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Total newbie questions

Posts: 34
Location: Vermont
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I am very, very new to the idea of natural building and I have several questions. I'll try to ask only a few, if some friendly person would like to lend their knowledge on the subject.

1. How to decide which method to use? Are there any for rent in the US, to get a feel for cob vs straw bale, etc?
2. Are there people who would help build (at a reasonable price)?
3. Has anyone ever discussed reselling a natural home, and how difficult or easy it is? I'm not looking to make money, just wondering about selling if you wanted to do something different after several years.
4. What are some good books and web sites for learning the skills involved?

I have about 8 more years left in the Air Force (I hope nobody holds that against me) so I'm not sure I would do this before then but who knows. Any information or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
Posts: 1508
Location: Virginia (zone 7)
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Hi Mark. Welcome to Permies! I'd first like to say THANK YOU for your service in the Air Force. (We would never hold that against you.)

As a "total newbie" here, you may find How Permies.com Works a treasure chest of information about this site.

I have not tried the cob style of building myself, but there are certainly people here who have. You can read more in the cob forum for some great how to's and assistance.

If you build a cob home and decide to sell, you could post it in the Permaculture Real-estate forum.

Wish you lots of luck in your project.

Posts: 1870
Location: Just northwest of Austin, TX
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I don't know about long term rent, but there are places where you can at least have vacation length rentals of some natural structures. I think they're usually marketed under ecotourism.

Wheaton Labs actually has some examples and the opportunities to see and practice some of the different building techniques. There are a variety of different approaches used on this property and they are still actively developing it.

The GAPPER program https://permies.com/t/46350/gapper-program sounds like it is closer to a work/study program that can give many opportunities to build experience in different techniques. The first post in that thread also links to the SEPPers program which gives you a little more control over your lodging and a lot more freedom in your time and activities. My family took part in that this summer and it was a great part of our vacation.

It's the one one I have experience in, but hopefully there are other people who can link to other sites with tours, rentals, workshops or related activities that are relevant to your needs. I do want to note that many natural building techniques are highly influenced by their location. My area of the country will probably never produce a WOFATI, for instance. We just don't have the woodlands, or deep enough soil before you have to start blasting bedrock.
Posts: 32
Location: NE corner of Ohio
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I think that it would be fair to say that every one of us who look at this forum were inexperienced at some point. I've been at this all for almost 8 years with 2 buildings and 4 rocket stoves to my credit and I am only just starting to scratch the surface of what is possible.

A big portion of this stuff comes down to you.
how much money do you have?
how much time do you have?
how strong is your back? knees?
Any building skills at all?
access to earth moving equipment or experience with same? (shovel to backhoe)
how much can you pick up 6000x in a day?
what grows around you? straw? Phragmites? timber? Hardwood or soft?
what is your soil like? gravel? sand? clay? rock?
are you in a city or un incorporated land?
how forward thinking is your zoning office?
many of these questions will answer what is possible.

I am youngish, and live in a wet place with lots of clay and Phrag and not so much straw.
New Mexico styled earthships don't work in Ohio all that well.
I'm fascinated with grass sticks and mud but hate how sandbags look
this limits what I'm going to look into and what I can produce from my own land
we have almost no rock here, none to build with anyway. Not like New England or the Rockies.

If I had more money than time, I could go to classes everywhere and when.
Instead I watch things fall to pieces at slower and slower rates as I solve my mistakes
you will to once you figure out what you like

google images or pintrest
tons of places to start

as for books, Iv'e found that you get 3 or 4 pages of useful material in all but the best books.
sometimes only 1
the rest is the same questions I just asked and a set of answers that the writer found important
Interlibrary loan is pretty awesome
read a few of them
look at pictures and most of all

get busy getting dirty!
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