Our Earthbag House – Part 2

See the first part here.

5. Interlocking the Walls and Support Bags.

We had a bit of a design change. No wooden structure to go on top of earthbags, the house itself would be made entirely of earthbags. The only wood going on top of them would be the roof structure.

We began the pattern of laying the walls and interlocking each wall into ´footsteps´. These are necessary when putting down a foundation wall. Without these the wall cannot support itself sufficiently.

Door Frame

Door Frame

A circular or dome earthbag structure is self-supporting. A straight wall earthbag structure is not. We also put barbed wire (two parallel strips) on each layer of sandbags. The barbed wire provides the walls and structure with high tensile and shear strength and largely prevents the bags from moving once they are down.

First Few Layers

First Few Layers

Progress

Progress

6. Putting on the Roof

A combination of straight squared CSA beams and round ones were used to build the roof frame, of different lengths and varying but reasonably similar thicknesses. Three upright beams went across the centre of the house, cemented into the pit, to support the centre of the roof frame structure. It didn’t seem possible to get truly straight wood where we lived.

Putting on the Roof

Putting on the Roof

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I spent lots of afternoons of hand-chiseling out joints and getting all the fit right. Thank god we didn’t decide to build a full wooden house on top – with the limited supply of electricity it would have taken a long time to cut and shape the wood as needed.

7. The Finished Touches

The outside and inside of the house was coated in adobe – a mixture of mud, sand, and donkey poo. Covered with limewash ad plastered on to the structure, it provides insulation and weatherproofing.

The indoor finishing touches!

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