There are some inspirational pictures and it appears to be "dirt cheap."
There is a lot of labor not showing in the pictures.
I have misgivings about sleeping under stacked sandbags. I would seriously worry about snow load. I hope you don't have to have your plans approved by a zoning board. Check it out before you spend money on classes.
We used to live near the Mojave desert where these houses were tested. Winds routinely blow at 80-100 mph with no storm attached to them -- just blowing. The big earthquakes of late have been desert-centered in southern California. And flash floods really are routine. I am really impressed by these homes and their energy efficiency. Biggest drawback would be resale. It takes a special person who wants live in an unusual house like that.
As for snowload, the architects could easily address that for you and would probably go to bat for you with local building departments. I think you'd find the New Mexico and Arizona markets quite friendly to this type of design. Adobes are part of the norm. And these look like adobes. Not sure how South Dakota would view it.
If you've ever been in an adobe house you know how amazing they are. It can be 105 degrees outside and the inside of the house is 65-70 WITHOUT any air conditioning or even fans going. And the opposite is true -- 25-30 degrees outside with wind chills well below zero and the inside is 60-65 degrees without a heat source. These seem to have all the same properties.
If you read the site more, it says were the bags are filled with 9 parts wet dirt and 1 part cement so when it drys its not going anywere!!!! They also use 2 strands of barb wire between each layer to help hold the bags until they are dry.
As far as labor, I have 3 kids and way more time than I have money :yeeha:
I'd shop around before buying materials from outfit in CA. I would imagine they sell standard bagging material and mark it up considerably. But maybe not, just ought to shop around though. All sites are rather vague on plastering the sand bags. Would seem like it might be difficult to get plastering to stick well.
Before you consider building a house such as this, ask yourself if you will be content living in the location for the rest of your life. Very likely, a house such as this will be next to impossible to sell.
Something to think about.
I admire and respect people that undertake the arduous prospect of building there own house. But by the same token, I also believe someone should "own" the house......rather than the house owning you.
I'll bet you can make your own bags out of tyvec or typar just by sewing them up.I checked the price of the bags and they seem pricey.I also did'nt like that they break down in the sun. This would mean that the plaster would need to be put on soon after building.As a builder i have to tell you to be very carefull of the arches as they are the danger points as far as collapse.I don't want to hear that you or the kids got hurt.I think that it looks really cool over all but get a little advice here and there from a carpenter.Bricks laid in dirt would make a great floor. Don't let anyone tell you it can't be done it can.
Becky said "As for snowload, the architects could easily address that for you and would probably go to bat for you with local building departments."
Think again! Architects, Engineers, and building departments fight do-it-yourselfers. I know because I have been looking for their help in my project to build a cement bubble house. You can imagine an engineer or architect looking at your idea and thinking, "oh yeah, right. I'm just going sign my name and let this person who has no experience, no credentials, and a shoestring budget use and perhaps damage my hard earned reputation to make something that I have virtually no control over."
If you plan on building something besides a conventional box with conventional materials you better gear up for a long running battle with the building department. You'll have to do the math and convince everyone it will work, including the architect.
The comment about 9 parts dirt and one part cement being structural is not correct, even with barbed wire. Dirt does not make solid cement. Firming dirt over your head is not structural cement overhead. Structural concrete for overhead work is pretty rich and dry - like one part cement two parts aggregate, less than 1 inch slump. The aggregate must be clean - no dirt. There are pretty tight restrictions on the reinforcement, and some barbed wire snaked through isn't adequate.
Don't get me wrong, I love alternatives to boxes. These sandbag structures and other curvy buildings are inspirational. I am going to build some, but, initially, they'll have to be outbuildings to dodge the objections of the professionals.
I'm with you, csgrl23! I've been looking and found these two sites to be very informational. One of them has a licensed architect who will act as an advisor on site for you because he builds these all the time. www.greenhomebuilding.com www.buildinggreen.com
Check these out for good info, graphics on how to reinforce with rebar and the like.
Good luck with your future home! :yeeha: Judi
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