10th Year Anniversary of Natural Building Blog

We’re happy to announce our tenth anniversary this month. Very exciting. Time really flies. A lot has changed over the years, but Kelly and I continue promoting simple, affordable housing solutions using readily available local and natural building materials such as earth, stone, recycled wood, straw and rice hulls.

On the right hand side of the page you can find links to our other websites. Altogether, we have thousands of pages of free content on natural building, sustainable building and sustainable living (gardening, homesteading, off grid, etc.). Below I’ve listed the top 10 most popular stories of the year.

1. Counties with Few or No Building Codes
2. FAQs
3. Earth-Sheltered / Underground House Plans
4. Top 10 Cottage Industry Products
5. Free Plans
6. 25 Small, Sustainable House Plans, by Owen Geiger
7. Free Heat for Your Home: Homemade Briquettes and Logs
8, A Sad Story of What Can Happen Without a Permit
9. Pallet Wood Kitchen Cabinets (We have lots of stories on how to use pallet wood for furniture, paneling, flooring, trim, etc. Speaking from many years of experience, trying to make cabinets with pallets would be very time consuming and challenging. I’d suggest using recycled wood or locally/sustainably harvested standing dead timber.)
10. Green/Eco Friendly Brick Options

11. Log End Flooring
12. Do-it-yourself Pole-barn Building

Search our blog for keyword Anniversary to see the most popular stories in previous years.

Amazing Viking Turf House Tour – Stunning Green Building!

In this video we’re excited to share the re-created 1000-year-old Viking settlement at L’Anse aux Meadows in Newfoundland, Canada. We visited the site last fall and had we really enjoyed learning more about the settlement, but also about the traditional construction techniques they used for the turf dwellings and workshops.

The turf houses are built with timber frames that are load bearing, and walls that are built with peat bricks that have been cut and dried from a nearby bog. Each wall actually has two layers of the bricks, with layer of gravel sandwiched in the middle to help drain any moisture before it infiltrates to the interior of the structure.


Off Grid Microgreen Grow Room

My wheels are turning about the possibilities of a solar powered microgreen grow room. One option is to make it look like an ordinary round agricultural grain bin so no one would take notice.

I recommend using the same growing method as this guy:

I estimate approx. 9′ interior diameter is all that’s needed to grow year round greens for one person. That includes enough produce for vegetarians who eat lots of greens.

You could use earthbags, rice hull bags or any number of materials. The small diameter makes it fast, cheap and easy to build. You could build a square sloped roof to facilitate installation of solar. Or use the standard conical grain bin top and put solar panels on a separate array.

No windows are needed, just vents. Windows would weaken the structure. This building would work great if you want to be in stealth mode (keep food production out of sight of hungry masses).

I envision shelving all around the interior except for a work table and entry door.

You could build from scratch or buy a used grain bin and line the interior with rice hull bags, etc. Galvanized exteriors are very durable, and used agricultural buildings are cheap. You’d need to add some framing to hang the shelves.

$2,000 Georgian tiny houses to appear on the market in 1 month

These tiny houses have pre-built sections that are assembled on site

These tiny houses have pre-built sections that are assembled on site

New Georgian brand of mobile cottages Kote.ge, which can be assembled in 25 minutes, will appear on the market from November 30. Initially, only 9 square meter cottages will be sold and the price will be determined according to the customer’s demand. However, the approximate price of the cottages will be GEL 5 000 (USD 1,995). According to the founder of Kote.ge Levan Tkemaladze, it may be possible to offer customers a choice of GEL 4 500.

“The price is determined according to the requirements of a particular customer”, – he explains. The price will also be determined according to the communications. Levan Tkemaladze says the company has several options for sewage and waste processing.

Georgian Journal
Although these houses are only available in Georgia at this time, it’s exciting to see the rapid pace of tiny house developments. It shouldn’t be long until something similar is available in the US, Canada and elsewhere.

Pizzeria Pronto Outdoor Pizza Oven

Make homemade pizza in a Pizzeria Pronto outdoor pizza oven

Make homemade pizza in a Pizzeria Pronto outdoor pizza oven

Make healthy homemade pizza in your backyard. “The Pizzeria Pronto® is Pizzacraft’s deluxe outdoor pizza oven that will change pizza night forever! It’s lightweight, portable and safe on any surface. It’s incredibly easy to use. Simply hook it up to a propane tank, let it pre-heat for 10 minutes, and you’re ready to go.

The Pizzeria Pronto reaches cooking temperatures of over 700°F and cooks a pizza in only 5 minutes. The Pizzeria Pronto features a heat containing visor and stainless steel reflection plate, resulting in a 20% decrease in cooking time. The Pizzeria Pronto comes with two 14″ baking stones. It is not recommended to use a pizza steel on top of the baking stones.”

Consider using a no-knead pizza dough recipe on YouTube. That’s what I did for years. Baking the pizza in a gas-fired oven makes the process very fast and simple. You can control the ingredients if it’s homemade and get it just the way you like it. If it’s out of your budget then you could buy one of their stones and build a hood over a regular BBQ grill.

10 Beautiful and Useful Things You Can Create with Earth Plaster

People are often fascinated by the structure of my earthbag home, but in truth that was the easy part. It’s the plaster that is an art. And a science. At times I thought it might have even been witchcraft. Because it took me just 6 weeks to build my earthbag house, but almost 2 years to get my plaster sitting beautifully on my walls without cracks or bits of it falling off.

It doesn’t have to take that long to learn earth plaster though. I was sitting atop a remote hill in Turkey, and not receiving the correct information about how to deal with my soil and my climate. But once you learn the art of mud render, it opens up a whole world of possibilities. I think it’s one of the most useful skills I’ve ever learned.

Earth plaster (also known as clay plaster) is made from a mixture of earth, clay, straw and sand. The clay is the binding element, hence why it’s also called clay plaster. Sometimes other ingredients are added into the mixture for various reasons, perhaps to water proof the plaster or to help it adhere better, or to mitigate the damp. Each stage of plaster creation and application is crucial to success. You need to know how to mix it, test it, and apply it.

Here’s an incomplete list of just what you can do with earth plaster. The beauty of course is that it’s insanely inexpensive to make things out of mud. Most of the time it’s free.

1. Render
The most obvious use of earth plaster is as a natural render….
Read the complete article for free at Mother Earth News, which has been one of the best sources of sustainable living for decades.
Previous blog post about this earthbag house that’s survived several earthquakes in Turkey.

Rebuilding Hueyapan, Mexico after the Earthquake

On September 19, 2017 the of community Hueyapan in Morelos, Mexico was devastated by an earthquake. The Center for Encounters and Dialogues, www.tierramadre.org.mx and www.moradasverdes.com have started with the reconstruction in Hueyapan. A little more than a month after the earthquake, and two weeks after the first house was started with Superadobe, the foundation and the beginning of the walls of a two-bedroom house were already in place. The house is being built with the contribution of the people of Hueyapan and with the support of the above organizations.

Building houses is very important, but also, strengthening the social fabric at this time is important. The commitment to community interaction is based on learning by doing, and in co-responsibility and collaborative work; only in this way can they go from welfare to the self-management of development actions.

The community network, Tierra Madre, are people and families from the community of Hueyapan Morelos, and other communities in the region, which are organized for the production of organic food. With the advice of the Meeting and Dialogue Center, they started work with the aim of being eco-families. This means that their sanitation system is ecological, with about 120 families using compost toilets.

“We do all this for the love of Mother Earth.” says Elga Flores, a member of Tierra Madre Hueyapan, with the main motivation to get involved in organic farming and the sale of organic products in solidarity with the schools in Cuernavaca. From the September 2017 earthquake, they have played a central role in reconstruction with sustainable technologies and local and culturally appropriate materials. They also use wood-burning stoves and small family gardens that are the basis of our their current production. They are currently producing organic vegetables and fruits and organic eggs.

They have collected donations in money from friends, family and acquaintances as well as help from Mexico, New Zealand, Australia and the United States. You can also participate in reconstruction in Hueyapan through volunteer work or donations.