How to Make Low-Cost Building Blocks: Stabilized Soil Block Technology

How to Make Low-Cost Building Blocks: Stabilized Soil Block Technology

How to Make Low-Cost Building Blocks: Stabilized Soil Block TechnologyAuthor(s): Malcolm Davis

Publisher: Practical Action (December 1993)

Paperback: 36 pages

ISBN-10: 1853390860

ISBN-13: 978-1853390869

Order From:
(links will open in a new window)

With the right soil, correctly prepared and compressed, it is possible to halve the amount of cement used for block-making. This manual shows how to make and use strong blocks from soil, from the initial planning to the end product.

Soil testing instruction basic description for making Cinva Ram bricks, 36 pages, simple instructions, written for third world or non-English speaking readers, covers soil testing for clay, how to mix and prepare soils, well illustrated, softcover.

Adobe Construction Methods Using Adobe Brick or Rammed Earth (Monolithic Construction) for Homes

Author(s): LW Neubauer

Publisher: UC California Agricultural Sciences Dept ,1964

Order From:
(links will open in a new window)

35 page booklet

A very thorough primer for Adobe! Explains how to make and build with adobe bricks. Soil selection, stabilization and waterproofing with cement, emulsified asphalt, lime are detailed.

Describes how to build and mortar walls, place lintels, windows, doors, and build roofs. Shows diagrams of construction details from foundation to roof, with correct measurements given. Covers finishing, painting, limewashing, fireplaces and chimneys,. Even describes other tamped earth methods such as English Cob, rammed earth, poured adobe; with photos and diagrams of formworks used. Black and white photos throughout, produced by UC California Agricultural Sciences Dept ,1964.

Rammed earth walls for buildings

Rammed earth walls for buildings

Rammed earth walls for buildings
Author: Morris Cotgrave Betts

Author(s): USDA Farmers’ Bulletin

Publisher: USDA

Order From:

(links will open in a new window)


Rammed Earth Walls for Buildings- 1926 :Farmers’ Bulletin #1500, USDA, 26 page 5″x7″

This is the great 1926 edition with photos, drawings and complete low tech construction information on rammed earth. The US Government produced this booklet as part of a series, to show farmers and poor rural folks how to build a house from earth (pise’ de terre). Praises rammed earth over cob for ease of construction. The building information, tools and formworks description needed for manual wall building are ideal for anyone wanting to learn this method. 26 pages, xerographic, b&w photos of houses and tools, formworks, plus sketches throughout. A very thorough little guide!

Booklet is B&W only.

Rammed Earth Walls for Farm Buildings-1933

Rammed Earth Walls for Farm Buildings-1933

Rammed Earth Walls for Farm Buildings-1933Author: Ralph L. Patty

Publisher: South Dakota State College

Unknown Binding: 67 pages


Order From:

(links will open in a new window)


Rammed Earth Walls for Farm Buildings-1933, Bulletin 277 South Dakota State College. 67 pages, xerographic.

This book extensively explores the soils and methods used for successful RE construction.

Covers many plaster and finishing tests, with recommendations for lime, asphalt, cement “cream” and linseed oil. Provides charts on aggregates % in soil for best compression, and other useful construction information from footings to roof. The Ag. Dept. built an experimental poultry house and recorded all experiments thoroughly to inform others on successful RE building. This booklet refers to #2012 Rammed Earth Walls, shown on the Adobe page, and to Ellington’s “Modern Pise Buildings” from 1923. The photos are very grainy due to document age, but the text information is most valuable for anyone wanting to avoid problems during manual rammed earth building. 67 pages, booklet, xerographic, b/w photos and drawings.


Rammed Earth Structures: A Code of Practice

Rammed Earth Structures: A Code of Practice

Rammed Earth Structures: A Code of PracticeAuthor(s): Julian Keable

Publisher: Intermediate Technology

ISBN: 1853393509

Order From:
(links will open in a new window)

Rammed Earth Structures : A Code of Practice Paperback Publication date: May 1996

Written by Julian Keable.

The book gets right to the “how to” of testing earth for construction of rammed earth (pise’) houses or walls. Well written, and good for beginners interested in all type os earth construciton, including cob and adobe, Details low tech and non-mechanical methodss for DIY builders; no expensive pneumatic tampers are used. Covers rising damp, protecting walls from water, soils, and many soil tests, site selection, winds, formworks, guides for design of forms, addresses termite prevention (less a problem in the US than in Aftica) and shows how to make a layered earthen floor with simple tools.

Simple, easy to follow with good drawings and instruction. Printed in the UK, Some Color pages, color cover, with B&W photos. 128 pages, 8.5 x 11.

Ramming earth has been a method of construction for centuries in various parts of the world. This technique can produce buildings that are strong, durable safe and desirable, and because earth is an abundant and cheap resources, rammed earth buildings are often very economical. To achieve the best results the right techniques for selection and testing of soils must be used to protect walls from water damage and shrinkage. This book aims to show how high standards can be achieved and the criteria on which rammed earth structures and building techniques can be judged.

Building with Earth: A Handbook

Building with Earth: A Handbook

Building with Earth: A HandbookAuthor(s): John Norton

Publisher: Stylus Pub Llc

ISBN: 1853393371

Order From
(links will open in a new window)


2nd Edition Paperback
Publication date: October 1997

This handbook provides practical help in choosing whether and how to build with earth, from soil selection through to construction and maintenance. The techniques described in the second edition–revised and updated–of this book have a focus on achieving good quality results with accessible methods, that can go on being used by rich and poor, and for simple buildings as well as the more sophisticated.

Table of Contents
How this Handbook Might Help You
General Considerations
What Earth Is
Strength and Weakness
Climatic Performance and Comfort
Earthquake Resistance
Choosing Whether and How to Build with Earth
Choosing a Suitable Soil
Soil Composition
Particle Characteristics
Expansive Soils
Soil Analysis
Initial Sensory Observation
Field Tests
Field Laboratory Tests
How to Determine and Improve Quality
Visual Assessment
Compressive Strength
Bending Strength or Modulus of Rupture
Resistance to Water Erosion
Moisture Absorption
Soil Improvement
Wall Construction
Combination Walls
Load-Bearing Walls
Self-supporting Earth Vaults Build on Shuttering
Vault and Domes Without Formwork
Flat and Pitched Roofs
Short Span Earth Components Between Support Beams
Reinforced Earth Roofs
Foundations and Floors
Preliminary Considerations
Caring for Your Building
Openings, Joinery, Finishes and Furniture
Electricity and Plumbing
References and Notes

The Rammed Earth House: Rediscovering the Most Ancient Building Material

The Rammed Earth House: Rediscovering the Most Ancient Building Material

The Rammed Earth House: Rediscovering the Most Ancient Building Material Author(s): David Easton

Publisher: Chelsea Green Pub

Paperback: 306 pages

ISBN: 0930031792

ISBN-13: 978-0930031794

Order From
(links will open in a new window)


How-To Editor’s Recommended Book, 10/01/96:
The beauty and grace of rammed earth construction is described in fascinating detail by David Easton. The photographs of different structures, both modern and ancient, by Cynthia Wright, create a breathtaking glimpse into a building technique that is as old as human history, but exactly suitable for today’s resource-conscious and environmentally friendly building needs. Trees may be getting a bit scarce these days, but there’s no current shortage of dirt, the main component of rammed earth homes. From such a prosaic material, gold has been spun in these timeless, graceful, and nearly indestructible homes and buildings. Card catalog description The Rammed Earth House is an eye-opening example of how the most dramatic innovations in home design and construction frequently have their origins in the distant past. By rediscovering the most ancient of all building materials – earth – forward thinking home builders can now create structures that set new standards for beauty, durability, and efficient use of natural resources. Rammed earth construction is a step forward into a sustainable future, when homes will combine pleasing aesthetics and intense practicality with a powerful sense of place. Rammed earth homes are built entirely on-site, using basic elements – earth, water, and a little cement. The solid masonry walls permit design flexibility while providing year-round comfort and minimal use of energy. The builder and resident of a rammed earth house will experience the deep satisfaction of creating permanence in a world dominated by the disposable.

Customer Comments , 02/24/97, rating=8:
Excellent, lacks some detail on construction. In Venezuela, South America, there is some interest in reviving an old method of construction, called tapial in spanish (rammed earth). Many old building remain in South America from the time of the spaniards. The book illustrates how a modern engineer, David Easton, in California, has taken over the problem of building with rammed earth in country where there is very little tradition, hence know how, on building with rammed earth. The book lacks detail on the rammed earth system employed by the authors. More drawings and pictures would be very useful to translate modern technology to underdevelopped countries. Best regards, Miguel A. Megias, Professor of Engineering Universidad de Carabobo Valencia, Venezuela e-mail

Table of Contents
Ch. 1. The Evolution of Earthbuilding
Ch. 2. The Point of Beginning
Ch. 3. The Architectural Plan
Ch. 4. In Preparation for Building
Ch. 5. Foundations
Ch. 6. The Essential Soil
Ch. 7. The Art of Formbuilding
Ch. 8. Soil Preparation and Compaction
Ch. 9. Doors, Windows, Niches, and Nooks
Ch. 10. Bond Beams and Other Connections
Ch. 11. After the Wall
Ch. 12. The House in the Garden
Builders’ Resources: A. A Photographic Step-by-Step
Builders’ Resources: B. A Sample Home Design Program
Builders’ Resources: C. How to Identify Soils
Builders’ Resources: D. Restoring the Chew Kee Store
Builders’ Resources: E. Structural Engineering Design

The Natural House

Author(s): Dan Chiras

ISBN: 0890132578

Order From: Amazon
(links will open in a new window)

Gracious, comfortable and ecologically-benign homes are being built all across America. You may be intrigued by solar techniques and natural materials, yet lack an overview introducing the basic choices now available, along with the pros and cons of various building options. The Natural House addresses that interest with style and substance.

This exciting new book, written by a veteran author who himself lives in a straw-bale and rammed-tire home, takes the reader on a tour of fourteen natural building methods, including straw bale, rammed earth, cordwood, adobe, earthbags, papercrete, Earthships and more. You’ll learn how these homes are built, how much they cost, and the pros and cons of each. A resource guide at the end of every chapter offers a wealth of information.

This comprehensive sourcebook offers in-depth information that will guide your search for the perfect sustainable dream home. It’s a must for builders, contractors, architects and do-it-yourselfers.

With a writing style that is clear, understandable, at times humorous, and fun to read, the author shows how we can gain energy independence and dramatically reduce our environmental impact through passive heating and cooling techniques, solar electricity, wind power and micro-hydropower. Chiras also explains safe, economical ways of acquiring clean drinking water and treating wastewater, and discusses affordable green building products.

While Chiras is a strong advocate of natural building, he takes care not to romanticize natural building techniques. He alerts readers to avoidable pitfalls, offering detailed practical advice that could save you tens of thousands of dollars, whether you’re buying a natural home, building one yourself or renovating an existing structure or considering hiring a contractor to build for you.

468 pages, 2000