The Advantages & Disadvantages of Sod Houses

Sod houses are homes that are constructed of hard, soil blocks cut from the earth. Builders pile sod bricks on other sod bricks. Sod homes were popular with early American pioneers for several reasons, but they had key disadvantages that eventually caused people to switch to other construction materials.

Price

The major reason why sod homes were advantageous for early American settlers is that they were very inexpensive to construct. The cost of a sod home was simply the cost of materials to build it. In many cases, the cost was simply the hard work required to build the sod home.

Strength

Sod bricks are very heavy and solid. Homes made of the bricks are very solid and strong, and they can withstand even very strong storms. They can withstand high heat and freezing temperatures, too. Most settlers' sod homes had walls that were 1m thick.

Insulation

Sod has high insulation properties, holding heat inside the house during winter and helping to protect the home from high heat and sunlight in summer. This insulation helped keep early American settlers comfortable and safe during inclement weather.

Watertightness

Sod homes are relatively watertight because the bricks are sealed with mud. When the mud dries, it is very hard. The homes can leak if a storm is very strong.

Ventilation and Disease

Because sod houses are fairly tight, they do not let it much air. That factor creates an environment in which disease and bacteria can spread easily. Early settlers' sod houses had mud floors, which were impossible to disinfect.

Pests

Pests can enter sod houses, and they could live in the mud floors of early sod homes. Bed bugs and fleas fled to pioneers' sod homes in summer because the structure's interior was cooler than outdoors and in winter because it was warmer than outside. The insects are capable of spreading disease.