An Affordable Rammed Earth Home

Learn about how this author was able to buy land and build an affordable rammed earth home for less than half the cost of a house.

  • Rammed earth form
    Building a rammed earth home requires you to tamp a lot of dirt in a form like this one.

  • Rammed earth form

This article, which appeared in the May 1950 Coronet, is copyright © by Esquire lnc. and is reprinted with permission. 

Thirteen years ago, a Coronet article changed my life!

Thirteen years ago, my wife and I were hard-up, rent-paying tenants in a crowded city. Today we are independent and secure in the Pennsylvania countryside. We own, debt-free, a $15,000 home. And we did it all on a modest income.

How can I credit this independence and security to a Coronet article? It was called "Houses of Earth," and the author maintained that anybody could build his own house. All you did was erect wooden forms on a foundation, pound in four-inch layers of dirt, and you would have a rammed earth (or Pasé de Terre) wall.

Pisé, it developed, was an ancient and honorable building method, almost forgotten today. As soon as one form was full of rammed earth, you moved it and rammed another section, and so on until the wall was complete. As simple as that. Easy, cheap, and permanent, the article said.

And every word was true. Our rammed earth home is warm in winter, cool in summer. The foot-thick walls are proof against vermin, termites and fire, and will stand for centuries. And they were easy and cheap to erect, just as the Coronet article stated. I know, because I have built our home—during my spare time!



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