Build your own affordable, eco-friendly home

What is the best way to build a low cost home that does not harm the planet? Most materials, such as concrete and steel, are heavily processed and transported over long distances, making them unbearable for millions of people in need of housing. These high-tech materials are also very harmful to the environment. The answer is to use locally available, low-impact natural building materials such as earth, stone, straw and small diameter wood. This article explores several ways to use land and sustainably harvested timber to lower house prices. And because the techniques are user-friendly, they’re ideal for self-employed people.

Earthbag Building: Like other land building methods, the Earthbag building is easy to learn and extremely low cost. It has been built for over 100 years using sandbags to build durable, explosive and bullet-resistant structures. Modern architects are using the same basic process of filling and stacking bags to create beautiful homes, offices, shops, schools and orphanages. Earthbag buildings are resistant to rot, fire, hurricanes, storms, earthquakes, floods, insects and rodents.

Since the basic building material is land, which is often provided free or at a very low cost, the structure can be made literally cheaper than dirt. No expensive equipment required. Most people already have basic tools around their home – shovels, buckets, garden hose and ladder. The building process is so simple that unskilled workers can learn every step of the way by looking at just one minute. The Earthbag building is highly applicable and can be used to construct almost any shape, including domes, vaults, round houses, or more common square or rectangular designs.

Small diameter timber: American forests are currently overcrowded and prone to wildfires. Millions of acres are destroyed each year by fire and disease. Sustainable uprooting of small trees from the forest actually improves the health of the forest and reduces forest fires. With a cheap firewood permit (approximately ً 20), anyone can get wood to build their home. Most of this wood usually goes to the chimney to heat the house, but when it turns into a useful product with longevity, it is much more valuable. This way all the wood for the house can be obtained at a much lower cost than buying a dimension lumber from the building’s supply center.

One option is to peel the bark and use it in a circle for the pole frames. Round wood is stronger than saw wood and requires less processing. With a portable mill or chain attachment, you can also find your own wood for self-made beams, justices, studs, trusses, porcelain, window and door frames, clippings, cabinets and furniture. Where I live, builders are cutting down dead trees (soundwoods) from the forest to save time and effort in cooking wood. Furthermore, the use of durablely cut wood, as described here, is more aesthetically pleasing than traditional stud walls covered with shatrock. The beauty of the wood is left exposed, respecting the tree from which it came.

Tumped Earth Floors: Traditionally laid ground floors can last for centuries, thus saving a little money on wood floor framing and replacing carpets and linoleum every 15 years. The ground floors, once finished, look like leather and are extremely beautiful. (They are being used in modern, custom homes.) However, the ground floor takes a long time to dry out, making them impractical in all conditions except hot, dry weather. ۔

Tamped ground floors use less water and dry faster. These floors can usually be removed one or two days after installation. The building process involves screening the road foundation or other suitable soil with a 3/8 “mesh. The process is repeated until the desired height is reached. The material for the top coat is re-screened with a 1/8 “mesh. The top coat mixture is hand-rolled and burned, using enough water to mix well. When the floor is well dried, seal it with several coats of linseed oil.

Clay plaster: The most beautiful wall finish I’ve ever seen is earth plaster. If you’ve never seen earthen plaster before, you might think of gray walls. Search the Internet for “Earth Plaster” and you will find amazing results. Since there are many types of clay, there is no limit to the colors, textures and special effects. A popular method is to use mica in plaster to create shiny, brilliant walls.

Clay plaster is probably the most user friendly wall finish. In many cultures, women, children and the elderly have for centuries done plastering with only hands and basic tools. The key to durable clay plaster is a roof about 36 inches wide. Keep rain and snow away from walls and it will last a long time, just a slight touch up is required.

These are just a few ideas to start thinking about using natural building materials. Thanks to the internet, it is now very easy to learn about these and other low cost building methods. Additional articles on the above topics are available for free on the author’s websites.

Leave a Reply 0

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *