Hello fellow permies!
I’m a longtime lurker here, 27 years old, very keen on pursuing a career in building low-impact, sustainable, well-designed structures (homes, barns, workshops) using available local materials, and hand tools whenever possible, while incorporating different building modalities as appropriate (timber frame, cob, strawbale, rammed earth to name a few). I know, quite a mouthful!
Currently, I’m trying to wrap my head around the best way to get where I want to be (owner of a design/build company doing the above-mentioned things) from where I am now (somewhere around square 1… maybe square 2).
I love working with my hands, building small projects out of wood, and dreaming up designs and ideas. I am a fairly quick learner, well-coordinated, and can handle hand and power tools confidently. I have some experience helping out with house renovations, I’ve built simple things like small outhouses, a chicken coop and a couple of windows out of scrap materials. I’ve taken a natural building course at Aprovecho in Cottage Grove, Oregon. That said I have fairly little formal experience in carpentry, and almost zero in joinery. Therein lies the rub.
As of now I figure the most valuable skill to learn is timber-framing. It’s a much better building modality compared to stick framing IMHO, as when designing and sourcing materials for a timber frame structure, there is a lot more consideration and mindfulness required. Implemented alongside some other techniques, such as strawbale infill, earthen plasters, wood shingles/shakes, it can produce beautiful, functional, natural structures that can last generations. I feel it is also mainstream enough that finding work would be a little easier – compared with log builders, or structural strawbale builders for example.
My next potential steps at this point are:
- contact multiple timber framing and natural building companies, asking if they could use someone like myself
- take a couple months of courses at a school such as Heartwood School in Becket, Massachusetts this summer ( I applied to their Apprenticeship program but didn’t make it in
- make something using joinery (a shavehorse perhaps?)
So, I would humbly ask my fellow permies with experience in this area for your thoughts on where/how to pursue this path, and I thank you all for reading this far!
All the best!