Kelly Hart is your host at greenhomebuilding.com, and has built his own home using the earthbag technique. He has adapted the concepts popularized by Nadir Khalili and his "superadobe" building, by filling the bags primarily with crushed volcanic rock. This creates insulated walls that are similar to strawbale, except that they are completely impervious to damage from moisture, insects or rodents. Earthbags can be used to fashion either flat walls, curved walls, or can be assembled in the shape of domes that require very little wood or steel. Kelly has produced a video, titled Building with Bags: How We Made Our Experimental Earthbag/Papercrete House, which chronicles the adventure of building this house, and shows other earthbag houses as well. Kelly wrote Earthbag Architecture: Build Your Dream with Bags Kelly is available to answer questions about what he has done, or consult about other earthbag projects.
Earthbag Building in General
Shape and Support
What shapes are possible with earthbags?
What special considerations are there in building domes?
Can you make vaults with earthbags?
What should I knows about building vertical walls?
When is it necessary to make buttresses?
What are bond beams and how do you make them?
Can you make a building of many stories?
Can you build underground with earthbags?
How do you make ponds, pools or cisterns with earthbags?
Site Work and Foundations
Insulation and Mass
Fill Material for Earthbags
What requirements are there for using soil to fill the bags?
How do you do a jar test with soil to find out the ratio of clay to larger aggregate?
What about stabilizing the soil?
Why use scoria as fill material?
When do you use gravel in the bags?
Can I fill the bags with sand?
Tell me about using rice hulls in the bags.
What other materials can be used to fill the bags?
Filling and Laying the Bags
What type of bags can be used?
How many bags does it take?
How do you fill the bags?
What methods are there for closing the bags?
How do you lay the bags on a wall?
What recommendations do you have for using barbed wire or twine?
What about tamping the bags?
When should you use rebar stakes?
What about curing the fill material?
How do you go about building columns and arches?
How much labor does it take to build with earthbags?
Tell me about wall failures.
Doors, Windows and Vents
What considerations are there in placing windows?
How do you make arches with earthbags?
What do I need to know about placing doors?
How and why do you put vents in earthbag buildings?
How do you add an extra room onto an existing earthbag building?
What about putting in chimneys or stove pipes?
Plastering the Bags
Tell me about earthen plasters.
What can you tell me about lime plaster?
What are the pros and cons of cement stucco?
What about using papercrete as a plaster?
Should I burn the bag material before plastering?
When should I use mesh with plaster?
What do I need to know about UV protection?
How do you plaster sloping interior walls?
Permits and Codes
Specific Building Components
How do you make interior walls?
How do you handle plumbing?
What about electrical installations?
Tell me about floors.
What kind of roofs are possible?
How do you attach a roof to an earthbag structure?
What about making stairs or ramps?
How do you hang cabinets or pictures?
Questions about Kelly Hart's Earthbag/Papercrete House
How would you make emergency or temporary structures with earthbags?
How can you make miniature bags to experiment with?
How long does it take to build with earthbags?
Has the earthbag system been patented?