From time to time we answer reader’s questions.
Chase: After much research, I am really interested in pursuing a career in natural building, in earthbags, and many other means. I’m not entirely sure where to start, especially since I’m just starting and don’t know much about construction or buying land, but I can’t resist the idea of natural building. Any information you could give me would be greatly appreciated, as in projects I could start to get in some practice, that are simple, easy, and can be done at home.
Owen: You can learn almost everything in your backyard practically for free. Our websites explain most everything you need. Here’s the main Step-by-Step Earthbag Building article to get you started.
There’s a big difference between reading about something and really understanding it through experience, so I encourage you to build sample corners, test bags, arches, etc. in your backyard. Even temporary ones are okay. You can practice every step of construction on a small scale using recycled bags from farmers. Test various soil mixtures. Cut the bags open when they’re dry and look at the results. Did they turn into a hard brick-like mass? Or did they fall apart due to lack of clay? Practice plastering with earth. Gradually accumulate good tools. If you have space, try to build a tool shed or similar small structure. Buy my upcoming earthbag book that should be finished very soon. (It’s in the final editing stage.) Consider taking a workshop from one of the companies featured on our sites. At some point you could consider helping on some international projects to gain greater experience. Places like Haiti and Mexico are really booming. You’d learn a lot and help a lot of people. In addition, you could help on projects near you much like old fashioned barn raisings. Check out our bulletin board at EarthbagBuilding.com to locate projects.