Learn a wide range of natural building skills while
fast-tracking your own projects
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
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 2023 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
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!
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We find there is a bit of outdated information floating around that doesn't support firmly moving natural building into the spotlight it deserves.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!
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
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.
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. Discussion of different binders, aggregates, mix ratios, techniques and tools.
Mixing and applying earthen and lime based plasters in several coats: Detailes demonstration of work steps, application techniques, tools and tricks of the trade.
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. Method of extracting wild-crafted pigments 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 hard wax polish.
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.
Step-by-step demonstration of both a Tadelakt practice piece and applying Tadelakt to a bigger shower surface.
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"
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“.
Demonstration of installation of gringo blocks, window sills, conduits and flush boxes for power, top plate, wall tensioning.
Dr Marcela Brauner "Building Physics: Thermal and hygroscopic Performance" looking at Adobe bricks (and other earthen materials), thermal modelling, embodied carbon
Dipl Arch Graeme North "Reflections on Earth" looking at 40 years of natural building in Aotearoa New Zealand
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. Looking back on 20 years of Solid Earth Adobe Buildings.
Jomo Zeil and Sami Weiss from Erden Austria "100% Earth" on large-scale unstabilized rammed earth with Martin Rauch
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.
"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."
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.
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.
Copyright © 2023 Eartbuilding School T/A Solid Earth Adobe Buildings Ltd.