Low-Cost Earthbag Buildings Step-by-Step

By Owen Geiger
Published on June 25, 2009
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by Meemee Kanyarath
Whether as a studio, garden shed, chicken coop, or something else entirely, an earthbag building is adaptable.

With this novel technique, you can make earthbag buildings step by step to serve as a studio, garden shed, chicken coop, or root/storm cellar — no permit required!

One of the most practical structures on a small farmstead is a multipurpose building that can serve as a storage shed or cool pantry above ground, or as a root cellar or storm shelter below ground. You can build this multipurpose structure for about $300 using earthbag construction (bags filled with earth and stacked like bricks). And the skills you learn by building the dome will serve you well if you plan to build larger earthbag buildings — or even an earth home.

In many cases, no building permit will be needed for this little building, because it’s below the minimum size required by most building codes (for structures that are not inhabited and not attached to a residence). But because codes vary by region, check your local building regulations before you begin.

Earthbag structures provide a cool space in summer and an escape from the cold in winter, which means this earthbag dome is well suited for many purposes. Depending on your needs, the most practical combination of uses might be a root cellar/cool pantry for daily use and a disaster shelter for emergencies such as tornadoes or hurricanes.

The earthbag dome has a natural look and blends in with the land. It has a solid, organic feel — just what you’d expect from a design inspired by nature that has been combined with a little modern ingenuity and thousands of years of earth- and dome-building wisdom.

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