Home Building Methods

Adobe Home


Adobe is a natural building type which uses materials such as sand, clay, water and some type of fibrous or organic material like sticks, straw and/or manure. Builders shape the mixture into bricks using frames and it dries in the sun. This form of building is similar to cob and mud brick building. Adobes buildings are extremely durable and most of the oldest buildings in the world were constructed using this technique. This is a very great thermal material which means compared to wooden buildings in hot climates, adobe is a great insulator, although they are known to be rather susceptible to earthquake damage. Adobe homes are common in arm and hot climate areas including southwestern U.S.



 Cannabricks Home


Cannabricks or hemp concrete is a mix of hemp hurd fiber, lime and water which preforms as a mildew, flame resistant and building insulation. This is one of the most common hemp building material; it has been widely used in Europe and has recently been used in the U.S. Researchers compared the hempcrete home and the traditional brick home and found that hempcrete construction process uses less energy and creates less waste. Hemp homes also take less fuel to heat, while still haves a comparable water-tightness and durability and is expected to last an estimated 800 years. The main problem with hempcrete is acoustic; it doesn’t block sound as well as traditional construction. Hempcrete is widely described as a carbon-neutral and seven times stronger than concrete. Although, manufacturers of hempcrete insist it is not stronger than concrete, and shouldn’t be used as a structural capacity. As with most construction methods there are advantages and disadvantages, this is a material that has its benefits and flaws.



 Cob Home


Cob homes are made from clay, sand and straw which is mixed into a “kneaded” like dough and put into place by stomping on it with your feet or using a cement mixer for larger projects. Clay in the mixer acts as a glue while the sand gives strength to the mixture and the straw provides the walls with tensile strength once it is hardened. Cob is a very flexible product which doesn’t limit your designs but it also has some other advantages. Cob provides a large amount of thermal mass which helps keep your home warm in the winter and cool in the summer. It is a very inexpensive product since the walls of the home are made with natural resources that can be found under your feet. Cob homes can be built with only a couple workers and the common carpentry; plumbing and electrical skills are needed. As for most building types, there are some disadvantages. Resell ability is hard due to the custom designs, building permits are going to be a little tricky to receive, financing for cob homes is rare since cob homes are unique and lender don’t like the hear that and lastly durability could be an issue if you have a poor finish or a bad roof design.



 Concrete Block Home

Concrete Block

Concrete block homes aren’t anything new, this building technique has been used in the south for quite some time. This is a very durable form of building and is an excellent choice as termites can infest and destroy would. Concrete block homes that are reinforced can stand up to vicious hurricane winds, fire typically cant cause a concrete built home to collapse and can often be restored easier than a wood frame home if damaged. Concrete block homes are basically the most durable and protective homes, this is useful if you live in a climate or environment where weather and disasters causes problems.



 Cordwood Home


Cordwood masonry is a wall constructing technique commonly used for building homes, barns, saunas or just about any wall which is above grade. This material is comprised from debarked corkwood and a form of mortar. The length on the cordwood determines the width of the wall (they are equal) which typically varies widths from 8” to 24”. Any species of cordwood can be used in the construction but builders typically used a species common for the area.



 Earthship Home

Earthship Homes

The benefits to having an Earthship home are to have a cost effective living environment and an environmentally friendly form of development. The main design principles to an Earthship home are as follows. First, the home is manufactured with natural and recycled materials, this is very cost efficient and environmentally friendly. Second, you will need thermal/solar heating and cooling, which means your heating system is the sun and for cooling, the homes exterior keeps it cool. This is very cost effective way to heat and cool your home. Thirdly, solar and/or wind will provide you with power using either a solar panel and/or a wind power system. This will power your homes lights, appliances, accessories etc. Forth off, the home will need to have a contained sewage treatment meaning, the home reuses sewage water after it is filtered. The water is odorless and is just reused for the toilet system. Lastly, you will need water harvesting and food production, you can achieve this by having a gutter and filtration system to catch rain water and melted snow and food is harvested the traditional way planted and grown. Earth Homes are a “almost free” way of living, but these homes are hard to get approved by municipalities for reasons they themselves don’t know.



Insulated Concrete Form Home

Insulated Concrete Forms

Insulated Concrete Forms or ICF is a type of form work for concrete which stays in place for permanent building insulation for energy-efficiency, reinforced concrete walls, floors and roofs. These forms are interlocking like Lego blocks and assembled dry (no mortar) and filled with concrete. ICF is being manufactured any of the following materials; Polystyrene foam, Polyurethane foam, Cement-bonded wood fiber or Cement-bonded polystyrene beads. Concrete is then pumped into the cavity and in most cases reinforcement is added to give the concrete flexural strength. After the concrete is dried the forms are left in place for the following reasons; thermal and acoustic insulation, space to run electrical and plumbing and a backing for gypsum boards on the interior and stucco, brick or other siding on the exterior.



 Log Cabin Home

Log Cabin Homes

Log cabins were a very early home building technique developed for frontier shelter. Early log cabins were constructed used round logs rather than hewn or hand-worked logs. A log cabin is a simple type of log house built from logs. The difference between a log cabin and a log home is that a log cabin is typically a one to one and a half story structure, with a simple and plain design, less finished and simpler architectural design. These homes are built from bare logs using a interlocking pattern. These types of home are cost effective to build and are typically found in wintry environments.



 Modular Home


A modular home is about 90% manufactured away from the site, delivered and finished in a few weeks. This form of building is very similar to the typical stick building and there isn’t a visual difference, although it’s a cheaper form of building, saves time and aggravation. Modern modular homes being manufactured have the custom residential appeal as stick built homes but cost about 10 to 30 percent less. Modular homes also qualify for financing and appreciate around the same rate as stick homes.



 Panelized Home


Panelized construction is pre-engineered wall sections produced for new homes in a factory. After completion, the panels are brought to the site and the home is fully assembled on site. A panelized home can be weather tight in a few days. You have a large range of flexibility in the design of your panelized home and can have any amenities desired in a new home.



 Papercrete Home


In New Mexico, Printer Eric Patterson discovered a new use for paper waste. He mashes up the paper and mixes with cement, makes lightweight, durable and easily-worked paper blocks. This material can be poured or used as a mortar or plaster. There are currently only a few homes with this system and all with varying degrees of success. Some mixtures call for as much concrete as would be used in a solid concrete wall, some are experimenting with clay in replacing concrete. Flammability is a concern since some of the projects have burned.



Rammed Earth Home

Rammed Earth

Rammed earth is a technique for building wall using the raw materials of the earth, chalk, lime and gravel. This is an ancient building method which has been in a sense resurrected in recent years by people who were seeking more suitable building materials and natural building methods. Building a rammed-earth wall involves compressing damp mixtures of earth, such as sand, gravel and clay into an externally supported frame or mold. This is used to create a solid wall or earth or individual blocks. Modern additives are added to the mixture to stabilize the material, such additives such as lime, cement or asphalt emulsions; some builders add colored oxides or items such as bottles or pieces of timber for structure. In modern variations of rammed-earth walls are constructed on top of conventional footings or on concrete slabs. After the mixture is compacted into blocks they are stacked and bonded together with thin mud slurry. The exposed walls should be sealed to prevent damage from elements.



 Stick Home


The traditional and most common way of home construction is known as stick building. This is manufacturing and assembling a building on site, out of “sticks.” Sticks are pieces of lumber that is cut and nailed together to form walls, trusses then linked together with plywood, known as sheathing on the exterior and drywall on the interior. The exterior receives the usual roofing and siding. There are disadvantages to this form of building; the weather plays a big roll. Bad weather can force job sites to shut down, it can ruin materials on site, and cold or hot temperatures uncomfortable for contractors. A majority of homes built today are stick homes and there are advances and shortcuts being made to ease this type of building without impacting quality. This form of building is now called “site built homes”.



 Straw House

Straw Bale Homes

Straw-bale construction is a form of building that uses straw bales such as wheat, rye oats and rice as a structural element and insulation. This is commonly used in “green homes” or natural building projects. The advantages of straw-bale construction over the usual building systems are the renewable nature of straw, the cost efficiency, high insulation value and high availability. There are also some disadvantages such as susceptibility to rot and the large space requirements for the actual straw. Straw-bale building consists of stacked rows of bales on a footing or foundation with a moisture barrier in between the bales and their supporting stand. The bales walls are usually tied together with rebar, bamboo, wood or on the surface with wire mesh and then stucco or plaster. Famous building that were constructed from straw bales are the S-House in Austria, a South African, five star lodge made of 10,000 bales of straw and in 2011 the first European hotel made entirely with straw bales will start construction. Straw Bale Homes are a very cost efficient way to build and live due to its unique characteristics and benefits.



 Structural Insulated Panel Home

Structural Insulated Panels (SIP)

A Structural Insulated Panel or SIP is a panel construction using Foam EPS (expanded polystyrene) insulation between structural sheathing. This makes a sandwich like panel which forms a strong insulated panel for walls, roofs and floors for SIP houses and commercial buildings. SIP is an ideal form of building for both residential and commercial due to its versatility, strength, cost effectiveness, and energy efficiency. The design possibilities are virtually unlimited putting you in control of the building system, not the other way around. The R-value of the insulation is custom made for your project allowing for the best possible efficiency.


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