Build Your Home With Your Own Two Hands!
I've been bitten by the natural building bug, and I've decided to infec...er, um, share what I'm learning with the rest of the world. I hope to eventually settle into an eco-community and build my own house. In the mean time I'm reading books, surfing the web, and taking classes on the subject.
Right now, this lens covers only three of the many different ways to utilize natural materials when building. As I become more educated on the subject I'll add more techniques and also build individual, more indepth lenses around specific subjects like straw bale, cob, and rammed earth.
So, sit back and enjoy the ride. Please keep all hands and feet inside the car at all...oh heck, get out and run around crazy if ya want! It's ok with me. :)
I'm having flash backs to my old Leggo set...
Straw has been used in wall construction for thousands of years in some areas of the world, but usually in a mixture with clay and sand. Today's straw bales are a product of the industrial revolution, being the packaged waste from modern hay making (ok, no snickering in the back row.)
These large, fairly dense blocks are wonderful insulation in a naturally built home. They reduce the amount of lumber needed while creating thick, well insulated walls. They are great at keeping sound out and temperatures regulated. Straw bales are surprisingly fire resistant, too. They also stand up to high winds very well. So, who's afraid of the Big Bad Wolf? Not strawbalers, that's for sure.
For more info, check out my lens on strawbales: Don't Be Afraid of The Big Bad Wolf. Build with Strawbales!
Hello (insert name here), this is Straw Bale - Just a little introduction
Build Your Library With Strawbale - Er, um, I mean: Do some reading about strawbale
Learn to Stack Straw Like A Pro - Well, at least like a gifted amateur
Attend a workshop with a real live professional strawbale builder.
And I don't mean corn
A traditional building technique from the British Isles (you know those white houses with the thatched roofs? that's cob with a lime plaster), cob is being transformed into something new in the US. Cob is made by combining clay, sand and a binder, such as straw and/or manure (ya, I said manure), with water to make a sticky mud. This mud is then used to build your structure.
Cob is more akin to sculpting with clay than any other technique. It's so versatile that you can make walls, benches, or even ovens out of it. You can add beautiful art elements right onto the walls of your living space and highlight them with a coating of colorful earth plaster. Another popular decoration in owner-made cob houses is to include glass bottles or jars into the walls. They let in light and make a colorful stained glass effect.
For more info on cob, check out my lens Building with Cob.
The Beauty of Mud - Some inspiriing imagery and thoughts
Cobby Books & Videos - Expand your artistic building skills.
Show Some Love - Vote for your favorite natural building technique
What is your favorite natural building technique?
It's my bag, baby. Ya!
The bad Austin Powers imitations aside, earthbag construction is another great way to utilize the ground beneath your feet. Developed originally for temporary military shelters and protection against flood waters, earthbag construction for permanent structures was made popular by Nader Kalili in the 1980s and 90's.
Earthbag involves filling long bags with (you guessed it) earth and stacking them to make the walls of the structure. Because the bags act as the binder, there is less of a need to worry about the clay/sand ratio than there is in other techniques, such as cob or adobe. As the structure is being built, strands of barbed wire are laid down in between each layer of bags to prevent shifting. Earthbag structures tend to be domes, though building a rectangular or square house is possible with a little extra planning.
Earthbag in Nepal - Working towards a better future
Earthbag Education - Crack open a book before you break ground
It's an obsession, I know - Check out what natural building youtube vids I've faved
There's a plethora of natural building vids on youtube. Some are professionally produced, and some are just a random person sharing their passion with the world. Um, that's passion for building, of course. Anything else would loose me the g-rating on this lens, now wouldn't it?
Check out some of my absolute faves on everything from mixing cob to earthbag construction.
Go Ahead, Get Dirty - Just remember to wear your play clothes
There are a surprising number of educational opportunities for those wanting to know more about natural building. There are few established schools, but many eco-communities or homesteads offer courses or internships on a variety of techniques. Also, professional builders will sometimes give classes for those interested in building their own structures.
So, what are ya waiting for? Get out there and get ta buildin'!
- Yestermorrow Design/Build School
Yestermorrow teaches intensive hands-on courses in sustainable design, building, woodworking, and traditional crafts.
- Build It Green
A great resource for finding educational opportunities at traditional colleges. Already a builder? Live in Claifornia? Learn how to become a Certified Green Building Professional.
- Intentional Communities Web Site (ecovillages, community, communes, cohousing, coops, sustainable li
Many intentional eco-communities offer classes, internships, work exchange, or even paid jobs (gasp!) in natural building. IC.org is a fantastic resource for finding these places all over the world.
- Natural Building Network - Welcome
The Natural Building Network is a non-profit organization supporting natural building, while providing inspiration and leadership for a sustainable world. Many listings for workshops are appropriate for the recently initiated...er, I mean, the "new a
A great site, full of links to the websites of naturally built structures, classes, building services and resources, books, and more. The most fun part? They've got a map with little icons for naturally built homes around the world. Check it out to s
- The Ecovillage Training Center of The Farm
I attended at two-month natural building apprenticeship here and liked it so much I found some temporary employment and stuck around for another four months. Not only do you learn about building, but get to live in one of the oldest and most respecte
Got any natural building experience?
Feel free to give me any feedback. I would love to see this lens change and grow organically based on what you want.