Sandbag living

Almost eight years ago…..the sandbags are packed.


Once it is plastered you can’t really tell that the walls are made from sandbags, cob and lime. Except when it rains, the earth used to color the lime goes darker which is a nice way of knowing whether it had rained or not that day!


We now use rain water in our house

We use rain water in our house. It is a fairly simple and convenient system; you just open a tap. The trickiest part was deciding where to put the rain water tanks. But that was solved when we realized that water will move uphill.

TOP LEFT: A sieve at the top of the downpipe filters out the larger debris that mainly collect in the gutters. The first flush of water from the roof is diverted away from the water tanks (right-hand side downpipe). This stops the particles (e.g. pollutants from cars’s exhausts) that have been deposited on the roof from going into the water tanks.

TOP RIGHT: The remaining water is led UNDERGROUND via a pipe towards the water tanks (black pipe inside the downpipe). What is great about this is that you can lead the water around corners to a tank that is positioned some distance away.

TOP LEFT: The black water pipe comes into the tank. As long as the final level is below the level of the gutter, the water will move up into the tank. This is pretty neat!!!

TOP RIGHT: The tanks are connected so that the rain water fills them all. This means if your space is smaller you can install a series of mini tanks.


When you open a water tap, the water is pumped via a water filtering system into the house. The pump has a storage mechanism so it only switches on after a 100 liters have been used. Once the water tanks drop below a certain level, we can fill the tanks with municipal water by the flick of a switch. We can store 12 500 liters and have not needed municipal water in the last four months.

A huge thank you to Johan Lombard van Green Overall for installing the system and his great service.  Contact him at 083 468 1456




Gutter solutions to catch every single drop of rain

Strict water regulations are becoming the norm; not the once-in-ten-year drought scenario. Now imagine your mom inviting you for a bath. It is raining and all the tanks are overflowing, and that water is now being wasted. If I have a bath, she says, the tank levels will drop, allowing more rain water in. How does a guilt free bath on a cold, rainy night feel like? Priceless.

So how do we catch our rainwater? Our roof is broken up and at many different levels, so together with the subcontractor who installed our gutters; we brainstormed the most cost-effective and smart way to do this.


A mini-gutter was installed on all four roof windows. The downpipe for this mini-gutter falls onto the roof so that the water automatically flows down to the main gutter. The number of downpipes were minimized by adding a plank to support the gutter to reach across the gap created by the roof window. This plank allows the gutter to stretch the whole length of the roof.


The backside of the plank, fixed to the roof trusses with bolts. This will be painted brown to blend in. IMG_20171011_221603

On the far left of the roof, you can see the gutter’s downpipe allows the water to fall onto the small roof.


For the entire front side of the house (north-facing of course), there is only one downpipe. Far left of the picture. Yet water falling on the entire roof surface is captured.


Here the roof is broken up to allow for the french doors. A little downpipe diverts the water to the main gutter, allowing the water falling on this section of roof to be captured.

In total, we have 4 downpipes for the entire house. We catch water from the entire roof area. Everyone should be doing this. Soon, I predict, the climate is going to leave you with no other choice.

We thank Andre Ritter from Gutter Flow Solutions (071 877 6363) for creating individual solutions for us and doing a superb job all-in-all!

How do you make a hole through a sandbag wall?

We often wondered how we would make a hole through a sandbag wall. You simply power drill a hole through a brick wall but we weren’t sure if that would work for a sandbag wall. So what we did was create holes in the walls as we were building. We placed cut pieces of pvc pipe in-between the sandbags in places we thought we might need access through the wall. These were then plastered closed and when we needed a hole, we would locate the pipe and pop it open by chipping the plaster away. One important thing to do is to mark where the pipe is because you can’t see it once the wall has been plastered.


Above is a photo of a pvc pipe that runs through the sandbag wall. We used it to connect the outside water pump to an inside electric plug. 

The sandbag manual is done!

I wrote a guide to building with sandbags to help those who want to embark on the same journey. The manual covers estimates of costs, municipal plan approval, sandbag building methods including natural lime plastering creating a natural floor.



Above the cover of the sandbag manual

Page 1

Above details covered in the manual 

Floor page

Above an excerpt out of the manual 

Another magazine article – this time over in Australia

For the whole article follow the link:


Our house is featured in the Tuis/Home Magazine

Well what an experience to page through a magazine and it contains an article on your house. This little sandbag construction is famous! The team took such great photos. We want to share 🙂