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10 Unique Earth Dwellings Almost Anyone Can Afford

Monday, November 14, 2016 9:51
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by Alexa Erickson

Whether you’ve been house hunting or house dreaming, you know imagining your home is far less stressful than actually putting it into reality. You may find yourself longing to just build your own home, and forgo giving in to something that is not truly unique to you, but the financial cost and environmental toll of building from the ground up can make you forget the idea altogether. But it doesn’t have to be this way.

“Earth homes” take advantage of surrounding terrain and various natural elements like dirt, bamboo, wood, and clay to construct homes that almost anyone can afford using sustainable materials that the environment will thank you for.

The following 10 homes are well-insulated thanks to their thick earthen walls, and make for cooler homes in the summer and warmer ones come winter, allowing you to rely less on artificial heating and cooling, too, which will ultimately save you money. Earth homes designed by smart designers often use solar design strategies to boost efficiency as well. And let’s not forget that their uniqueness makes for beautiful abodes you’re sure to adore.

1. Dome-shaped earth bag house in Colombia

jose-andres-vallejo-casavergara11-889x622While La Casa Vergara’s unique dome shapes are enough to make you want to envision your home life inside one of these, there’s a lot more to it than eye appeal. Built by architect Jose Andres Vallejo, this Bogota home is made from earth bags, which are tubular bags stuffed with earth. Designed to prevent earthquakes and water damage, it comes in at just $28 per square foot.

2. Hobbit homes that can be built in three days

green-magic-homes-889x529There’s something alluring about living like a hobbit: lush, cozy, simple. These hobbit-like dwellings are prefabricated by Magic Green Homes, come in at just 400-square-feet, and can be built in a mere three days! And everything about it feels very accessible, from the lack of heavy equipment needed to the simple assembly.

  3. DIY disaster-proof home


If the idea of building your own earth home intrigues you, but you fear your lack of commitment because you have absolutely no idea where to start, then let Cal-Earth be your go-to guide. The California-based group specializes in teaching others the DIY methods needed to make your own sustainable dwelling a reality. They use disaster-proof materials, including recycled war materials.

4. Solar orphanage made with earth bags 

orphanage earth home

Orkidstudio, an organization known for its humanitarian design, constructed this orphanage in Nakuru, Kenya, made completely out of earth bags. The solar design allows for heat to be absorbed throughout the day and released at night, so the children and staff remain comfortable.

5. A machine “3D prints” homes from bags of earth

earth home 3d builder

Earth Home Builder takes building homes to a whole new level by using a skid-operated machine that works much like a 3D printer, capable of filling bags of earth at 400 bags per hour. To put that efficiency into perspective, only 30 bags can be filled by human hands per hour.

6. Mexican rammed earth home

Mexican earth home

This multi-colored home was created by a family in Mexico out of rammed earth. With the help of architect Tatiana Bilbao, they were able to create a budget-friendly dwelling with floor-to-ceiling windows and two open terraces for coastal viewing. 

7. A villa made from rammed earth, bamboo, and recycled wood

bamboo earth home

People don’t necessary connect DIY homes made using earthen materials to luxury, but why not? Chiangmai Life Construction built the Triksa Villa in northern Thailand to boast affordability, sustainability, and total luxury. The adobe brick walls result in a comfortable temperature, and the bamboo roof makes this home a sustainable dream come true. There’s even an outdoor pool setting!

8. Ghana home made from rammed earth and recycled plastic Ghana earth home

In rural Ghana, this intriguing home, made from rammed earth and recycled plastic, ensures outside elements don’t topple it to the ground. “We aimed to overcome the negative associations of these materials and move away from the primitive image of building with earth by applying a modern design aesthetic,” explained Anna Webster, whose design won her the opportunity to make this home through a Nka Foundation building competition.

9. The ‘mud home’ that costs $5,000

the mud home

“I didn’t even know what a joist was when I started this project, so if I can do it, anyone can. You don’t need prior knowledge. You can learn the skills. But you do need determination, and some decent friends won’t go amiss either,” said creator Atulya K Bingham. This budget-friendly abode took a mere six weeks to build.

10.  The 400-square-foot moon cocoon earth home

moon cocoon
Created by Cal Earth, this multi-purpose eco dome can serve as a tiny shelter, small guest house, or studio apartment. Cal Earth provides plenty of material to get started, including kits to construct the house, a step-by-step DVD, blueprints, and empty earth bags.


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  • Cousin_Jack

    When mining was common in my town, properties would be made out of mass concrete mixed with the mine waste. Now mundic is common in some places where the waste has attracted moisture and turned the concrete porous. When my garage was demolished we found loads of stuff in the walls, sheets of metal, files, chisels, glass, even a huge grinding disc.

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