6 Earth Friendly DIY House Designs

Have you ever thought about buying a small chunk of land and building your own home? Affordable do-it-yourself homes can be made of wood, clay, dirt, sand, straw, or stone. Get creative by combining various materials to find the right design to match your style.

Cordwood Houses
Cordwood or firewood homes are less labor intensive than traditional log homes so the entire family can participate in the building process. Round stove-length (12-18″) sections of tree trunk are piled on top of each other in the same fashion as stacking unsplit firewood. Between each layer of wood a thick layer of earthen mortar should be applied. These homes are highly insulated perfect for cold climates.

Adobe Houses
Adobe homes are often built professionally, but a simple adobe design can be easily built by hand. Adobe is made by mixing clay, sand, and straw with a bit of water and then forming the “mud” into a brick. Adobes are built in warm climates that only rarely experience freezing temperatures.

Cob Houses
Cob homes are made of the same materials used to build Adobe homes, but bricks are not made; instead the mixture is applied by hand to a foundation. Cobs have a sculptured appearance, allowing windows and doorways to exhibit artistic style.

Earth Bag Houses
Earth bag or sand bag homes are a trick taken from the military. Earthen barriers have long been used as a quick and sturdy shelter and barrier from the outside world. When used in new and creative ways and combined with outside walls made of papercrete (paper pulp and water), earthbag homes can be quite beautiful, as well as bullet proof.

Straw Houses
Straw bale homes are walls made from bales of straw, covered in a mesh wire and usually covered on both the interior and exterior with plaster. When building walls with straw bales, you should have an r-50 insulation value. Although this insulation value is extremely high, straw bale homes should not be built in northern climates with harsh winters. The freezing and unfreezing of winter frost may cause severe mold problems in houses made of straw.

Stone Houses
Stones and rocks can build castles, but can also build your dream home. Building with stone isn’t easy; practice by building a rock wall around your garden first. In colder climates, exterior stone walls should be insulated on the inside because the walls will hold the overnight cold all day long. When stone is used for an interior wall, it will hold the heat from your fireplace or woodstove, making your home more energy efficient.

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