Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Man Builds Two Earth Dome Cabins For Under $10K

By Andrew Martin via Collective Evolution, 25 January 2015

Following Joe’s popular article on tiny houses ‘A Look Inside This Luxury 280 Square Foot Tiny House In Oregon’ here is another example of what can be done for those wishing to explore alternative means of sustainable living. The tiny house trend will most likely increase over the coming years as people seek to reduce expenditures, debt and carbon footprints. The move toward living a more simple and self-sufficient life is one that will provide opportunities for developing greater connections with nature and allow communities to re-group

Earthbag building is a relatively inexpensive method of construction which can be built quickly and cost effectively. It uses natural materials (usually local), generally requiring sturdy sacks which are filled with inorganic material. Subsoil that contains enough clay to become cohesive when tamped, gravel, sand or volcanic rock are common materials used for earthbag building. Walls are built by laying bags or tubing on top of each other, similar to brick laying. Walls can be straight, curved or dome shaped similar to the one in the video clip below.

Construction generally begins by digging a trench to the subsoil which can then be partially filled with cobble stones or gravel to create a foundation which helps prevent moisture wicking from the Earth. Inside the trench, bags or tubes filled with gravel can be placed which provide a water-resistant  foundation.  Bags vary in construction based on site requirements. Popular bags include Polypropylene (the ones used to transport for rice and other grains) which are inexpensive and resistance to water damage, rot and insects.  More natural fibre bags can be used such as hemp and burlap, however these need to be filled with materials that are high in clay content to avoid rotting.

When building the walls, bags or tubing are simply placed on top of the previous bags or tubes. To ensure there is no slippage, barbed wire or other similar materials can be used to help maintain the walls integrity. The wire digs into the bags and prevents any possible slippage of subsequent layers. To form a roof, bags are gradually slopped toward the center to form a dome like construction. Alternatively, traditional building materials like wooden beams or other conventional roofing materials can be used. When the structure is complete the walls can be rendered with either cement-based stucco, or lime or earthen plaster.

Solscape is a working Eco retreat in New Zealand dedicated to creating models of sustainable living. The retreat provides some great examples of what can be done with earth dome construction. Solscape also has some great examples of other alternative accommodation from tipi’s to cabooses, earth domes to high end eco design lodgings.

Article by Andrew Martin editor of onenesspublishing and author of One ~ A Survival Guide for the Future…


excerpts from One ~ A Survival Guide for the Future…

Posted with permission from CE


.V. said...

Hello Laron

I've decided get to know how to build earthbag domes and with this crazy idea to move from Colombia to NZ, and maybe live there, could you share your experience of moving from Au to NZ?, what have been the pros and cons of such change? regards

PD. Here the place to learn from earthbag is BARICHARA

.V. Alex

Laron said...


I am from NZ and in two weeks I am moving back permanently for a while. I return there just about very year since I moved to Australia.

The differences between Australia and New Zealand

- NZ is not as far in bed with the USA / the west as Australia is.

- The dollar was worth less by around 20%, but very recently it's just about matched (which is bad for me as I get less money when I convert my money over there)

- Things are more expensive in NZ, in comparison to Australia. But not by a large amount, we just notice the differences when going to NZ. So there is a difference.

- The average wage is about, say.. 20-30% lower than a wage in Australia. There are exceptions, such as if you are living in a major city, but still you would earn less unless you were head hunted perhaps.

- The people are much more friendly, they are the friendliest I have run into from my travels to various countries around the world.

- There are very rarely ever any chem trail spraying going on there

- The environment is much healthier than australia, so I mean nature, less pollution, etc.

- There are many more people who are into alternative lifestyles, as in localisation and organic food, natural and alternative solutions and ways.

- Where Australia is looking to become more and more a police state, following in USA's foot steps, NZ isn't really going in that direction but there are still silly rules that get put in place from time to time, not that I really know since I haven't been living there for 15 years

- NZ comes up as one of the happiest places to live in the world on that wordly list that gets calculated.. somewhere. You know, another country people love living in is Switzerland, even with those high taxes. I think of Switzerland as a good comparison to NZ, but of course it's more in the busier part of the world, where NZ is cut off and can do more of its own thing

- The cost of taking one small cat from Sydney, on a two and a half hour flight to Christchurch, is around US $1,800.00 ... where this sort of trip would usually only cost $300 , say 10 years ago. I only just found this out which was a big surprise to me. (A person is usually only around $200 to travel there) This is an Australian Government regulation issue, they force you to use a pet travel organisation/agency now. (This is after getting four quotes from other agencies... no cheap way of doing it)

I think that's most of what comes to me right now Alex. Email me if you end up coming, perhaps we can catch up sometime!