Sharing information and promoting earthbag building
Earthbag Building Guide by Owen Geiger, 2011. Much has been learned about earthbag building over the last few decades through research, trial and error, and sharing of information. It is becoming increasingly clear what works best and why. This book pulls the most practical ideas together.
To see the Table of Contents and read some reviews of this book see this page.
Basic Earthbag Building: a Step-by-Step Guide is a comprehensive DVD created by Owen Geiger. The first part of Basic Earthbag Building provides clear, simple explanations of each step of construction, and includes full coverage of the tools and supplies needed to complete any sized project. The second part documents the construction of a cool pantry, which uses the same basic steps as most any other earthbag structure. Watching the construction of an actual project is key to understanding the whole process, and will enable you to see how all the steps and parts go together.
As a bonus, there are some extra scenes that include Building an Earthbag Dome, an animated Enviro Dome Fly-through and a tour of a Finished Earthbag Roundhouse.
Building with Bags: How We Made Our Experimental Earthbag/Papercrete House 1 1/2 hr. DVD produced by Kelly Hart.We wanted to build an environmentally sensitive and aesthetically pleasing home at a moderate price. We chose to create earthbag domes covered with papercrete (recycled paper combined with cement and sand). This honest DVD documents details of the construction, insights gained, and the ups and downs (literally!) of the building process. Several other earthbag homes are also shown. For more information about the house see Photogallery & Description of Our House or Construction Details of Our House .
Earthbag Building : The Tools, Tricks and Techniques by Kaki Hunter, Donald Kiffmeyer, 2004. Earthbag Building is a comprehensive guide to all the tools, tricks, and techniques for building with bags filled with earth. Having been introduced to sandbag construction by the renowned Nader Khalili in 1993, the authors developed this "Flexible Form Rammed Earth Technique" over the last decade. A reliable method for constructing homes, outbuildings, garden walls and much more, this enduring, tree-free architecture can also be used to create arched and domed structures of great beauty. This profusely illustrated guide first discusses the many merits of earthbag construction, and then leads the reader through the key elements of an earthbag building: Special design considerations; Foundations, walls and floors; Electrical, plumbing and shelving; Lintels, windows and door installations; Roofs, arches and domes; Exterior and interior plasters. There are also dedicated sections on costs, making your own specialized tools, and building code considerations, as well as a complete resource guide. Kaki Hunter and Donald Kiffmeyer have been involved in the construction industry for the last 20 years, specializing in affordable, low-tech, low-impact building methods that are as natural as possible. They developed the "Flexible Form Rammed Earth Technique" of building affordably with earthbags and have taught the subject and contributed their expertise to several books and journals on natural building. For a more detailed review of this book written by Kelly Hart see this article.
Earthbag Building is available as a downloadable ebook for $29.95 from this link.
Building with Earth: A Guide to Flexible-Form Earthbag Construction by Paulina Wojciechowska, 2001. This is the first book published about earthbag building, and still one of the best. Unfortunately it has gone out of print, but is still available used from various sellers at Amazon. My earthbag/papercrete house is featured on the cover, and as a case study, and images of it are sprinkled throughout the text. Paulina visited me while I was building it and helped with the construction some. She studied with Nader Khalili at CalEarth, so is grounded in his training, but is not bound by his perspective. This book touches on most of the relevant facits of earthbag building, and I give it a high recommendation.
Emergency Sandbag Shelter by Nader Khalili, 2008. The book shows how to use sandbags and barbed wire, the materials of war, for peaceful purposes. Earthbags can shelter millions of people around the globe as a temporary as well as permanent housing solution. This affordable, self-help, sustainable, and disaster resistant structural system is a spin off from Khalili's presentation to NASA for habitat on the moon and Mars, which successfully passed rigorous tests for strict California earthquake building codes. This book along with a small library of films and kits can guide anyone to learn and teach how to build a home or community.
Emergency Shelter DVD. Region 1 ( U.S. and Canada only). The works and words of architect Nader Khalili. Natural disasters are human created disasters blamed on nature. In today's world there are, according to the United Nations, over a billion people without suitable shelter. In the spirit of protecting their families, requests have come from all over the United States for instructions on how to build a safe shelter before or during an emergency. This video documents a group training at Cal-Earth Institute by constructing an 8 ft. interior diameter dome in one day. It is intended for use with materials and tools developed for instruction during the apprenticeship training at Cal-Earth.
Ceramic Houses and Earth Architecture: How to Build Your Own by Nader Khalili, 1996. This book shows how to build vaults, domes and arches with adobe blocks. It then goes on to suggest how to actually fire the structure like pottery, with a glaze. It is a fiscinating concept that has seen little use, partly because the firing process can be rather polluting. This book has been updated to discuss the SuperAdobe building method of building with earthbags.. I recommend this book to everyone who is interested in alternative building methods.
Home Work: Handbuilt Shelter by Lloyd Kahn, 2004. I have rarely been this enthusiastic about a book, and not just because I am in it! My earthbag/papercrete house is featured in a two-page spread. Ever since his first publication of Shelter in 1973 (which I also contributed to), Lloyd has been collecting imagery and stories for this eventual sequel. With Home Work, Lloyd has gone beyond the glory of his earlier work in many ways. Not only does it seem more comprehensive, but it is almost entirely in color. This is a sumptuous coffee table book that will likely not spend much time on the table, since it is so intriguing you just want to pick it up and browse through it. Every page is chock full of fun, unusual, lyrical, quaint, artistic, humble, elegant, practical, colorful, whimsical, well-crafted, funky, traditional, and outlandish buildings that were lovingly built by the hands of those who reside there. All of this is presented with Lloyd's casual style of layout and commentary that is reminiscent of a scrap book. Many of the photos are actually collages of several exposures spliced together to create expansive murals. Flipping through the pages of Home Work will take you back to the early days of hippie huts and forward to the cutting edge of natural building technology. The builders themselves are portrayed as lovingly as their buildings, with many profiles of fine craftsmen and women sprinkled throughout. In fact, the book begins by featuring the work of ten artisans who represent some of the best in this tradition of owner-builders. Then a whole slew of other specific homes are displayed in such a way that the lifestyle of their occupants is embedded directly within the imagery. This book depicts far more than architecture; it shows entire ways of life.
The House That Jill Built: A Woman's Guide to Home Building by Judy Ostrow and Karen Leffler, 2005. Millions of women are already learning the basics of do-it-yourself and getting in tune with the empowering nature of power tools. Allison Kennedy, a woman who built an earthbag house all by herself after her boyfriend left her with a concrete foundation, is one of the featured stories. The House That Jill Built is perfect for women of all skill levels, from the experienced do-it-her-selfer to the woman who doesn't know the difference between a stud finder and a palm sander, to the woman who is looking to move on to more complex or large-scale projects. Sharing women's real-life experiences in creating their own dream homes, The House that Jill Built is a groundbreaking guide to the process as well as a collection of women's real-life home-building experiences, complete with before and after photos and drawings, advice from experts, safety precautions, and a comprehensive section of how-to tips, including a tool guide. Chapters highlight success stories, such as the design and construction of one woman's desert dream house to another's tropical paradise nestled up north. After reading these personal stories, every woman will feel motivated to pick up the hammer and go for it.
If you buy any of the above books from Amazon.com a small percentage of that sale will help support this website.
For a complete listing of popular books about green building, see The Natural Building Bookstore.
simpleearthstructures Patti Stouter has assemble this site that focuses on her work with earthbag concepts for inexpensive and sustainable housing.
earthbaggers.com is a forum devoted exclusively to building with earthbags.
naturalhomes.org lists workshops from around the world that relate to earthbags.
calearth.org Nader Khalili's earthbag works.
earthenhand.com offers educational courses in earthen architecture, including earthbags, as well as services in sustainable building design, consultation, and construction.
structure1.com Precision Engineering has embraced earthbag building and is prepared to provide structural engineering for earthbag projects.
karacadirearthbuilding.com offers workshops and training for building with earthbags and sustainable living practices.
guidingstarcreations.blogspot.com offers workshops around the world.
motherearthnews.com an extensive article by Owen Geiger about how he built a small earth-sheltered earthbag dome.
earthhandsandhouses.org the construction of Paulina Wojciekowska's earthbag dome project in Poland. is shown under projects/sandbags...
caicosdream show Doni Kiffmeyer and Kaki Hunter working on an earthbag project.
midpines.us a series of construction photos with captions about building an earthbag home in the Sierras of California.
icbo code central article outlining the chronology and results of testing done on Nader Khalili's superadobe system of building.
calearth.org/Emerg This two-page PDF file outlines Nader Khalili's approach to building an emergency shelter.
archearth.com pictures and description of an earthbag "Sound Temple" in Thailand.
whitehole.tistory.com while this site is almost entirely in Japanese, it has lots of illustrations of earthbag projects around the globe.
calearth.org links to a gallery of photos of projects by alumni of CalEarth
iflux.com.br/bienal/laminas.pdf shows a hybrid bamboo/earthbag structure built in Brazil.
montelloalpacacompany.blogspot.com is a blog about building a multi-dome home in Nevada, among other things.
tbumchurchhaitiumvimteam.blogspot.com shows how a simple earthbag house was built in Haiti.
escueladeenergiasolar.org shows the building of a solar energy school in Mexico using earthbags.
allanssustainablehome.com describes the building of a small circular earthbag building with text, photos and video.
superadobeserrano.blogspot.com this blog-style site is in Spanish, but you don't have to know that language to enjoy the many photos and videos of superadobe constuction in Argentina.
californiadreams.us describes the concept and building of an earthbag earthship.
expressbagger.com manufactures a simple dual bag manual filling device for sandbags.
taoshivehome.blogspot.com is a nice blog about a woman's experience building an earthbag home, and there is a blog roll of many other similar blogs.
earthbaghouse.com has general information, work/trade opportunities, workshops, etc.
moradasverdes is the English version of a site that shows how building an earthbag health clinic in Mexico can be a model for building communities in general.
facebook.com Our blog has a fan page on Facebook!
barriersystemsllc.com manufactures the "Sand Master," an attahcment for a front end loader that will fill over a dozen bags at once!
unitedearthbuilders.com has a portfolio of earthbag projects.
buildsimple.org describes with video and illustrated text how Patti Stouter builds with "hyper wattle," a combination of mesh tubes stuffed with light straw clay to form light-weight, insulated, inexpensive walls. And there is a PDF about this as well: buildsimple.org
terra-form.org has an online tool for calculating various aspects of building domes using the superadobe methods. It is fun to play with the variations in bag size, dome radius, fill dimensions, stem wall heights and buttressing to see how each of these parameters affect the amount of material might be needed for a project.
Regular & Misprint or Used Bags:
Donald Davis Bags
White Bag Company, Inc
Bag Supplies Canada
Farber Bag & Supply Company
MaxKatz Bag Co.
Bags & Tubes:
Bag Supplies Canada
Central Bag Company
superiorsandbag.com has both 15" & 18" wide pp bag material in continuous rolls 6000 ft long, UV stabilized. 24hr hot line 949-338-5978
cngreenpack.com Chinese company manufactures PP bags and tubing.
MTP Polysak will make tubing to order mtppolysackAThotmail.com 081-353-5465 Bangkok
Suppliers of Mesh Bags & Tubing
Syfilco Ltd. ,320 Thames Rd. E., Exeter, ON N0M 1S3, Canada Tel: 519.235.1244 Fax: 519.235.1280
18" wide raschel mesh tubing is strong enough to work with easily and tamps to 12" wide at 4" high or 13" wide at 3.5" high. It comes in 1000 m rolls and is called 18" raschel mesh. They also sell other sizes. Contact: Maurice Wilson, Bag Supplies Canada, Stratford, Ontario 1 519 271 5393
.rich-source.com Chinese company manufactures mesh tubing.
cngreenpack.com Chinese company manufactures mesh bags and tubing.
Suppliers of Bags Globally
Bag Supplies Canada
China Forest Packaging Group Co.,Ltd www.forestpackaging.com
This factory in China (and Cambodia) can provide a wide range of polypropylene bags, both as individually sewn bags, and as long tubes on a rolls. They ship via containers (or partial containers) and have delivery to Haiti.
Standard 18"X30" bags run about $0.11US each and the longer 18"X34" bags are about $0.12 each.
The long tubing in rolls are 3500 meters (11,150' or 2.2 miles) long. This is the equivalence of about 3,700 standard bags. The cost of each roll is about $482US, so that would mean that the equivalent price compared to individual bags is about $0.13US...so there is no saving in buying the long rolls.
They can supply gussetted bags by special order, and it would be necessary to give them exact specifications for this. They need up to 30 days lead time to fill orders.
G.M-Export Dept Shandong, JiaHe Packaging Group, TH Plastic weaving Co.
PP woven bag: such as : 46X70cm, or 60X90cm; width: from 30 cm to 100cm, length: according your request. UV treated or not
PP tubular roll: tubular roll 50cm width, 4000M /roll width: from 30 cm to 100cm, length: according your request. UV treated or not
With 20 years experience, we know woven bags. FREE SAMPLES can be sent on request.
Denzel, Sales Director
Supplier of Bags in Haiti
I've found a company that makes polypropylene bags here in Haiti, and they can accommodate large orders. They are a little expensive at 35 cents a bag, they said that this is because they have to import the materials to make the bags. They sell them in the traditional bales of 1,000. They are located here in Port au Prince. The lady that takes the orders speaks English. They also have the 100lb bags that are twice as big and a smaller size bag. They also manufacture corrugated and flat tin roofing, pvc pipe and 5 gallon buckets ($4.20 each). They can handle big orders. Here's their contact info:
sarpy.com features a state by state list of vendors of polypropylene and burlap earthbags.
nmdirtbags.com provides earthbag building supplies, especially in New Mexico.
This is Steve Villa with Superior Sandbag Systems, the guys with the continuous sandbag system that you were so kind to include in your blog some time ago . Thanks for that. I wanted to get some information out regarding 14" & 18" wide woven tubular fabric that we have in supply and want to sell.
For our purposes, erosion and flood control, we have upgraded the bag material we use with our machine to a heavy duty, military spec material. To make room, I have about 85 rolls of each 14" and 18" tubular bag material (170 rolls total) that we want to offer at a considerable savings to the public. The fabric is an 850 denier, 10×10 construction, 2000hr UVI material, white in color. The rolls are 6000/lf long and I will offer them for the $0.12 & $0.15 per foot, FOB Santa Ana, Ca. until they are all gone. They are sold by the roll only. Minimum of 1 roll. They have our company name printed on every 42" on the material. This is excellent material that is uv stabilized and perfect for earthbag structures.
You can contact me direct on my cell at 949-338-5978 Thanks and Happy Holidays Steve Villa Superior Sandbag Systems ( www.superiorsandbagsystems.com ) stevev AT ameripacific.com
Suppliers Soil Stabilizers
dirtglue.com a non-toxic product typically used for stabilizing roads, but now being used to stabilize soil for earthbag building.
polypavement.com solidifies earth to make natural soil pavement.
anywaysolutions.com manufactures products designed to be mixed with soil to meet a variety of needs in the building process.
globalzyme.com PERMA-ZYME acts upon organic fines contained in the soil through a catalytic bonding process, producing a strong "cementation" action.
terrazyme.com manufactures a safe, effective, non-corrosive liquid enzyme soil stabilizer.
Reinforced Earthbag Specifications is a 6-page PDF describing in drawings and text exactly how one might construct a reinforced earthbag wall that would pass most building codes in areas of high seismic risk. This document was prepared specifically at the request of Dr. Owen Geiger and Kelly Hart (who manage this website) for use on reconstruction projects in Haiti, but it could be useful wherever reinforced vertical wall structures may be built. We want to acknowledge and thank Nabil Taha of Precision Engineering (www.structure1.com) for his patience and diligence in preparing this document.
Wall Reinforcement describes various ways to reinforce earthbag walls in key locations, including corners, to resist lateral movement.
Openings in Walls discusses ways to safely make openings in walls: reinforcement, lintels, window grills, vent block and pipe.
BOND BEAMS: Concrete, Tubular Steel, Corrugated Metal, or Tubular Bag
Alternative Bond Beam outlines a method of creating bond beams and lintels with rectangular section metal tubing or wood beams that is integrated with the earthbag wall, with step-by-step instructions.
Earthbag Modules advocates the use of 24" modules for earthbag lengths.
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