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Sandbag Houses

Can anybody really build a house made of sandbags?

Sandbags conjure up images of winter flooding or cheap mobile barriers used at roadsides, construction sites and the natural extension of this thought process may not be to use of sandbags to build structures, even homes. To the contrary, these simple materials create solid and virtually impregnable walls, which are incredibly resistant to bad weather conditions including wind and rain.

Sandbag House
Sandbag House Being Built

Some of the main advantages of building sandbag houses is the components are cheap, easily available and easily transferable. The use of sandbags in house building reduces CO2 emissions by up to 95-percent compared to standard brick built walls and there is no processing of materials prior to use in the construction.

In addition, sandbags can be up to 40-percent cheaper than brick. Couple this with the fact that when sandbag houses are completed with plastered exterior and interior walls, they will look identical to a house built from conventional materials.

Gunny Sack Races ...

As different and more diverse methods of house building began to develop, the use of sandbags developed also. This development is the result of learning from tried and tested procedures. Until recently Burlap Sacks were filled with sand or earth and placed around wooden beams.

Then they were layered with plaster in order to create the exterior walls. This helped to reinforce the structure against any unfavourable conditions and create thermally efficient homes. The main disadvantage with the natural material, i.e. the burlap sacks, was that as it aged, and with any penetration of water, the sack would eventually rot.

Currently there are polypropylene bags available and they are now widely used. A plaster is placed over them and it can provide a reliable and permanent structure for the purpose of housing. This process still takes into account the vapor permeable walls associated with sandbag construction.
Sandbag Home

The thermal efficiency of the building will also depend on the type of material used to fill the bags and this can range from sand to soil to crushed volcanic rock. Another added benefit of this housing is the naturally occurring soundproofing that is attained through the use of sand in the bags.

The ease with which these buildings can be constructed is reflected in the amount of materials readily available, coupled with advice tips and instructions for the building of a sandbag house. This type of structure is not even restricted to specific areas of construction. Just one person can easily handle the weight of each sand bag and construction can take place without the need for proper road access or electricity.

Sandbag Construction
The versatile value of this type of construction has proved invaluable in Cape Town in South Africa. A number of building projects in areas with little or no financial resources were successfully completed with the use of sandbags.


This proves the fact that apart from being ecologically friendly, sandbag houses are also cost-effective and offer a very good alternative to the conventional building methods.

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