Georgia Adobe Homes™ are constructed from insulated Rammed Earth, permanent form materials, and recycled materials can be built in any country in the world they make their own electricity, collect potable water, contain their sewage treated onsite, employ greywater recycling, make fuel, incorporate in home food production.

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The Hakka Earth tower, the 300 year old unique chinese residential building in Fujian province.

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Col. Joe Woodall, Esq., Ecoitect™, A.S.E.™

Many have heard about Earthen Construction and 3 main types of this construction are normally what we get questions about. Below is a description of the 3 main types, Cob, Adobe And Rammed Earth  There are many alternatives in construction and some,  are much better than others.

Cob  made with materials sometimes available from the property that one builds upon is often described as a hobbyist’s process, as both common soils, varying amounts of sand and some clay are mixed together to form a mud. Sometimes silts or other variable contents including Portland cement is added to the mix in less than laboratory conditions, plus always some wheatstraw is added, then hand mixed into small batches of Cob, ( or sometimes this is all foot mixed ) , but it’s all made very wet, hopefully with clean water, for the ease of the mixing and then shoveled or hand lifted , onto a wall section with a slight hand tamp forming added ( perhaps with a big stick) to control shapes. No actual compaction is possible, due to the mix being very wet ( this is called the slump ) .

It must be further air dried, for between 30 days (in arid conditions), to upwards of 365 days in many places ( or sometimes longer ),  all of which depending upon the walls thickness and other factors too, before it is actually safe to rely upon and useful as a load bearing material. The sticky, very wet mud, and thereby high moisture content used with Cob, can make for a much slower overall building process, with very uncertain final results, due to the variable conditions and many home spun ad-mixes used, so this all keeps the process from ever becoming an approved and codified method, of construction. After fully drying, foam insulation can be added to the structure outside, if properly safeguarded from fire dangers and this will keep thermal mass and it‘s energy inside for use and not so easily lost but one looses the natural effect of the Cob outside..  

Adobe Bricks  Normally 4 inches by 10 to 12 inches in finished size, with all the materials required are sometimes all available from the property that one builds upon and Adobe Brick Construction is actually listed in the International Building Code ( IBC) as an approved method of construction, with a traditional mix of, specifically graduated sand sizes ( at 70% content ), and 30% of the total volume of Clay, mixed into the sand fully and with some form of stratified and well intermixed and finely chopped wheat straw {or even with the use of modern Fiberglas concrete fiber} and potable water making a wet mix that is easily placed into a brick form.  Sometimes mix-moisture stabilization is required and is attained from a 5% replacement of an equal portion of the above noted clay, and a Portland cement is a common replacement due to its common availability, (or perhaps with 10% of hydrated lime, or also with perhaps with other products, such as asphalt, bitumen, etc), but this may not be needed , on some projects.

The creation process of an Adobe Brick, is at the least a 30 day process, to allow for a full drying of the brick, while during this process a complete turning over of the brick is needed to ensure a full dryness throughout, and prior to any construction use. Then after transporting these bricks to the building site for a Masons laying to wall goes up at about 6+ courses a day, or after full mortar drying, in more arid conditions. Mortar mud for the Adobe Brick construction, can be the same ingredients, as the Brick mixture was made from and more thickly laid than vainer bricks are on modern building sites thereby allowing less skilled labors to lay bricks and work out levelness between courses.  Lastly, Insulation can be added internally or externally ( if shielded against fire )  to allow conservation of energy and to maximize thermal masses energy for the structure. Wall height and window sizes can be greater with Adobe Brick than with Cob, including the construction of multistory structures with Adobe Brick is possible. 



Rammed Earth  (R/E) when constructed in a properly sized and thick wall, is the best of all the above methodologies, as it too is a natural building materials process with materials sometimes taken from the property one builds upon, but it has truly instantly finished results, when built right and thereby the construction project overall, becomes safer and much more rapid than the above methods. This is a solid wall when compacted even for a building novice,  as it becomes a “manmade stone“. The technique of proper mixing , placement into forms, and construction, can be taught to most adult unskilled laypersons, and even to children and when from all educational backgrounds, the Rammed Earth wall has basically the same ending results, all across most  of the tested individuals, educational backgrounds.

Rammed Earth has the 2  same ingredients as an Adobe Brick 70% Sand 30% Clay, , but it has no fibers required internally to the mix, as this is mixed mostly dry ( to slightly moist ) then just shoveled or hand placed into a form and then fully compacted, either by heavy hand tools called tamps or machine driven tamps, into the form.   After construction of the wall , (all the way to the top of a form ) that section is considered finished. Wall height and window sizes can be greater with Rammed Earth than either of the above methods, including with Rammed Earth the easier construction of multistory structures is possible. 

In traditional R/E Construction, the forms can often be removed for the builders reuse, upon the next construction section, and the newly revealed walls,  are considered completed then, since the wall is dry, fully stabilized from its compaction, and the proper mixes and thickness. Lastly, Insulation can be added internally or externally ( if shielded against fire )   to allow conservation of energy and to maximize thermal masses energy for the structure. Unlike Adobe construction, where the creation and building  process time is long, with R/E one just mixes, compacts, and moves on to the next wall at almost lightning speeds in comparison to all the above methods. 

While R/E is not listed in the actual IBC as an approved process,  the materials being specific to those in the IBC , that Adobe Bricks are made from, and with the stone like results being so rapid, this method is preferred by most educated building officials and it’s often more easily permitted as a “alternative method of construction “ than Cob. Additionally, test cylinders can be quickly and easily site fabricated,  with laboratory like results, during most of the building process and tested easily by inspectors, as it is a finished product in minutes.  Just Getting Started ?





RAMMED EARTH WALLS AND FENCES
YES, using our Rammed Earth mixes, for walls of all kinds , from beautiful homes to beautiful property entrance walls and border fencing too, is quite possible and Georgia Adobe™ will be glad to assist you and design and build your walls locally and or Remodel a Home or Build A New Home. The sheer beauty alone Of Rammed Earth amazes most people when they can see what comes from materials the land provides, in the way of wall and flooring materials. 


For location {away from our driving range} we normally are able to find the laborers to assemble most any size project and much training of laborers can be on done the job site, to ensure your project goes well. Thus, in your town or even in another country. Georgia Adobe can always come to most locations, as consultants, or as the builders of our Rammed Earth Homes and walls, providing the project will allow such assistance. 


Local codes vary so a local licensed contractor or other professional may be required in some places, which should be discovered before any construction starts. We can also work from the internet, to help you tackle your DIY project.  No matter the size of your project, Georgia Adobe is glad to assist, as you need it, often saving our clients many times the cost associated with our fees, travel expenses and the moving of men and equipment. Be sure and ask us about coming to your project when you contact us !

Many of our friends know of our desire to build a Southern National Border Wall, all from Rammed Earth.  So Yes, Rammed Earth works quite well, for most all walls, from single family housing to multi story buildings and fencing too, but several steps must be taken in addition, to the wall or fence itself, for complete safety of the project and this is also certainly true, for most other retaining wall work. 


For Example, some of those additions are: 


Horizontal supports, which must be laid into the banks sometimes with straighter walls  over 3 feet tall, but often, but this is just not required for the free standing curvilinear walls, as they maybe thicker or have other engineering ( plus the benefit of being curved ) inside of them which strengthens the wall sections greatly. Some measure of proper moisture protection, with a footer and a top bond beam, is also normally needed for all walls and changes in the shape, from rectilinear to curvilinear is very wise too.


Here below is an example of "The Hakka Earth Tower Apartment Building", a 300 year old ~ unique Chinese residential building in Fujian Province", which shows that even when not very fancy, these buildings last and last !


If curvilinear is not desired, sometimes an elongated "Z" pattern is the next best choice even for fences and, with straight walls being the very last choice for strength, due to the great increases of wall's width that becomes needed to be just a straight wall, in order to maintain correct strength. Always a moisture barrier must be added to and/or a sealer added, (often on a 1-5 year basis), over all exposed Earth Work surfaces, is of paramount importance as well as building with proper mixes and methods.

As we discover more photos we can display, we will post them here below. 

Learn more in person, by Georgia Adobe™  to further help you with your projects.
Joe Woodall
Georgia Adobe Homes™ 
706-363-6453