Earthbag Homes

Step outside. You could be standing on the building materials for your next home. Earthbag homes—the concept is as simple as it sounds.

Earthbag Homes With Sandbags

earthbag home

The sandbags are filled on-site and arranged in layers or as compressed coils. Stabilizers such as cement, lime, or sodium carbonate may be added to an ideal mix of 70% sand, 30% clay. Straw may also be added. The earthbags are then plastered over with adobe. Arquitectura en Equilibrio (Architecture in Balance) (

Earthbag construction in the Philippines. Long sandbags add stability, but using barbed wire between layers of shorter sandbags, is also fine. It takes much longer to fill the long bags than the short ones.

Earthbag Homes With Plastic Bags

earthbag home
Plastic bags recycled into earth bags—if plastic does not break down for a thousand years, this home is sure to last several lifetimes. Of course covered with adobe or plaster, so that the plastic does not offgas or degrade. Arquitectura en Equilibrio, Colombia. (

earthbag home
Inside an EarthBag ready for plaster. The other way to make an earthbag. A mix of native soil; clay/aggregate/sand, and/or insulating material such as lava stone, scoria, pumice, perlite or vermiculite inside polypropylene bags (which have a half life of 500 years). The plastic needs to be protected from the degradation of the sun’s rays with a plaster.

Polypropylene Sandbags For Sale

If you do not like the idea of plastic bags—then Kelly Hart and Dr. Owen Geiger of Earthbag home suggest natural porous bags (hemp, jute, flax or linen) filled with dirt, stone powder and sodium carbonate or lime (or numerous other cement capable wastes). After you lay a course of bags, sprinkle the layer with water, and after drying you will have a cement layer. Read more here:

Earthbag Home Foundations

Foundations differ depending on your site. In a rainy locale, rocks are placed under the earthbags for drainage.

earthbag home
The time consuming part, filling the bags. The bags are filled in place on the wall. The CalEarth site says that three reasonably-fit persons can lay 100 linear ft of bag per day. Arquitectura en Equilibrio, Colombia.

earthbag home
Tamping is a necessary step. Initially a trench is dug and then filled with gravel, cement or a sunken layer of bags. This technique makes nice benches as well.

Earthbag Homes Around the World

earthbag home
Project Seres, Guatemala.,

sandbag home
CalEarth — Emergency Shelter Village, Hesperia, California.
Iranian born architect, Nader Khalili developed the long-bag Superadobe prototype in California. In 1991 he founded the California Institute of Earth Art and Architecture (Cal-Earth), a non-profit research and educational organization. Photo by James

earthbag home
Cal Earth — Emergency Shelters. This long bag/barbed wire concept was originally presented by Nader Khalili to NASA for proposed home habitats on the Moon and Mars. Photo by Ashley Muse

earthbag home
CalEarth Let the layers show. Photo by James

earthbag-construction-fish-faceCalEarth — this might not be totally earthbag, but like the fish face. Photo by James

The aerodynamic forms resist hurricanes and the structures pass California’s earthquake codes. They are flood and fire resistant as well. A double eco-dome can be built (bagged) in 10 weeks. Photo by James

earthbag home
CalEarth photo by Mike Smith

earthbag home
Classical Arches, domes and vaults updated. The combination fireplace and wind-scoop faces prevailing winds. Photo by James

earthbag home
CalEarth — inside of the vaulted house.

earthbag-construction-mud-ornamentCal-Earth —exterior mud ornament. Photo by Ken McCown

earthbag home
CalEarth Vault under construction. Photo by Ashley Muse
Ninos y Jovenes boarding school in San Juan Cosala’, Mexico. Pic taken by earthbag expert Kelly Hart. see more photos of project here:

earthbag home
This is the first EarthBag structure to receive proper home permits in New York State. A project of Sister Marsha Allen of Rochester, she hopes the students who helped build the structure will join her in Haiti, where she hopes to build many more.

earthbag home
Gainesville, Florida. Photo by Justin Martin

earthbag home
Gainesville, Florida. Photo by Justin Martin

earthbag home
Earthbag Home under construction in Argentina. Lots more images here:

Earthbag Home Construction Timelapse Videos

This video (viewed more than 3.5 million times!) shows the construction of an earthbag home in Fairbanks, Alaska. The video shows the first bags being laid over a gravel foundation. The first three layers of bags are filled with gravel for extra drainage. The two-person construction team runs barbed wire along the bags to hold them in place. After each layer is laid, they tamp down the bags. The video shows the team putting in place a door frame, cutouts for electrical outlets, and windows. (Though they note in the video the doors and windows should have been done differently!) The final step shows them building a frame for a second floor, and has photos of them living in the half-finished home. In the description, the guy who filmed the video says they never actually finished the house! (But they’re working on it.)

This time-lapse video from Happen Films shows a team of people building a small, circular earthbag shelter. The team uses six-foot-long sandbags for the foundation, filling them with sand as they lay them down. Long sandbags can provide more stability than short bags. The bags are laid on dirt, within a pit, over a plastic tarp. Meanwhile, another group frames and windows for the shelter. As it’s a circular house, they build a circular roof, with trusses rising up from the top of the walls and meeting at a peak. The team packs mud into the gaps between the sandbags and completely covers both then interior and exterior walls. Then, they finish with a coat of adobe. They lay precut plywood in the gaps formed by the roof trusses, nailing them to the trusses themselves. The roof is completed with a chimney and metal sheeting.

This is time-lapse (sort-of). The family that runs the channel “mylittlehomestead” bought a huge plot of land, and decided to build earthbag bedrooms for each of their four teenagers. The kids design the homes and their friends help with the construction (along with the rest of the family). This video—it’s 87 minutes long—shows everything from laying out the sandbags, to installing the electrical, the window frames, building the roof, all the way to setting up the solar panel array.

The Best Earthbag Home Books

Earthbag Building: The Tools, Tricks and Techniques by Kaki Hunter and Donald Kiffmeyer.
Earthbag Architecture: Building Your Dream with Bags by Kelly Hart (Forward by Owen Geiger).
Building With Earth: A Guide to Flexible-Form Earthbag Construction by Paulina Wojciechowska

Earthbag Home Plans

earthbag home plans

See dozens of earthbag home concepts from Owen Geiger. Also check out his Natural Building Blog.

Earthbag Home Resources

Earthbag Home Lessons And Tourism

More Earthbag Home Pictures

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Author: keiren

Keiren is an artist who lives in New York City. A lover of animals, nature, science & green building.

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Calearth, Earthbag, Superadobe awesome concept absolutely love it, already ideas are ticking over !


This is a nice primer. It looks like a few of the structures could have benefited from some diddling.

Kirsten Bradley

nice primer guys! we made one recently at our farm, and we had a ball -


I want one


Encouraging ideas. Still, they look like dry climate concepts because there are no eaves to run the rain off. Many humans live in damp or humid places where a strong dwelling must be above puddles, withstand storms/wind driven rain, and resist mould and dampness.


Hi Winston,

When dirt is mixed with a binder, making a cement-like structure - and the exterior is plastered - these buildings are fine in most all climates. Many are being built in wet Central America and note the above home in Florida as well. And domes are about the best shape for strong winds, as the winds do not encounter much resistance. Superadobes can be built to meet national U.S. and local building standards. Although in a wet climate it is important to make sure drainage under and surrounding the base of the bldg is adequate. Also aggregate-filled earthbags starting below grade and extending well above grade in flood-prone areas (reduces risk of the structure being undermined) – See this site for expert advice

Best! Thanks for writing...


Any idea of the lifecycle impact of a cotton bag? Way more than that of plastic. I don't think using cotton in this manner is terribly sustainable.


Hi, You are right, new cotton bags would not be a green choice. But expert earthbagger Owen Geiger says 'Recycled bags made of natural fibers would have the least environmental impact of all bags. The drawbacks include added time and effort tracking them down and the extra cost and labor stabilizing the fill material, so the soil remains a strong building block when the bag inevitably decays.' See


visit for pics and articles about an earthbag building in Ohio


Sublime Form.

It warms my heart.


All this is a new experience for me. Wow! It can be done! I am posting this on my facebook site.


How do there hold up to cold weather conditions?


Hi there Rebecca, If you put an insulating material such as lava stone, scoria, pumice, perlite or vermiculite inside the bags then you can build in cold climates.

Material -- R-value/inch -- R-value/15'

Rice hulls -- R-3 -- R-45

Perlite -- R-2.7 -- R-40

Vermiculite -- R-2.13 -- R-32 to 36

Scoria -- R-26 to R-30 ?


If someone ever calls you a 'dirtbag,' say, 'thanks for the compliment! Yes, I am a visionary!' I love these homes! They are another form of 'earthship,' and the fact that they could be built of any dirt/earth/clay/cement, inside bags made of many locally available fabrics/materials, makes them THE practical, cheap, sturdy home of the future. Will share your link on our Facebook group, 'Worlders - A Tribe of Wanderers.' Thanks for the inspiration!


Is shoring installed within the domes during construction?


A huge waste product each year. I've heard of these houses with external plaster on chicken wire. External walls are the long width and internal walls the narrow width, Recycled doors windows and frames, wooden or tiles but I have heard of one floor of vertical directories. Because its paper all the walls must be waterproofed


I love these alternative, eco friendly ideas for buildings. Cracks me up that people suggest they are not practical or ugly. Wake up, what is practical about our current building strategies and in my eyes these are far more beautiful and in harmony with nature than most existing structures. Love it!!




this is pretty nice building material. Ancient tech with the modern touch, I'm about to tear my house down and build a dirt house.


I would like to try to build one but I would have to get bags and use slate as outside because I have a lot of it.I am disabled so I have plenty of time but not much strength.thanks for the inspiration.


can they be made to code?


We have wasted so many domiciles to quakes, hurricanes, Tsunami, due to failure of the materials and planning of the buildings. Using the earth itself to build residences, and probably animals, and more.

Creating all of these will lead to creating newer means of heating, cooling, power sources, storage.


Such a cool concept, I absolutely love the look of these and the general idea. My only concern is how they would work in different climates.. A pretty inventive idea, and so eco-friendly!


How cool! Some of the photos look like Luke Skywalkers home! Thanks for sharing great photos of something I have never seen before!

Melissa Waddingham

Amazing constructions and so simple and great ingenuity.


OMG! Seriously awesome!


Such a fine presentation of environmentally sound construction and earth friendly materials to reduce waste, recycle and reuse. How do we get builders to use this type of construction in neighborhoods? It most likely would not fit in established areas, but would take off in new developments. Blessings, Debby


Exciting and innovative. This is really great information and hopefully will circulate beyond this exposure to many people around the globe.

The only issues that I see would be with power. I know that many places would not require permits but in many countries the electrical and the water supplying would present a problem to the ordinances.

If the complete package were to include self reliance on power from solar and wind then this could really take off like a storm and never see the dust gathering from complacency.

Great article.


How do these houses do on rains and heavy weather conditions?


This is truely amazingg and beautiful!


Tattooine houses biotch!


I work for a company that does Energy Performance Certification in the UK and have to say I am very impressed by these structures. If we could just find somewhere for the rain to go then I think these would take off in a big way in England. Trouble is, we'd all be out of a job! If you want to know more about Landlord EPCs click here. '


these are amazing, i would totally be on board to live in a neighborhood like this! really good eco friendly idea.


Seems extremely wasteful and too labour intensive, given the age proven alternatives.


How ingenious, can't believe there are Earthbag homes here in Florida, USA, where I live.

Blessings - Maxi


Boo on Jomar. I guess there always has to be a downer on a comment thread. Most of these countries don't have the materials for the 'age proven alternatives'. They are labor intensive because that's one thing they do have and not to mention that it's a community building these together and that is just as important.


These are awesome, but I have to wonder how you get a building permit for something like that.


these buildings are magnificent and i'm sure a great experience to build!

Carmen-Elizabeth GUZMAN LOMBERT

very exciting. good luck


Възхитен съм от решимостта на господин Нейдър Калили да материализира своята величествена идея,и направи съпричастни към нея голяма част от посетилите мрежата!Вярвам,че някъде ще се окаже като спасителен остров,който ще задоволи житейските нужди на много хора.Удобно е,топло изолационно,дълготрайно,устойчиво на трус,дълготрайно и въпрос на индивидуален избор.

Желая успех на благородното начинание!




Love the innovation behind this, and am always in favor of energy saving, low resource ideas. Now imagine having a few bicycles to power the homes! I imagine with the materials used, you'd already be using way less to maintain a comfortable temperature, so what if you had bike generators powering your lights and everything else, like these guys did!


Ihave wanted un underground Hobbit house for many years. This would be a perfect method. Many thanks!




this is amazinngggg! i would love to help build and live in a home like this.


Can these homes be built in the Midwest? They are just like a regular house and can be heated and cooled right?


Would these hold out through rain and natural calamities?


Yes, they hold up really well, as well as adobe. But one must make sure there is good drainage around the base of the building so the walls never sit in water. Earthbag buildings also hold up really well during earthquakes and are resistant to fire to boot.

Yes, they can be heated and cooled with the bonus that the walls are so thick the interior temps will be more stable.

I hope you both get to build one one day!


I admire the look, feel and simplicity of this type of construction. However, I see the barbed wire creating problems in the long run similar to the use of rebar in concrete structures. Eventually the barbed wire will oxidize and create structural problems and weakening of the overall structure. Perhaps a nylon or plastic substitute could be used.


These buildings are really cool. I wish I had known about them when I toured eco homes in your region.

Cheers, Terry


Hello sir?

First of all I want to think you about all these good informations , actually I plan to build my house using earthbag technique but I've some questions

1- What is the minimum possible width for earthbag? I mean if i use a bag with 20CM width to give me as a result a wall like if I use normal blocks , or the thickness of wall will be not strong enough .

2- if I finish my house, and in future i want to open a new window or new door in internal or external wall can i do it ? or it will be as a risk to collapse the whole ? wall ?

3- the roof , can i use some prefabricated cement beams as the array and put the bricks between them and then the cement to create the normal roof like modern houses? Or san d bags can not hold the weight if roof!

4- ? could i build two floors with the same plan ? I mean the wall over the wall

Thanks and best regards

Tarek Elbarouni


I want to build an earthbag home in Hawaii and want to know if I can use cinder instead of sand, which is harder to come by here. Please let me know, Thanks, GReg


That's a good question for an expert! Try Patti Stouter ( or Kelly Hart/Owen Geiger ( / - they would surely know...


Thank you for the excellent information you are providing about building with earth bags. I actually plan to build my house in Jamaica using earth bag technique. I certainly appreciate the information available on your site.

Thank you


Thank you for this information. This is something I really want to do.....soon!


Fyld dine indkøbsposer


Building of a squarre earth home in the balkans KOSOVO , around mid april 2013, the exact date will be sent via email.

Contact detail for inscription :


We are planning to develop an eco-resort. We wish to use earth-bag construction technique. Is it possible to find some Indian resource?


What wonderful work you have done here to collate all that information.

thank you so much.

Rajesh Karthikeyan

Hey thanks for the pics and tips.

Doing an earthbag retreat and residence in TN, India after a lot of study of Nader Khalili and Owen Geiger's earthbag construction.

Great work guys... all of you.. thanks a lot for the pioneering research.

Hello Dr. Amod. You can contact me if you need any help at

We need more earthbaggers in India.

Ernesto Arriaga

I have this lot near Cancun and is in the jungle, I will make a little house with earth bags, autosustainable, but can be with my design? is circular but doent want dome in roofs.


Good day, I would like to know the cost of your earth bags for a 4 bedroom 3 bathroom house combined with shipping. Also would it be possible to request a consultant in the construction of the earth bag house so as help train local workers in Indonesia.



Good day I am studying facility management, I would like to ask if earth bag construction is a intelligent building like if its fire proof, lightning proof, flood proof and earthquake proof?

Thank you.


Yes as to the structure being fire proof. Also flood resistant and capable of withstanding strong earthquakes. I would think that lightening would not strike a large mound of dirt unless absolutely nothing else around...Hope that helps...


This article was extremely informative. If I were 40 years younger, I would find a nice piece of land in B.C. Canada or rural Ontario and build myself a homestead. One could be really comfortable in one of these and it might be the right place to home school a child making them more survival savvy.


i am a volunteer looking for volunteer can help me to build such houses in Pakistan as we face flood and earthquakes every year


I have an ideal site in Romanian perfect for developing a holiday village from earthbag, looking for someone with the skills. I have plenty cheap labour and access to funds and materials. Salary negotiable. Email me on, prompt response assured.


I have rolls of 14' & 18' wide, UVI stabilized, woven PP tube in 6000/lf rolls for sale at great pricing. I have sold these all over the country and they are perfect for Earthbag structures. Call me at 949-338-5978 or email me for pricing.


I have rolls of 14' & 18' wide, UVI stabilized, woven PP tube in 6000/lf rolls for sale at great pricing. I have sold these all over the country and they are perfect for Earthbag structures. Call me at 949-338-5978 or email me for pricing.


Don't you have anything on hyperadobe, this is similar to building with earthbags but without the barbed wire, in this system a different type of back is used with holes which does away with the need for barbed wire.

Hope to hear from you.


Don't you have anything on hyperadobe, this is similar to building with earthbags but without the barbed wire, in this system a different type of bag is used with holes which does away with the need for barbed wire.

Hope to hear from you.


Hi Jan,

Fascinating, thanks for the explanation!

I found this page so far:

And will definitely research some more. Maybe I'll do a post on hyperadobe as well... less plastic, less wire...

Check back. Thanks! Keiren


Good day my good friend,

Let me start by introducing myself. I am a senior Staff in the department of foreign remittance as officer with Bank of Africa here in Burkina Faso West Africa.

I am writing you this letter based on the latest development at my bank which I will like to bring to your personal edification. ($15.5million) Transfer claim in to your bank account.

Pleaded, do reply for more details on how we are going to proceed if you are interested in this grateful opportunity.


Mr. Kabiru Wahid


I live in southern Indiana US. Would this be viable for my climate zone?


Hi Russell, Sure, I think an earthbag would work in southern Indiana. But you might desire to add some insulation, either pumice or rice hulls in the bags. Or a double bag wall with insulation between. Check out this Q7A page:


can we use sea sand as a filling material in sand bag houses. And while selecting the soil, what are the properties that we consider in design


Actually almost all sea sand is rough and coarse, and therefore the grains tend to want to slide off the sharp edges of each other. Therefore the sand will tend to shift to the outside edges of the bags under weight. Smoother sand will stay in place and compress better. It is helpful to add some clay in with the sand 30/70. Subsoil, not topsoil is a good choice for earthbag building. Topsoil contains organic matter, you do not want this. I do not understand the second part of your question...


I spent 30 years learning applied building science in Ohio and elsewhere by working in low income Weatherization, and never knew about this intriguing housing type. One forum that promote smart housing is the Affordable Comfort Conference, hosted by ACI, that brings together 2000-plus housing pro's from many fields. Consider presenting and attending. Check them out at



Is it possible to mix the clay in the earthbags also with plastic rubbish?

I am living on a island, no garbage service and love to ged rid also from plastic in a recycling way. So i wonder if building with earthbags, plastic (small plastic rubbish on the beaches etc) can be mixed?


Just spoke to a very helpful chap in South Africa who is very knowledgeable about sandbag building.

What's nice is that the structures he builds look exactly like a normal house.

Look him up on his website


I like this idea, but does anyone have any experience of building these in a zone infested with termites?

Savhanna Pannell

We are trying to build are house right know for are four children and are doing it using cob to save money, we have land in Texas that we are building on. What can we do for cooling and Windows, and how thick does the cob have to be.


Need some instruction on how to go about building such a house. Where to go?


Please check out the forum on earthbag much info there and so many who can definitely answer your questions!


I am interested to learn more about build house by sandbages I want viste any cite in California


planning on building me one of these in kentucky,how would the climate be for one in this region of the country


Hello family,

I would like to know where are/were this projects going on!! Im a free traveler seeking for volunteer in such kind of projects in order to improve my skilss as ecobuilder. For that reason I would love to know the epicenter of such happenings...

Looking forward to hear from you



Love it, thought about this 40 years ago, need a how to video.


Hi, I would like to ask if there are projects conducted by TOP NOTCH Construction ? You mentioned some in PH. thanks


Hello everyone, we are looking for volunteers to help build a school in rural East Africa using earth bags. Please reply if you or anybody you know can be of help. We are ready to provide accommodation to the volunteers. Email to:



I will be doing earthbag school in Kenya shortly and will want to share ideas

Isak André Wøien

I love your concept of building with plastic bags. If the technique could become tested to comply with modern building guidelines, also withstanding that it could take all kind of weathers, including arctic winters, then this techinque should become widespread!

It seems as the easiest way I've ever seen.

Mahesh Kumar Panchal

Really creative and sustainable idea for vast requirement of dwelling units for Rural India, 'Locally available material with Local construction technology, with people. Eco friendly and can accommodate modern facility.

This technology should be spread to as many people as possible. India should have similar institute or branch.

i am willing to help in all possible manner. feel free to contact me.


Hi there,

I'm looking for a volunteer job in SE Asia. I can start somewhere in May.

Who knows a nice project?


estamos diseñando una ecoaldea y no logramos calcular el mt2 de construcción con la obra blanca económica. si nos pudieran colaborar se lo agradeceriamos inmensamente.


scar Giraldo


Depending on the dirt's microbe composition, plastic bags break down in years or a few decades. Since dirt has no real compressive or tensile strength what happens then?


Hi Paul,

Most of the earthbag structures use polypropylene sandbags. If exposed to sunlight they can break down pretty quickly, though on our project we purchased UV protected bags that were able to withstand about a year of direct exposure. However, once covered up in darkness there's no breakdown, at least not in terms of a few years or decades. Further, the material inside the bags isn't typically just dirt - it's ideally a clay-heavy fill dirt mixed evenly with an aggregate. That combination is fairly sturdy so long as it's kept dry.