Lenient Building Codes in Upstate NY — 8 Comments

  1. Just make sure you have your t’s crossed and your i’s dotted if you have to deal with the Adirondack Park Agency. They are an entire nightmare on top of anything you have to think about with the NYS building code.

  2. I’m in upstate NY and want to build my own home .. I want a insulated earthbag home .. Nothing big just enough for me and a spare room .. What is the building law now that it’s been a couple years .. I still gotta figure out what soil is best for me to use to insulate my earthbag house .. half of it will be underground. Please help if you can.

    • Highly populated states like NY and CA have very strict building codes. That means building with natural materials will be difficult or even impossible unless you’re building a very small, remote off grid cabin in the woods. And even then code officials will likely find out about it and make you tear it down. We’re living in crazy times. This is why we keep advising people to move to rural areas where codes are less strict.

      Let’s say you want to build a tiny cabin anyway. The most sensible way in my opinion is to use straw bales and possibly some wood poles. This would be way faster and easier to build than earthbags. Stack the bales on gravel bags. Search our blog for a previous story called the Straw Bale Yurt. That design would work well for you. Then download the free straw bale book by Matts Myhrman. That story is also here on our blog. That’s all you need.

      Half underground: This is not necessary because a tiny strawbale cabin will be super insulated. An underground portion as you describe would probably have water problems. It’s not worth the risk.

      • Wow! This is great and so informative. I was hoping to build earth-bag building as well, but I guess strawbale may be better. I too am in Upstate NY, but it IS rural in Orleans County. Thank you so much for your helpful info!

        • I know it’s a long shot getting a reply after so long…but was wondering how your situation is going? I just started research a couple months ago. Wooooooww…so much law and brick walls. I just want a little off-grid cabin somewhere near the ADKS!

  3. Comment from Cleareye10 at
    “People have to demand that local government butt out of the building code and enforcement business. Let individuals decide for themselves what they want and how to build it. We would have real communities that way, not the fake, look alike subdivisions controlled like condominium complexes.”

    • Exactly!
      And We call our Country the Land of the Free!
      I do too want to build an small house or cabin made out of rocks, stones, bricks, mud, logs, wood, etc AND I’m very interested to buy land by acreage with other like minded people OR if possible apply to existing ICs in NY, CT’s communities where I could buy a parcel or lot and become a member as well.

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