“The small off-grid home we’re helping friends build here in the Appalachian foothills is getting a bunch of work done to it recently. The biggest task of the moment is building the earthbag stemwall, which we need to finish before our upcoming Straw Bale Workshop in July. We opted for an earthbag stemwall due to the availability of appropriate materials, the relative ease of construction, and the unique siting of the house. All things considered, I think going the earthbag route has been a good choice.
“There will be many who refuse to believe this will work. What no concrete? Will be their never-ending refrain.
Concrete foundations have been around for less than a hundred years. Buildings have been built for millennia. In the eastern Mediterranean it’s common to see structures still standing over 2000 years after they were built, without a drop of concrete.
Question from a reader: “Owen, I have started an Earthbag storage area 19×17 as a test project for using earthbags, and I have finished the gravel section about two feet high and I have moved on to using road base, clay, and cinder. Cinder for insulation as your e-book recommends, but it is very time … Read more
One of our readers requested information on how to build on sloped terrain. They want to minimize excavation work. The drawing above shows how to build an earthbag foundation in ‘steps’. The basic process involves: 1. determine the slope of the land: change in elevation (‘rise’) over horizontal distance (run), expressed as a fraction (example: … Read more
Yesterday’s post was about the earthquake resistance of earthbags. Today’s post illustrates what an earthquake resistant gravel bag foundation looks like and explains why this design is so effective. Gravel is an ideal material for this application because it’s durable, reasonably inexpensive, readily available in most areas, has high bearing strength and prevents wicking of … Read more
What is the lifespan of poly bags, and will they make durable foundations? From our experience and from what we can gather from other sources, poly bags can last almost indefinitely if kept out of sunlight, and therefore double-bagged foundations appear to be extremely durable. This is important because earthbag foundations are much lower cost … Read more