Here are two useful maps for natural builders. The map from Natural Homes.org shows locations of natural homes. Actually there are thousands of homes not shown. As a rough guess I’d say for every house shown, there’s probably another 100 not on the map (and far more in some areas). Most people don’t publicize their homes, because they don’t want hordes of people knocking on their door unannounced. And it would be impractical to identify adobe homes, for instance, where practically everyone lives in them.
Another useful map at Earthship Pockets of Freedom shows counties where “acquiring permission to build is not a bureaucratic expensive mess”. This is another good step forward, although the map lacks clear definitions about what constitutes a Green County.
You might also be interested in Terry Herb’s book on No Building Codes.
4 thoughts on “Natural Homes Maps”
It is easy to say “Move” and it’s an entirely different experience to do so. If your single, have no real ties and your occupation allows you that freedom, great! Go for it. Most areas of the US that have little or no building restrictions are rural. Rural areas have become especially hard hit from the recession/depression. Even to build a dirt cheap house requires money. You have to eat. Trying to find a job in one of these freedom loving areas is more then just a little difficult. I know from experience. If you have a job that can provide for yourself and your family today, you would be wise to hang on to it and stay where your at. Work and build at the same time, even if it means traveling distances to your building location.
I don’t know about the rest of the readership here, but it goes against “my grain” to have to relocate to experience “freedom”. If everyone who doesn’t like the current system leaves, nothing improves. Personally I wouldn’t want to relocate my family to some 3rd world country just to have the freedom to “build”. There are social/economic and political problems dang near everywhere that are more impacting. Rather face the enemy I know, then an unknown one. Changing the system here may seem to be an uphill battle, but many states and counties have a referendum process that could be utilized. I would hazard a guess that even the contractor segment of the building industry would be behind it. Softening building requirements, fees and other such bureaucratic nonsense would benefit them also. Only the bureaucrats and the manufacturers of required building materials would probably oppose it.
I understand your points and realized these things when I wrote the blog post. I’m discussing alternatives for those who can move.
I see zero chance of softening of building codes, restrictions, taxes, ordinances. The nature of bureaucracies is to grab for more. Notice there is virtually no government agency downsizing even when the economy hits the wall. Instead they raise fees, fines and taxes to compensate for the slowdown.
I bought Terry Herb’s book, and unfortunately its effect was more depressing than enlightening. It’s not that I don’t recommend it, it will show you just how dismal the situation is for freedom-loving aspiring homebuilders and how perverse a definition of “free” one needs in order to include most of the counties listed on the Pockets of Freedom map. For example, hippie-friendly Taos county, NM is among the green ones, yet even they require permits that are only valid for a year and cost hundreds of dollars, they’ve adopted the 2006 IBC, they don’t let you build without approved and reviewed plans, there are multiple mandatory inspections, they have a highly restrictive land use scheme with detailed zoning, etc. That sounds like a bureaucratic mess to me.
I know people who have built earthships in the area and there’s no way they jumped through the hoops and complied with all that garbage. They’re probably criminals. Unlawful homebuilders. The horror! Better lock ’em up and throw away the key just to be safe.
Then again, I may have an unrealistic definition of freedom. To me, it’s not “free” until I can build a house with as little government intervention as when I draw a picture, paint a model, or sculpt a pot. Ahh well, whaddaya do?
What do you do? Move to where these ridiculous conditions don’t exist. That’s what I did and it opened my eyes big time. The current mess exists because people put up with it. Paying all those fees supports the system so it can grow. You could spend your life bucking the system trying to change things, or just pick up and move. Some places have none or virtually none of this nonsense. But most people are unwilling to break out of their mental boxes. I’m not saying there’s one Shangri-La type place to live. I think there are hundreds of low cost, laid back places in developing countries where you can do most anything you want. Travel the world a bit to find what suits you best and then live there a while before making the plunge. Consider leasing for 20 years instead of buying land. Maybe things don’t work exactly as planned, Roll with what comes your way. And if you end up leaving in a few years, how much have you lost? Maybe a $2,000 dome or roundhouse. No big deal. You would have blown that on rent in no time in the US. Almost everything you need to know is now on the Internet for free. You’ll have to travel and experience the area firsthand, but time spent on research will save lots of travel expenses. “Let your fingers do the walking (on the computer keyboard.”