How to Build a Rammed Earth House

The author describes his experiences in the 1940s building a rammed earth house, an oddball decision at the time, and how well the structure has served him since then.



Rammed earth house - finished property
The rammed earth house that John built.
PHOTO: MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF
Rammed earth house - construction process 1
LEFT: Forms McMeekin used in constructing the walls. RIGHT: John McMeekin tamping a section of wall.
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023-052-01-Foundation
LEFT: Diagram of the foundation form McMeekin used that was 12" at either end and 8" in the middle. RIGHT: Top view diagram of forms McMeeking used for the ramming phase.
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Rammed earth house - construction process 3
TOP: McMeekin finishing chimney made of rammed earth blocks (concrete blocks would have been better for this purpose). BOTTOM: Rammed earth block foundation for the chimney.
MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF
Rammed earth house - construction process 2
TOP: Foundation and first walls of the house under construction. BOTTOM LEFT: Ramming stick at work on dirt within half-filled form. BOTTOM RIGHT: Steel reinforcing rods in the foundation are recommended for earth buildings constructed in areas that experience frost.
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