Our dream home is a fairly complex natural home with lots of fun additions like an attached green house and an amazing masonry stove as the centerpiece of the home. This house will take a lot of skills to build. A lot of skills that we do not currently have. In fact, five years ago we had exactly zero building skills.
As we live on the homestead and set up the things we need to make our lives easier, we always have in mind future projects, like our dream house. We have a vague idea the skills we need to learn to build this house, so we try them out any chance we get.
For example, we know that we will be framing the house with a round wood timber frame so when we need to build a simple structure we use round wood timber framing. The outdoor kitchen we have was built this way. It was a small, simple frame using smaller wood and some simple notches. A perfect starter project that proved useful on a day to day basis.
Another bit of practice we had was working with cob. We have tons of clay and so I simply dug some up. I got to practice ratios and mixing. I got to see how the different mixes dried and in some cases crumbled to bits. The rocket stoves we built are outside through the winter, uncovered, so we will also get to see how much wear you get with completely unprotected cob. The kids even got to “practice” with the cob and will be able to hep us mix and build.
When building a natural home like we want to do, it would be ideal for us to take a workshop and help others build their houses. We have two small children and I work full time. Workshops and practice builds are not possible. We can, however, build a small house as a practice house build and workshop all in one.
Having as little buiding experience as we do could mean that the house isn’t closed in before winter (this is the goal) for any number of reasons that are presently a mystery. We know that we could be stuck in a little tiny house for another year, but that would be alright (I guess). The practice we are getting out of this build will allow us to build our dream home in a few years to come, that is what is important. Natural home building is generally talked about as easier for the inexperienced builders but time consuming. We don’t have experience yet, but we do have a whole season, or more if we have to. Plenty of time for learning.
So, if we have no idea what we are doing, why blog all about it? I want to be able to share our experiences and hopefully successes and even failures. I want to show people that you can do it, even if you are learning as you go. Just keep an open mind and absorb as much information as you can before you start. I share mistakes so that others can learn from these mistakes or so that more experienced builders may be able to offer a solution they have used. The more information out there, the more people will be able to build natural homes.
One thing that has been invaluable to us as far as learning goes, is to watch videos online. I have created a YouTube channel for the blog full of videos that I found interesting in one way or another. If you subscribe to my YouTube channel, you will get any cordwood house build videos I post. Enjoy!