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A Guide to Building Earth Homes

COURSE NO: S10-003
A Guide to Building Earth Homes
Course Highlights

This online engineering PDH course introduces the concept of applying modern principles of soil mechanics to the ancient construction methods of earth home building. This course makes a brief citation of the history of earth homes, summarizes a broad study of current earth home construction methods and introduces recommended best practices for planning and constructing earth homes.


One of the oldest known partially standing earth block structures with walls is the tomb of King Khasekhemwy in Egypt which dates to about 2900 BC. Remains of Syrian "Beehive" houses built of mud blocks have been dated to about 3,700 BC. Currently, earth block homes are still constructed in many parts of the world. While much of earth home construction is done in developing countries, green building accounts for some earth home construction. Application of modern principles and simple testing methods can increase the quality and performance of earth homes and improve the efficiency of their construction.


Research and testing by the Texas A&M Research Foundation, at College Station, TX, was used to quantify and develop simple testing methods to improve quality and efficiency of earth home construction methods.  The research included gathering information of earth home construction from a wide range climates and ages of structures from around the world. The research and improved methods were adopted by the US Peace Corps as their handbook for teaching and constructing earth homes in developing countries.


The techniques and methodologies described in this course document may be useful to improve the efficiency and methods of earth home construction. The significance of the methods of home construction introduced here is that they are some of the oldest known methods of building permanent dwellings and are some of the most cost effective methods of construction of permanent dwellings.


This 10 PDH online course is intended for use by civil, structural or geotechnical engineers, design professionals, construction personnel and others involved in the planning, design and construction of earth homes.

Learning Objectives

This PE continuing education course is intended to provide you with the following specific knowledge and skills:

  • Learning about site selection, site preparation and construction layout
  • Learning about foundation types
  • Learning about footing depth, size and materials
  • Determining footing width and applying mix design for concrete footings
  • Learning about foundation walls and their types (concrete, masonry or stone)
  • Learning about adobe blocks, rammed earth, pressed blocks as well as wattle and daub
  • Learning about the cob method
  • Learning about suitable soil types for earth home construction as well as soil sampling and classification
  • Learning about field tests for determining soil suitability and measuring quality of adobe blocks
  • Learning about soil stabilization and water proofing methods
  • Learning about soil mixing, hand mixing and mechanical mixing
  • Learning about adobe block machines, curing and quality control
  • Learning about building the walls, applying mortar for adobe blocks and incorporating earthquake designs
  • Learning about building forms and installing door and window openings for rammed earth walls
  • Learning about roofs, floors and surface coatings for earth homes
  • Performing cost analysis of plaster, slurries, paint and special chemicals
Course Document
In this professional engineering CEU course you will need to review the course document titled, "A Guide to Building Earth Homes", which is based on the publication titled, "A Handbook for Building Homes from Earth", published by the Peace Corps in September 1981.
To view, print and study the course document, please click on the following link(s):
A Guide to Building Earth Homes (7 MB)
Course Quiz
Once you complete this course review, you will need to take a multiple choice quiz of fifty (50) questions to earn 10 PDH credits. The quiz will be based on this Peace Corps publication.
The minimum passing score is 70%. There is no time limit on the quiz, and you can take it multiple times until you pass at no additional cost.
Certificate of Completion

Upon successful completion of the quiz, print your Certificate of Completion instantly. (Note: if you are paying by check or money order, you will be able to print it after we receive your payment.) For your convenience, we will also email it to you. Please note that you can log in to your account at any time to access and print your Certificate of Completion.

To buy the course and take the quiz, please click on: