What is Natural Building?
Natural building is the oldest way of building. Derived from the observation of nature and wildlife, we learned how to shelter ourselves by using natural materials found on the land. The oldest buildings known to man are made from natural materials. Only since the industrial revolution has natural building taken a back seat to what we now know as conventional building. The standardization of building materials in the early nineteenth century lead to natural building being viewed as substandard.
Conventional building and natural building are fundamentally different. Conventional construction primarily uses manufactured building materials which often comes as low cost to the homeowner but high cost to the environment. Conversely, in natural building the majority of building materials are found on the land or nearby. Natural building material choices are low impact on the environment utilizing labor and skill to process raw materials into durable, healthy finishes. Natural building materials include stone, earth, clay, sand, straw, wood, and water. The purchasing of manufactured products is limited and salvaged quality materials is encouraged.
The majority of the materials used in conventional building are standardized products that are not found on the property or elsewhere in nature. Today, there is a growing awareness of the impact that building methods have on the earth. The green building industry is trying to offer healthy alternatives to conventional building. Unfortunately, building with “green” materials can be cost prohibitive and often misses the point by shipping materials long distances. The green movement has introduced many wonderful products to the homeowner that in fact help decrease the destruction of the earth’s natural resources, but still stops short compared to natural building.
Natural building encourages thoughtful protracted observation in design. Homes may harness the sun’s heat in the winter and provide protection from the sun in the summer. Most importantly, build the home to be your temple; in balance with nature, connected to the earth, and to house your inner spirit. The energy derived from building naturally with intention, cannot be put into words, it can only be experienced. Building with natural materials in this way creates a shelter that is healing to the mind, the body, and the spirit.
How does natural building compare to
conventional building in terms of cost?
Natural building can be comparable to conventional building in cost. In Nevada County, CA the average price of new construction is approximately $200-$400 per square foot. Our estimates based on current figures begin at $234 per square foot for the shell and between $312 to $520 per square foot depending on your finishes. Major benefits of natural building include; a healthy indoor environmental quality, the low environmental impact, supporting local mills, and supporting builders that construct with a conscious to take care of our planet and the inhabitants of the homes they build. We are artists, building one of a kind works of art, that you get the privilege of calling your home.
The health of your family, the environment, and the people building it are all economic benefits that can’t be measured. However, the amount of savings on heating and cooling is something that can be measured. Well designed naturally built homes in California rarely rely on mechanical heating and cooling, saving the homeowner thousands of dollars annually.
In California especially, wildfires are becoming more and more a part of our reality. Though it may seem counter intuitive; straw bale and round pole buildings have a class A 2 hour fire rating. With the addition of fire sprinkler systems and our attention to fire safety design we can provide you with a fire resistant home. These methods coupled with proper landscape design, utilizing defensible space can help mitigate costs to rebuild post wildfire.