Rammed earth houses are an aesthetically pleasing and uniquely sustainable building method using the very Earth as the walls. A mixture of soil, sand, and clay are combined with an aggregate and compacted between forms to create a thick 250mm wall.
When each form is filled, another is added on top until the desired height is met. A sealant is added and the form has to cure before adding windows, roofing, and cosmetics. The process is known as “stabilised rammed earth” and it’s growing in popularity across the world.
Rammed earth houses in Australia are incredibly popular because of their fire resistant and insulation properties.
The goal of this guide is to help you find the best rammed earth manufacturer in Australia for your project.
Rammed Earth Manufacturers in Australia
Stabalised rammed earth construction is environmentally-friendly with a low carbon footprint. Not to mention the fact that these homes are beautiful. Finding the right manufacturer to help you with your rammed earth construction is important.
In the following sections, we want to highlight some of the most popular and well respected rammed earth manufacturers in Australia.
1. Rammed Earth Australia
Rammed Earth Australia has more than 20 years of experience operating in the industry. They pride themselves in providing a quality product paired with industry leading customer service.
The company is located in the Albury-Wodonga region but operates all over Australia. Some project location examples include Thurgoona, Mansfield, Canberra, Newcastle, Melbourne, and Sydney.
One of the best things about building a rammed earth house according to the company is that you can use your own dirt from your property as long as it’s properly tested and free of contaminants.
They’ll help you in the process of hiring a certified tester to make sure your soil is good enough to build a rammed earth home.
You can find their website here to learn more and contact them: https://www.rammedearthaustralia.com.au/index.htm
2. Earth Structures
Earth Structures has been providing unique and exciting rammed earth home construction for over 30 years. They build contemporary homes with incredible thermal and aesthetic benefits that offer the feeling of a majestic home without the price tag.
This company has built many well known properties throughout Australia including:
Earth Structures goes on to say that they have a simple business philosophy. Their philosophy is that they understand that the walls are a very important part of any house.
You can replace almost anything in home construction including the windows, roof, kitchen, and flooring. Something you cannot replace is the walls.
Earth Structures Group is a well recognised and respected leader in the industry and they’re always staying on the cutting edge of the latest and greatest technology.
One last thing we appreciate about this company is their transparency. They provide a lot of information on their website about the process and even include basic pricing information and an explanation of what types of rammed earth features increase the price of your build and how you can do it on a budget.
If you’d like to learn more about Earth Structures Group, check out their website: https://www.earthstructuresgroup.com.au/
3. Olnee Constructions
Inspired by sustainability, modern design, and uniqueness, Olnee Constructions is an Australian company with over 30 years of experience in the rammed earth industry. They deliver the highest quality rammed earth homes from start to finish.
If you’re the kind of person that prefers dealing with a family-run business then you’ll be happy to know that Olnee is owned by a family that was born and raised in the Melbourne suburb of Clayton. This is an Aussie company building homes for Aussies.
The managing director of the company has been in this industry for three decades and he got his start in Western Australia.
His name is Oliver Petrovic and he’s considered a pioneer in the rammed earth industry for the Eastern States. He’s also a founding committee member of the Earth Building Association of Australia.
Why do we tell you this?
It’s important to remember that we don’t do business with companies, we do business with people so having the story and pulling the curtain back a little is a great way to gain some insight into what your experience will be like if you choose to hire this company.
Learn more about Olnee on their website: https://olneerammedearth.com.au/
If you’re interested in rammed earth houses, why not contact the first ever rammed earth home building company in Australia?
Ramtec is the brainchild of Engineer Stephen Dobson. The company was founded in 1975 as the first ever rammed earth builder in Australia and it continues to be the longest running successful rammed earth house builder.
Ramtec specialises in full service design, passive low energy architecture, and solar passive plus sustainable living.
The goal of this company is to build you a home that not only looks incredible, but provides you with a more sustainable way of living at an affordable and competitive price in the marketplace.
Check out their website here: https://ramtec.com.au/
5. Rammed Earth Enterprises
Rammed Earth Enterprises specialises in the building of stabalised rammed earth walls and has been doing so since 1992.
They’ve developed and refined their process over the years so much that they’ve even created their own unique framework that they believe is different from the rest of the competition.
The company believes that for a home to really be a home, you need to be comfortable in it throughout the year no matter what the temperature is. Rammed Earth Enterprises prides themselves in building homes that are well equipped to control extreme temperatures and ensure maximum comfort for residents.
The process of hiring this company starts with a free no-obligation consultation, a quote, and from there, the building begins.
They’re located in Castlemaine VIC and they’re also on various social media platforms so feel free to check them out.
You can also get more information on their website: https://www.rammedearthenterprises.com.au/
6. Aussie Built
Aussie Built designs and builds beautiful rammed earth houses by mixing subsoil, sand, gravel, and clay to build houses that will last forever. This mixture is time tested and approved by expert engineers for both beauty and longevity.
This company approaches their builds from an environment-first perspective. They think the most important aspect of a rammed earth house is how environmentally-friendly it is. They believe their method of building is better for the environment than any other type of masonry product.
Since these homes also have a better thermal rating than any other type of home, it means you’ll save a lot of energy too which is both good for the environment and the budget of the home’s residents.
The company elaborates on their process and breaks it down into a few steps:
- Soil evaluation and stabiliser
- Footings and stem wall
- Setting wall forms
- Tamping the soil
- Bond beam
- Finishing the walls
Check out their website here to get a complete breakdown of these steps: http://www.aussiebuilt.co/rammed-earth
7. Rammed Earth Victoria
“Harnessing life’s essential elements of earth air and water, rammed earth captures the raw yet calming essence of the natural world within its form, with strong, crisp, textured finishes.”
That quote was taken directly from the manufacturer’s homepage because we couldn’t have said it better ourselves. rammed earth is all about using what the Earth has provided to us and refining it in a way that repurposes it and makes it useful for us.
This sustainable building material is used in all types of building including homes, schools, churches, and more. The homes are stronger, more energy efficient, and more fire resistant than other building materials as well.
Rammed Earth Victoria is a family owned company based in Crib Point on the Mornington Peninsula. They pride themselves in hard working principles and ensuring that every project gets done in a timely manner to the customers ultimate satisfaction.
Learn more by checking out their website: http://www.rammedearthvictoria.com.au/
8. Rammed Earth Constructions
This award winning building company has been designing and building rammed earth homes for over 30 years. Much of their work is done in the Southeast area of Queensland so they have specialised knowledge of this region. If you’re looking to get a rammed earth house built in this area, we highly suggest using this company.
That said, they’ve expanded and worked on larger projects in Sydney and NSW as well. They’re also commissioned frequently by builders and architects as consultants on rammed earth construction projects.
Check out their website to see current and past projects: https://www.rammedearthconstructions.com.au/
9. Stabilised Earth
Stabilised Earth Adelaide designs Monolithic rammed earth walls of 300-400mm thick. Their walls combine decades of research with building experience and the latest and greatest technology to help make the designs environmentally-friendly, safe, sturdy, and long lasting.
This company is based in Willunga and has a reputation for getting their work done on time and within the budget.
In comparison to a lot of other companies in this list, they do not provide an end to end service. Instead, they build the walls and another company is responsible for assembling the walls into a complete home.
To learn more about how this works, check out their services page on their website: https://www.aseg.net/services/
Benefits of Rammed Earth Houses
There are a number of advantages to building with rammed earth and some are less obvious than others. In the following sections, we want to highlight all the advantages and break them down into detail so you can really understand why this type of construction has become so popular.
One 250mm block of rammed earth has a four hour fire resistance rating. Most homes made of metal or wood have a one hour fire resistance rating. This means that these homes can only contain the fire for one hour before they start to break down and the fire spreads.
In a rammed earth home, a fire can be contained within the confines of four walls for up to four hours before tearing down the wall and spreading throughout the house.
This is a factor that makes these homes very desirable for Aussies who live in bush settings where brush fires are a reality.
With most rammed earth homes being built with a minimum thickness of 250mm, this provides extreme relief from hot temperatures. This protection offers the ultimate insulation from both hot and cold weather.
The end result is that you feel more comfortable in your home and you also save money and power. This continues to make rammed earth houses more environmentally-friendly as well. It’s also a reason why this style of home is so popular in the Western Australia wineries. They’re able to better maintain a continual temperature free of fluctuations.
Saving energy in this way also makes the potential for off grid living more likely (along with making use of technologies like solar panels, rainwater harvesting, high efficiency hot water, and sensible HVAC).
Rammed earth is weather-resistant, durable, long lasting, and equipped to hold up against extreme temperatures of all kinds.
Various tests have been performed over the years on erosion and weather damage and this method of home building has continued to prove its strength and resistance to almost any sort of inclement weather.
As years go by, the process of building rammed earth houses continues to get more refined and quality control becomes more advanced.
Traditional home building methods require a lot of maintenance and there are a lot of steps involved in the building process.
Once a rammed earth home is built and sealed, it will not need any type of attention for another 15-20 years. Even then, all you’ll need to do is add a second coat of sealer to the exterior walls.
Water repellent additives go in and other finishes can be added but for the most part, they are low maintenance, easy to take care of, and simple to keep clean. Not to mention the fact that you can paint directly over the surface without having to scrape or seal the interior walls any further.
Since the walls of a rammed earth house have such density, it means that noise transmission is going to be much lower.
This feature is useful in noisy areas, in big cities, near busy roads, and in townhouses where walls are shared. The reduced noise provides a more enjoyable and private experience inside the house.
Rammed earth walls also offer insulation between different living spaces. You can have a living room directly outside a sleeping area without having to worry about the noise transmitting into the bedroom.
One of the main things that initially makes people look for rammed earth houses for sale is their design. They’re eye-catching, unique, interesting, and majestic.
These homes are also versatile in their design because the limitations are very low if you have the budget for it. If you can afford to build it, you can design almost anything you want with a rammed earth manufacturer.
Different textures from wall to wall, different colours, unique finishes, wall heights, and curvature are all possible.
Not to mention the fact that these designs can be used to build almost anything. You can use rammed earth for restaurants, schools, apartments, office buildings, and more.
The simplicity of design is another important consideration. There’s no need for structural framing which saves a lot of time, increases the sustainability of the home, and improves the overall fire rating.
Rammed earth alone provides enough bracing to meet and exceed legal requirements compared to stick homes.
Termites wreak havoc on Australian timber homes so rammed earth is a way to avoid this issue. Since there are no openings or cavities in rammed earth, there’s no way for any pests or rodents to get in between the walls.
Last but not least, rammed earth homes are one of the most environmentally friendly and sustainable options out there.
Everything used in the making of the walls is non-toxic and 100% natural so you don’t need to add any toxic substances to the process. There are even options to avoid chemical additives if you want to entirely avoid anything potentially harmful.
This is one major reason why a lot of people are choosing this type of home and they’re especially popular among homesteaders and those looking to live off the grid.
Drawbacks of Rammed Earth Houses
We’ve been preaching about the benefits of these types of homes for a long time now but the goal of this article is to provide an honest opinion on whether or not they’re the right choice for long term sustainability and cost effectiveness.
In the following sections, we’ll outline some of the disadvantages of rammed earth houses in Australia.
According to Rammed Earth Enterprises who we have recommended in this article, the average cost per square metre for a rammed earth home is between $3,500 to $4,000. That is outrageously high in contrast to other home building methods.
The average cost of building a traditional timber home in Australia sits around $2,000 to $2,500 per square metre.
It’s clear that the long-term benefits of building a home like this will help you offset the upfront cost but it may take a long time for you to see that money again.
Challenge to Maintain Temperature
In situations where you see frequent temperature changes, it can be difficult for the internal temperature to keep up with what is happening outside.
While these types of homes may have great thermal mass and they maintain their temperature well, that isn’t always a positive. It means that the house will stay hotter longer indoors and will become more difficult to cool and vice versa.
Limited Construction Options
Since this home design generally limits you to a single story, it restricts the amount of options you’ll ultimately have in your design. The more vertical you build, the more support you need which increases the home’s footprint, creates weak spots, and opens up opportunities for pests and rodents to cause issues.
While your rammed earth house may look ready as soon as it comes out of the form, it can take over a month to cure which means the construction project will be on hold until it’s done curing. This can further rack up costs and should be considered ahead of time.