Today I began an interesting new project: building a structure out of dirt! Well, technically it’s compacted sand clay 🙂 The fundamentals of this method have been used for a long time, but recently, with the push towards “green” building techniques, there as been a surge in popularity. A few tweaks to the to old system, and a building technique known as Earth Bag Construction was formed.
Searching all over the internet, I keep coming back to a couple of sites. These seem to be the “go to” places to learn about earthbags.
If you want to see the basics, check out http://www.nmdirtbags.com/earthbags.html.They are a seller of polypropylene bags and other supplies for constructing earthbag structures, and they give a nice briefing on the subject in general.
http://www.earthbagbuilding.com/. Can you guess what their site is about? haha. This is a great resource with a lot of links to Articles, Videos, etc.
This video on YouTube shows a cabin being built out of earthbags:
It’s a pretty good video, except for the fact that they don’t show any plastering.
If you type “earthbag” into YouTube, you’ll get a ton of information.
Now that you’re educated on what earthbag building is, you can appreciate the project that I’m undertaking. This is my first experience with earthbag building, so it’s exciting. I’m a newbie, who has simply watched more YouTube videos and read more articles than you 🙂
Here’s the beginning. I ordered 1000 bags for $267 shipped and began my project.
You’re looking at an existing garage to the right and the area to the left that I’m turning into a storage building. we had to remove a couple of objects that were in the way first.
Thought this “little pipe” was going to come right out. LOL. here’s what we dug up.
what is that??? I don’t know but my back hurts from trying to rip it out the ground… oh well, carry on!
We laid out the foundations 24″ wide and 12″ deep and tried our best to wear out a couple shovels.
Off to the rock yard down the road.
I got a yard of slag for $25 and headed home with the back end of the truck “squattin” a little. (that’s at least 2000 lb)
Here’s my almost finished foundation.
I’d like to run a tamp on this before I start laying bags, but I don’t think it’s absolutely necessary.
That’s as far as we got today. My bags are on the way, and I’ll update when there’s more.
***UPDATE*** May 29, 2015
Welcome back to this post if you’ve been following along. We made more progress. I was expecting hard work, but I will admit that it’s a little tough 🙂 Not awful, but it sure isn’t a small undertaking.
Got home yesterday and found the bags sitting on my porch!
I was expecting a larger package, but there surely is 1000 bags in there.
We loaded up the trailer and headed out to my family’s place. Conveniently there’s a sand clay pit. From the online resources I listed earlier in this post, I found the easy way to fill the bags- you take a 5 gallon bucket and cut the bottom out. Then the bag slides onto the bucket and scruches up til the bucket is sitting in the bottom of the bag. Here we are getting ready to fill the first bag!
I’ve read online where some people were claiming that you could only do 5 or 6 bags per hour… we did 30 in around 2 hours, including a trip to go get water… We timed an individual bag from start to loaded in the trailer at less than 2 minutes. Yes, you have to take breaks, as it’s strenuous, but I see 100 in a day with 2 in shape people a modest goal.
We loaded up our 30 bags and headed to lowes to pick up a hand tamp and a roll of barbed wire (recommended to put 2 strands of barbed wire between each course). THis is probably the most aggravating part of the whole process so far. It’s a little tricky to hold down the ends. We had it come loose a couple of times. (Need bigger stuff to hold the ends down.)
We got the first 2 coursed laid, and tamped in place. Progress!!!
All told, this was about 4 hours. Probably half of that was drive time and hooking up the trailer, running to lowes, etc. All in all, not bad. I’ll be excited to see it when it starts getting some height to it 🙂
Keep making progress,