Going topless in Costa Rica: our “cap-less cob” casa…

It’s been a while since my last architectural update about our Costa Rican mud home being limed so I have a lot of catching up to do. As they say, a builder’s work is never done. I will save my long detailed explanation of what’s been keeping me so busy for the next article. In the […]


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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 […]

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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:  http://www.oxy.edu/biology/tropical-ecology-2014/june-3-2014-ditsowu-talamanca-costa-rica As […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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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, […]

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Water tower

Once we had our well dug, we began constructing a 9-meter/30-foot high water tower using locally harvested teak poles to get some gravity-fed water.  This turned out to be fairly challenging because each of those four upright 10-meter teak poles weigh a ton and the only cranes we had access to were birds and they didn’t […]

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The community site

Over 14 lovely hectares (~35 acres) of pristine and fertile farmland with a seasonal creek (with seasonal fish) passing through the center, in a quiet and undeveloped part of town on the outskirts of Villarreal about 3 kilometers (2 miles) from the beach town of Tamarindo, one of Costa Rica’s prime tourist locations. Where our private […]

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2012 Mud Hut

Earthen structure we built in Round Valley, California within the Mendocino National Forest just before moving to Costa Rica on the winter solstice of 2012. Walking around the structure clockwise… The six round windows below are openable porthole windows. Other than the skylight and porthole windows, the rest of the windows are made of art glass and are fixed […]

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