I am still just a little more than clueless… & appreciate you helping me & so many countless others here…

    1 final question if I may: would earthbermed walls require concrete or is the tubular bag structure sufficient?

    • Make at least one test earthbag with your soil. It may be fine just as it is. Let it dry completely, cut the bag open and see if it turns really hard. Drop on one corner and see if it shatters. Research the adobe drop test (adobe bricks) and try to achieve something similar.

      Start digging the pond and use that soil for earthbags. This assumes you have a tractor or backhoe for excavating. Otherwise it’s easiest to have road base or other suitable soil delivered.

      You don’t need PAHS in your climate.

      Earth berm about 30″ high for maximum cost/labor/thermal benefit. Add two layers of 6 mil poly between the berm and wall. One layer goes directly against the wall, the other layer goes out an angle to help divert water. No concrete needed, not even on the foundation. Use gravel bag foundation if you don’t have codes.

      Living roofs are a lot of work, especially in terms of ongoing maintenance. Approach with caution. Do you really want to climb around on your roof on a regular basis to take care of it? In arid climates it might very well die anyway.

      Start small with one simple structure to develop your skills.

      A composting sawdust toilet works great if you don’t have codes.

  211. Dr. Geiger,

    What do you recommend for TX — Between more thermal mass & more insulation?

    I really like the new hyperadobe mesh bags’ ease of use compared to the normal but with rice hulls, not sure how to approach it… & I was wondering anyway, what would be better for my area (close to Austin, TX)… insulation (rice hulls) or thermal mass (adobe infill)… or would you recommend mixing the 2 in a cement mixer?


    trying to save $ on a roof — is dome a better way to go than a center pole style roof? Unless I have it miscalculated the roundhouse option is less expensive… not sure how wide the diameter needs to be… but I’d like to build something just large enough to hold up in while we save money to add-on… Thank you!!

    • Adobe is the traditional building method in your area, and so I would go with tamped earth. Using mesh tubes or bags works great, especially when it comes time to plaster. It sticks perfectly. Add plenty of insulation in the roof to prevent overheating. That may mean you want to build a ceiling so there’s attic space for insulation. You don’t necessarily need a center pole. It all depends on how you build the roof. Search our blog and other sites for info on roofs.

      You can make any size roundhouse you want almost. Plan ahead for future doors so you can connect to the next structure. See this article: http://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-Build-an-Earthbag-Roundhouse/

  212. Hi! I want to build a small studio and fulfill a lifelong itch to build something. There are so many different ways to do this. All I know is that I want the building to be round, to be cheap, and to be natural (no concrete if I can help it). I’m thinking 16′ in diameter with a flat, living roof. Something a (vigorous) old lady can manage. Is there a forum where the experienced and inexperienced (me!) green builders meet and where I can get some guidance and find answers to my (many) (present and future) questions? (Ideally this forum would have a good signal to noise ratio and some experienced builders.)

    Thank you!

  213. Thank you Owen. I have another couple of questions about ideas for using recycled mateterials in the house. I am thinking of making a cob floor but possibly using lime in the mix to make it stronger, what do you think? Also linseed oil is impossible to get here, are there alternatives to protect floors and plasters? As I understand it gravel is used for the base layer when making a floor, I was thinking of smashing glass bottles do you think this is a possible alternative?

    For the roof I had wanted to use thatch as this is something locally available, beautiful and warm yet there are down sides. The grass is being cut too soon so can rot and then needs to be replaced, as water is scarce I really want to collect rain water in an underground tank. So I have decided on a metal roof, then to insulate this I was thinking of closed plastic bottles between the metal roof and reed ceiling, do you think this would work?

    Thank you for your help


    • Use the built-in search engine and look for the previous blog post on 11 earth floor methods. Those links should cover everything you need to know.

      Broken glass can serve as an aggregate, however, working with glass is dangerous. At minimum you would want special gloves like glass workers use, goggles and sturdy shoes. Be very careful.

      Plastic bottles in the attic are a fire hazard, although they would provide some insulation. Reed ceilings without fire resistant backing is also dangerous. But this may be acceptable if the house is a simple, dirt cheap home and the risk of fire is low.

  214. Hi Owen, thank you for the fast response! The mortar between the rocks is a sand clay and lime mix, the lime has hardened it so it feels like cement. The foundations are 1m deep and there is a stem wall above ground level. I have heard conflicting opinions on whether it is best to leave the cob walls to breath so that if moisture gets in it can dry out again, others say it is best to have a damp proof course, what do you think? the drainage on the site is very good as is very sandy. The rainy season lasts only a few months in the year, the rest of the year there are no rains. what is water glass? I have some borax which I am planning to use to treat wood for the roof and for the doors and window frames, is this the application you are refering to? I’m wondering whether termites will be able to get into the walls at the straw, with the foundations to protect and a lime plaster over te walls? I had considered making a termite barrier but I’m not sure this will make a huge difference as I would have to make my own from recycled materials there are no commercially made here, I’m not sure how efficient it would be and I’m worried about the cob not being able to connect well wig the foundation if I did this. Sorry lots of questions but I’m in the middle of the bush doing this with no expert support!!
    Thank youfor your help!

    • The main thing is to make wide roof overhangs so rain doesn’t hit the walls. Don’t forget about blowing rain.

      Google waterglass. It’s a very good, all natural material.

      Maybe you can get by with just sprinkling borax around your house every 6 months or so. Test this out on a small structure first.

      Water probably won’t wick up into the cob since you’re building on sand. (This assumes the wall and foundation are protected with wide roof overhangs.)

    • Your foundation is made with earth mortar? It will be essential to keep water away.

      Termites will likely get in the walls eventually. Try waterglass or borax to thwart the termites.

  215. Earthbag Workshop in San Luis, Colorado
    July 14 – 31

    Eighteen days of intensive learning at a remote site in Southern Colorado. We will build a Earthbag Earthship home for Tetsuko, a friend and buddhist practitioner. Experience an amazing natural setting! A stream runs by the site. Learn all the details of construction with lectures, slides, and hands on classes. You will come away from this experience ready to build your own home with little further guidance required.


    Lunch included. Camping onsite.

    contact: scott (at) earthenhand.com

  216. Expect to finally be closing on our 5 acres of TX hill Country in less than a month now — & so the pressure is on as we are mostly unprepared. After 7 test holes were dug, the land may require an aerobic septic system but the good news is that there is a lot of clay & limestone so I think that can be useful for something but not exactly how to make use of it. I was thinking of trying to separate the limestone, sand & clay for building… What is the best method of doing this? Thank you!!

  217. Roger that, Dr. Geiger… where is the best tube bags & the best deals on them, anyway? Do ya’ll sell them or can you at least point me somewhere for them, please? Thank you!!

    BTW, I am pretty intent of doing the system as I described it to you several months ago but now that we finally have found a property that we like… I am considering working with the terrain & maybe digging into a hill to have a semi-buried home but not sure which is less expensive…??

    Out of 7 perk test hole today — none perked & we will likely have to go with an aerobic system so not sure if that would be a concern with doing the “dig-ins”…

  218. Is the mesh tubing for hyperadobe walls a good option for rice hulls & — if so, where can the mesh tubing be purchased? Thank you!!

  219. Hello!

    Please check out and like my facebook page
    search (earth friendly homes) on facebook and you will see it

    feel free to message me on facebook with ideas to make the page better… pictures, videos, or your story!

    thanks : )

  220. Has anyone ever considered the use of Hesco Barriers in building an Earthbag “type” home?

    Hesco barriers were used extensively in Iraq and Afghanistan to build quick protective barriers. It seems that these could be used to greatly improve the speed of construction of an earthbag type home. This website describes the barriers.


    I am not sure of the cost of these barriers but they could possibly be diy constructed using cattle panels and some kind of poly.

    The only thing that I haven’t worked out is how to leave windows and doorways open…

    Any thoughts?

    • They’re bulky and awkward and create excessively thick walls that waste space. They’re also expensive. It would be time consuming to make something equivalent. Much easier to use something already readily available such as sand bags (earthbags) or straw bales.

  221. Does anybody know or can recommend a builder/contractor in Tonga Vava’u-Hunga Island that can help with the building of earth bag homes, and how I may get in touch with them?

    Thank you so much for your time and energy.

    • I think that’s the place where someone warned us of a scam. Be careful and research everything in detail.

  222. Hello all,
    Our family just purchased 8 acres of wooded land in Greene county PA and will be building a 3 bedroom underground earthbag home. Anyone looking for volunteer experience is welcome to come out and lend hand or if anyone has experience with this type of project and would be open to answering questions and offering pointers please send me an email. You can reach me at lovelyanaii@gmail.com.

    Ps There is alot of available information on the Internet about building the outside of earthbag homes but I cannot find information on the inside (how to finish it). Things like installing cabinets,pantry setups, closet and bathroom design. If you watch videos of convential homes being built you see tons of plumbing pipes so you do this with an earthbag structure?

    • Run plumbing underground and up through an interior plumbing wall. Everything else about the plumbing is standard.

      Interior walls: most people build wood framed walls. You could use pallets, etc. if you don’t have codes.

      Cabinets: You can embed wood blocking between courses of earthbags and screw the cabinets to these.

      Attaching small items: search our blog for “other uses for 1/4″ rebar” where list various uses for 1/4″ rebar.

      99% of the interior is conventional carpentry and building. Check out books from the library.

      We answer general questions on our blog. Use the built-in search engine first because almost every topic has been covered multiple times.

      • Thanks for the info. I will look into conventional plumbing and framing I will also make sure to video the interior finishing of our project as I am more of a visual person and I still cannot find very many informative videos. I really like the idea of using pallets to frame so again thanks Owen for giving me some keywords to search for.

  223. I am hoping to find many volunteers that would be willing to help build a earth bag home for a family of four in Northern Arizona. This project will start in June of 2013 with lots of room and land to build. I am also open to allow anyone or sponsored projects that are needing to teach seminars or workshops with allowing the build process on my land. I would love to be able to find a volunteer engineer in the area of Navajo County that would like to have the recognition behind their back for this particular build. This project has been on hold for me as I have broken my back and neck in a bad accident and would appreciate any and all help I could get. The plan is to do this next Summer to allow me to recover from the second back surgery. I am very motivated and willing to provide food. Camping items will need to be supplied on your own. If anyone would be interested and would like to volunteer please notify me. I am a single mother with a special needs child and an older one serving our country, and a grandson just learning to walk. So, I am limited on my helpers. After barely surviving this medical and physical disaster during our great recession, I have to reconsider my options of sustainability.I think this would be a great project from start to finish and would allow a documentary film as well. I am a huge supporter of education and would love to make that imprint with this build for others to learn from. Please let me know! Thank you.

  224. We have been painting the bags to protect them from deterioration, but noticed when turning them inside out they seem to be coated. By turning them inside out will that protect the bags? Thank you

  225. Hi everyone, I was wondering if anyone has built or is currently building an earth bag home in or near West Tennessee? If you are my wife and I would love to come visit it to get an idea of how it performs in our hot humid summers and cold winters. email me at micrus1968@gmail.com

    Camping on site! Bring Food and Snacks. Water will be provided!


    I want to post a FREE earthbag building workshop. I want to lead a small group of interested volunteers to finish my earthbag project in one full day and another half day. I have everything almost prepared to bring help in to the site. The house is half done and I started it last summer. I have 155 bags made ready to be stacked up and I plan to make a 100 more this week.

    The building is simple, just a 17 foot diameter roundhouse. I have the southeastern side exposed and I have 5 brand new windows I need to install. I already even have the “velcro plates” and wood frames made for them! I plan to bring it up 2 or 3 more feet then start going in. The building is 7 feet high 3/4s of the circle. I will have lumber to start going 3 feet in then have a recycled 10-15 foot satellite dish to go over it. Exciting!!!!!

    I just got a brand new stucco sprayer gun from “mortarsprayers.com” and plan to have a cement mixer brought in order to mix lime-cement, stucco plaster then plaster with a high-powered air compressor over the exterior and roof. Also, if we have time then spray the interior.

    I just really need some help! I have been doing everything myself except for a couple work parties that I made here.

    You can reach me at: creichard@gmail.com


    • Maybe I’m misunderstanding you, but just in case you don’t know it’s best to fill the bags with moist soil right before stacking them. Stacking bags of dry soil doesn’t make solid earthbags.

  227. Hello,
    I just bought 2.5 acres of raw land in Ocotillo Wells, San Diego County, CA. We are starting to build a Natural Pool, and 5 Tiny Adobe/Rock houses surrounding the pool. If anyone would like experience in Building a Natural Pool contact me at the Email listed below. Free food, drinks and plenty of sunshine!!
    Kim at
    Email: lil_lady_19622002@yahoo.com

  228. Hi i am in puerto rico, i want to build an earthbag house using the hyperadobe method on top of an existing home that is made of cement. The roof is flat. Would i be able to do this and do i need to put anything on the cement floor or can i just lay down the bags on it. thanks

    • It would probably be okay if the building is well built, but that’s impossible to judge from afar. Consult a local engineer for their opinion. Also note, in general earthbag is less efficient for 2nd story structures or higher because you have to move a lot of heavy soil high on the wall. This is most practical if you have a good strong crew or somehow mechanize the process.

      Use gravel-filled bags or stabilized fill material for the first course.

      • thanks for responding. the building is very stable. concrete and cement. I wanted to make the earthbag home small for my self. I was planing on doing it by my self. little by little, no rush. maybe set 5 bags a day or so. Don’t have much money to afford a crew. Wanted a small bedroom, kitchen and bathroom. DO you think that would be doable to do alone. i am think of building a pulley of some sort to left the dirt up. thanks again

        • It’s possible to do what you’re saying, although it’s not the most efficient. But sometimes you have to do things less than optimum due to a limited budget. Paint the earthbags with recycled paint so they don’t deteriorate in the sun (just the inside and outside of bags that are in the sun).

          • thanks for the help, i was planning on using the mesh bags instead, since it seems easier, no barb wires and all. it is pretty hot up there. so i was planning on making lots of wide windows. i am on a mountain so we get a nice breeze where the back of the house would be. i think 300 square feet would be the ideal size. i assume 500 bags. I liked the hnc house design. I think i will use those dimensions and modify it a bit. I figure that should not cost more than 1000 to make. i will be looking for salvaged windows and doors. not sure about the roof. Hard to find thatch here. plenty of bammboo near my house. thanks again love the site.

          • Sounds like a fun project. And I like your plan for starting out simple.

            Search ‘how many bags’ in the search engine to determine how many bags you’ll need.

  229. We have purchased property that had a mobile home on there previously. The septic system in in place but due to the fact that the mobile home sat about 3 foot above ground and the septic hook up is above grade by 2 plus feet. Is it feisable to connect into the existing septic or will this make the walls too high for earthbag building?

  230. We are looking for a natural builder who wants to live/work with a bunch of awesome people, in an amazing eco village in beautiful Costa Rica :) This is an unique opportunity for a educated natural builder who would like to host sustainable retreats & workshops … members can host as many retreats/workshops as they like and there will be MANY projects to work on.

    If you or anyone you know may be interested in this please come our way.

    Thank you,
    Leslie & Neil

  231. Hi,
    Fist off Thanx for looking at my posting. I am a disabled person building a home for my family 25 miles from St Johns on a natural ruarl landscape. I only mention the disablement because i need help. The home is around 470sqft at the base. I need to complete the project by winter for my family (Oct). I can offer meals, enlightening conversation and instruction in alternative fuels, energy, housing & food production. I am an inventor and have patents in some of these areas. I am working on setting up a website at http://www.earthbaghome.com. Please email contact info.