How to Build an Earthbag Dome

Earthbag-Dome

Earthbag building is not a new thing. This way of raising structures has been around for a while. The popularity of it increases due to the low cost it involves. The dome you see in the pictures had materials totaling $300! The finished building can be used as shed, pantry or rootcellar. In some cases, you can seek shelter from storms in it. Also, due to its size, usually you don’t need a building permit to raise a similar dome. The difference between a common structure and an earthbag dome is that each row of bags is inset slightly from the one positioned below it. The amount of work isn’t one to dismiss. If you too want to make such a dome on your property, you only have to refer to the step-by-step tutorial, see the process in all the details and use the images to guide you through each phase of construction. Begin with clearing and leveling the building site and then follow the instructions. Good luck!

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23 Responses to “How to Build an Earthbag Dome”

  1. Doug Johnson says:

    I’ve been interested in building one of these into the side of a hill in our Northern climate. I suspect it would be a great shelter. I would like to see more details: The inside, how you made the entry, etc.

    • Paula says:

      I, too, would like to have more detailed explanation on the method used for the entryway. Btw, this is such a great idea especially when you have young children with huge imaginations!

  2. Robert Huff says:

    Like Doug, I would like to see more pics and get more details.

  3. Brent Eagleson says:

    @ Doug Johnson
    I noticed in the picture with the white hat gentleman on the door arch, creating the bags, almost in a wedge shape… if you look closely, as they are pounded on top of the \tire forms\ then when the tires are removed, the pounded bags are finished

  4. Brent Eagleson says:

    Love this simplistic shelter for small domes… I move up to the monolithic here in Canada though or in any of the tornado states… safest dwelling in the world. IMHO

    This concept is very intriguing! I can’t wait to try this bag concept on a sunken green house building for the aquaculture farm (fish and produce, self sustaining) for the homestead.

    Thank you again for a great article 🙂

  5. Jimbabwe says:

    make sure you have plenty of insulation if you’re in a northern climate. earthbag provides thermal mass but very little insulation unless it’s filled with pumice, scoria, or the like.

  6. tom rogets says:

    Hi am from Uganda, and am interested in building an earth bag house, please send me a PDF document with the details. Thanks alot. Any help will be appreciated.

    • kerry stanton says:

      Hi Tom, you can lookup and get plans on how to build an earth bag house
      at
      ” calearth.org”
      and from there there are many links that you can go to.
      This is where it originated from and you will find all the information there.
      I would love to know how you go. If you would like to know more I might be able to answer some questions for you, as I have been involved in building a couple of domes.
      Good Luck
      Kerry

  7. Surly Old Guy says:

    As someone who has built with soil-filled sandbags in the past, this is insanity. It is a tremendous amount of labor for a very small enclosed space.

    But far more critically, it is extremely hazardous. Those bags will absorb rainwater and become extremely heavy, and they will also degrade over time, losing structural integrity. Once that happens, the structure is very likely to collapse, and the mass involved is more than ample to kill anyone underneath.

    Even if you were building with bags of cement, so that they set into solid mortar over time, this would be dangerous.

  8. Holly says:

    Can these be made bigger around?

  9. Alison says:

    This a a great idea for a root cellar! I’d love to share it with my pinterest followers, but it is blocked because “it may be spam.” Just giving you a heads up so you can contact them and get that resolved 🙂

  10. Diane Thomas says:

    I love this. Would love to a build a small one.

  11. Thibault says:

    Feel free to check calearth.org/
    this is where you can get all details about this and many more.

    thibault

  12. Relatively Sane Old Lady says:

    Surly Old Guy is right. Contents of the bags (and the bags themselves) will shift for various reasons like decomposition, pressure/gravity, weather, critters in the dirt, and the structure’s shape will reflect those changes, possibly faster than you’d think. Too much work for an iffy result.

  13. dennis says:

    Be careful if you build one of these below grade without any drainage. If the weather is really wet or you get a significant amount of runoff and it soaks in and puddles inside, you would have to make a false bottom and provide a way to pump out the water. If that happened it would also be very wet and have a lot of condensation inside which would totally rust anything metal inside. Air flow is critical in something like this, as is sealing ability.
    One method would be to use a heavy vinyl kids pool liner and use it as a water barrier to the outside water intrusion.
    Think ahead people. Water inside is not your friend.

  14. Doc says:

    Here’s more details.

  15. Chad Chism says:

    More details please!

  16. Kate says:

    What about flooding?

  17. Bob atwood says:

    It’s not much different than a stone arch. There’s quite a few tutorials online.

  18. Debbie says:

    I wonder how this would work for a sauna, in the Pacific Northwest.

  19. Burdy says:

    My daughter and her husband have build and live in an earthbaghouse in Brasil

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