As a huge part of our homestead, we need to build ourselves a house. It has been my dream for as long as I can remember to build my own house. Not just any house either. It has to be functional as well as warm and inviting with as little negative impact on the earth as possible. I want it to be built both to compliment the land it is built on and to be adapt to my families needs and personalities. To accomplish all this, I look to natural home building.
While I am busy looking for land to build a house on, I am also busy trying to collect all the information I can gather on the different possible types of natural homes there are. I have been investigating this for the past few years but now we am nearing the point where we are going to have to choose which is going to be our very own. We won’t be able to make the final decision until we have our property and can see what that specific piece of land has to offer a home, but we can have all our ducks in a row so that once we get there it will be very obvious to us what the choice will be.
When I started this information gathering process I didn’t realize how many different types of natural homes there were out there. The first couple of types of homes I looked at were strawbale and cordwood. Strawbale homes use strawbales (as in the kind you feeed your animals) stacked to form walls and then covered with a stucco like material. These stacked bales are apparently fantastic natural insulators among other things. Cordwood homes used stacked cordwood (as in the kind you would burn in your fireplace) to from the walls. These homes are also supposed to be very well insulated. The next type of home we began to look at were earthships. These homes are built out of garbage and are completely self sufficient. All of the systems are built right in to the house and work together to become a sort of “living” home. We also looked at cob and earthbag type homes. It seems as though these types of homes are better suited to warmer, drier climates than the one we would be building in, but they could be right for you. Cob is building with mud basically. Earth bag is filling bags with dirt and stacking to build with. Both of these types of homes utilize thermal mass to regulate temperature in milder climates. They aren’t effective in colder climates due to the lack of insulation. The final type of home we looked at has been underground homes. These are built with a variety of material but are covered over with earth to produce a sort of geothermal effect of warming and cooling the homes.
Over the next few days, I’ll share with you the information I have found on all of the types of homes we have looked at.
For now, here is a great website to check out: http://naturalhomes.org/
And if you’re looking for a book: Best of MOTHER EARTH NEWS: Natural Building methods.