I have tormented the folks in the strawbale forum to no end...now it is time to turn my attention to earth bags After reading about compressed earth bricks, rammed earth, strawbale and earth bags it seems to me that earth bag construction requires the least amount of sophisticated skills, is the most forgiving if a mistake is made and requires less of some other building material than any of the other 3 types of construction. Is that true?
I have to ask what you mean by "some other kind of building material".
Rammed earth can be done with zero other building material and really minimal tools. Forms for ramming can be as simple as two wide boards with a simple brace to hold them. A shovel and something to tamp the earth with - which can be your feet.
Compressed earth block the materials are the same but you need a press for the blocks. I think straight rammed earth is easier, but I can see some advantages to both.
Earth bag - in addition to the earth, you have to have the bags;). In at least some cases they use barbed wire between the bags to prevent slipping/shifting. That problem is due to using the bags.
I know there are people that are hot on earth bag construction, but I do not see the advantage.
I helped out several times on a fairly large earth-bag project in Georgia. The main advantage I could see over the other earth building techniques is that the local soil was mostly fine white sand. All clay for stucco, etc., had to be dug and trucked in from a distance. I don't think other earth building techniques could work with pure sand without adding a lot of cement or something as a stabilizer; whereas the bags worked just fine. Barbed wire laid between the courses....yes....helps hold them in place. Stucco needs to go on the outside before the sun breaks down the bags....
I have yet to see any detailed specifications for the earth bags, i.e. how many mills thick, etc. What other terms are used to describe the quality and construction of the bag itself? If I choose to go this route, I have a way to purchase directly from a wholesaler and they will want to know these details.
Would it make the bags more durable if they were painted once in place?
I think that if an owner builder lacked the construction experience and knowledge, then hiring a helper set up a post and beam/roof, and theowner stack/plaster infill. That way electrical/plumbing/flow/structural/foundation/square/moisture/etc is addressed. That's forgiving.
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