Natural Buildings for Urban Living (part 2)

“The Craftsman-style bungalow looks normal on the outside, but the surprise is on the inside: straw bales inside the framing provide super insulation. Natural builder Lydia Doleman designed this 800-square-foot small-footprint house to last centuries, with its metal roof and strong foundation. She used reclaimed lumber and recycled materials extensively. Hot water pipes warm the earthen floors and replace energy-intensive concrete. Day-to-day usage is low impact: composting toilet, vegetative roof and rainwater catchment, LED lighting, and solar hot water.”

Part 1 Good background info about the project.
Peak Moment videos
Flying Hammer Productions (extensive image gallery)

8 thoughts on “Natural Buildings for Urban Living (part 2)”

  1. Malcolm makes an excellent point.

    The video wasn’t specific as to whether or not the price quoted includes the price of the land.

    However, based upon the context and the manner the number was presented, I was left with the impression that the price was the cost of construction alone. I can easily see how someone else might interpret the answers in the video differently, and I would have a hard time arguing with them… except for the following.

    I looked up on her website, and I found this factoid she presents on her FAQ page.

    How much does it cost to build a straw bale house?

    Once again, it depends on a variety of factors: design, size, custom elements, location and other material and system choices. On average construction cost range from $150 per square foot to $200 and up depending on the aforementioned factors. The notion that natural building is ‘cheaper’ is true only in cases where the homeowner is heavily involved in the construction, materials are chosen wisely and the building is constructed in a manner to minimize long term expenses like heating and cooling.


    So, from that additional information, it seems to me that the number quoted in the video does not include the price of the land.

    At least, that’s my interpretation, for what it’s worth.

    • Yes, that’s what it sounds like to me also. So slap on another $40,000+ for land. No thank you. I like living in the boondocks where the air is clean, there’s no codes and I have space to grow our own food.

  2. You do realize that might be almost entirely the price of the lot. I just pulled up Zillow and there are 20 year old trailers on lots about the size you would get in a trailer park going for $45K. If they’re in a reasonably nice neighborhood they could build the house for free and it still cost over $100K.

    • Usually I don’t include the cost of the lot. That makes it easier to see the true cost of construction. Cost of land varies quite a bit as you point out.

  3. I agree with both you Owen and Jay. That IS the price for living in a place like Portland. Maybe after she gets more bucks in her pockets she’ll take leave of the place, build a new home and have money left over to expand her business. Maybe….

  4. Very impressive young lady. Articulate and a pioneer in Oregon who seems to know her stuff. It’s nice to see they’ve got a lot of interest in alternative building there.

  5. Great house. Great design.

    Absolutely insane pricetag.


    800 sqft for $160000.

    Take that exact same house, with all the same features/finishes, and build it somewhere with few or no building codes, and it could be built under $100/sqft ($80000) without even breaking a sweat and hiring out most if not all of the work. Under $50/sqft ($40000) with modest DIY owner efforts. That same house with all the same fixtures/finishes could be built under $25/sqft ($20000), if someone is willing to do all the work (with some volunteer help if available) and is resourceful/persistent about collecting and salvaging free materials.

    It is absolutely criminal how local governments, corporations, and mindless profiteers, use building codes and fear tactics to artificially inflate the cost of housing.

    I repeat. It’s a great house. Way better than any “standard” house using typical commercial materials anywhere in that neighborhood, I’ll bet.

    As great as the house is, it’s still a ripoff because it’s so incredibly overpriced. That’s saddening and maddening.

    People need to get educated and stop paying these jacked up prices.

    I enjoyed the video right up until she mentioned the price, and then I wanted to VOMIT.

    • I agree completely. What we’re saying may sound like a broken record to some, but it’s important to get the message out to as many people as possible. I can’t imagine spending that amount of money on a tiny house anywhere. Just think what you could do with an extra $100,000 or whatever. Like you, I love the house, but I would never spend that much for a place to live.


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