Are Earth Bag Homes the Best Low-Cost Housing Option?

Some friends of mine travel to Nicaragua a few times per year to provide medical care and other help to people near the city of Matagalpa. Some volunteers build homes, too. The current home-building project builds small concrete-block homes at a cost of about $4000 each. Donations cover the cost.

Here’s an example of the existing homes:

Exterior view of a village home in Nicaragua.

Exterior view of a village home in Nicaragua.

Interior view.

Interior view.

And here’s an example of a new concrete block home.

nica new home exterior

A new concrete block home.

Would earth bag homes be better?

I haven’t investigated earth bag and cob homes much, but I wonder if those methods would be appropriate for a project in Nicaragua. It seems that earth bag homes would be much more sustainable and far cheaper than concrete blocks. It seems that you could ship a few truckloads of earth bags to a village and build several homes for the same cost as one block home.

 

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Here’s a method that uses earth bag knee walls with bamboo framing. Teaching the villagers how to build this way would be ideal.

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And here are some examples of pretty nice homes:

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The Farmhouse Media is all about living sustainably through

  • green building

  • green cities

  • permaculture