Earthbag Foundations — 12 Comments

  1. I am building a small shed (11′ round) out of earthbags. Gravel (or any kind of stone) is cost prohibitive in this area. As well the the ground will freeze to 5 or 6′ deep here. Is it possible to fill a trench with sand (which I have here in abundance) with a sloping drain (also filled with sand)? Can I build with earthbags directly onto this? I can stabilize the first two courses with lime above ground level. Or should I fill earthbags with sand down to 5′ and backfill the soil around that?

    Do any of these suggestions have merit?



    • It is possible to build with earthbags on a sand foundation, as I have done this in Colorado where the frost depth was also about that deep. In this case the entire lot was nothing but sand. You can see a description of that project at

      If your native soil naturally drains well anyway then this could be a viable option for you. Providing a French drain at the base of the trench would assure that frost upheaval should not be an issue. I would not fill the French drain with sand as the water needs to be able to flow freely.

      I would fill the first two courses with sand to inhibit moisture wicking into the rest of the wall. A stabilized plaster over this is a good idea.

  2. Hi my name is Jeff and I live in the southern part of Iowa. The soil is mainly clay; would this type of soil be suitable for an earthbag home? Would like to build the solar pit home but don’t know how to get a full set of plans and step by step instructions. Can you help me out?

  3. Can we use broken celcon / thermalite blocks in polypropylene bags for below ground foundation for a straw bale roundhouse?

    • Yes, as long as the material does not absorb water. Otherwise it can wick moisture up into the wall and/or freeze and expand and break apart.

  4. I have been interested with earthbag bag and chose to do my final year project about investigation of earthbag foundation, but have difficulties as most of the sources says different materials, methods about the subject, can you use soil instead of sand and gravels in foundation as it is the cheapest material we have in Rwanda

    • If it rains a lot then the lower bags can turn to mud and cause the whole house to collapse. Use gravel or busted rubble from old buildings (no big sharp pieces).

  5. Pingback:Gypsum and Lime Stabilized Soil (Alker Technology) « Geopolymer House Blog

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