Earthbag Structures

I have been doing research on better building materials and came across the idea about building structures out of sandbags and the soil/dirt you have available to you.

Very similar to earth rammed houses, you basically fill up a sand bag / tube with moist earth and pack it down, it creates something harder than concrete when it dries if you use the right mixture of dirt and clay. There is a good youtube series of a (quirky) family making these structures. Instead of buying a huge house they make a little cabin for each of the kids. I am honestly wondering why this isn’t more popular…

What do you folks think?

Better insulation / protection
builds strength
Why not?


ive been seeing underground greenhouses as of late.


The same family makes a studio that is 1 story underground. Depending on your local water table, it seems like an extremely efficient place to build a structure that needs temperature regulation.


I’ve done a lot of research into this, my friend Chris was working with the earthship school out in Taos and used this system and loved it- as soon as I have a chunk of cash to throw at some dirt I’m gonna build some tantooine lookin village out in Nevada.

It’s dirt cheap, literally
Bunker- basically bulletproof
Looks like star wars


I do think the future is semi underground. If we cant grow food on top of where we are lived it will be super bad in 60 years.

One thing i’ve been interested in doing is starting to urban farm. I believe the time is now. Slowly getting my ducks in line to bring it to life for the past few years.

Wont show how yet :wink:


This thread makes me happy. :slight_smile: My dream house is going to be a rammed earth house I build some day. Rammed earth is so amazing and beautiful! Earthbags are a great way to take advantage of rammed earth without the need for forms. There’s a lot of cool shapes that can be made with bags like arches and domes that would be much more difficult with forms. Soil walls have a low r-value, but a high k-value, which is retention of heat. Basically, earthen walls will absorb heat during the day, and release it at night. There are structures made of rammed earth that are very, very old, just in case of worries of rain washing the house away. The fact that it cures and hardens makes it very pest resistant too.


Alot of green building solutions are climate dependent.

I like to look at how the natives built to understand how successful building strategies have evolved locally over thousands of years.

Mostly, we build today inspite of our context rather than with it.

The soil acts like mass and is great in climates where the retention of heat or “coolth” from solar gains or from night flush improves efficiency or comfort.

Rick Joy out of the SW has created stunning rammed earth projects.

Agree…cool odd-ball thread.


I think the lack of popularity is due to the labor involved and time.

My pops tried to build a straw bail house, unfortunately we never were able to complete it before he passed though, if your doing it on your own, it’s soo much labor, you need to be able to focus on just the house or it’d take years, and then it may never be completed.

And commercially, the labor makes it cost prohibitive. I did construction for a good part of my life, and worked on some pretty neat structures that had alternative building materials, and each one came out to be very pricey.

Just my two cents anyway.


Agreed. Labor costs in the US are way high unless you are doing it in the south and can hire guys for $10/hr. However. It is becoming increasingly popular for foreigners to build these structures in developing countries and its way fuggin cool! My homegirl has an earth ship built in tulum mx for very little and places like Laos and indo would be even cheaper. It’s totally doable here, but a bit more difficult to do on a tight budget. I spent a couple years out east and it’s noting short of amazing what can be done with shovels, machetes, and bamboo. In my past life I was a GC and now that I’ve seen the light I don’t think I could ever build another house the same way again.

Way cool post. I know what I’m watching tonight :slight_smile:


Nice! I was a framer by trade for almost 15 years myself.

My parents used to have a book about earth homes in the 90’s I’d pour over that thing as a kid, any kind of alternative building was always super cool to me. A lot of those homes in the book used rammed earth in tires built into a south facing hillside.

And it is unfortunate that they’re just not feasible atm in the us. They’re structures that last forever with the proper maintenance, not these stick frames that are built to last 30years.


I am with ya there. A few people on youtube got like 3 layers in and it’s been years since an update so they probably gave up.

Cool Commercial building / complex using rammed earth (w/ 9% cement)

Glad you guys are enjoying this thread. Feel free to make a educational / intuitive / fun post in the Ground Up Category if you come across cool stuff like this.


I did help with a straw bail round house that was completed once, it was kind of a barn raising, so we all threw it up in a few days. That was super fun to be a part of.

If I had the time and resources, you bet your butt I’d be building one of these!


I built a rammed earth tire retaining wall on the farm surrounding the cut I made to build my ferro cement water tank.

The work involved was extreme, still need to plaster the tank.

I’ll snag some pics when I get home next week


I did a lot of remodel work on old adobe’s.

We made bricks and all that jazz during some of those jobs too, mixing mud with straw, packing the mud in forms etc.

it was nuts how much dirt and straw we used to make one brick.

It was hard work for sure, but a fun learning experience.

I’m looking forward to seeing your work!

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I did a bunch of work looking at the toxins in basic building finish materials…they are nasty and for the most part unregulated.

The strategies above are great for keeping all the nasties out your indoor environment.

Not just good looking, but good for the planet and good for the people who live within.

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So I’m not the only weirdo? Lol. Who wants to help me start the future4200 commune? :rofl: Well all chip in and build earthships and haybale houses for everyone!


Ill join the village


When we gonna start greening up industry?

Lots of waste to wring out. Hoping that once the dust from the rush settles we can start to optimize the processes and facilities.

Did this in commercial architecture for a bit and seems this industry is ripe for it, especially considering the ethos above.


My family has 35 acres in the middle of nowhere in Southern Colorado, we could do it there!

Hell, there’s already the half built straw structure waiting to be finished!


Don’t tempt me! lol