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Progress on our Earthbag house  RSS feed

 
Posts: 24
Location: North Carolina
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We poured concrete floors yesterday, so the progress is far enough along to show you what we've actually accomplished.

As a proof-of-concept building, we built a hen house first . We wanted to make all of our mistakes on a small building we could tear down and rebuild if necessary.

Here's the cob going on the sides. The hen house is six feet on the inside diameter, 10 feet on the outside diameter. We used 50 lb bags for the first 3 feet, then switched to 30 lb bags when the wall got high enough that lifting 50 lb bags was too heavy. Because the hen house is 3 feet under ground, it stays a modest 50 degrees, even the hottest weather.

Next, we built a storage building to hold our valuable equipment. We are fortunate that we already had a skidsteer, but in order to store it on the property, we needed a secure storage building. Same technique, different lessone. Among them, NEVER use wet sand! Your bags will squish out flat.

The building was covered with cob, then lime plaster.

Now, we are building the earthbag house. It's the largest building, and the weather here in North Carolina has alternated between blazing heat and steady rain. We decided not to work in temperatures in excess of 100 degrees, and of course, the need for dry sand requires that we not work in wet weather.

So tomorrow, we will install windows. We decided on a Gothic Arch design for strength.

 
gardener
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Location: Upstate NY, zone 5
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Interesting project, thanks for sharing it! However, we can't see the images, even by opening the URLs in another tab. They are apparently private. If you have the images on your own computer, you can add them directly to the thread by going to "Attachments" at the bottom of the "Post Reply" page. Browse to the image, and add a description if you want.
 
Jennifer Meyer
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Location: North Carolina
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Thanks for the heads-up, Glenn!

Here are the associated photos for the completed hen house, storage shed, and house walls going up. [Note the pole in the center of the room. It will be used for ceiling support.]
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Jennifer Meyer
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Location: North Carolina
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Also, photos for the windows and front door, see below.

ALWAYS use window arches--either Roman Arch or Gothic Arch. The weight of the bags atop a standard header will bow the header inward, either resulting in cracked windows, or windows and doors that are unable to open. We made that mistake on both the hen house and the storage shed before we figured it out.

We are fortunate that we can afford some mechanical help. We have a skidsteer that can fill 6 bags at a time, an excavator to dig our footers and roof support pole bases, and a Dremel tool to etch windows. The second photo shows the fully etched "Desiderata" etched right into the Plexiglas.

Don't worry if you can't afford such luxuries. The work has gotten us both into great shape.
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