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Earth bag building with earth berming  RSS feed

 
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So,  my husband and I are wanting to build a round earth bag house that has a loft and berm up to the height of the loft.  Well actually we would like to build 3 roundhouses with one berm.  I am wondering what kind of extra support is needed for berming or if that is even feasible.   Purpose for the berming is for passive solar. We are I  the mountains with hot dry summers and snowy winters and really wet springs.
 
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Location: Bendigo , Australia
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More detail will help!
 
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Location: Portland, OR
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Jamie:

I'm no authority, but looking at other designs, the general issue of having dirt against the outer wall is do-able.  (see my thread on a cistern)

The general issue is dealing with the force of all that dirt so your design needs to resist that force with thick walls or transmit that force.
 
Jamie Baltazar
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Ah yes, more detail... so I would like to do kind of a combination of two of Owen Geiger's designs... his Triple Roundhouse and Two Story Round house designs (I would be buying those plans and merging them). So I want to lay the three roundhouses out in the design he shows for the bermed Triple roundhouse design with the buttresses but I would like them a little larger than the diameter's his are (I think his are two 16' and one 24'ish and I would like one 30' and two 20' roundhouses).  Then I would like a loft in each of the roundhouses.  I planned on only berming the height originally designed in his Triple Roundhouse design which is the full back wall to the roof, but with the extra diameter and height I wasn't sure If I would need to pull the two 20's forward a little more to make more of a triangular type shape of the three or just add extra bond-beams and/or rebar or something to help (if positioning can compensate I would rather do that then adding more materials)?  If I used larger bag sizes (width wise) would I need to use the same size for the whole round or can I taper to the standard size in the front? 

Another question - foundation I was under the impression I should dig below the frost line and fill with gravel back to grade then start the stem wall on grade and go up... but a friend has questioned this and says with the berm in mind I should backfill with gravel to about 6-8inches below grade and start the stem-wall inside the trench to keep the house from sliding off the foundation...  I didn't have any rebuttal for that logic... is that a good suggestion or is there a reason for not doing that?

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Super Basic Floorplan Idea
 
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