Here's what is included at a glance
30+ hours of pre-recorded lectures and hands-on demonstrations (12 modules)
One 60 min lecture and one 60 min hands-on session per module, plus bonus material
way more teaching content than our 5-day hands-on workshop (value $650)
learn and implement directly on your own projects
weekly 60-90 minute LIVE group calls for Q&A and consultancy (12 in total, value $900)
2 LIVE hands-on workshops via zoom (Sgraffito and Tadelakt techniques)
learn from other student's projects
private facebook group until end of 2023 to get your questions answered (value $400)
save money for travel and accommodation
PDF handouts of presentations and teaching notes (value $150)
join for live support/consultancy, study and implement in your own time
lifetime access to course (including all future updates and expansions)
suitable for any level of previous natural building skills
Total teaching value of this 3-month program is $2100+
Our price for 2023 is US$670
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 - with success.
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!
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We find there is a bit of outdated information floating around that doesn't support firmly moving natural building into the spotlight it deserves.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.
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!
"The course is 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. "
"This program has rescucitated a long-suppressed interest and empowered me to believe that I can build buildings that are in line with my values."
"This course really bridged the online learning divide. At no point did I feel I missed out because I wasn't there in person."
Our program has been created with our students in mind. It is our aim to cover many techniques and topics in quite some detail, and we have added more content since our inaugural class.
Our main desire is to make this as relevant, practical and supportive of your own natural building journey as possible.
Come prepared to learn lots, practice on your own projects, trouble-shoot if need be, and have FUN!
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/Ecology (BBE) perspective
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
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.
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.
Introduction to Natural Plasters: Using earth and lime to create stunning, durable and well detailed solid plaster coatings over a variety of substrates. Binders, aggregates, mix ratios, structure and tools.
Mixing and applying earthen and lime based plasters in several coats: Work steps, application techniques, tool and tricks of the trade.
Specialty techniques from various different cultures, theory of Tadelakt, sourcing materials for Tadelakt-like waterproof finishes, work steps for showers and planning murals with the Sgraffito technique.
Demonstration of the work steps involved in creating Tadelakt surfaces and of a small Sgraffito project, discussion of tools and hacks.
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.
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.
Preparing pigments from mineral sources to use in hand-made water colours and oil paints.
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.
Demonstration of Adobe tile making, laying Adobe tiles, making different mixes for poured earth floors, work steps, finishing earthen floors with hardening oil and bee's wax polish.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Prof. Gernot Minke "Vaults and Domes of Earth"
Demonstration of installation of gringo blocks, window sills, conduits and flush boxes for power, top plate, wall tensioning.
Building Physics: Thermal and hygroscopic performance of Adobe bricks (and other earthen materials), thermal modelling, embodied carbon
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.
Discussion about considerations when choosing earth building techniques suited to specific conditions, resources and logistical needs.
Demonstration of our take on cob construction, unlocking possibilities for free-form building and the restoration of historic earth buildings
I am an earth building artisan with 30 years of experience and have been a driving force in natural building in NZ since 2002.
To date I have carried out over 200 building projects, ranging from pizza ovens to entire homes. In 2006 I designed and we built our own passive solar eco house.
I am trained in Architecture as well as Building Biology and Ecology (BBE) in Switzerland, where I have done extensive research on earth building and have written a paper on the health aspects of earth as a building material.
From 2007-2014 I was the chairwoman of the Earth Building Association NZ. I was part of the committee in charge of the revision of the NZ Earth Building Standards.
In 2017 I was awarded "Tradeswoman of the Year" by the National Association of Women in Construction.
I learned about earth building 15 years ago when I met Verena. Before going into natural building, I have worked both as a landscaper and a carpenter for many years, here in NZ and overseas.
I am a creative person with attention to quality and detail. I love the flexibility of earth building and how it can be organic as well as very modern in its style. I feel excited by the creative potential of natural building materials and love working with earth, stone, timber, lime and straw.
The focus of my work is on making high-quality, healthy building, using locally sourced materials that have a low carbon footprint, accessible to a as many people as possible.
Earth building comes naturally to me because it is a bit like cooking, and I am an awesome cook who never follows a recipe and likes experimenting.
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..
LEIGH HARRINGTON, NEW ZEALAND
This course really added to my earth building knowledge and set me on track to experiment more and start my own project.
REEM HILAL, LEBANON.
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.
YVONNE, NEW ZEALAND.
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.
TOM SCHNEIDER, AUSTRALIA.
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