The other day, I went outside of Asheville with my husband to take a hike in the mountains. On our way back, we stopped at a barbeque truck on the side of the road for a late lunch.
There was only one picnic table at the truck, and we were soon sharing it with a young couple who had some land nearby and were building their home. So ‘naturally’ I started to talk to them about the Natural Building School I was attending.
Normally when I talk about this, I am met with exclamations of “Wow…that’s so cool!”, but not this time. Instead, I felt a bit like I was being judged as I spoke, and the young man responded, “I don’t understand the hype around cob and adobe. It’s so labor intensive. I’m building my house much faster.”
A bit shocked by his reaction, and really just wanting to finish my brisket sandwich in peace, I didn’t engage him in further conversation. However, if I see him again, I will hand him this list that I have created:
6 Reasons to Build with Cob and other Natural Materials
1. Local and Environmentally Friendly
Conventional building is extremely toxic. Did you know that current buildings account for 20% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions and that in the US, single family homes use more energy than all of the nation’s offices, schools, universities, hospitals, grocery stores, and malls combined? Get more statistics about conventional building here: http://www.kleiwerks.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/Buildings-Energy-and-Carbon.pdf.
Natural building promotes locally occurring, natural materials that don’t require the use of large amounts of petroleum or minerals. If abandoned, natural buildings will degrade into the land, leaving no footprint.
Since cob and adobe are made of clay, straw, sand and water, you don’t have to buy very many materials, and can build your own home on a very low budget!
3. Good for your health!
As the name states, natural building uses natural materials. Most modern homes use toxic materials that off-gas and can pollute interior air. Homes built with earthen materials are porous and “breathe” and actually help keep the air you breath fresh and clean.
4. Energy Efficient
Earthen walls provide excellent thermal mass. Using passive solar heating, your earthen house will remain warm in the winter and cool in the summer. Low carbon foot print and reduced energy bills!
5. Build it yourself!
I am no carpenter or engineer. But you don’t need to be these things to build a natural home. I love the idea of creating my own home with my own two hands. And playing in the mud is FUN!
Plus, if you build your house, you will also be able to maintain it, sparing you high-cost maintenance bills. Building a home out of natural materials is also a great way to bring together friends and family!
6. Aesthetics & Creative Design
I love the way cob and natural buildings look! See some examples here.
Plus, building with natural materials allows you to get creative. You are working with mud, and therefore not limited to the 90 degree angles of conventional building. You can dig in shelves, add glass and crystals, and sculpt your home into a masterpiece!
And if none of that is enough, take a look at how happy building with mud makes us:
So take THAT Natural Building Doubter! And please let me know what other reasons you have for building with natural materials to add to the list!
To learn how to build your own natural home, sign up for our Natural Building Extravaganza from August 9-18. There is still space available!