Dirt-Cheap Natural Homes Tour
by Dr. Owen Geiger
Innovative builders around the world are creating safe, beautiful, comfortable homes in the $1,000-$2,000 price range. To many readers this may seem impossible. Or they may assume homes in this price range are little more than mud huts. Far from it as you'll soon see by taking this Internet tour through some amazing dirt cheap natural homes.
Natural building uses locally available, low-impact materials such as straw, stone, earth, recycled materials, small diameter wood and other sustainable building materials. Besides their low cost, natural materials are safe, nontoxic and often more beautiful than lifeless, conventional boxy homes of 2x4s and sheetrock.
Natural building dates back to the first structures built by man. Evolved over many thousands of years to determine what works best in each climate and culture, these building methods and materials often last for hundreds of years. How long will your house last?
Unlike their conventional counterparts, these homes are typically curved, graceful and even sensual. Based on individual homeowner needs and desires, they are unique, imaginative and reflect the owner's personality.
As climate change, pollution, cost of building and resource depletion all worsen, it's comforting to learn of proven alternatives that don't destroy the environment. Thousands of websites and hundreds of books, videos and magazines now provide in-depth information on all of these alternative building methods.
Let's take the tour, shall we?
- Simon Dale, Low Impact Woodland Home, Pembrokeshire , UK : Reminiscent of a Hobbit house, this incredibly beautiful home offers inspiration for those seeking a simpler, better way of living and building.
- EarthDome House at Terrasante Village , Tucson , Arizona : This small dome is right at home in the desert. It is made of earthbags with a ferrocement roof insulated with recycled styrofoam.
- Tony Wrench and Jane Faith, That Roundhouse, West Wales : Author Tony Wrench and his partner have enjoyed the good life in their sod-covered roundhouse for many years. They have become internationally recognized champions for their efforts to create more equitable housing rights.
- Richard and Carol Atkinson, Straw Bale Mobile Home, East Yorkshire, UK : Restrictive building codes made it difficult for this couple to build a permanent home on a foundation. Their clever solution is a portable structure made of straw bales.
- Pedro and Christina, House Alive, cob house in Xipolite , Mexico : House Alive does great work through their workshops and seminars. This particular structure demonstrates the use of cob and thatch to make a beautiful, affordable home in Mexico .
- Simone Swan, adobe vault in Presidio, Texas : Trained under the renowned Egyptian architect Hassan Fathy, Simone Swan carries on the timeless tradition of building vaults and domes of earth. The vault shown on this web page could be built almost for free by an owner-builder (excluding mechanicals, permits, etc).
- Penny Livingston, straw bale vault, Permaculture Institute of Northern California : This type of vault utilizes straw bales for both the walls and roof. This minimizes materials and labor, and creates a superinsulated structure.
- Akio Inoue, earthbag domes, Tenri , Japan : One of the most experienced and knowledgeable earthbag builders, Professor Inoue has completed at least 23 earthbag buildings in 7 countries.
- Khimsar Sand Dunes Village , adobe guesthouses, Africa : These strikingly beautiful guesthouses are based on centuries-old indigenous building techniques that enable them to blend in to the environment seamlessly.
To learn more, do a Google search on keywords such earthbag building, strawbale building and adobe.
Owen Geiger, Director of the Geiger Research Institute of Sustainable Building at GRISB.org and Kelly Hart have teamed up to create EarthbagBuilding.com and Earthbag Building Blog at earthbagbuilding.wordpress.com to better focus and keep track of the rapid growth of this novel building method.
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