Build a Home From Adobe

A guide on how to build a home from adobe bricks, includes mixing the soil, window and door frames, roof and ceiling construction and painting adobe.


| September/October 1977



Diagram 1: Build a home from adobe.

Diagram 1: Build a home from adobe.

Illustration By the MOTHER EARTH NEWS staff

Lick the material shortage, learn how to build a home from adobe brick: made of stabilized soil, it is as durable as concrete and much more interesting.

Build a Home From Adobe Brick

Once again, we're pleased to roll the clock back 30 years in order to reprint another in our series of articles by Hi Sibley (see "100 Concrete Blocks per Hour" in MOTHER NO. 45 and the first half of the two-part article "Modern Home From Mud" in MOTHER NO. 46).

Hi, in case you've never heard of his work, was living a MOTHER-type life of do-it-yourself adobe houses, organic gardening, homestead bees, and like that away back at the end of World War II. And not only living it . . . but writing about it in a great number of magazines. Unfortunately for us all, more folks back there in the late 40's were interested in big cars. city jobs, and new homes in the suburbs . . . than were interested in Hi's subjects.

Now that so many of us are rediscovering Mr. Sibley's way of life, though, we think it's only fair to honor the man who was 30 years ahead of his time by again publishing some of his down-to-earth gems one more once. This — the second of a two-part article — originally appeared in the March 1947 issue of Mechanix Illustrated (copyright 1947 by Fawcett Publications, Inc.) and is reprinted by permission.

Last month, you remember, we placed the pats in a slow oven and then immersed them in cold water for 24 hours. The proper proportion of stabilizer is indicated by the pat which does not become soft or discolor the water. After the bricks are thoroughly dry, check each for cracking, absorption, strength, and erosion under a stream of water from the hose. The pat tests will indicate the action of the corresponding bricks.

Mixing the Soil. Mixing can be done in a scow by hand, Figure 7 (See diagrams in the Image Gallery). The soil should be thoroughly screened to remove lumps or stones. Hand mixing is satisfactory though laborious, so if you can obtain a power mixer such as a pug mill, discarded dough mixer, or plaster mixer you will speed up the job as well as escape a lot of back aches. These mixers are better than concrete mixers as they break up the soil more thoroughly. One ingenious builder rigged up a horse-powered pug mill, Figure 8, with blades on a vertical shaft turning in an upright wooden box. It is loaded at the top and discharged at the bottom. An engine-driven type is shown in Figure 9.





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