“The back mass wall is up to the 7th course of bags and another course of foam insulation is about to start. In the video I show how the geotextile is woven through the mass wall making it monolithic. This is an invention by Howard Switzer (the Architect on this project) and he calls it “continuous buttress earthbag walls”. This design eliminates the need for poured concrete buttresses and battering the walls (leaning them back) and allows for a cleaner looking straight walled interior. We have had 300% the normal rainfall this summer in TN and this has resulted in much less progess than was anticipated.
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Related: Geotextile reinforced earthbag walls were covered on our blog 6 years ago:
What Jake and his architect have done is show the refined process on an actual project. So yes, this is a first of its kind project and I applaud their efforts, especially since there’s a great deal of interest in building earthship type designs more efficiently. This process could be engineered to meet code for earthbag walls. Maybe your architect did the calcs. If so then hats off to him and that would be a breakthrough versus my article which just sketched out the basic concept based on how highway retaining walls are built.
Production rate using his earthbag tube filling machine: On a good day me (42) and my 67 year old dad can get 70′ of bag wall done. I have a $5,000 late 60s backhoe that I use to put the dirt right behind the wall so we can shovel it right in the tube. This reduces the manual labor.
5 thoughts on “Jake vs the Earthship part 8”
I’m very impressed with Jake’s earthship build and definitely the ingenious way to fill the tube earthbags.
I would love to see some side by side comparison test of his tube filler and the one on wheels. The one on wheels is intriguing because it’s primarily a converted dolly and it’s easy to move.
Can’t wait to see how Jake’s house turns out. LOTS of people want a house about this size.
There are two other key advantages to Jake’s design. One advantage is the ease of enclosing a lot of space in a simple rectangular design. Once the thermal mass earthbag wall is finished, building a framed solar window wall on the south side will be very straightforward. So this design is well suited for larger homes (and small ones as well, of course), and for homes in cold/harsh climates. Add PEX radiant heat flooring in cold climates.
Another advantage is the ability to get code approval. I’m sure his architect and engineer would gladly accept more jobs like this.
This design reminds me of the passive solar houses people were building back in the 70’s after the oil embargo. That’s when I first became interested in natural building and energy efficiency.
I was also impressed with how this project is coming together. This method of passive annual heat storage is great for long term efficiency. And the woven geotextile fabric to reinforce the wall should work well. He’s doing a good job with this.
Houses like this are very popular because they combine passive solar, zero energy, earth berm/underground, and earthbag/earthship features. Jake is on the cutting edge in my opinion. He’s proving how a typical owner builder can build an affordable super energy efficient earthbag home way faster than ramming tires. Do the math on the production rate per lineal foot of wall and you’ll see earthbag is much faster. So Jake will get the advantages of this type of home without the disadvantage of pounding hundreds of tires.