The Ultimate Bug Out Home For Just $250

James Walton
By James Walton March 9, 2017 11:53

The Ultimate Bug Out Home For Just $250

In life and prepping some things just make too much sense. When I first caught wind of the Earthbag I thought of a weak and insubstantial building material that was better used to stop floods temporarily. To consider a structure of any real necessity brought to mind worse visions of some of my earliest building exploits which often ended in me taking a claw hammer to the project as it fell apart from lack of stability.

I would hate to call it conspiracy but there is a lot of money to be made in building structures from plastics, wood and other traditional materials. You will be shocked to find full scale homes built of these plastered and smoothed out Earthbags. Whether they are a comparable building material when we talk about durability and longevity is not proven. Still, as preppers you will find many great uses for this cheap and effective building material.

WHAT IS AN EARTH BAG?

I wish I could offer you a much more exciting description but basically these are small durable bags, very like sandbags, that can be filled with dirt, rocks or sand. Each material has various benefits when it comes to structural integrity and insulation. Dirt will not insulate as well as the small rocks and sand will.

The earth bags are used to build frames that are surprisingly powerful. I encourage you to take a look at the various types of pressure testing, damage testing, water damage and various other tests that these bags and structures have undergone.

Related: Tents That Turn Into Bunkers if You Just Add Water

These Earthbags have been used to build everything form actual homes to beautiful root cellars and even emergency shelters. These homes do not require tensile materials at all. In other words no wood or brick. The structures are highly durable and just absurdly cheap. Most of the models I looked were around $300-500.earthbag-spiral-house-1

The Earthbags are stacked and arched with barbed wire between the layers in many ways to create exactly the design desired. They are then covered with stucco grating and a strong waterproof plaster.

EARTH BAGS FOR THE PREPPER

Fortification

Of course, the very basic use of these Earthbags is for fortification. These would be a great option for stopping flood waters from hurricane or other natural disasters. You could also use these bags in a more tactical and defensive modality.earthbag home5155

The construction of various blockades or walls for gunfire cover would also be a great option for the earthbags. You can protect your home or your community with this bags. This is a very basic use and not nearly as ambitious as it could be.

Related: Spider Hole Tactics to Defend Against Looters

Structure Building

Whether you are looking for a decent root cellar or even a smoke house the Earthbags will be your best option, when it comes to price and durability. The bags can be built into the ground in a number of very interesting designs.

All preppers are on a tight budget and with a little learning and some lifting you can create beautiful structures.

earthbaghome Earth Bag Bunker

The design for this earthquake relief shelter make me think about how it would look underground. Could this be another cheap option to an underground bunker composed entirely of Earthbags? The long-term bunker can be a bit daunting. Not just in construction but also in theory. A family trapped underground for some duration, unable to escape each other is terrifying in and of itself.

With the Earthbags you can create several rooms of custom sizes. With the Earthbags you decide the floor plan as well as overall size. Other options, like shipping containers, are basically limited by the dimensions of the container itself.earthbag sketch

Partially Earthed Shelter

This shelter was built to aid in earthquake recovery. It is a semi permanent option for those who have lost homes due to earthquakes in the third world. The design supports a stove or a fire or both for cooking and warmth. The roof is questionable as it is primarily made of thin poles. The walls would be very durable and would insulate well.

When I look at what’s possible with these Earthbag shelters I am not thinking about the pen ultimate shelter that will survive a shower of meteors and a nuclear blast. No. What I am thinking about is perhaps the best bugout option available.

For most of us we are hindered by budget when it comes to buying bugout land and then building on that land. It’s a long drawn out process that involves tons of savings and maybe even some loans. Let’s imagine, for a moment, that we get our hands on some reasonably priced land and rather than build that dream cabin you put one of these shelters on that land for a bugout home that may cost $250.Earthbag home construction costs 545

Claude Davis here. I would like to start a new prepper project and I don't know which one to start. Maybe you can help me. What would you like to build (DIY) in/under your backyard?

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James Walton
By James Walton March 9, 2017 11:53
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49 Comments

  1. SED March 9, 14:21

    where do you buy these materials at these prices?

    Reply to this comment
  2. Lucy March 9, 14:32

    Interesting! Two questions: Wouldn’t the barbed wire poke holes in the plastic, allowing whatever is in the bags to fall or ooze out over time, with frost heaving and heavy rains? If it’s earth sheltered, what sort of retaining wall and how much backfill sand and/or pea gravel would you use to prevent the earth from moving the walls?

    Reply to this comment
    • Steve C. March 18, 03:30

      Believe me, after they settle in and down that won’t be a problem. For a while, I spent several months building places to live out of “sandbags”. We started with a foundation or wooden 88m.m. Ammo boxes. Built about four feet high. To make two walls. On this we put 10 ft. Pipe halves.then layer about six layers of bags.

      Reply to this comment
  3. Bill C. March 9, 14:55

    where can you get these polypropylene bags.?Trash bags sure won’t cut it.

    Reply to this comment
  4. MMG March 9, 15:45

    Food for thought on alternative materials…and for me the key part of this article is, “Whether they are a comparable building material when we talk about durability and longevity is not proven”. So.. interesting, but with his and other concerns mentioned (barbed wire damaging the bag material, etc.. it one thing to look at component testing its another to look at the structure as a whole. I think I’ll pass until there is completed structural engineering inspection data available.

    Reply to this comment
    • Roro March 9, 19:20

      You can always fill with sand, gravel and portland cement and it will turn into a brick house as moisture gets to it …… and probably a lot cheaper than the one the song waz about……lol

      Reply to this comment
    • jp March 11, 03:34

      not sure I’d want to have one of these around me in earthquake area either – bury yourself in aftershocks. but a tornado shelter might work…

      Reply to this comment
  5. left coast chuck March 9, 15:57

    In the southwestern part of the United States houses were built of mud bricks they were called adobe. Here in my town there is are two adobe buildings both over 100 years old. They have survived earthquakes and heavy rains. adobe is not maintenance free, it needs to be coated with a wash that resists rain but a building that is over 100 years old has a pretty good track record. The basically are adobe buildings that instead of using straw as a binder, use polypropylene bags and barbed wire as a binder.

    Reply to this comment
    • Lucy March 9, 17:19

      Yes, adobe is a durable and wonderful building material — if it’s above ground, properly coated, and in an arid part of the country. The heavy rains we have back east, both because they can liquefy soil and turn it into a runny gel, and because of the increased weight load of the saturated soil on the roof, ain’t gonna work unless some other measures are taken. Like retaining walls with deadmen, seep holes, tiling, some sort of waterproofing membrane, maybe (certainly more than 6 mil), and sand/pea gravel around the perimeter. It would be a waste of time, energy, and money not to build it to withstand the climate. Unless you were building it in an emergency situation, of course! Any port in a storm, then.

      Reply to this comment
      • left coast chuck March 9, 21:24

        I guess you haven’t been following the weather news for the west coast since December 2016. We have had rains to match anything the east coast gets outside of a hurricane. The southwest is famous for rainstorms called gullywashers where rain comes down almost as if it were coming from a firehose. In 1969 we had two storms that were billed as 500 year rain storms. In other words, their intensity was such that a rains storm of that degree would only be expected every 500 years. We had two back to back. Oops there goes that statistic. Both of the adobes that I mentioned in my earlier post survived those storms with less damage than some more modern homes of conventional construction. Adobe may not be the be all, end all, but it is a viable construction material and is cheaper than barbed wire and polypropylene bags.Yes, you need a hot sun with long hours of sunlight in order to properly bake the adobe bricks so that eliminates more northern climes because their summer days just do not get hot enough. You need dry heat, so a humid climate does not work but if you live in SoCal, Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico So. Colorado and some parts of Texas, adobe is a viable building material.

        Reply to this comment
  6. Bgarcher March 9, 17:15

    When i was in Afghanistan, they have homes made of mud brick, 2ft thick walls that were great on insulation, it’s freaking cold over there in the winter months, and can take a major pounding from small arms.

    Reply to this comment
  7. Matthew March 9, 18:54

    I’m also interested in where you get these materials at this price.

    Reply to this comment
  8. slateman March 9, 20:09

    I would be interested in a more how to on this earth house like tips and techniques. Do you bury the first 2 courses of bags to prevent water from coming in also I think the answer to the posed question about the barb wire making holes in the bags and the concern of losing sand I would think the stucco on both the inside as well as the outside would hold it all in the wall

    Reply to this comment
  9. left coast chuck March 9, 21:15

    Early settlers on the plains were called “soddies” because their homes were built of sod. You cut the soil much like when you are buying sod for your new lawn. You stack it up on each other to build walls. You put posts on top for support for the roof sod. If you didn’t do that, you dug into the side of a hill or — preferably — dry creek bed to create a dugout. You and your family lived in that until you got enough money together to buy lumber which came from back east to build a more suitable home. The grass and roots in the sod acted as the binder for the dirt.

    Reply to this comment
  10. 440dodger March 10, 01:44

    My Great Grandparent settled/ homesteaded, in South central Nebraska. They lived in a dugout, excavated, by hand, with a sod front and roof. They lived in it for a couple years, until they could build a barn for the livestock. They farmed with horses, the most important animal on the farm. They moved into the barn for a couple more years, until they could build a house. We can all learn from the way folks lived in the 1800s.

    Reply to this comment
    • Izzy March 10, 03:42

      I love these stories from ancestors. My grandfather would visit a few settlers when he was making his rounds as a deputy marshal in Nebraska. I agree, we can learn much from the settlers of past years.

      Reply to this comment
  11. Lucy March 10, 03:56

    Grandpa grew up in a sod house in Kansas. He said they were dark, buggy, and moldy, and he worked really hard to have an above-ground shelter because of that. Still…in tornado country, those places would have a real advantage, wouldn’t they? Remember Greensburg, Kansas, ten years ago?

    Reply to this comment
    • left coast chuck March 10, 04:10

      My wife and I together with a thousand other bicyclists visited Greensburg Kansas the year before the tornado destroyed the town. It was called Bike Across Kansas and has been going on for over 25 years. It was a lovely small town and we were devastated to learn that it had been destroyed by a tornado. However, unlike New Orleans where many residents of that town sat on their hands and waited “for somebody to help us,” the residents of Greensburg got together and rebuilt their town while FEMA as still trying to decide if there was a problem.

      I am sure sod shelters were all of how your Grandfather described them and worse, but they sure beat sleeping outside during a tornado or a Kansas winter or sleeping in a Conestoga wagon on the open prairie. If the Kiowas were on the rampage, a soddy was certainly a better defensive position than a a Conestoga wagon or a tent.

      Reply to this comment
      • crzy4Jesus March 10, 11:04

        Love your taking time to describe each step for us old school .Some- times people trip over a dollar to save a dime…just sayin

        Reply to this comment
  12. left coast chuck March 10, 04:18

    On another survival web site I just read about a prefab dome building that can be built is less than a week and is insulated and because it is a dome, it is quite sturdy. The company is in Alaska. They were a little coy about cost. You have to call them to get a quote. They don’t have prices on line, so I suspect that the dome costs significantly more than the sandbag home described in this newsletter. It was interesting though how it can be expanded with add-on domes to create a five room dwelling that is insulated and if you have the hookups, can have all the comforts of home. It was being touted as a hunting lodge for hunters (with big bucks) The parenthetical is my editorial. If I hunt, a wall tent with a wood stove is the lap of luxury. Lighting by Coleman. Water by 5-gallon jug. Sanitary facilities by Mr. Pit Toilet. Not related to Brad Pit, totally different branch of the family.

    Reply to this comment
    • crzy4Jesus March 10, 11:07

      I appreciate your humor! Where di I get a Mr. Pit toilet?

      Reply to this comment
      • left coast chuck March 11, 00:08

        In the Marine Corps we called them straddle trenches. I think that says it all. If you want the deluxe model, find two heavy duty forked branches and another more or less straight heavy duty log. How heavy duty you ask? Well, heavy duty enough to support the heaviest person in camp. Hammer the forked pieces in on each side of the trench and place the straight piece in the forks: Voila! A Mr. Pit toilet.

        Reply to this comment
        • Izzy March 11, 00:49

          In the Army we called them benji (hot benjo) ditches. Some called them squat pots. Those were the days.

          Reply to this comment
    • merrily13 March 21, 12:01

      Could you list the link to this? Thanks!

      Reply to this comment
  13. Screech March 10, 14:05

    Uline has sandbags 14″x26″ bundle of a 100 for $39.00. Still not $90 for how many you would need. One bundle is good for 10’Wx10’Dx2’H

    Reply to this comment
  14. SED March 11, 16:46

    Seems like tar might be a good replacement for the barbed wire.

    I find it interesting to read these stories… my great grand parents homesteaded in cozad ne and were friends with buffalo bill.

    Reply to this comment
  15. rt66paul March 24, 20:45

    After these bags are in place, you can use a concrete mix with a rototiller for the dirt floor and then level it like cement. I saw a video of someone using colored paper sheets on top of the floor with a sprayon finish of some type that made the floor just pop. The outside of the bags can be covered with chicken wire and stuccoed(water resistant and very hard). The inside can be plastered, or just adobed with a little concrete as a binder. The roof should shed water and uverhand enough so that water doesn’t back up around the walls. Using sod on top will allow things to grow on the roof and it will camoflauge better. Standard sixe doors and windows can be fitted, if you make on side much taller than the other a shed typr roof(one tilted plane can be used(no leaks) and a window or glassblock or even bottles can be placed in the wal for light from the outside.

    Reply to this comment
  16. anonymous March 30, 12:09

    I wonder if this design could be used with this alternate construction idea. Instead of plastering exterior for UV protection, would it be a better idea to slip an above ground pool over the tops of the bags, and using a center pole to create slope for run off ? Those pools are pretty tough, and their cost at the end of the summer season is not bad, less than $500 for a 16 foot diameter for example. The bags in this case would be for wall insulation.

    Reply to this comment
  17. gabby April 9, 02:21

    cant wait to read your posts

    Reply to this comment
  18. check it out May 18, 10:56

    I’d like to find out more? I’d love to find out more details.

    Reply to this comment
  19. Wannabe May 30, 12:21

    These prices are way off

    Reply to this comment
  20. Cowboss May 31, 14:16

    I’ve been in the construction business for 38 years in the Pacific Northwest. “Road Base” which I assume is state spec 3/4 minus gravel is currently around $22.50 per ton, with a cubic yard composing 1 1/4 tons. Delivery local runs $50 to $100 per 10-12 tard load. Double that for a haul of 50-75 miles. Assuming you can put material on site for $1.12 per yard is the result of smoking crooked cigarettes!!!

    Reply to this comment
  21. Bob Boskey July 21, 16:20

    I have read comments from straw built homes that when all is done: windows, doors, conduit, plumbing, etc., homes of straw, earth bag, and so on are almost as expensive as stick built.

    Reply to this comment
  22. Time August 15, 20:57

    The barbed wire is very effective, and no the dirt will not spill out. The earthbags are filled with moist roadbase or similar soil (no organic material), then each layer is thoroughly tamped down to pack it hard. Once the dirt has finished drying it will be very hard and the bags really aren’t doing anything at that point. Built properly it is a sturdy as concrete wall. Rammed earth is one of the oldest and most durable building materials on the planet, and just needs a little protection from the rain to literally last for thousands of years. The barbed wire keeps the layers from sliding, but you can pin rebar through the bags for extra strength. Even better is to use mesh bags or tubing (about 1/8 inch holes) that allows the soil of one layer to connect with the layer below, and no wire is required. (It is called hyperadobe.)

    Reply to this comment
  23. Victor November 2, 01:04

    This is so cool seeing people interested in gaining knowledge and taking action on how to make it if things go really bad. These look nice, cheap and practical in a bugout situation.
    My favorite type are still the container homes, so many possibilities. I will be studying this to design my own: https://rebrand.ly/buildconthome

    Reply to this comment
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