Dirt Cheap Housing Advice

Here’s an email from one of our readers (abbreviated for ease of reading).

I just had a few questions about building an earthbag home, and I hope you can get me pointed in the right direction. First off, I’m broke, so these questions pertain to me saving up for my future home. My dream home would need to be fairly round, or made up of several smaller domes. Finally, seeing as how I know nothing about construction and have to work most days, how would I ever learn to build one of these things, safely, without practicing on a few first? Even then, I don’t think I’d trust my work. Is there no one I could pay to help me construct it, who would have some experience with this?

My reply:
I’ve written quite a bit about low cost housing. Do a google search for “Owen Geiger” dirt cheap earthbag. Or “Owen Geiger” low cost earthbag.

There’s even a brief summary of the possibilities on my earthbag house plan blog.

By far the easiest, fastest way to build earthbag houses is with perlite or scoria (lava rock) in the bags. You can do a google search for Owen Geiger insulated earthbag for details.

The best dome method is illustrated by Kelly Hart’s free dome building guide. It’s super simple. Build an earthbag storage shed first if you’re unsure. These same structures can be grouped (clustered) any way you want and of any size up to about 20′ diameter.

Kelly Hart’s FAQ page will answer most any other questions for free.

With these methods I’ve just mentioned you can build very good houses at very low cost. The lightweight fill means you can do almost everything yourself at a fairly good pace. You can add one dome at a time. Hiring workers will blow your budget in no time. Slow and steady wins the game.

8 thoughts on “Dirt Cheap Housing Advice”

  1. Are there any earthbag buildings / homes which look more conventional? There are many aspects that look nice, but the round, yurt like look really turns me off.
    Can you build a regular square shape house with this method?

  2. Hi,

    I have heard concerns of possible termite damage in earthbags. It has never been mentioned anywhere and I am seeking advice or just simply would like to hear some comments regarding this very important issue. I am living in a part of Philippines with a lot of termites and other ants, but I am very interested to use earthbags for our house here soon.

    Salamat, Pedro and Grace

    • This is an area that needs more study. My advice would be to explore these options: lime stabilized soil (should be 100% effective), add borate or waterglass to the soil mix (should work in most cases, but there’s no proof of this). Please make some sample bags and share your experiences with us through photos and text.

    • No, I don’t. I recommend reading through our earthbag sites and learning as much as you can. Almost everything you need is here for free. In rainy climates, I recommend using roofs. Unprotected domes are vulnerable to moisture damage.


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