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Essential Earthbag Construction (PDF)
The Complete Step-by-Step Guide
Earthbag construction — building with polypropylene bags usually filled with earthen materials — is a versatile, easy-to-master, low-impact, and highly durable form of building, suitable for structures from houses to root cellars.
Containing over 75 photos and illustrations, Essential Earthbag Construction is a practical guide to this affordable method of building. Going well beyond the scope of other sources, this indispensable manual is packed with all the information you need to determine if it's the right choice for your project, and to start building. Distilling decades of experience, research, and best practices, it covers:
- Material specifications, performance, and when and where to use it
- Pros and cons of different fills from gravel, to earth and clay, to insulative perlite, rice hulls, and volcanic stone
- Illustrated, step-by-step guidance for efficient bag filling and installation
- Details for various designs, including domes and arches
- Foundation options and seismic and stability considerations
- Finishing and maintenance techniques
- Tools and materials
- Additional resources.
Essential Earthbag Construction presents the practical guidance and best practices for both the DIYer and professional to design and build high-quality earthbag structures.
Kelly Hart is a pioneering earthbag builder, author, and filmmaker. The building of his multi-dome earthbag Colorado residence is chronicled in the video Building with Bags: How We Made Our Experimental Earthbag/Papercrete House. Kelly also founded and hosts the widely visited natural and green building websites www.greenhomebuilding.com, devoted to all aspects of sustainable architecture and natural building, www.dreamgreenhomes.com, which features a wide range of ecological home plans for sale by various architects and designers, and www.earthbagbuilding.com which explores in depth the many possibilities for building with earthbags. Kelly's other publications include Rolling Shelter: Vehicles We Have Called Home, Remodel Green: Make Your Home Serve Your Life, and Earthbag Architecture: Build Your Dream with Bags. Kelly lives in Silver City, New Mexico.
"A must-have book for anyone interested in natural and sustainable building. It expands the possibilities with practical and essential information on this user-friendly method of construction."
Will Beemer, Director of the Heartwood School for the Homebuilding Crafts and author of Learn to Timber Frame.
"Kelly Hart and Dr. Owen Geiger ( who wrote the very informative Foreword ) probably know as much about earthbag building as anyone. Friend Kelly has always had a clear and concise way of explaining his subject, both in lectures and in his several books. I've never built an earthbag structure, although we once did a cordwood building on an earthbag foundation in New Zealand. But I wouldn't even attempt it without studying this book thoroughly and referring to it throughout the building process."
Rob Roy, Director, Earthwood Building School and author of Essential Cordwood Building
"There is an urgent need for more sustainable homes and earthbag construction offers excellent, affordable, strong eco-friendly housing using natural and local materials. They are beautiful, comfortable and robust. This book is a comprehensive, practical and inspirational guide that is both detailed and easy to follow. Hart demonstrates that anyone can build a home, so use this book and give it a go."
Jenny Pickerill, Professor of Environmental Geography, University of Sheffield, UK and author of Eco-Homes: People, Place and Politics (Zed Books)
"Who doesn't love earthbags? Only people who don't know about this most versatile of earthen building techniques, suitable for building inexpensive low-impact homes on most parts of the globe. With just a pile of dirt, some bags, barbed wire, a tamper and a few basic tools, you can build an earthbag dome, retaining wall, or root cellar. For over 20 years author Kelly Hart has been experimenting and promoting simple DIY ecological building techniques, especially via his excellent web sites. Distilling both his own hard-won experience and the combined wisdom of the rapidly-expanding worldwide earthbag network, Hart delivers a thorough, detailed and readable guidebook that tells you everything you need to know for success with this potent technique."
Michael G. Smith, co-editor, The Art of Natural Building and co-author, The Hand-Sculpted House
A Comparative Guide to Sustainable Construction for Homeowners and Contractors
The Home Buyer's Guide to Good Green Homes
Understanding Energy and Moisture in High Performance House Design