Sharing information and promoting earthbag building
|Miscellaneous Questions about Earthbag Building
Questions answered by Kelly Hart
Q: You talk about going into the back country with some empty bags, some plastic, and a shovel and being able to build a quick shelter. What is the plastic for? Is that just for waterproofing?
A: The plastic would be for waterproofing, and also to make windows or doors that let in the sunlight.
Q: How did you make the model kit of earth bags? (what materials for the bags - did you find anything in the right size easily available?)
A: We actually sewed the miniature bags from strips cut from an old sheet. Once the pouches were formed, we used a spoon to fill them with sand, and then folded and stapled the remaining seam. We created several half bags to use where appropriate.
Q: Any idea how long an earthbag house would take to build?
Q: For some time now, Legacy Constructions has been interested in the "earth bag" concept and are considering employing the concept in the construction of our upcoming projects in East Africa. The projects will be aimed at reducing the cost of construction for prospective home owners. Before we draw on the "earth bag" idea, we feel it is only prudent to ask for the particulars of the patent held on the concept, if any. We therefore, humbly request you send us a copy of the patent, or direct us to where we may obtain it, for our own scrutiny and records. We hope there will be no legal repercussions, should we decide to employ the method.
A: In 1999, Nader Khalili did obtain a US patent on his "Superadobe" concept which is basically what we now call earthbag building. His patent can be seen at patft.uspto.gov. Since this patent was issued he has stated that "Superadobe is a patented system freely put at the service of humanity and the environment. Licensing is required for commercial use." Actually this patent should never have been granted, since Mr. Khalili had extensively publicized exactly how it was done for over a year prior his applying for it. When his organization tried to get me to sign a contract for publicizing it through a DVD that I produced, I objected, stating that it would never stand up in court...and they stopped trying to enforce it. I wouldn't worry about this patent, especially now that Nader Khalili has died.
Q: I want to build a fireplace; is this possible with the earth bag walls?
A: You could incorporate a fireplace into an earthbag wall, but the fireplace itself would need to be made with normal masonry and refractory materials.
Q: Can you build earthbag steps leading down from a raised patio area (held back by an earthbag retaining wall)? Or is it best to just build traditional steps
A: I have built earthbag steps before, so I know this is possible. These were in the form of a spiraling column inside a dome going up to a loft. They worked out fine, but there is always the danger that the treads will wear thin over time, exposing the bags and their contents. More traditional steps might be more durable.
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