Sandbag House in Jeffrey’s Bay

Sandbag House in Jeffrey’s Bay (click to enlarge)
Sandbag House in Jeffrey’s Bay (click to enlarge)

“This blog is about sharing our story of building an eco(ish) friendly house for our mother. We have never done this before and thought it may be useful to document lessons learnt along the way – so that others can learn from our experience. We hope that this journey inspires and motivates others to participate in our project, and even better, inspires others to start their own.

In my absence from the site a beautiful gable wall arose. It includes a little inlet for a free-standing wood using fire stove that will be placed in afterwards – we layered this with brick to protect the bags from the heat. Above it was placed a sleeper and even further up a round window (one we thought had also been stolen but was not!).

The earth we used in our natural plaster mix was obtained from an area that they are clearing for new RDP houses. Jakkie found it exactly at the right time. We had done some experiments on earth plasters sourcing earth wherever we could but on D-day all our sources pulled out. Jakkie found this earth as she drove to one of our gardens one day. With some negotiations, the tip truck delivered the earth to our site, instead of taking it to be dumped. Lovely going sister!

We will be constructing inner walls using an ancient building technique called wattle and daub. Many historic buildings include wattle and daub walls and it has been used for at least 6 000 years. It consists of a woven wooden lattice work that is plastered with an earthen plaster (combination of earth, straw and cow dung). This technique is brilliant for inner walls since it takes up little space and is more insulating that dry walls.

We will be building an earthen floor which contains no cement. This type of floor is far warmer than a synthetic floor and a lot cheaper to construct. Layered with stone, cob and lime, the floor is warm to the touch.”

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