Austin Coder Builds Timeless Straw-Clay Home

“When Gary Zuker bought an undeveloped piece of land outside of Austin (Texas) 25 years ago, he knew the only way he could afford a home on it was to build it himself. With no building experience, he immersed himself in architecture books at the University of Texas (where he works as a computer engineer).

He fell in love with medieval straw-clay cottages and cob buildings from around the world. After just a day learning the technique on another build, he was ready to build his own home.

Besides advice from an architect friend to use a scissor-truss system for roof support, some help with framing, stone-work and plumbing, Zuker worked alone (no building permits were required in Travis County at that time). The build ended up taking him 3 years (nights and weekends while working full-time) and cost about $40,000 ($25,000 to build the house and $15,000 for the well and septic system).

Zuker was heavily influenced by the classic design handbook A Pattern Language (written mainly by architect Christopher Alexander) so rather than designing the home ahead of time, he waited to decide on details until after the home was under construction.”

Another great video by Fair
Previous blog posts about this house: A Hobbit House
Vote With Your Wallet

5 thoughts on “Austin Coder Builds Timeless Straw-Clay Home”

  1. Nice place he has. I appreciate how he really thought this out regarding where to build and how he collected wood and used materials from houses to be torn down that would have been destroyed. Great post Owen.

    • It’s always been one of my favorites. It’s a great example of what owner-builders can do with natural building materials.

  2. A true gem of the natural building movement. The original title says he used cob, but actually he used straw-clay packed in forms as Zuker explained in a previous blog post.


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