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Earthbag Building (PDF)
The Tools, Tricks and Techniques
Over seventy percent of Americans cannot afford to own a code-enforced, contractor-built home. This has led to widespread interest in using natural materials-straw, cob, and earth-for building homes and other buildings that are inexpensive, and that rely largely on labor rather than expensive and often environmentally-damaging outsourced materials.
Earthbag Building is the first comprehensive guide to all the tools, tricks, and techniques for building with bags filled with earth-or earthbags. Having been introduced to sandbag construction by the renowned Nader Khalili in 1993, the authors developed this "Flexible Form Rammed Earth Technique" over the last decade. A reliable method for constructing homes, outbuildings, garden walls and much more, this enduring, tree-free architecture can also be used to create arched and domed structures of great beauty-in any region, and at home, in developing countries, or in emergency relief work.
This profusely illustrated guide first discusses the many merits of earthbag construction, and then leads the reader through the key elements of an earthbag building:
- Special design considerations
- Foundations, walls, and floors
- Electrical, plumbing, and shelving
- Lintels, windows and door installations
- Roofs, arches and domes
- Exterior and interior plasters.
With dedicated sections on costs, making your own specialized tools, and building code considerations, as well as a complete resources guide, Earthbag Building is the long-awaited, definitive guide to this uniquely pleasing construction style.
Mother Earth News Wiser Living Series
Kaki Hunter is an award-winning actress who has been involved in the construction industry for the last 20 years, specializing in affordable, low-tech, low-impact building methods that are as natural as possible. Together with her partner Doni Kiffmeyer, she co-developed over the last nine years the "Flexible Form Rammed Earth Technique" of building affordably with earthbags and has taught the subject and contributed her expertise to several books on natural building.
Donald Kiffmeyer is a trained fireman who has been involved in the construction industry for the last 20 years, specializing in affordable, low-tech, low-impact building methods that are as natural as possible. Together with his partner Kaki Hunter, he co-developed over the last nine years the "Flexible Form Rammed Earth Technique" of building affordably with earthbags and has taught the subject and contributed his expertise to several books on natural building.
"This inviting, complete guide to earthbag construction is humorous, very well written, and chock full of good ideas and dynamite illustrations. When you finish reading this book there's only one thing left to do: get out there and get to it."
Dan Chiras, Co-author of The Natural Plaster Book and author of The Natural House, The Solar House, and Superbia! 31 Ways to Create Sustainable Neighborhoods
"Natural building practitioners, like Kaki and Doni, have persevered through years of trial and error, teaching, learning, innovating and becoming respected leaders of the natural building community. As Earthbag Building: The Tools, Tricks and Techniques demonstrates, Kaki and Doni are smart, they are playful, they are wise, they are fine teachers and they have lots of get down and dirty practical experience to share about how to transform bags of earth and earth/lime plasters into beautiful and sensual buildings. We offer a deep bow to these champions of natural building, who (we now know) are doing real and transformational work; offering us doable ways to meet our basic human need for shelter in ways that are restorative and sustainable to both the earth and the spirit."
Judy Knox and Matts Myhrman, Out On Bale, Tucson, Arizona
"Who would have thought that you could make a beautiful, super solid and durable home using dirt-filled grain sacks? Earthbag Building shows not only that you can, but that you can have fun and feel secure doing it. With humor, integrity and delight, Kaki and Doni have distilled into written word and clear illustration their years of dedicated research and work refining the process and tools for this promising building technique. Their thorough approach and objective discussions of pros, cons and appropriate applications makes this book a must-read for natural building enthusiasts and skeptics alike."
Carol Escott and Steve Kemble, co-producers of How To Build Your Elegant Home with Straw Bales
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