Sandbag House under construction

Why Build a Sandbag House?

Sandbag homes look good, are cheaper to build than a conventional brick-and-mortar house and provide excellent insulation against summer’s heat and winter’s cold. They can be built for use as a complete home or can be used as a guest room, garden cottage or outdoor office in your garden.

Advantages of Sandbag Homes

Construction of the homes is quick and the system can involve the local community and unskilled laborers, thus instilling a sense of community pride and ownership in a poor area. The construction technique is easily learned.

Sand is widely available and free or nearly free, depending on location which obviously makes it an economically sound choice. Empty sandbags are light and easily transported.

Sand is environmentally friendly and needs no energy for processing. The labor would be removing stones or rocks from the sand, filling and stacking the bags.

There is no necessity for the transport of truck loads of expensive equipment and supplies to the construction site since construction can take place virtually anywhere, even in very remote areas.

In addition to being well insulated, the house would also have sound absorbing properties.

Methods of construction

Eco-Beam System

This is a construction method patented in South Africa by Engineer Mike Tremeer. Timber beams and roof trusses are used, packed with sandbags for exterior and interior walls. The use of Eco-Beams typically saves two thirds of the timber used in a classic timber frame construction. The Eco-Beam is a patented lattice beam, which is a combination of two wooden struts and a zig-zagged metal strip that joins them and provides rigidity and strength. Geo-fabric bags are filled and stacked in the space between the beams. The walls are then covered with a mesh or expanded metal mesh and plastered. The house featured in the accompanying article was built using this method.

Eco-Dome Method

This construction method was designed and patented by US Architect Nader Khalili. The home is built from local earth-filled “super-adobe” coils (earth stabilized with cement or lime). Designed to be a very small home or a studio apartment, the construction can be added to in the same way to form a larger home. The dome can be built by a small team and is designed with the elements in mind. Interior furniture (such as window benches and bases for beds) can be built-in using the same materials.

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