Kendenup earth home complete

By David Kavanagh | posted on November 8, 2019

FOR Kendenup couple Kate and Scott Ryan-Taylor, beating the mortgage trap came down to a few thousand bags of dirt.

The pair recently finished building Australia’s first Shire-approved Earthbag dome home, a unique construction they say is as economic as it is environmentally sustainable.

The Weekender spoke with Mrs Ryan-Taylor following an open day showcasing the finished build on Sunday.

“For us it had two different appeals: cost and environmental,” she said.

“The overall price came to $41,600, which includes the construction, permits, rain tanks and other elements.

“We’re now mostly off-grid and semi self-sufficient.. We’ve got a solar system and rain tanks for water, and I’m even hooked up to the NBN.”

While the couple will still need to pay the mortgage on their property, Mrs Ryan-Taylor said it was “a hell of a lot less” than the mortgage on a house and could be paid off with five years of hard work.

She added the idea to use Earthbags or compacted “bags filled with rammed earth” first came to the couple around four years ago.

It took a total two years to get the necessary building permits and another 18 months to construct the home with the help of volunteers from Australia and abroad.

“We did run workshops for people to learn about it but the two of us did 95 per cent of the build ourselves,” Mrs Ryan-Taylor said.

“[Using volunteers] was not necessarily something that sped up the build, it was more of a pay it forward. Some of the volunteers have gone on to work on their own projects.”

The 88 square metre Earthbag home is located around 15 minutes out of Mount Barker and is comprised of various domes, with the highest reaching 6.3 metres.

Its interior is well lit with natural light and contains a bedroom, guestroom, kitchen and pantry that could fit its own “king-size bed and desk” with room to spare.

The home is also resistant to fire and earthquakes due to the materials and methods used in its construction.

Mrs Ryan-Taylor said the next step was to add some vegetable gardens, a backyard patio and to paint the structure in a terracotta colour.

“It’s been quite tiring setting it up but it’s worth it in the end,” she said.

“It does look ugly as you build it but I reckon it looks absolutely gorgeous now.”