The purpose of this non-commercial site is to network with those who are interested in earthbag building and spark a dialogue about earthbag house designs. This innovative building method is exploding in popularity and there is enormous potential to provide affordable homes for all of humanity, all without damaging our environment.
This site is about unique small house plans, small home plans, floor plans, custom plans, architecture, small house designs, building green eco-friendly homes, sustainable building, blueprints for affordable homes — all built with earthbags. All styles are included: country, cottage, bungalow, traditional, modern (contemporary), mountain, beach, cabins and other popular styles. Emergency shelter plans are free. For those not familiar with earthbag construction, please check out my companion sites EarthbagBuilding.com and Earthbag Building Blog.
So here is what I am thinking. House plans can often be improved with fresh perspectives, so instead of investing hundreds of hours in creating polished looking plans that may have weaknesses, I am posting these conceptual drawings to gather reader comments and then take the designs to the next level. Yes, it’s a somewhat unusual approach… but so is earthbag building. The ultimate goal is to develop finished plans of these small, affordable and sustainable houses and make them available in the near future.
If you’d like to jump right in and start browsing house plans, click on Categories in the menu on the right.
Here’s a brief overview of my designs. A typical 300-800 sq.ft. house made of natural building materials could be built by a DIY builder for about $3,000-$10,000 (about $10/sq.ft.) and have the following features:
- gravel-filled bags on a rubble trench foundation (with insulating fill material such as perlite or scoria in cold climates)
- earthbag walls filled with soil or insulation, such as perlite, volcanic rock or rice hulls
- earth-berming for improved energy performance
- earth, stone or recycled brick floors
- earth or lime plaster
- affordable roof options such as domes, spiral (reciprocal) roofs, green roofs, poles, pallet trusses, metal roofing for collecting rainwater, thatch, etc.
- R-45 roof insulation (cellulose, wool, cotton, rice hulls…)
- small diameter, sustainably harvested wood
- non-toxic finishes and materials for cabinets, etc.
- wood stove
- energy-efficient windows, doors and appliances, such as solar or on-demand water heating, etc.
- passive solar design
- recycled materials throughout (sinks, tubs, hardware, tile, shelving, etc.)
For readers who are new to the natural building movement, here are a few links to show what others have done using earthbags and other low-cost natural building methods:
- Simon Dale, Low Impact Woodland Home, Pembrokeshire, UK: Reminiscent of a Hobbit house, this incredibly beautiful home offers inspiration for those seeking a simpler, better way of living and building.
- EarthDome House at TerraSante Village, Tucson, Arizona: This small, 12′ dome is right at home in the desert. It is made of earthbags with a ferrocement roof insulated with recycled styrofoam.
- Tony Wrench and Jane Faith, That Roundhouse, West Wales: Author Tony Wrench and his partner have enjoyed the good life in their sod-covered roundhouse for many years. They have become internationally recognized champions for their efforts to create more equitable housing rights.
- Pedro and Christina, House Alive, cob house in Xipolite, Mexico: House Alive does great work through their workshops and seminars. This particular structure demonstrates the use of cob and thatch to make a beautiful, affordable home in Mexico.
- Simone Swan, adobe vault in Presidio, Texas: Trained under the renowned Egyptian architect Hassan Fathy, Simone Swan carries on the timeless tradition of building vaults and domes of earth. The vault shown on this web page could be built almost for free by an owner-builder (excluding mechanicals, permits, etc).
- Penny Livingston, straw bale vault, Permaculture Institute of Northern California: This vault utilizes straw bales for both the walls and roof. This minimizes materials and labor, and creates a superinsulated structure.
- Akio Inoue, earthbag domes, Tenri, Japan: One of the most experienced and knowledgeable earthbag builders, Professor Inoue has completed at least 23 earthbag buildings in 7 countries.
- Khimsar Sand Dunes Village, adobe guesthouses, Africa: These strikingly beautiful guesthouses are based on centuries-old indigenous building techniques that enable them to blend in to the environment seamlessly. See also this link.
- Loei Leela Wadee Resort, adobe vault and thatch roof in Loei, Thailand: Simple yet elegant, these guesthouses are designed to stay cool in the summer and comfortable in the winter.
Here’s a partial list of unique eco-friendly structures and features being developed:
First of all, earthbag houses can be made in any shape imaginable, and so I am including round and rectangular houses, earthbag domes, polygonal (hexgonal, octagonal, etc.) and organic shaped houses with curved walls.
There are earth-sheltered houses, starter houses, houses with lofts, houses for urban and rural areas, as well as homes for hot, mild, cold, dry and rainy climates.
Other plans are for backyard offices/studios below the size required for a building permit, resort rentals, guesthouses, modern offset gable (clerestory) designs, apartments, energy efficient designs such as zero energy houses, courtyard designs, greenhouses, outdoor kitchens, disaster-resistant houses, hidden rooms, and several cool pantries that require no electricity for cooling.
I’ve tried to cover all the most popular styles, such as cabins, bungalows, cottages, country houses, beach, craftsman style, mountain and other vacation homes, New England traditional style and Polynesian.
More specifically there is a spiral house, tower house, shophouse, bioshelter, zero energy house, three earthbag vaults, hexagonal earth lodge, octagonal house, earthbag shop, survival shelters, multipurpose earthbag dome shed/rootcellar/storm shelter, wilderness cabin, beach house, woodland house, barrel vaulted shop, oval shop, garage with 2nd floor apartment. I’ve also included a roundhouse with spiraled pole roof, 2-story roundhouse, duplex, arc house, pit house, solar ranch house, chalet, Habitat house, narrow lot house, farmhouse, cruck house, mold-free house, walled retreat, bunkhouse, self sufficient homestead house, hermitage, summer kitchen, solar refrigerator, ice house, emergency shelter plans and more.
These plans will be added gradually over the next few months as time permits, so please keep checking back. If you have a special request, please leave a comment.
To browse house plans, click on Categories in the menu on the right.
I look forward to reading your comments!