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Interview with Maggi of Chiang Dao B&B on Rice Hull Houses — 5 Comments

    • Use clean rice hulls with minimal bits of grain. Plaster the walls as soon as possible. Maintain plaster so there are no wall penetrations.

  1. Richard and I have been talking about this building method via email. He pointed out how tubes would greatly speed the process, because you wouldn’t have to stop and retie the ends of bags.

    In Vanuatu, we’re currently using tubing that is 14-1/4” (36cm) wide when measured flat and empty. This creates a wall thickness about 12″ wide before plastering. That’s plenty of insulation. So, not only would you save time and labor, you’d also use fewer materials. This one tip could shave 1-2 days off the building schedule. It is more difficult finding tubes, however. Bags are much easier to get. If you do use tubes, all you really need is a plastic bucket with the bottom cut out as a funnel. Rice hulls are as light as popcorn, so you could go really fast and not have to work nearly as hard.

  2. Maggi lives in a very rainy climate and surprisingly she hasn’t had any big problems so far. This is very encouraging. For those who live in drier climate there would obviously be far less risk.

    It would be prudent to crawl around the roof every 6-12 months and inspect for any cracks just to be on the safe side. Water will penetrate even small cracks on the roof.

    Also, I question the necessity of using a concrete foundation just because of termites. Maybe Maggi can share her experience on this. Maybe the concrete is important for stabilizing her wall system. I would probably just use some wood posts every 6′ or so, use gravel bags on lower courses and rice hull bags on top.

  3. Building rice hull bag dome roofs is experimental and the lifespan is unknown. For an expensive home it would be safer to build a standard roof. But what Maggi has done is very important and to be commended. She’s pushed the envelope a bit to test the limits of what’s possible. Maybe she has to fix the roof in 10 years. On a small, low cost structure like this it’s no big deal really. Most people fix their roofs every 10-20 years anyway.

    So here’s yet another excellent way to build with bags and another way to build dirt cheap housing (my favorite topic). Special thanks again to Maggi and Richard for pulling this information together and sharing with the world.

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