Back to Nature – Building Homes from Natural Materials

Long before modern construction, before human-made materials and before manufacturing, our ancestors managed to built shelters from the natural materials surrounding them. Today, modern building mainly relies on manufactured materials to construct modern homes. But this has caused a significant adverse impact on the environment over the years. For this very reason, humankind is trying to find alternative resources and methods which will minimize the harmful effect on the environment. One way we can go about doing so is by turning back to nature and make use of natural materials to build homes.

Green building techniques, methods, and natural building materials are for sure much friendlier towards planet Earth, and even though it is not possible to use methods that are 100% sustainable, we can still manage to control the negative impact. Natural building materials have great benefits; for example, they reduce the use of products that require a great deal of energy during manufacturing and in some cases they are also more energy-efficient.

Here is a list of natural building materials that one can make use of during the construction of a home.

1. Adobe

One of the oldest building materials that are still used today is adobe. This material is made up of dirt and water, and other fibers can be added for additional strength. After it is mixed, it gets shapes and sun-dried. In most cases, the end product is in the form of bricks, which gets stacked with mud mortar to form a construction.

2. Straw Bale

Straw is a great renewable resource, it has excellent insulation properties, and it is fire resistant as well. Straw can be used to fill in a timber frame structure or to assist in carrying the weight of a roof. Thus, straw bales have an excellent load bearing capacity.

3. Cob

Cob was used in the ancient times as well, and today it is seen as a multi-faceted green building material. Cobs get formed by making a mud-like material from clay or sand, local earth, and added fibers. The materials are used to apply over a concrete or stone foundation.

4. Wood

Wood has been and still is very common when it comes to constructing homes. Yes, all wood is natural, but for it to be seen as a naturally sustainable resource it needs to be harvested locally and from a renewable source. Wood is a great natural building material which can be used for the outside construction of the home as well as inside.

5. Bamboo

Bamboo is a solid natural material which is in abundance because it grows very fast. Bamboo can be used in varies of building applications, for example, as a solid replacement for rebars.

6. Masonry

Another ancient building material is masonry which includes brick and stone. Masonry can be used for foundations, floors, walls, walkways and even landscaping.

7. Earthbags

The military has used earthbags for a long time in the form of a protective barrier. They are also great for usage in areas which are prone to flooding. They have proven to be successful and therefore are used in a variety of building applications, which includes the construction of huge, substantial walls which is weather resistant.

8. Earth

Different types of homes can be constructed from earth. The rammed earth techniques have been used since ancient times, which is mostly made up of sand and clay materials which gets compressed into place. The surface it creates is usually flat and vertical.

9. Green Roof

Living roof aka a green roof is a roof that is constructed out of soil, and plants. Even though it uses other materials to form the first layer of the roof, living roofs are an excellent way to implement nature in our constructions. The benefits of green roofs are endless, as it helps to insulate the homes, provides habitat for wildlife, helps to control stormwater and many more.

10. Wattle and Daub

Flexible wood and fibers are used to create wattle. These materials get woven loosely to form an underlying structure that can be used for walls. Plaster gets daubed into the wattle which provides the thermal mass. Straw can also be used for this process, in which case the insulation will be even better.

Final Thoughts

Due to a continuous increase in population, the fast pace that we are living and the fact that “times means money,” homes and building are constructed in a short period. This sometimes means that non-sustainable resources are being used to save on time.

Fortunately, the construction industries are becoming part of the green movement and are finding alternative ways to build homes which are more eco-friendly. Making use of natural building materials that can be found locally is a significant improvement when it comes to the building of houses.

Mattea Jacobs

Mattea Jacobs is a freelance writer who mostly writes about both interior and exterior home design, and environmentally-friendly ways to improve homes. She is also a green activist and a mother of two beautiful sons.

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