How to Build Earth Homes

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If you want to build an eco-friendly house that is also attractive and inexpensive to construct, you should consider an earth house (better known as an earthbag or superadobe house). Earthbag houses are rapidly becoming a favorite among people who want a more balanced, natural lifestyle, since these often dome-shaped, super-insulated structures have less impact on their surroundings, while using almost no energy for heating and cooling.

Things You'll Need

  • Earthbag House Plans
  • Shovel
  • Plastic Sheeting
  • UV-Resistant Polyethylene Bags
  • Scoria
  • Cement
  • Wire
  • Needle
  • Barbed Wire
  • Two-by-Fours
  • PVC Pipe
  • Papercrete
  • Trowel
  • Select appropriate land for your new earthbag house. Stay away from areas prone to flooding. You should also try to find counties that have no building department, to avoid pesky building inspectors and their codes.

  • Clear and grade the house site. Now, using the plans to guide you, lay out and dig a trench that will help form the foundation. It should be about a wide as the bags you will be using. Line the trench with thick plastic sheeting.

  • Start filling the bags with a mixture of scoria and 10 percent cement, and then seal them using metal wire and a needle. When full, each bag will be about the size of a 40-pound bag of dog food. Begin laying them in a row, tight against each other, within the trench. Once you complete one circuit of the trench, tamp down the bags, and lay two strips of barbed wire side by side on top of the bags along the whole length of the trench.

  • Start another layer, alternating the bags with the ones below to make the structure stronger. Continue making layers, adding barbed wire to each.Insert wooden frames and small pipes as placeholders (as you build the layers up). These will serve to hold open the places you will insert windows, doors, plumbing and wires later. As the layers rise, start coming in with them to form a Roman arch that finally meets in a dome at the top.

  • Cover then inner and outer surface of the bags with papercrete, smooth it with a trowel, and let it dry.

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