Articles

It has been about 10 years since I took my first 1-week cob workshop. I sank my bare feet into the mud to mix the sand straw and clay together, wondering how this could possibly lead to the building of a house.

 

I have now designed and built more than 30 structures and...

During the first day of a cob workshop it doesn’t take long for someone (usually a man) to start making suggestions about how cob building could be improved. “Couldn’t we use a cement mixer?” or “can we build forms?” are two common questions, and there are a host of ot...

What we call a “homelessness problem” is truly a “houselessness problem” mostly caused by disfunctionality in our social and economic systems. We also, however, do have a huge, homelessness problem, in the sense that houses are less and less places where people find af...

Most natural building today occurs in rural areas, where there is plenty of land and little interference from code officials or neighbors. But more than half of the world’s population lives in cities, where building homes out of clay and straw is simply not an option....

Windows are an essential part of all our houses. The shape, size, quality and placement of the windows in a house can greatly influence how we feel. I want to share 5 assets of windows, each of which come with a liability and how to deal with that liability.

 

The first...

At the end of April I flew to Rapid City, South Dakota, rented a car and drove to the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, home of the Lakota Native Americans. I went there to prepare the natural building workshop planned for this coming August. I entered the reservation abo...

In natural building, we make an effort to build with materials that are found locally. Unless they are recycled materials, we also prefer to harvest these materials ourselves, with the least amount of “industrialization”, so that we can be gentle on the earth.

 

Clay is...

In March of 2005, after finishing up work on our cob project in Mexico, I went to teach a cob workshop in Guatemala. The project took place in the town of Rabinal, a small rural community about 4 1/2 hours North of Guatemala city. I was met at the bus by Sarah Montgome...

In the architectural drawings for my house, the floor finish was described as “Earthen Floor on slab”. The plan reviewer at the county offices was unsure about what this meant and he finally tilted his head a little and asked me: “Is this like a dirt floor?” When I exp...

My last article was on why small houses make sense. Here are a few tips to help you make the most out of a small house.

 

1) Make sure your walls have a very smooth finish. This will make it comfortable to be close to the wall. Abrasive, textured finishes are not nice to...

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