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EarthBags in Belize

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mrsumo
2/5/2018 23:49 EST

Does anyone have experience building with Earthbags in Belize? I am moving to the Corozal area and am thinking that is the way I want to go.

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5allan1
2/6/2018 08:45 EST

There was an odd duck building an earth bag house on Cerros Peninsula. Heard good and bad about the project. So belizelenny might know about him. Most Belizeans prefer concrete bunkers with zinc roofing if they can afford it.

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Kenubelizeit
2/6/2018 09:11 EST

I havent seen this type of construction but maybe my buddy a Mayan contractor knows how to construct Mayan style as he works with the archaeology department his name is Jorge Kaan

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Conmurphy
2/6/2018 09:41 EST

You'll find it difficult to successfully build with earth bags in Belize.
I know of several attempts in the Cayo area that literally fell apart.
The humidity in the air is so high here, (Over 80% average) the earth never really sets, and erodes very quickly if water ever gets on the surface.
This can also lead to mold issues,
Im not saying it can be done, but to do so safely would require soil additives or very careful soil selection and very large over hanging roofs,
Conor
Earth Bags are more suited for less humid climates.

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terrific
2/6/2018 20:06 EST

there is an area in Cayo up by the dam that has several earth bag homes, one was even featured on house hunters.

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Conmurphy
2/6/2018 20:11 EST

Ill stand corrected on that one if so, Thanks.
I know of two in the bullet tree area that turned out to be disasters,
I would like to know what they did differently,
C

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jlydia
2/6/2018 21:54 EST

Go to youtube and search for Belize Earth bag or earthbag belize. He is a local contractor and has a vid showing him constructing this type of home. Sorry i forget his name.

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belizelenny
2/7/2018 11:58 EST

There is one near me at Cerros...definitely do your homework as this home looks like a demo to me.

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belizelenny
2/7/2018 11:58 EST

There is one near me at Cerros...definitely do your homework as this home looks like a demo to me.

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mgammo
2/7/2018 14:51 EST

I looks at a video of it, What is the reasoning behind building one. If it is money, I would look into one of those little Mennonite , pre fab wooden ones. They are really inexpensive. I went with cinder block and rebar steel reinforcements. I guess to each his own. I wonder if it would be toasty in there or cool? Would the bags eventually mildew and rot? I just don't know about all that...

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terrific
2/8/2018 02:13 EST

The theories about Earth bag dwellings are that they (if built properly and on prepared land) are weather and hurricane proof. The biggest costs re Labor costs which would make them very attractive to build in a country when labor costs are very low. I have discussed the idea with my builder we both rather like the idea of making a small cottage as an experiment, The idea is the thickness of the walls is a very good insulater. Importantly all the Earth bags need to be covered very well with a Plaster finish on all sides which makes them totally weather proof. Hope to start one when he is between contracts, and I can be there to see it all go up. if it not as good as hoped at least I would have another Storage shed.

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Kenubelizeit
2/8/2018 06:45 EST

If you are looking at costs then may I suggest building a house out of taciste (palmetto) and covering it with white adobe mud similar to ancient Maya but still presently in use.

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terrific
2/8/2018 17:25 EST

It wasn't just the cost I had in mind I mentioned that because it is 90% unskilled labor filling the Earth bags. The other 10% is knowing how to assemble them into a dwelling.
I like the idea of building on my land a completely eco building, I already have solar and rain catchment why not use the earth for a house as well, with a thatched roof from the palms on the land. My builder actually suggested an adobe mud instead of plaster as the outer covering.

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bobbyveee
2/8/2018 18:42 EST

Ive seen great places built out of bales of hay, cement covered they are immensely strong, weather proof and incredibly well insulated, just not sure if you can get bales in Belize

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mrsumo
2/9/2018 00:08 EST

Thank you! I have been doing a lot of research.

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mrsumo
2/9/2018 00:10 EST

Thanks for the advice. I do see these kinds of houses are prominent in places like Thailand and Laos, and other tropical climates. The humidity in those countries is pretty high too. Maybe the ones that failed were due to human error? I am definitely doing my homework on what medium I want to use for my new home. I am planning on retiring in Belize, so whatever I choose, I want it to last a while

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mrsumo
2/9/2018 00:23 EST

Well, I want to build using local resources. The price is always a consideration, but a big part of it is I have always wanted to build my own home with my own hands. I have seen many custom features in these kinds of homes as well.
I wouldn't mind looking at the homes you mention. Do you have a link or anything?

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mrsumo
2/9/2018 01:49 EST

Does anyone know if anyone has built an Earthship in the area? Or used Cob? +

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slickslam
2/9/2018 08:09 EST

Are these the p[refab houses?:
http://www.lindavistabelize.com/

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elgordo42
2/9/2018 09:57 EST

There is a fellow in Cyo named Joge Aldana who has done a lot of exploring with the use of alternative and recycled materials. He is currently casting mixes of cement with rice husks, glass and other"waste."
Belize Interlocking Pavers and Blocks, on FaceBook and www.bzinterlocking.com

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elgordo42
2/10/2018 10:14 EST

Here is the FB link for Jorge's business. I saw him speak at Galen University the other day. He is a fascinating inventor and entrepeneur!
https://www.facebook.com/BelizeInterlocking/

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mgammo
2/10/2018 20:18 EST

That is really neat...

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IreneB
2/14/2018 03:29 EST

There is an earthship house just in front of Lubanntan that has been there for a number of years.

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RoyalPalm
2/15/2018 19:42 EST

The Developement mentioned in Cayo that has two earthbag homes is 'Better in Belize'. You can find many videos from them on you tube.
We are planning on trying earthbag on a cabana next year at our property in the Hummingbird Highway area also.
I found several videos on other builders tryin earthbag down here and some were very well done and informative.
One of the best tips I got from others experience was mixing granular and clay in your bags with powedered lime to aid the drying and preventing any moisture that does make it through you cement stucco from swelling the material.
I believe the baddest challenge will be to keep the building dry until you have completed the stucco application. How much work this will be will depend on where you are building and what time of year you plan on constructing.
Best of luck and if I start mine before you do I will post progress and insights.

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dj0769
3/3/2018 11:44 EST

I started the process of building an earthbag house in Belize. I have all the plans and it was approved by engineer, I have a builder, etc. I haven't built because it was suppose to be built in The Reserve/Sanctuary Belize/Sanctuary Bay, and I was scammed out of my lot and money! BTW, Belize is the perfect place for an earthbag house! If you want more info, just message me.

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JonnyS
4/15/2018 09:17 EST

My wife and I have been living and building in our earthbag house for the past year and a half. It's fine with the humidity you just need a lot of ventilation. The labor we used was just for the erection of the walls and then the rest of the structure we built ourselves. You will definitely want help putting up the walls.
I believe that the house in bullet tree that melted was actually swept away when the river rose too high (but I did not confirm this with the owner, just hearsay).

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Conmurphy
4/15/2018 14:10 EST

Hi, I drove past the mud house in bullet tree for 6 months as it was being finished. By late friend was the guy who finished it.
He wasnt the one who designed it.
The walls were melting before the storm earl flood, the roof overhangs werent deep enough and rainwater was splashing up on the walls. I also believe it wasnt renedered it was just dried mud as stucco.
Any potential buyers should be very careful the person who built their mud house actually knew what they were doing and followed correct procedures.
I suspect that there wasnt enough clay in the mud they were using,
C

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jlydia
4/15/2018 14:31 EST

Kudos to you! These are wonderful solid structures as long as u build them correctly. How did/do u keep it dry when it downpours?
What area are u in? What is the diameter and what is the composition of your soil. did u need a additive?
Are u open to visitors who would lend a hand?
Sincerely, Judi

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JonnyS
4/16/2018 09:19 EST

To keep it dry and we have a typical 2' roof over hang. In some areas more. Hurricane Earl put a dent in our experience as well, as we were mid way through the build. The roof was on but no gutters. So the run off was immediately blown into the structure.
Since then and especially with the rain this past winter there have been no issues. We have plastered with a clay sand mixture but also have a 2' high stone splash barrier that wraps around the house. This ensures that any rain not redirected by the gutters does not penetrate the walls.
Our walls were fill from what was underneath the house. In our case white lime. But any earth will work as long as it is not topsoil.
If anyone builds here in Belize be mindful of how long clay takes to dry. A friend of mine showed me the house in better in Belize and their complaint was that it took forever to dry out. Which leads to mold and fungus. However you can now find borax in Belize so it might be a good work around. Our place has a few trees around it and it dried out fairly quickly. Although we did make the mistake of an earthen floor and that took about 4 months to dry. After a year of it, it proved too humid even with a vapor barrier and 4" of gravel. We tore that up, mixed it with dry cement, wet it, tamped it, and laid down tile. Much better now.
We also have 3 small dehumidifiers in each bedroom and bathroom running day and night. These help a lot in keeping our belonging alive and not stinky. Sadly though I have never seen them for sale in Belize so we brought them down from the states.

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jlydia
4/16/2018 19:44 EST

Thanks for the info. What town are u near? Where did u buy the tube bags? What is the diameter of your dome? How long did it take u to build it and how many guys did u hire to fill the bags and lay them down over barbed wire.
Running 2 dehumidifiers 24/7 is a little expensive?
Thanks for answering my Qs.
Judi

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Conmurphy
4/16/2018 19:51 EST

Solar Dehumidifiers have gotten pretty cheap to buy and are a great alternative to running AC in the tropics

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JonnyS
4/17/2018 08:56 EST

The main house is 28' in diameter with 3 outer rooms at about 9' in diameter. We are outside San Ignacio about 6 miles. We bought the bags in Spanishlookout at Reimers but they were the used bags so they cost less. In total I believe we used around 3000. With me, my wife, and 4 others we put the walls up in a month. From what I remember we averaged 42 bags a team a day. Running the 3 dehumidifiers 24/7 costs literally nothing but that's because we're offgrid running on solar. Their draw is actually minuscule

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