How much does it cost to build an earthen home?
The cost of a home depends on many factors, but in general, earthen homes are much more affordable (in regards to materials) than cement or wooden ones. In many cases, the materials needed to build the majority of an earthen home can be found on site directly under your feet. The availability of other materials such as stone, wood, and straw bales, as well as features such as doors, windows, and the roof, will usually be the determining factors in the price.
Are mud or earthen walls really going to last?
The longevity of earthen walls depends on two things, a good foundation, and a good roof. If the walls are kept dry they can last hundreds if not thousands of years. Because mineral materials like sand and clay don't rot, there are many examples of earthen structures all over the world that are still standing and are in use after centuries or millennia.
Do earthen homes comply with codes and permits?
This is dependent on the building codes in your particular area. Many places in the world have very lenient or even non-existent building codes, but if those in your area are particularly strict you may need to hire an architect and a structural engineer to help get your building designs past the regulating bodies. Materials such as adobe, straw bale, and rammed earth are typically easier to get permitted because of clearly defined regulations, whereas cob and bale cob could be more of a challenge depending on where you live.
How can I find out if the soil on my site is good for building?
There are two simple tests that you can do yourself to get a good idea if the subsoil on your site is suitable for building. As a general guide, you should look for places on your site where water tends to accumulate, otherwise research what kind of native plants in your area like to live in clay soil or on a high water table and look to see if you can find those plants on your site.
Can you build a two or three story building with earthen walls?
Yes. Cob buildings can easily be built up to three stories, in fact, the very first high-rise buildings were built up to eleven stories tall with adobe. As a general rule, You should avoid building upper levels with earthen materials if you live in an active earthquake zone, but otherwise earthen buildings can be made to accommodate almost any need.
Can you integrate off-grid energy and water systems with natural homes?
Yes. Not only are off-grid systems easily compatible with natural homes, they go hand-in-hand. The designers at Abundant Edge have a wealth of experience designing gray water filtration systems, composting toilets, rainwater irrigation systems and much more.
Can my friends and I help with the construction?
Yes. The easy-to-learn basics of earthen wall construction makes the process accessible to everyone. We encourage owners, family, friends, and neighbors to get involved wherever they can. Not only is working with mud a whole lot of fun, it helps to build community and a connection with nature.
Do you offer workshops?
At the moment we do not have any workshops scheduled, but if you would like to host a workshop or other natural building or design training event, please contact us here.
How can I learn more?
There are many resources and articles on our News page about all sorts of topics relating to natural building and regenerative design. We are constantly writing new material to help you become better informed about the options available. If there is a topic you would like to know more about please reach out to us here.
Where do you build, and where is Abundant Edge located?
Currently, Abundant Edge is not based in one location. We travel as a team or as individuals on a contract or project basis everywhere in the world. Some of our previous projects have been in the USA, Ecuador, the Philippines, Senegal, and Guatemala. Click here to see the gallery of our previous projects, and click here to contact us wherever we are in the world.
What is the difference between “Permaculture” and “Regenerative Design?”
Permaculture, in its simplest definition, is a way of observing and mimicking nature in order to design well-rounded and resilient ecosystems that benefit all participators. Regenerative Design is very similar in that it that seeks to expand the capacity of all life support systems on earth by considering the effects of any action on a whole world and long term scale. Both are ways of looking at the big picture and every interconnected element of a proposed project, and permaculture principles are often used in regenerative design. The two complement each other.
Is it possible to grow all my own food on my land?
In short, yes, but there are many factors to consider. If your diet includes many ingredients that are only grown in regions outside of where you live, you'll need to consider substituting those items for something locally available. Also, depending on the size of your land and how many people you are trying to feed, this could be challenging. In general it's better to attempt to be self sustaining in a broader sense. This could mean that you provide most of your necessities on site and the reduced amount of things you need to import from outside are easily affordable within the income you earn or the barter system you have established.
Is it realistic to be entirely self-sufficient?
Once again, yes, but this is largely dependent on how you define self-sufficient. You could go as far as trying to provide everything that you consume from food, clothes, and shelter, to electricity, water and even entertainment, but many will find that this is way more work than they realize. For most people I would recommend finding a balance between the necessities that are not too taxing to produce and the things that are more convenient to buy or trade for. Usually the simple act of planting a garden or learning to fix things instead of always replacing them is inspiring enough for people to look for other ways of providing for themselves and their families.