We offer a unique format for our workshops. Participants can join us anytime we are working on a project. They can join us for one week, up to one month. The cost is $300 per month, or $100 per week’s stay. This does not include food or accommodations.

The workshops are on going and give the participants hands on building experience. Some building phases are a week long, and others are a month long, depending on the size of the project and the complexity of the design or the building site. To find out what we are working on, please contact us at Let us know if you have a set date you want to join us, or if you are interested in getting experience on a particular building phase. Below are the building phases that are available to all participants. Not everything stated below may be available for hands on experience if it is not part of the building design, but it will be covered in theory at our weekly class.

Foundation – Phase 1
1. Site excavation and preparation
2. Rubble trench foundation
3. Earth bag foundation, (May not be available if not part of the design)
4. Concrete stem walls and footings
a. Rebar sizes and and layout
5. Concrete slab
a. Rebar grid and layout
6. Under slab radiant water heating, (May not be available if not part of the design)
7. Stone and urbanite foundations, (May not be available if not part of the design)
8. Concrete foundation for large timber posts, (May not be available if not part of design)

Post and beam – Phase 2 (May not be available if not part of design)
1. Design for structural post and beam framing
2. How to harvest local lumber from the land or near by.
a. We will go over different wood types and when to use them.
b. We will go over how to prep the lumber after falling. Tools you need.
c. How to prep the lumber for building.

Stick framing – Phase 3
1. How to source locally milled lumber
2. How to get your lumber graded
3. How to layout the stick framing for your plans.
4. The basic concepts of stick framing
a. Layout out walls, framing on ground and liftings walls in place.
b. Stick framing in place.
c. Stick framing in-between timbers
d. Stick framing windows and doors
e. Stick framing lofts or 2nd story floors
f. Stick framing 2nd story walls

Shear walls, and structural call outs – Phase 4
1. What is the definition of shear walls
2. How to prepare for shear wall in the planing phase
3. Different ways to shear buildings
4. Choose the best way to shear your building
5. Looking at the pro’s and con’s of different materials
a. Chemicals in the materials, sourcing non toxic
b. Fire rating, and when to use higher rated materials.
c. The cost differences

Roof framing and sheathing – Phase 5
1. Importance of different roof pitches.
a. How to know what pitch of a roof you should have and why.
b. The importance of good eaves for natural buildings
2. Most common roof styles, and when to use them
3. How to pick the right roof style and pitch for your project
4. How to design the roof using your floor plan, the framing plan, and the
shear plan.
5. Roof sheathing: the options and best practice.
a. Materials options.
b. Look at chemicals in materials, and alternatives
c. Compare cost
6. Vapor barriers and why the are used
a. Material options
c. Look at chemicals in materials, and alternatives
d Compare costs
7. Ventilation for roofs
a. The calculations to figure out how much ventilation your roof will
b. Different option for roof ventilations
c. Fire safety of these options, and which is best for fire
e. Compare costs

Roof systems and options – Phase 6
1. Different options in materials
2. When is best to use these materials
3. The chemical compounds and life span of these materials.
4. Which is best for rain water harvesting
5. Compare price of these systems.

Exterior windows and doors options and installation – Phase 7
1. The energy value system for windows and doors.
2. The different options for windows and doors.
3. The fire rating of windows and doors
4. Compare prices of these different options.
5. The best way to install windows and doors in natural buildings.

Straw bale infill – Phase 8
1. Bale cob system.
2. The difference of stacking bales fat and on end.
3 Interior pinning and exterior pinning
4. Load baring straw bales
5 Why infill instead of load baring.
6. Infilling between studs
7. The price difference between different straw bales systems.

Rough electrical and plumbing – Phase 9 (Somethings may not be available)
1. How rough electrical and plumbing happens in foundations.
a. Radiant underground water systems and laying out zones.
2. Wet walls in design, and how to plan for them.
3. How to choose spots for electrical panels based on code.
4. How to mount panels to exterior straw bale walls.
5 How to run electrical on straw bales, to code.
6. How to run plumbing on straw bales, to code.
7. How to lay out rough plumbing and electrical in your plans.
8. Some of the chemical issue with PVC and alternatives.
9. How to budget for rough plumbing and electrical.

Leveling coat exterior and interior – Phase 10
1. The different ways to level the outside of straw bales.
a. The pros and cons of each system
2. The ways to shape windows and doors with leveling coats
3. The importance of making it level, plumb, and tight
4. How to use workshops, work parties, and community for this process.
a. The pros and cons of using these options.
5. How to budget for this phase.

Scratch coat plastering inside and outside – Phase 11
1. Scratch coat plastering with Clay
a. Making your own plasters with local clay
1. Testing your clay
2. The importance of making samples
3. Testing it over several winters.
b. Buy clay for plastering
1. Different types to consider
2. The pros and cons
3. The price difference
2. With Lime
a. Using NHL v Type S lime
b. The strength differences
c. The price differences

Finish coat plastering inside and out side – Phase 12
1. Clay
a. Making your own clay finish plaster
b. Buying clay for finish plaster
c. Buying ready made finish plaster
d. How to protect it from weathering
d. Compare price, strength, and application, differences
2. Lime
a. NHL v type S
b. Buying ready made lime for plastering
c Adding color to lime
d. Lime wash
e. Compare price, strength, and application, differences
3. Gypsum
a. Why is gypsum an interior plaster only
b. The types of gypsum
c. The benefits and techniques
d. Compare prices, strength, and application, differences

Flooring options and details – Phase 13
1. How to choose your flooring depending on use of space.
2. How passive solar works with different floor types
3. Earthen floors
1. The pros and cons
2. Different types of earthen floors.
3. Material for an earthen floor
4. How to make an earthen floor for your use.
1. Finishes for earthen floors.
4. Wood flooring
1. Types of wood and when to use them
2. Compare price, strength, and applications, differences.
5. Tile flooring
1. Make your own
2. Buy local, support artist
3. Compare price, strength, and applications differences.

Finish cabinetry, trim, and built-in’s – Phase 14
1. Name and describe all the locations for finish carpentry
2. Cabinets – make your own or buy
3. Trim or no trim, when and why
4. Built-in’s – best use practice, and type of materials
a. Wood built-in’s
b. Cob and wood
c. Niches

Finish electrical and plumbing – Phase 15
1. Creating your electrical and plumbing plans
a. How to understand code for finish electrical
b. How to understand code for finish plumbing
2. Picking the style of finish electrical for your project
a. Styles of finish switches, plugs, and plates
b. LED, and other energy saving systems to install
c. Re-salvage lighting, retro fit for LED.
3. Picking the style of finish plumbing for your project
a. Using water savings finishes
1. Toilets
2. Water faucets
4. Shower heads
4. Hot water systems
1. Solar hot water heaters
2. Wood stove water systems
3. Water heated by compost
4. Other systems
5. Grey water systems
1. Designing your grey water system
2. How to create grey water plans for county
3. Best use practices for your grey water system

Natural paints and finishes – Phase 16
1. Clay paints
a. How to make your own
b. Using store bought clay paints
c Compare strength, application, and price
2. Lime paints
a. How to make your own
b. Using store bought lime paints
c Compare strength, application, and price
3. Mineral paints
a. How to make your own
b. Using store bought mineral paints
c Compare strength, application, and price

The final punch list – Phase 17
1. Standard punch list for all projects
2. Customize your punch list
3. Don’t overlook the little things
4. Deep cleaning
a. Best practices
b. Cleaning materials
c. Protecting your natural materials

Let’s build something together.