Community Rebuilds is Still Going Strong

Moab Utah’s affordable housing nonprofit Community Rebuilds has been combining sustainable building practices, education, and affordable housing since its founding by now-mayor Emily Niehaus in 2010. Community Rebuilds interns and volunteers are currently working on a fence and sound barrier at the site of four existing Community Rebuilds homes in Moab.

The fence is made almost completely from reused, salvaged, or waste materials, such as pallets, tee-posts, rock gabions and construction tarps. The final exterior finish will be plaster, with the rock gabions exposed and some “truth windows” revealing the interior materials and possibly some mosaic details.

“It’s been interesting building this unconventional structure on such a visible corner and having so many passers-by ask about what we’re doing,” said Maret Sonder, an Apprentice with Community Rebuilds who designed the fence, managed collection of the materials, and is supervising construction and volunteers for the ongoing project.

The fence was initially conceived as a way to use waste materials from other build projects to contribute to the organization’s goal of being “waste positive,” as well as an opportunity to create an art piece. Homeowners asked that sound muffling be considered in the design of the barrier as well. City code only allows for a height of 4 feet, but the builders hope the thick fence will help reduce traffic noise heard by homeowners located on the busy corner.

This week, four new homeowners received their certificates of occupancy for their eco-friendly houses in a subdivision called Strawburb,  which feature a “hybrid straw/cell” wall system. This approach combines straw and blown-in cellulose insulation to create a high-performance, less labor-intensive, and easy-to-replicate structure.

The south-facing walls of the new homes are made in the signature Community Rebuilds strawbale style, with deep, beveled window sills and an organic feel. The new homes also have a variety of exterior finishes, including reclaimed cedar, metal, and plaster. The new designs were created by Community Rebuilds AmeriCorps VISTA intern Kenny Fallon.

Last year was challenging for the organization: coronavirus concerns prompted leaders to end the spring 2020 semester early and continue the Community Rebuilds mission with greatly reduced staff and volunteers throughout the year. In spite of those challenges, the organization continues to pursue its work.

The Strawburb homes were built with just half of the usual number of interns, and those houses bring the tally of completed Community Rebuilds Moab homes to 40. By the end of this year, the total is anticipated to be 55. You can read the original article at

And can read more about their activities at

Other blog posts about Community Rebuilds:

2 thoughts on “Community Rebuilds is Still Going Strong”

  1. Just an FYI to anyone going to ask these guys for advice or about when they want to build outside Utah, because they have offered before. Don’t ask. They don’t assist anyone on low income or in need unless you have been a long time citizen of Moab Mormon Utah area….they had the audacity to tell our non profit in AZ they wouldn’t even assist with drawing up building plans that we would buy, to assist HOMELESS in AZ area not far from them. They are more for “attention” than anything.


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