Morgan's $5,000 Earthbag House

Earthbag home

Earthbag homes are constructed by laying moist earth-filled bags in rows (like bricks) and then plastering over them to create a smooth stucco-like finish. The versatility of the bags and their high compressive strength makes for a myriad of designs, including arches, vaults and curvilinear walls. Due to their thermally-massive composition, earthbag walls also help regulate interior temperature swings, leading to increased comfort for occupants. They can also easily be built for earthquake zones.

round earthbag home  earthbag circular roof framing

In 2009, Morgan took the plunge on land in a community outside Asheville, North Carolina, building his off-grid dream home with his girlfriend for under $5,000. When asked why he chose a circular design, he explains “in earth building circles there is a saying: ‘round is sound.’ A round wall is structurally very stable and self-supporting and has less outside surface area so it’s more energy efficient.” He used the compass arm technique detailed in the book Earthbag Building which made the circular walls easy to construct.

bottle wall

More photos at

14 Responses to Morgan's $5,000 Earthbag House

  1. thedove98 says:

    I would like to know more about this house in particular. Where is it, about the area it is built.

  2. Fr. Anthony says:

    So, for $5,000 people could start off MORTGAGE FREE in life – isn’t this what it should be all about? Encouraging people to build naturally, care for the surrounding environment, build sensibly, What a superb idea. Houses are getting too big, and we’re becoming way more materialistic than we’ve ever been before.

    Let’s care for our planet. Let’s care for our children by building these – and not brick pillars of debt!

    • Jeffrey Kish says:

      Fr. Anthony there is only one problem with your outlook your are forgetting government, All across the country progressive controlled local and state governments talk the talk of sustainablity but then they realize that off griders and those that want to be self sustaining don’t put money in their coffers. They then start passing regulations prohibiting the lifestyle, real hypocrites.

  3. Anonymous says:

    This looks amazing! Would like to know more. Does the type of soil need to be a certain composition (clay, to sand to loam??) or does just the local soil ij the area do tue trick? How moist does the soil need to be? Is there a certain type of plastic bag or technique in sealing them that needs to be followed?? Would love to build one of these on a piece of land that we have in the country.

  4. Morgan says:

    A certain ratio of clay and sand is best. The clay sticks together and the sand stabilizes. To anyone interested in the technique, I suggest the book “Earthbag Building.”

  5. Renee says:

    This is so awesome, Morgan! Congrats to you and Mary. I love it and it’s absolutely beautiful and very well-built. If you lived around here, my dad (he’s a green architect) would be asking you to speak at the Home Show he hosts in May every year in Blairsville. Good job!

  6. Anonymous says:

    Amazing …awesome it is what I would love to own! Thank you so much for sharing your home!

  7. Christine Ferguson says:

    Yeah! Loved it too in Spain! So nicely done!

  8. Diana Woods says:

    I’m wondering if in most counties in the US are theses homes going to pass code as I live in WA state? Anyhow, there are very special homes indeed.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Thank you for these fantastic new ideas for building cheaply. Thanks for the replies above. These are needed everywhere: for the green-conscious, for the poor anywhere in the world !
    I’ll be thinking about it for myself…

  10. Anonymous says:

    I’m so glad that people are inspired by what we’ve done. Thank you all. Morgan.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Hey! Great build! Congratulations to you both! My family and I reside a few minutes from Asheville, NC and months ago decided that we would design and build our own earthbag home. Came across your post awhile back, just wanted to say thanks. It would be nice if more people across the world could get onboard with things like this. Anyways, best wishes to you both.

  12. MAd MAX says:

    As Far as I am concerned the government can kiss my ass! If I want to build something on my land I will! Building permits are for people who follow like sheep. I Have fought the building codes several times and won every time.

  13. claireofnatureclan says:

    See where this building technology was invented by Nader Khalili of California Institute of Earth Art & Architecture, Cal Earth. org — They have passed ICBO testing, and been permitted in the highest seismic zone (Hesperia, on the way to Vegas from L.A.) in California…and they sell packets to share with your permit dept….and Sand and Earth only are not generally the way Super Adobe is built. Some small portion of the earth mix, based on a soil test is Portland Cement, and the stabilizing factor is the shape, the curve is the strongest form, and stabilizes the shelter in compression, not tension.

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