With all the recent blog posts on earth bermed and underground houses, the topic of earthbag window wells seems fitting. Earth-sheltered houses can often benefit from additional lighting in certain parts of the home. Window wells allow additional sunlight and ventilation to enter through the windows, and can provide egress if necessary. Earthbag window wells function just like conventional window wells. They’re simple and easy to build — so simple in fact that I’ll point new readers to my Step-by-Step Earthbag Building Instructable that explains 99% of the basics.
– Basement window wells are more prone to moisture problems than window wells built into an above grade earth berm. Use gravel-filled bags or stabilized earthbags in rainy/snowy climates and below grade applications.
– Set the earthbags on a stable base. Bermed earth will settle over time, so make sure the base is well tamped.
– Provide a drain to daylight or to a French drain. Geotextile filter fabric will help keep the drain from clogging. Periodic maintenance may be needed to remove build-up of leaves, etc.
– Include a layer of gravel in the bottom about 6” below the window so water can’t accumulate in the window well.
– Secure the earthbag window well to the main earthbag wall by overlapping bags, interconnecting barbed wire and/or pinning with rebar.
– Provide one or two layers of 6 mil plastic sheeting for moisture protection, being careful to avoid punctures as you backfill.
– Coat earthbags with lime or cement plaster. White colored plaster on the inside will reflect more light into the home.
– Window well covers are recommended for most applications. Wide roof overhangs that block most of the rain and snow may work if the window well is above grade.