Lily Ann Fouts

2016 Holiday Letter

Dear Readers, Friends, and Loved Ones,

Happy Holidays from Loja, Ecuador!  When I wrote the first draft of this holiday letter, less than two weeks ago, I had no idea that a few days later I’d be on a flight to South America!   Let me back up to the beginning of the year and fill you in on how we got here. […]

Laser Leveling in the Earthbag House

There are a few key tools that Keith has used in the process of building the earthbag house which we have found extremely helpful and time-saving. One such tool is the laser level. […]

Filling the Earthbags

Just to clarify, the walls of the earthbag house have been completed! However, I thought you might enjoy some video footage of the process of building the walls. In this video clip, Keith is working by himself to fill the earthbags in place on the wall. […]

Earthbag Arches

One feature that Keith had designed into the earthbag house we are building is the arch. We have two arches in this house.

The first arch is built into the support buttress on the north wall. Buttresses add strength to a straight wall and are required every 10 to 12 feet in earthbag homes with straight walls. (Round earthbag homes don’t need them.) This arch will lead into a screened-in back patio once the house is complete. […]

Earthbag Walls – DONE!

Well, after 7 months of mixing clay slip with screenings from the nearby rock quarry and pouring the mixture into sandbags left over from Hurricane Sandy, our bag-filling days are finally over!

Yes, the earthbag walls—at least the earthbag part of them—are finished. Now we are covering them in papercrete and chicken wire and more papercrete, and will eventually (next year sometime) finish them off with lime plaster. […]

Diddling Bags for the Earthbag House

Before we fill them with the earthbag mixture, we diddle the bags so that they make a better shape for the wall and the corners don’t stick out and mess up the papercrete and lime plaster that will later cover them.

The typical way to diddle a bag is to fold in the corners and run a nail through them, securing them to the bottom of the bag. This is how we did it all last year. […]

Earthbag House FAQs

Here are some questions we’ve received about our earthbag house project, and our answers to them. We’ll add more as the questions come in. Feel free to contact us and ask anything you want!

General Questions About Our Project

Q: What state are you building in?
Answer: We are building the earthbag house in Eastern Kansas—an area that can have hot/humid summers, freezing cold winters, and strong storms, including tornadoes. […]

Rainwater Cistern in Action!

I think of everything we have done so far on the earthbag house this season, seeing the rainwater cistern in action excites me the most. We completed the cistern late last year and this year one of the first things we did was fill it up to test it out!

No, we can’t fill it with rainwater just yet because we still don’t have a roof on the house, so the first time Lee filled it by making ten trips with a 300-gallon water tank in the back of his truck. […]

Quick Earthbag House Update

It’s September 17th, 2015…I thought I’d pop in with a quick update on our earthbag house project.

We’re making slow but steady progress! One of the big blocks we’ve faced this year is the lack of extra help like we had last year. We have a part-time helper and Keith’s sisters both took time off work and helped for a few days, which was wonderful! We’ve put up more ads and are hoping to find more workers soon. […]

Papercrete Mixer Header

Papercrete Tow Mixer

Last year, making batches of papercrete involved filling a barrel with newspaper and water, and grinding it up by hand using a drill with a special attachment.  CLICK HERE to see last year’s post about it.

Using that procedure, we could only make relatively small batches of papercrete, and mixing it up that way always made my arms ache! Toward the end of the season last year, Keith began collecting the materials to make a papercrete tow mixer, using the one on as a model.  (Be sure to check out that site for a great demo video and to order step-by-step instructions if you’re interested in building one yourself!) […]