Rapidobe - a cheap way to build walls, retaining walls, benches and shelves

Picture of Rapidobe - a cheap way to build walls, retaining walls, benches and shelves
Rapidobe is a form of construction of our own devising. The idea comes from the simplicity of earthbags, but made faster, cheaper and easier. You can use any dirt, even if it has rocks in it, making it a great option for almost any terrain.
This method can be used for walls, for holding back dirt in an underground construction or retaining wall, even for benches and shelves.

For more detailed instructions, click here.
For more information about our other how-tos, visit our site www.velacreations.com
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Step 1: Foundation

Picture of Foundation
For a foundation, dig a trench and fill with gravel or rubble. Its width needs to be wider by a few inches on either side than your wall will be. The fact that you do not need a concrete foundation is one of the reasons that makes this method so cheap.

Step 2: Posts

Picture of Posts
Place posts every two or three feet on either side of your wall. You want the posts of one side of the wall to be directly opposite the posts on the other side of the wall. Make sure the posts are not leaning outwards. They can however lean in towards each other a little.

We have used metal pipes as posts as well as Juniper limbs. The advantage with the metal is that you can hammer them into the ground quickly. Tree limbs are much cheaper (in our case free), but you have to dig a hole for them. With short retaining walls that are only a couple of feet tall, you can use rebar - cheap and easy to pound into the ground.

Step 3: Bond Beam

Picture of Bond Beam
Tie a C-purlin or suitable bondbeam material to the outside line of posts [the first time we did this, we put the bond beam on the inside of the posts, and learned that the outside would have been better]. Tie it at each post.  You can also use a self-tapping metal screw at each post to hold everything in place. It needs to be just above the top of the posts. Make sure that it is level.

The rafters of your roof will be attached to this bond beam.
travelfeet1 year ago

Shouldn't the exterior plaster be more water/vapor permeable than the interior to prevent trapping moisture inside (if this method is used for a building)? The concrete stucco is more waterproof than gypsum plaster (not sure if this is still true though when its painted).

velacreations (author)  travelfeet1 year ago
it depends on the climate, but the vinyl is by far more effective vapor barrier than either concrete or gypsum. Having said that, we have not had any moisture issues.
What about on the bottom edge should there be extra as that is a weak point
huskerland32 years ago
Love this
whait862 years ago
This is just like how we build HESCO barriers in AFG/IRQ i never thought to bring the idea home, in a civilian manner! NICE!
I was gonna say the same thing. they are extremely similar. I hate those stupid things with a passion. at least the putting them up and filling them part. I think hesco's would take less time to stand than this though, but i like the idea to bring it home
petrox52 years ago
For those building in the southwest U.S. sun, poly-pro bags last only about a month, maybe two before the U.V. meanies get the better of them. Slip a coat of clay on them before they deteriorate. Nice instructable.
Broom petrox52 years ago
Really a brilliant idea - if there's no rain expected, mere clay can hold off the UV.
velacreations (author)  Broom2 years ago
alternatively, use a billboard tarp, they last a long time in the sun. Just cover your bags with it.
velacreations (author)  petrox52 years ago
this is not poly bags. This is billboard vinyl, which lasts a lot longer in the sun. We do cover this with a stucco once completed, but billboard vinyl will last 6+months in the sun.
nagutron2 years ago
This looks great. Are there building codes for this sort of thing as well, or is this strictly for building in an un-permitted manner?