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Posts Tagged ‘natural home’

Homes built with natural materials are beautiful and less expensive than homes built with concrete, steel and milled lumber.

Homes built with natural materials are beautiful and less expensive than homes built with concrete, steel and milled lumber.


The way to save the most money on your new home is to build it yourself. Anyone who has priced new houses or gotten bids for remodeling knows how expensive contractors are. If you build with conventional modern materials, houses tend to be quite complex and beyond the scope of DIYers, so most people end up paying contractors to build their home. Building with natural materials provides a way out of this debt trap. People have been building their own homes with earth, stone, wood poles, bamboo and other natural materials throughout human history. Anyone can do this if they really set their mind to it and move to an area with minimal building codes. In the past, building everything by hand was very arduous. Things are much easier now thanks to ready availability of good tools, machines (low cost if rented), and books and articles that explain the process.

Here are just a few ways to save tens of thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours of hard work.
• You can save an enormous amount of time and effort over traditional methods by having soil, sand and gravel delivered right where you need them. This one step could save you 100 hours of hard labor.
• Buy bags for earthbag building instead of building time consuming wooden forms for rammed earth.
• Buy poles from a woodsman if you’re too busy, or harvest them yourself from a local forest. Either way is far less expensive than milled lumber that has been shipped 1,000 miles and marked up in price by numerous middlemen.
• Build tamped earth floors or another type of earth floor and save a bundle on materials. Tamped earth floors are dirt cheap because you don’t need beams, joists, special hardware, sheathing, glue, nails and so on.
• Earth plaster is another way to cut costs. People have been plastering their own homes for thousands of years, so obviously there’s no need to hire contractors for this. Earth plaster creates a superior wall finish on the interior and is suitable for exterior walls with wide roof overhangs.

Image source: Caribbean Living Blog
(excellent blog that I just discovered!)

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Natural home slideshow from NaturalHomes.org (click to enlarge)

Natural home slideshow from NaturalHomes.org (click to enlarge)


From NaturalHomes.org:
This is pattern No.74, ‘Animals’. Create a piece of protected common land where animals are free to graze with grass and trees and water. There is balance to this pattern worth considering for both the individual and the community. These are Danish geese at ‘Land of Legends’, a partly inhabited model Iron Age village built in 1964, where they do research in to things such as open fire air quality, plant ecology and traditional crafts.

‘A Pattern Language’, by Christopher Alexander, is my all time favourite book on architecture. It’s difficult to explain what it’s about so I’m going to do it with pictures. A pattern language is a collection of 253 things that make your living environment a pleasure. It’s going to take time but I hope you will enjoy the journey with me. I will keep the pictures from different natural homes around the world in pattern numerical order. You can put the collection in your blog if you like. It’s available here: http://naturalhomes.org/show/pattern/getslide.htm

Source: A Pattern Language of Natural Homes
NaturalHomes.org home page

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Gary Zuker sized and polished reclaimed granite for his kitchen countertop in his cob house near Austin, Texas.

Gary Zuker sized and polished reclaimed granite for his kitchen countertop in his cob house near Austin, Texas.


Zafra, one of our readers, left a comment today that said, “I would argue that government itself is not the problem, but corporate control of government is. As a rule, if you see government interfering in progressive movements it’s to protect the corporations and industries (banks, insurance, timber, chemical just to name a few that have to do with housing) to which it is beholden, or by which it is owned…”

This is an earthbag blog, of course, and so we don’t want to get sidetracked on politics. But the problem has become so enormous that it now affects virtually everyone. A lot of people are getting increasingly angry as government agencies make it more and more difficult to live a simple life… I’ve always said to “vote with your wallet”. Try not to support the big corporations that are at the root of all these problems. Building DIY, low cost housing without mortgages, using locally available natural materials is one big step to starving the beast.

This is interesting to me, because I usually approach the issue from the other angle. I’ve always been interested in natural building because it’s lower cost, more user friendly, safe and nontoxic, and the end result is more beautiful and personalized. But now I’m seeing how you can have all these advantages and help snuff out big corporations at the same time as a bonus. Cool.

Image source: Natural Home and Garden
[Note: this is one of my favorite houses. Be sure to click the link at the bottom of the article to see the photo gallery of this house. This is the sort of thing I’d like to put on a Pinterest page.]

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What building materials do the rich typically use to build their homes? And likewise, what materials would you choose if you had nearly unlimited financial resources? Wood paneling or sheet rock? Granite and marble counters or plastic laminate? Wood, tile and stone floors or vinyl? Berber wool rugs or synthetic? Wood shakes, tile, slate and copper or asphalt shingles? Timber frame or stud frame? Thick walls or thin? Just look around a bit and you’ll see the answers are obvious. Most people prefer the beauty of natural materials when they can afford them. (Note: I could have located multi-million dollar adobe and rammed earth houses, but I just grabbed a few samples from one website.)

So here’s the good news for the rest of us: Build your own home using low cost building methods such as earthbag, building in stages if necessary and paying as you go, and you can surround yourself with the beauty of natural materials. You don’t have to be rich.

The homes shown below are from Aspen, Colorado – one of most expensive real estate markets in the U.S.

Luxury log home

Luxury log home


Luxury stone home

Luxury stone home


Luxury living room with natural materials

Luxury living room with natural materials


Photo credit: LuxHomes.com

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