Dirt-Cheap Shelter:
The Least Expensive Building Methods

by Dr. Owen Geiger

Ever wonder how to build a simple home for very little money, without going into debt? The key is to use low-cost, locally available natural materials such earth, small diameter wood and straw to keep expenses to a minimum. The real fun is incorporating all of these methods into an optimum, comfortable, affordable home.

Earthbag construction : Of all the various earth building methods, earthbag construction is probably the easiest to learn. Earthbag building can be done very simply and for very little money. Almost all the materials and supplies can be obtained for free or very low cost, and most people already have the basic tools around the house. Earthbag structures are safe, extremely durable, highly adaptable and owner-builder friendly. They are resistant to floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, fire, bullets, insects, rodents, mold and will not rot .

Tamped earth floors : Earth floors have been used since the beginning of history. Earth floors in Taos Pueblo, for example, have lasted for over 600 years. Imagine how much you could save by not replacing carpet or linoleum every 10-20 years. And, they don't require expensive wood framing, offgass toxic chemicals or clog up landfills. The main drawback to earthen floors is they are very slow drying. Tamped earth floors are much faster drying than poured earth floors and therefore more practical.

Small diameter wood : As a result of poor management, US forests are choked with small trees. Thinning this excess wood improves the health of forests, reduces risk of forest fires and provides a nearly unlimited source of wood for those who harvest it. These small trees can be used in the round (which is inherently stronger than milled lumber) for pole trusses, posts, beams, etc. Or they can be turned into door and window bucks, studs, plates, rafters, cabinets and furniture using a portable sawmill or an inexpensive chainsaw guide.

Owen Geiger, Director of the Geiger Research Institute of Sustainable Building and Kelly Hart have teamed up to create EarthbagBuilding.com and Natural Building Blog.

This article was first published at www.topuniquearticles.com


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