We Bought Earthbag House Plans!

We’re getting ready to build our earthbag house…and you’re invited!

I’m not sure how to write this post.  This will be a refreshing change from writing how-to guides, recipes, or links to factual and inspirational sites on the internet.  This post is what is literally going on at Ripples this week!  It isn’t about the future or dreaming, it’s about right now.  For some reason I think “right now” details will sound boring to you.  But they’re very exciting to me!

Earthbag Roundhouse by Owen Geiger

Earthbag Roundhouse by Owen Geiger

We bought our earthbag house plans from Owen Geiger, popular earthbag and natural building architect who holds two engineering degrees.  You can buy several different kinds of home design plans here on his website or read his blog, Natural Building Blog, to learn more about the process of building with earthbags.

This is Amanda writing, just so you know, even though I write most of the blog posts now that Ryan’s a techie superstar. 😉  He’s been successfully helping non-profit organizations with their websites.  Despite his behind-the-scenes status, it’s super important work to help non-profits have a strong web presence, which attracts donors and informs volunteers while also chronicling the data from past successes (such as photographs of events).  My work in 2013 is to heal from surgery and start researching data to help us make decisions on the house and our direction as a couple dedicated to service.

I’ve been picking out a compost toilet, flooring, wall color, bathtub, sinks, stair railing, roof material, cabinets and other house parts.  Still no definite decision on anything, since we’re making a budget and checking it twice.  But we did buy the house plans, which is a huge step forward for us!  You can see what the downstairs will look like in the photo.  I’ve been researching greywater and aquaponics systems, and having many a dream about future “pet” fish, turtles, plants, hamsters, bunnies and mice who may all have a role to play in our homestead.  (More on that in next week’s Making Ripples column! Cuteness!)

My working hours aren’t all dedicated to Ripples.  Sometimes I’m working at the Himalayan Mountain Shop, which is fun.  We’ve also been having setbacks this week with administrative errors in our insurance company (they kept our account open and deposited our monthly premium payments, but told the hospital and every provider that I didn’t have an insurance account!).  Unfortunately, things like this draw my time away from Ripples’ work.  Ripples itself is hard to manage in combination with this blog, since today my focus was on Ripples’ cookie customers and writing the next Making Ripples column while trying to figure out where to build the aquaponics beds.

(Munches pumpkin cookie) “Hey Ryan, you okay with turtles? I mean if they appeared in our house.”

“Live turtles? Inside? Sure I guess.”

“And ducklings, too! Maybe in the bathroom sink. I’m picking out a bathroom sink and this one full of ducklings is my top choice.” 🙂 Just kidding.



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That’s magnificent, Amanda. But the insurance is a bummer. Hope it’s straightened out now.


Never heard of an Earthbag House?? Where will it be built in Northwest Arkansas? I hope I get to see some of the building of your house.


Hey Vivian! We don’t have land just yet, but we’re hoping to find something within 15 to 20 miles of Fayetteville (avoiding chicken farms and other polluting agents), so that were close enough to involve the community. We’re also planning to document the building process, so you’ll get an insider’s view as the house emerges! Not only that, we’re also planning to let the community get hands on with the building. It’ll be a good ‘ole fashioned barn raising, if we can do it right!


Do you have your ‘bags’ yet? (You might guess that a ‘baglady’ might have some for you.) So excited that you will be sharing …and if it works out, maybe we can even be there for a portion of the barn raising, bag filling! <3 'You've got a friend in me' – woody

Amanda Bancroft

Thank you so much! We welcome everyone to be part of our “barn raising” for Ripples’ earthbag home, as soon as we find its forever home location. No we don’t have bags yet, do you know of a good place to get them or do you have extras? We’d be happy to have them.

Gail Penrod

Would love to know your progress on your earthbag home. My husband and I are seriously considering building one of Owen’s houses and are “gleaning” any and all stories about successes or lesson’s learned.

Bryce Mallory

Hello All,

If any of you have questions on earth bags, I work for Precision Structural Engineering, you can check out out website at http://www.structure1.com. We have engineered many different earth bag projects and we can help take care of the building permit hassle for you. We are licensed in 47 U.S. States, with sub consultants for the final 3 states and we can also work in 4 Canadian Provinces.

If you have any further questions, my name is Bryce and I am the Business Development Manager and you can email me at mt2@structure1.com with any questions.

Ryan Bancroft

Hey Bryce,

Thanks for letting us know about this! Unfortunately, due to requirements set down by the owner of the land, we’ve had to shelve the earthbag-building project. However, this is a fantastic service you all are providing. I am really excited to see earthbag building receiving this kind of support. If we have a chance to explore earthbag building again in the future, we’ll keep you all in mind.

Thanks again!


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