Taking advantage of today’s technology and its convenience, I’ve decided to start an online journal about our experience into the world of Natural Building.
What Is Natural Building?
Put simply, it’s using natural building materials to create structures…from a flower bed and dog run wall (which aims to be our first project) to a fully operational cottage we hope to make our home one day. In other words, using the earth and natural, local materials, one can construct permanent and artistic formations for various uses.
Why Are We Doing This?
My husband DeWayne and I caught the bug from his Uncle Brian and his wife Sue. They told us about an amazing project called Cal Earth which uses sandbags, earth, a little concrete and barbed wire to create shelters. The concept, created or developed by Nader Khalili, was to utilize materials from war (sandbags and barbed wire) for needed shelter and homes in war-torn countries. This developed to a more sophisticated application of the building into earth bag homes and eco-villages. I recommend visiting the links to read more about this wonderful project.
This idea that we could build a sturdy, energy-efficient home from the very earth at a fraction of the cost of a commercially constructed home was very exciting to us. Ultimately, DeWayne and I would love to live in a home that leaves a very small carbon footprint and is in harmony with it’s surroundings. Admittedly, this requires a lot of time and effort, but it’s a dream we’ve had for a few years that won’t give up on.
We Must Start Somewhere
In conducting some online investigating on the various natural building techniques, I learned about cob houses. Many people know about or have seen then, but may not realize what a cob house is. They are more commonly known in Europe, especially in the United Kingdom and Ireland. Thatched roof cottages? Yep! That’s them! They’re cozy, adorable and so very US. DeWayne and I just swoon when we see those beautiful little country homes that trigger ideas of a simpler time in history, the romantic period of knights and carts and living off the land and in harmony with the environment. Call us geeks or old-fashioned, we care not.
I just purchased and received the book The Hand-Sculpted House: A Practical and Philosophical Guide to Building a Cob Cottage by Ianto Evans, Michael G. Smith and Linda Smiley. According to what I’ve seen so far in my skimming of the volume, cob building does NOT require cement, bags or barbed wire. AND it seems there is a little more flexibility and/or emphasis on adding sculpted features into the construction. This means no up-front costs for us and we can start building as soon as we learn how to do it!
These homes and structures (e.g., stoves, walls, garden benches, etc.) are works of art and every one of them unique. The book instructs one on the entire process of building a cob cottage – from finding a suitable site, clearing it, building the home and moving in. The authors provide resources and give plenty of ideas to help one design their own home or structure. We’re pretty excited and we’re going to use our own backyard as our testing ground.
Thus is the purpose of this blog. I want to share our experience into this creative and natural world of building, taking our first steps toward living a more natural lifestyle. I will catalogue our dreams and aspirations, our experiences, failures and successes on this journey. It’s faster for me to type than it is to write long-hand in a journal and it takes up a lot less space. Additionally, I’ll be able to access it anywhere…and we might just make a few friends along the way. If anyone has anything to share in their own experience, I welcome the contact and comments.