Building Our Earthship-Inspired Earthbag House
In May of 2016, we had our first official earthbag building workshop as Sustainable Life School. By the end of the year, we had the back and front walls built and the roof on. Getting the roof on an earthbag structure in a timely manner is a good idea. Putting a roof on really ties it all together and gives it structural stability from the ground up. It’s also very important to properly brace your end posts and make sure that curved walls don’t have long, straight-ish runs–these are places where the wall wouldn’t be as self-supporting.
Getting Er Done(ish)
That first Winter and into the next spring, the structure was mostly open. This was helpful to let everything dry out. When first built, earthbag homes are a moist place. In wet environments, it probably takes a couple of years for the walls to dry completely. Allowing it to at least mostly dry before closing it in can be a good idea. I would assume that in desert areas the drying time is much shorter.
By the end of 2017 we were able to move out of the converted school bus that we had been living in during the build and into the house. This was the second time that we had lived in something small while building our houses–the first time we stayed in the easy yurt that we had designed and built. It feels good to go from something quite cramped to something more spacious. Even a tiny house can feel pretty big in comparison!
Over the following years we got more and more done inside the house. We added hardwood floors, tongue-in-groove ceilings, a metal roof (our original one was an attempt at a living roof–that’s a story in itself!), and more. This year we finally got around to building a bottle wall we’ve been planing from the beginning and it has come out beautifully! Mary Jane is our bottle wall star and it’s a technique we love for it’s beauty and simplicity.
A house is kind of a living, breathing thing. It grows and changes with the needs and desires of it’s inhabitants. Overall, I’m very happy with our progress and have found it to be an extremely comfortable place to live. Thanks for reading!