Homes are expensive. Mortgages, property taxes, upkeep, and the unexpected all take their toll, making it very difficult to go off grid in a traditional home without significant income. What the off-gridder needs is a low cost, DIY method to live in comfort while using the materials that they have on hand.
The aim of this course is to explore traditional, forgotten, or just down-right inventive ways to build with natural materials, with minimal tools, and maximal joy. All it takes is a little knowledge and a bit of good old fashioned hard work to build up a structure from free or low cost natural or salvaged materials you may already have on hand.
Build with Earth — It’s Free!
In the realm of natural building, it is hard to beat earth structures for sheer cost effectiveness and efficiency. Earth buildings are incredibly solid, so much so that they make stick frame building seem flimsy by comparison. In wet climates like the Pacific North West, well built earth buildings excel, with their natural humidity buffering properties. With historic earth structures lasting for hundreds of years, there isn’t a better investment that you could make for yourself or your family.
Earth building techniques include:
- “Cobb” construction with solid earth walls
- Rammed earth
- Adobe — unfired earth brick
- Straw bale — fast and fun
- Light straw clay — great for use with timber frame or pole structures The best part of all of these earth techniques is that the main ingrains are earth/clay, straw, and water. Which means, you may already have everything you need right on your property.
Save on Heating and Cooling With Natural Earth Buildings
Earth structures naturally retain heat in the winter and stay cool in the summer because of their massive nature. Earth walls are typically 1-2 feet thick, and act much like the walls of a cave.
Combined with smart pass solar design principals, this means you can save tremendous time and energy, bypassing the need for active cooling / air conditioning in the summer and potentially significantly reducing the cost of heating in the winter.
Earth buildings lend themselves naturally to the construction of ultra efficient rocket mass heaters, or masonry heaters, directly in the wall with the same material you used to build the rest of the structure. Whether as your main source of heating, or a back up for your automated in floor heating system, built in wood staves make great additions to your natural structure and cost almost nothing to add.
Easy Too Learn & Almost No Tools to Buy
Unlike many typical construction techniques like stick framing, timber framing, or masonry work, natural building with earth is easy to learn. Cobb building in particular is suitable for people of all ages and physical abilities. Even young children can learn to do it, and they often love to help out!
Building things with earth is one of the most natural feeling things to do. But, just because every child seems to gravitate to it instinctively, doesn’t mean you can’t make serious structures out of earth.
And, not only is the building material low cost, but so are the tools. Shovels, buckets, a wheel barrow, some tarps, few small hand tools is all you need to get started. Everything can be had at your local building supply for less than the cost of an expensive power saw.
Learn Skills that Can Last a Lifetime
Learning to build with earth is an investment in yourself. Earthen building is not a perishable skill, rather one that you can pull and use all your life.
Even if you don’t plan on living in an earth house right away, having the skills to build a home with minimal materials and tools may just save your life some day.
Don’t wait. Register for the course right now.