Mudding the Wired Web

Traditional wisdom says metal and mud don’t mix because, unlike metal, mud shrinks when it dries causing it to crack, which allows water to penetrate, causing the building to self-destruct.  However, sometimes traditional wisdom turns out to be more of an old wives’ tale as the mud hut we built in northern California aptly demonstrates.  As a general […]

Read more "Mudding the Wired Web"

Weaving & wiring a wonderful “web”

For the first earthen structure we’re building here in Costa Rica I wanted to pay homage to the indigenous people (like the Bribris of the Talamanca Province and many other tribes), who traditionally built thatched conical structures framed with poles that symbolically represented the legendary/archetypal primordial hill where creation began, and the universe itself.  Photo below from: As […]

Read more "Weaving & wiring a wonderful “web”"

Casting the foundation

A foundation is, without a doubt, one of the most important elements of construction.  It supports the entire weight of the structure, and evenly distributes the load over the ground underneath.  It holds the building together as a single unit (extremely important in seismic zones), keeps it level, minimizes settling to prevent cracking accompanied by water infiltration, and raises the […]

Read more "Casting the foundation"


It’s a good thing I specialize in fireproof housing because fire seems to be following me wherever I go!  A few months before completing our California mud house in December of 2012, my property was badly damaged by an immense wildfire that had consumed over 40,000 acres of the Mendocino National Forest that bordered it.  As much as I […]

Read more "ANOTHER FIRE?!"

Thorny Shed & Outhouse

Once we had gravity-fed water, the next task was to construct a shed to store and protect the building materials and tools that we needed to build our first mud house.  At the time, my only vehicle was a bicycle and it would have been extremely burdensome (if not impossible) to have to commute with all my tools, […]

Read more "Thorny Shed & Outhouse"