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There are many names and explanations for earthbags.
The name really does say it all – earth in a bag.

The thing is – this is not just any old dirt or sand – it is earth that contains a minimum of 10% moisture, 30% clay and aggregate / sand mix (a bit like road base).

It is also known as “supported rammed earth” in that it is very much like rammed earth inside a bag (especially after you compact / tamp the bags) and the bags are essentially the permanent form that then gets covered by cobb and render.

The fact is, you rarely lift the actual bags.

(You would be silly to – you need your back to last beyond this project! Why hurt your bag lifting astronomical amounts if there is no need?)

You fill the bags in place.

You fill the bags on the spot and then gently lower down into place. This means that you choose how much you lift (and pass) into the bags at a time. During our build – we used catering tins to scoop and pass dirt as they were a recycled material we could easily access, withstood the abuse from all the dirt and rock and were a great measure!

Apart from the added bonus of circles and domes being much stronger (in teh structural sense), the cost of a regular roof is one of the highest costs of a build. By eliminating that cost and using bags, you reduce the cost of your building.

We were personally quoted anything from $15000 – $40000 (people were a tad wary of a type of building they didn’t yet understand). With the domes, the extra bags were only approx. $200 (and nope – I didn’t miss a 0 there… the total cost of bags for roof and walls of our 5 domes was $1200)

However, be aware that the longer that polypropelene bags have been exposed to the sun, the quicker that they break down.
If you use recycled feed bags make it a priority to cover with cobb as you go along or cover over with tarp, sheet or other materials until you can do so.

(If you are curious, you will see in the photos of the archways of our home that they were all made with recycled bags!)

More FAQ will be added to this page as we go along (and as we are asked more questions!)