Earthbag Home in New Mexico: How Much Did it Cost?

“Throughout the summer, I kept track of my expenses here.

$9513–Not all that accurate as it includes costs that aren’t really valid, such as the cost of my tent.

$8068–The total cost of materials and labor. It still includes some things that maybe shouldn’t be there, like the water tank. I’ve broken it down to smaller expense categories as well.

Windows and Doors, Including Frame/Lintel: $1075
Labor: $950
Backhoe/Tractor: $1300
Wall Material: $425
Roof/Ceiling Material: $2390
Foundation Material: $1050
Plumbing, Including Cistern ($740): $888

Having broken it down, I would say it cost $5743 for materials–excluding labor, excavation and the cistern. Given that it’s about 500 square feet that translates to $11.5/sq. foot! Including the above excluded, it would come to $16/sq foot. I haven’t finished it yet, so costs such as the gutter, indoor plumbing, including the water pump, solar panels and sand to finish the plaster, amongst many other things, have yet to be added in.”

Building an Earthbag Home in Northern New Mexico

12 thoughts on “Earthbag Home in New Mexico: How Much Did it Cost?”

  1. My husband and I want to build a earthbag home in NM, but I am in my 60s and he’s in his 70s. We are wondering if there are organizations that would be willing to help. We have heard that if you hire a construction company you have to pay exorbitant prices as it is a specialty. This would be a hardship on us financially. We hoped to go off grid. Can anyone help steer us in the right way. Thanks to all for help

  2. I also live in New Mexico and just inherited some land near Edgewood and in Grants, NM. I am interested in building a sandbag/cob home on both plots of land but do not know where to start with regards to permits/licenses. I called planning and zoning but no one had any idea what I was talking about. ANY help from ANYONE who is knowledgeable about natural building would be much appreciated. Wanting to begin sometime in the Summer of 2020.

    • New Mexico has state-wide building codes. They do allow alternative building, but usually require a state-licensed architect or engineer to sign the plans.

    • You can’t get a permit to build a sandbag home in New Mexico unless you can find someone to coach you on a special, experimental permit from NM Construction Industries Division. Start with Patti Stouter:

      Cob construction is not yet in the building code of NM, either, but a group of Californians are working hard to develop a Cob Code, I think on the national level. I expect it to take effect in NM in about eight years.You might have a better chance if you align with them. Cob Research Institute:

      CRI is providing training and a script to guide you through this process and can help identify your local Building Official, see: . Let CRI know if you connect with your Building Official.

      Also, there is the Cob Cottage group in Oregon headed by Yanto Evans. I don’t have any NM cob contacts.

      Good old adobe bricks made on the ground and dried by the sun can be put together with adobe mud mortar. It’s been done for centuries in NM and there is a fine code, The New Mexico Earthen Buildling Materials Code. It is statewide and has been in effect in one form or another for sixty years. Takes about twenty minutes to learn to lay adobe bricks to get a good wall.


  3. Hello there. I live in New Mexico and want to build an earthbag home (similar to the ones I’ve seen in California). However, I’ve run into the issue that this may may be up to code to receive a building permit. The county I live in has informed me that this is something that had not been approved. I was wondering if this kind of structure had been approve in New Mexico and if so where. Our building project has been put on hold until we can figure this out. Any help you can provide would greatly be appreciated.

    • You need an architect or engineer to get plans approved. can get earthbag plans approved, but first they require architectural drawings like the ones I sell.

  4. It is always interesting to try to decide what categories of expenses should be included in the cost of a home.

    This would be a interesting topic to discuss among a variety of people.

    What expenses apply? It seems to me that depends upon one’s perspective.

    From a practical point of view. How much would it cost for someone else to replicate what was built? Then every expense, even the tent and water tank are important. The structure would not have been successfully built without those expenses, or other similar expenses to solve the problems that those items solved during construction and after.

    From a real estate valuation comparison point of view, then the tent and similar expenses don’t make much sense to include. When looking to compare costs to another structure built down the road by conventional means, they typically don’t put up tents to house the builders.

    I like what Aly has done by breaking it all down. That allows anyone to see for themselves what was spent where, and whether such an expense might apply in their own particular situation.

    Nicely done on her part.

    • Good points. Calculating costs is a big part of planning your home. I advise everyone to get some library books and/or do some online research about cost estimating and learn how to make spreadsheets. One problem is most cost estimating books only cover conventional building materials like lumber and concrete blocks. Still, much of the information will apply to a natural home.

  5. The blog was dated Nov 2011 about the cost. Are there more updates as to how she is doing now, after living in the house a few years ?? Would love to see some updated pictures of the place. If they are there, then somehow I missed them ….not too tech-no….

    • She had a baby the last I checked and so she’s obviously distracted from working on her home. That’s all I know.

  6. This is a very good example of a DIY low cost earthbag home. Check out their blog for full details. I’m very grateful to folks who document and share info about their projects so others can learn.


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