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Earth Building 


Learn a wide range of natural building skills while

fast-tracking your own projects

3-month online natural building program

Learn on your own projects with our expert guidance. This program has been created with our students in mind. Our main desire is to make this as relevant, practical and supportive of your own natural building journey as possible.

30+Hours On-Demand Video

Pre-recorded lectures and practical demonstrations (12 modules) 

plus Guest Lectures

12x 60-90 minute Q&A

Weekly Q&A and mentorship calls to support students with the material and their own projects

Downloadable Resources

PDF handouts of the lectures, shared calculation spreadsheets, shared resources lists

Full Lifetime Access

The course is hosted on a easy to navigate online portal. Students retain access as long as the platform exists.

12 months tailored support

Personalized support in the Facebook group and 1:1 via zoom for all of 2024 to support student projects long-term

Live online skill-shops

Regular online get-togethers to practice practical skills and get creative. The content will be tailored to group needs

The online Earth Building Academy is for you if...

You want to finally get your own natural building project off the ground (and save time & money)

Many people attend our hands-on workshops because they want to build their own place or retrofit an existing home with natural materials. 

While a week's in-person immersion in our work is a great experience, we have always felt it also has its drawbacks... It might not be straight forward to get home and actually get started with your own local materials.

You might have thought about a natural building project for a while, you are researching things online, but you are not gaining as much traction as you would like.

This program is for you if you want clear guidance on a wide range of natural building options, and support putting it into practice straight on your own project. 

You will enjoy an extended period of time where you have close support as well as boosted motivation and focus to make it happen.

Our experience will save you from having to learn things the hard way or getting overwhelmed by the many different approaches you find in books and online. We like simple and good quality!

You are a building or permaculture professional and want to expand your natural building knowledge 

We regularly consult with building professionals, regulators and have been invited to teach the Natural Building component of various PDCs. 

We find there is a bit of outdated information floating around that doesn't support firmly moving natural building into the spotlight it deserves. 

Clients often think it is too hard or takes too long, it is too "rustic", too expensive, dirty, not durable enough, doesn't perform well in earthquakes - and the list goes on...

Earth can be a state-of-the-art building material. We are fortunate to be world leaders in NZ when it comes to building regulations covering natural materials and have extensive experience in their good performance in extreme conditions such as wind-driven rain and earthquakes.

This program is designed to cater for participants of different skill levels, and definitely is also aimed at design and building professionals.

If you are a building or permaculture professional you will benefit from learning alongside novices, because you will gain an understanding of how to convey the material in an easy and practical way.

You want  the satisfaction of crating your own healthy, beautiful living space on any budget

There is nothing quite like being able to say "I built my own home using local materials!" or "I renovated my flat at minimal cost - and it now is healthier and way more beautiful than before!"

Building is a skill that will stay with you for life and comes in very handy. While carpentry requires more training, natural building techniques such as making and laying adobe bricks, applying natural plasters over a range of substrates, or making your own earthen floor can be learned relatively easily, especially with a bit of initial hand-holding.

In this program we cover a wide range of techniques you can use both in small retrofit projects or to build an entire house.

We want to ignite your passion for natural building materials, and give you the confidence to get into your own creative projects straight away. 

Our times call for solutions to big problems such as climate change, unhealthy buildings and skyrocketing home prices. We want to empower you to tap into a win-win solution with your building projects:

Good for the planet - good for the people!

Module 1: Introduction to Earth & Natural Building

Earthen plaster_Natural Materials


Short introduction to Earth and Natural Building: Different building techniques using natural materials, advantages and limitations of the building material earth, earth building from a Building Biology and Ecology (BBE) perspective

Hands-on session

Detailed introduction to using local materials: Soil identification, simple material tests, sourcing materials locally, determining which earth building techniques are most suitable for your materials, trialing ratios for various mixes.

Module 2: Retrofitting with Natural Materials



Retrofitting with Natural Materials: Options for non-load bearing walls and wall surfaces, when using earth as thermal mass material, for sound proofing, to regulate indoor humidity and to beautify your living spaces.

Hands-on session

Demonstration of two non-load bearing techniques with different set-ups and material variations: Wattle-and-Daub (Quincha) and Light Earth Infill (LEM). Developing mixes, construction details, sequence of work and drying times, artistic play with form and texture.

Module 3: Earth and Lime based Solid Plasters


Introduction to Natural Plasters: Using earth and lime to create stunning, durable and well detailed solid plaster coatings over a variety of substrates. Discussion of different binders, aggregates, mix ratios, techniques and tools.

Hands-on session

Mixing and applying earthen and lime based plasters in several coats: Detailes demonstration of work steps, application techniques, tools and tricks of the trade.

Module 4: Natural Paints, Sealants and Wild Pigments


Natural Paints and Sealants: History or natural paints, environmental and health impacts of paints and sealants, earthen pigments, time-tested proven recipes, traditional painting techniques such as Alis and Al Fresco.

Hands-on session

Making natural paints and breathable sealants - clay paint, milk paint, lime wash, clear casein sealer. Demonstration of application techniques and artistic techniques such as Al Fresco painting. Method of extracting wild-crafted pigments water colours and oil paints.

Module 5: Adobe Tile and Poured Earth Floors

Earthen Floors


Earthen Floors: Detailing and construction of poured earth and Adobe tile floors, testing mixes, making floor tiles and mortar. How to finish your earthen floor, tips on maintenance.

Hands-on session

Demonstration of Adobe tile making, laying Adobe tiles, making different mixes for poured earth floors, work steps, finishing earthen floors with hardening oil and hard wax polish.

Module 6: Tadelakt, Al Fresco & Sgraffito Techniques



Specialty techniques from various different cultures, theory of Tadelakt, sourcing materials for Tadelakt-like waterproof finishes, work steps for showers. Additional guest lecture on creative techniques by Nora Haupvogel from Mudmural Berlin.

Hands-on session

Step-by-step demonstration of both a Tadelakt practice piece and applying Tadelakt to a bigger shower surface. 

Module 7: Design of load-bearing Earth Buildings


Introduction to the design of load-bearing earth buildings in accordance with the NZ Earth Building Standards. Discussion of site requirements, structural design for earthquake and wind, design principles for durability and energy efficiency, including detailing and requirements for building consents. 

Hands-on session

Demonstration of bracing calculations step-by-step and the calculation of insulation values for walls of different densities and thicknesses. This is applicable to all earth walls, not just Adobe.

Module 8: Adobe Brick Manufacture and Testing



The Adobe Brick technique: A detailed look at this simple and versatile technique that can be used for both load-bearing and veneer walls. Options for manufacturing Adobe bricks, material testing, Adobe Construction and Light Adobe for improved thermal performance in colder climates.


Demonstration of Adobe Brick making with both traditional and light mixes, mixing, yard set-up, drying, stacking and material testing (strength and durability) to comply with regulations. 

Module 9: Construction and Site Logistics



Adobe Construction: Adobe laying plan, vertical and horizontal reinforcing, details around windows, footings and top of walls, electrical conduits, efficient set-up of building site, laying patterns for different wall thicknesses, designing to module, allowing for settlement.

Hands-on session

Demonstration of Adobe Construction: Efficient set-up, required tools, profiles, running string lines. How to make Adobe mortar, lay Adobe Bricks incl. installation of vertical and horizontal reinforcing, cut and drill bricks. Weather protection during construction, site safety.

Module 10: More on Adobe Construction 

Guest Lecture

Prof. Gernot Minke "Vaults and Domes of Earth"

Founder of the former Building Research Institute in Kassel, for research and development projects in the field of low-cost-housing, sustainable architecture, building with earth, straw bales, bamboo and green roofs. Author of „Building with Earth“, which was published in 12 languages, „Building with Straw“ and „Building with Bamboo“.

Hands-on session

Demonstration of installation of gringo blocks, window sills, conduits and flush boxes for power, top plate, wall tensioning.

Module 11: Adobe Brick Veneer and Wall-finishing


Guest Lecture

Dr Marcela Brauner "Building Physics: Thermal and hygroscopic Performance" looking at Adobe bricks (and other earthen materials), thermal modelling, embodied carbon

Guest Lecture

Dipl Arch Graeme North "Reflections on Earth" looking at 40 years of natural building in Aotearoa New Zealand

Hands-on session

Demonstration of the safe installation of Adobe veneer bricks for interior thermal mass, as well as adjoining work and the hand-rub method for a simple and beautiful wall finish.

Module 12: How to choose Techniques and Shared Stories


Discussion about considerations when choosing earth building techniques suited to specific conditions, resources and logistical needs. Looking back on 20 years of Solid Earth Adobe Buildings.

Guest Lecture

Jomo Zeil and Sami Weiss from Erden Austria "100% Earth" on large-scale unstabilized rammed earth with Martin Rauch

Hands-on session

Demonstration of our take on cob construction, using light shuttering and mechanized mixing. Possibilities for free-form building and the restoration of historic earth buildings.

PLUS a growing collection of BONUS CONTENT

When you join Earth Building Academy, you are with us for good and will be invited back to future rounds of the LIVE program. We regularly invite new guest speakers and add content that is tailored to student's needs and requests. You will receive access to all future content.

Bonus Module on

Cob Construction

The course content on earth wall design applies to most solid earth building techniques. Due to demand, we have added a detailed demo of cob construction, showing both free-form and shuttered methods.

Guest Lecture on

Rammed Earth 

In keeping with out cement-free approach, we invited Jomo Zeil from Erden.at as our high caliber presenter on Rammed Earth. Erden carries out industrial rammed earth construction in Europe, using 100% earth.

Bonus Training on using

SketchUp for Design

For those interested in learning computer aided design, the course includes training for the free online software SketchUp, presented over 5 sessions by experienced engineer Eric Tyra. The training is simple to follow and thorough.

Some of our students' experiences

"The course is really meaningful and we loved it! It has made us realize how do-able it is to build our own small house and this is super exciting. "

Mika and Xavier, Aotearoa New Zealand

"This program has resuscitated a long-suppressed interest and empowered me to believe that I can build buildings that are in line with my values."

Laura, Mexico.

Click on images to watch the video

Iza, Aotearoa NZ.

Stephanie, Aotearoa NZ

Alain, Thailand.

What previous students say...

We opted for building an adobe house after weighing up various earth-building options. Verena was invaluable in our building process – very responsive to our many questions and really knowledgeable. Verena’s experience in building and design meant that the support she gave us online was fantastic for our confidence. She brings a ‘down-to-earth’, well-informed, and good-humoured approach firmly grounded in principles of sustainability and we would highly recommend her to anyone considering building in adobe..


This course really added to my earth building knowledge and set me on track to experiment more and start my own project.


This was my first learning experience on zoom and I very much enjoyed being with a group of people worldwide. I love your teaching style. You are a genuine and very experienced teacher. The sessions were well structured and presented, and I look forward to sharing progress on our buildings this year.


Earth Building Academy was excellent! Verena and her team are steeped in knowledge and experience on the subject. My fellow attendees were architects, building professionals and self-builders. The content and delivery adeptly catered to all of us. Whatever your reason for considering this type of course, the Earthbuilding School offers exceptionally good quality at a very reasonable price.


I just wanted to say a massive thank you for all your efforts putting together such a fantastic learning experience, during a different time. Your online workshop has focused us and we had a lot of fun. It also stoked my passion and love for natural building again. Although we were not ready to build in real time, we finished the oven a few days later. Thank you once again, it was really great! I am so glad we found out about this course.


Hi! We are Verena and Scott...

With over 200+ completed projects since 2002 and many years of teaching experience in NZ and abroad, Solid Earth Ltd is one of the most experienced natural building companies and the longest standing Adobe Brick manufacturer in Aotearoa NZ.

Our focus is on creating beautiful, healthy living spaces that have minimal environmental footprint. We take pride in our state-of-the-art workmanship, extensive research and innovation in the field, as well as our contribution towards the NZ Earth Building Standards.

Verena is a trained architectural designer, BBE consultant and has been awarded tradeswoman of the year in 2017. Scott is a carpenter and landscaper. Together we run Solid Earth Ltd and have been teaching online since 2020.


+ How does a practical thing like this work online?

We are convinced that there is huge scope for people to fast track their natural building skills, by learning hands-on with our guidance, on their own earth building projects. Our three rounds of Earth Building Academy since 2021 have been a great success and proof that it is possible to teach very tactile skills like getting "the feel" for materials and different earth building techniques online. It is an enriching experience having people come together, be able to draw from a wealth of experiences and learn to work with many different local materials - all over the world!  

+ What are the course and call dates exactly?

This program will start on 10 February 2024 and run LIVE through to mid May 2024.

While the program is live, we have one group call a week on Wednesday NZT, at alternating times to suit all time zones.

There also will be several skill-shops, upon students' requests. Exact dates to be confirmed.

Attendance is optional and all live calls will be recorded. Skill shops will not be recorded.

1:1 Mentorship will extend until March 2025.

+ Why learn from this school?

With over 200+ completed projects since 2002 and many years of teaching experience in NZ and abroad, we are one of the most experienced natural building companies and the longest standing Adobe Brick manufacturer in New Zealand. We have been running many popular hands-on workshops for nearly two decades, and web-based tuition feels like a natural progression. 

Our focus is on creating beautiful, healthy living spaces that have minimal environmental footprint. We take pride in our state-of-the-art workmanship, extensive research and innovation in the field, as well as our contribution towards the NZ Earth Building Standards. We believe that natural building is the way of the future. Our company is dedicated to regenerative environmental practices, ethical employment, heart-centered leadership and community. 

+ Do you offer scholarships?

Yes, we offer a limited number of full scholarships (the number will depend on how many paying people sign up).

We would like to reserve scholarships for BIPOC, young people and students from countries with weaker economies/currencies and at the frontline of climate change.

We will give preference to students who would like to deepen their knowledge in natural building to bring it to their wider community or who are involved in social and environmental projects. We require applicants to be active participants in the Academy.

If this is something you would like to apply for, please email us and tell us a bit about yourself and why you want to take part in Earth Building Academy.    [email protected]

+ Do you offer refunds?

This program encompasses most of our knowledge about earth building. The only thing we can't fast track for you is actual hands-on experience - that will come with practice. We put a lot of effort into this and are making it available at a reasonable price, because we genuinely want to empower people to move ahead on their earth building journey. The world needs an earth building revival!

We do not offer refunds, as we trust that if you are interested in earth building, you will get a ton of value from this program.

+ How long will I have access to the content?

All class recordings and materials are stored on our course platform, for you to access anytime.

You will have lifetime access to all the content.

The LIVE part of the program runs in 2024 and we will not open the program for enrolment again this year.

There is no time like now, so we hope you are ready to get started!

Please get in touch if you have questions

Copyright © 2024 Eartbuilding School T/A Solid Earth Adobe Buildings Ltd.