“Valle Bavona is surrounded by hydroelectric power plants, but in the 1950s its inhabitants rejected electricity. Keeping away from modernity has been a plus for the valley. Since it had no electricity, no new buildings were constructed and the valley retained much of its authenticity.”
The building industry doesn’t want people to know about this! Modern building materials are expensive, often require special tools and expertise, rot or burn after a few decades, and many times offgas toxic fumes. Fortunately, word is spreading about natural building and how almost anyone can build their own home at much lower cost. Examples of ancient natural buildings that are still standing after thousands of years can be found worldwide. This includes earthen structures in earthquake zones that have withstood centuries of earthquakes. These ancient building methods are being rediscovered and utilized to beat the high cost of home building.
After about three years of life on our vetiver thatch roof we recently replaced the thatch with micro-concrete roofing tiles (MCR). MCR tiles and metal roofing are fast and easy to install, and both work well for roofwater harvesting. I like MCR tiles because they’re more durable and look better than most metal roofing, and don’t get as noisy in rainstorms. We cut the tiles with a right angle grinder and then covered the joints with cement. This roof should last 25 years or more. Also note, the vents on top will provide even better ventilation. (They’re screened to keep birds out.)
“Camp Evans, a decommissioned Army base in Wall Township, N.J., is frozen in midcentury, its brick administration buildings and boarded-up Quonset huts on hold from World War II. Fred Carl, 59, a former high school science teacher and the unofficial keeper of the site, leads a visitor to other throwbacks from that era: a collection of corrugated metal houses with porthole windows and conical roofs. They look like alien habitations dropped from the sky.
This blog post is short and to the point. Durability is one of the most important principles of sustainable building. The concept is very simple. Homes consume a lot of materials and take a great deal of time and effort to build, and so it makes sense to choose materials and building methods that last a long time. This goes hand-in-hand with choosing low maintenance materials. Choose carefully or you’ll end up spending an inordinate amount of time and money maintaining your home.