DIY, Off Grid, Homesteading

How to Build an Earthbag Dome For $300

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Earthbag construction can be a wonderful way to build a small (or large) home. Earthbag houses are typically simple to design and build, especially when building a dome-shaped home.

These little structures can be adorned with a living roof, or covered in mud or plaster. They are structurally sound, and when complete can blend into the landscape, thereby minimizing the effects on the environment. They’re also inexpensive to build and might be an option for those folks to build on a limited budget.

How to build an earthbag dome home

© Owen Geiger

The earthbag dome structure in the photos below was built for Mother Earth News by Owen Geiger as an example of the construction technique. At the time of the build, in 2009, this beautiful creation cost him only $300.

This dome could be used as a shed, shelter, above ground root cellar, or playhouse, among other things. With a little ingenuity and creative thinking, one can easily see how this type of structure could be scaled up to build a larger sized home. Read the original article below.

How to build an Earthbag dome

Owen Geiger simplifies the earthbag dome building process on his Instructables page, using the dome he built for Mother Earth News as an example.

The first step is the plans, which are not only necessary when considering space and materials, but also help to understand the building process.

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Earthbag dome plans

Earthbag dome plans

Earthbag dome plans

© Owen Geiger

After the plans are determined, the ground is leveled and prepared for the foundation bags. The foundation layer uses double-bagged gravel to prevent wicking moisture into upper layers of bags. Soil is then tamped around the foundation layer to hold it in place.

Earthbag dome construction

Earthbag dome foundation © Owen Geiger

A string line from a center stake is used to ensure each level is a perfect circle. The radius of each level is slightly smaller than the preceding level.

Earthbag dome construction

© Owen Geiger

Every course is tamped and leveled before moving on to the next course.

Earthbag dome construction

© Owen Geiger

Earthbag dome construction

© Owen Geiger

Barbed wire is placed between each course to help hold the bags in place.

Earthbag home construction

© Owen Geiger

In this dome, tires are used to form the window.

Earthbag dome construction

© Owen Geiger

Earthbag dome construction

© Owen Geiger

Earthbag dome construction

© Owen Geiger

Earthbag domes are most often finished with plaster, but the builders opted to put a living roof over this one, which requires more maintenance, but looks beautiful.

Earthbag dome construction

© Owen Geiger

The front entrance of the dome is finished in yellow-pigmented plaster. This dome, in the builder’s yard, is used as a tool shed.

How to build an earthbag dome

© Owen Geiger

Kind of reminds you of a Hobbit house in the Shire, right?

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