Highly moisture resistant earthbag construction. Super-insulated design allows for year-round use, with excess heat used to heat the house.
97 sq. ft. interior (but easy to expand lengthwise); footprint:
9' x 16'
Cost: How much do alternative houses cost? Well, it depends on the size, features, construction details and how much work you are willing to do (versus paying contractors). The short answer is it can cost as much or as little as you want. A small, simple house made of natural building materials could be built by a DIY builder for about $10/sq.ft. This assumes doing most everything yourself and using the low-tech building ideas that I advocate. And just to be clear, $10/sq.ft. doesn't include things like land, building permits and utility hookups. Note: it's much easier to build this way in rural areas with minimal building codes.
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:
Floors: I recommend floors made of earth, stone or recycled brick. You can save a lot of money and resources this way in comparison to wood framed floors. Tamped earth floors are my favorite. Here's a good article on tamped earth floors by Frank Meyers.
Plaster: Most people use earth or lime plaster on earthbag houses. Some use cement plaster, but it's best to use plaster that allows moisture vapor to pass through the wall. Use wide roof overhangs if you live in a rainy climate.
Windows: All windows are standard sizes. Most windows are 24", 36" and 48" - the most readily available sizes - and which are often on sale. Be careful using recycled windows. Most older windows are not energy efficient and could cost you more in the long run. You'll notice window and door openings are curved. This creates beautiful openings that enhance views and allow maximum light to enter. Square openings are easier to build, but they result in primitive "tunnel" openings that look crude in comparison.
Doors: Exterior doors are all 36" wide. Most interior doors are 28" or 30". It's easy to adjust these sizes slightly to meet standard metric sizes. Some plans show curtains rather than doors. This is another way to save money and resources, and speed the construction process. If you do use curtains, I encourage people to build standard sized openings to make it easy to add wood doors at a later date. Also note, always use wood doors on closets with water heaters to reduce risk of fire (and meet code, of course).
The Plans for Sale
These plans are available as digital PDF files files and are offered by Dr. Owen Geiger as complete and ready to build from. They include necessary elevations, floorplans, cross section details, and other significant construction details; they don’t show every view, every detail — just enough to build. They do not include electrical and plumbing details. The section views explain how everything goes together and should answer your questions about materials. The plans are scaled and dimensioned.
It is the buyer’s responsibility to find out special requirements, such as what alternative building is allowed in your county or what you have to do to get houses permitted. Are there special requirements for foundations, etc.? Do they require an engineer or architect to stamp the plans? It might be a good idea to know these things before ordering plans.
This plan is offered with a free copy of Owen's popular Earthbag Building Guide e-book; see this page for more about this book. All digital files will be delivered via email attachments within 24 hours after purchase.
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