How To Build A Rammed Earth House
A house made of rammed earth can save you money on energy bills, as the material keeps out cold during winter and heat during summer. The building material is more environmentally friendly than other types that can produce carbon. Homes made of rammed earth are thick and sturdy and can last for many generations.
Prepare Your Foundation
This type of home uses a standard concrete slab foundation. To make this, dig an area that is twice as deep as the intended slab. Then clear the ground of any large stones or other such obstructions.
Next, lay a loose layer of sand or gravel over the excavated area. Cover with a polyethylene membrane to keep out moisture. Build a wood frame around the perimeter of the area and place screed rails on opposite sides of the exterior of your frame.
Pour cement and level with a straightedge. Use trowels to smooth and even the concrete, and leave it to cure for the required time.
Framing Your Walls
Build sections of wall frame. They do not need to be full forms; corner and skeleton frames will suffice. For optimum insulation, walls should have a width of about 450 mm.
Use the rammed earth to fill the wall forms approximately elbow deep. Ram the earth using a hand rammer or mechanical device. As you near the top, begin removing the wall forms.
Rammed earth dries quickly, so once your wall frames are full, remove the bolts from your door forms and fill in the gaps. Make sure that throughout this phase, you cover the forms at night to protect them from rain.
Doors and Windows
There are really no special techniques for adding doors and windows to a rammed earth house. When constructing the walls, simply place a rail tie or rebar to hold the place of your future door or window. When you install the doors and windows, you can just plug them into the walls using standard procedures.
Two things to keep in mind:
- Concrete frames are better than wood frames for windows as they are weather resistant.
- Slant the outside lip of your window frame to the outside for drainage purposes.
Use standard roofing techniques to build your roof, or hiring a roofing company.
To finish the interior walls, simply apply plaster over metal lath attached to the wall. Hire a plumber and electrician or standard contractor for electrical and plumbing installation.