The Natural House

Author(s): Dan Chiras

ISBN: 0890132578

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Gracious, comfortable and ecologically-benign homes are being built all across America. You may be intrigued by solar techniques and natural materials, yet lack an overview introducing the basic choices now available, along with the pros and cons of various building options. The Natural House addresses that interest with style and substance.

This exciting new book, written by a veteran author who himself lives in a straw-bale and rammed-tire home, takes the reader on a tour of fourteen natural building methods, including straw bale, rammed earth, cordwood, adobe, earthbags, papercrete, Earthships and more. You’ll learn how these homes are built, how much they cost, and the pros and cons of each. A resource guide at the end of every chapter offers a wealth of information.

This comprehensive sourcebook offers in-depth information that will guide your search for the perfect sustainable dream home. It’s a must for builders, contractors, architects and do-it-yourselfers.

With a writing style that is clear, understandable, at times humorous, and fun to read, the author shows how we can gain energy independence and dramatically reduce our environmental impact through passive heating and cooling techniques, solar electricity, wind power and micro-hydropower. Chiras also explains safe, economical ways of acquiring clean drinking water and treating wastewater, and discusses affordable green building products.

While Chiras is a strong advocate of natural building, he takes care not to romanticize natural building techniques. He alerts readers to avoidable pitfalls, offering detailed practical advice that could save you tens of thousands of dollars, whether you’re buying a natural home, building one yourself or renovating an existing structure or considering hiring a contractor to build for you.

468 pages, 2000

Building with Papercrete and Paper Adobe

Author(s): Gordon Solberg

ISBN: 1928627005

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Papercrete is a type of industrial strength paper maché made with paper and cardboard, sand and portland cement. The concept is quite simple — you build a mixer (essentially a huge kitchen blender), mix the dry ingredients with water to form a slurry, cast the slurry into blocks or panels, and let it dry. When it hardens up, papercrete is lightweight (it’s 80 percent air), an excellent insulator (R 2.8 per inch), holds its shape even when wet, and is remarkably strong (compressive strength of 260 psi). And, since it contains paper fibers, it has considerable tensile strength as well as compressive strength. Papercrete is a remarkable building material, and is remarkably inexpensive, since all the ingredients (except for the cement) are free or nearly free.

This collection of articles is not a step-by-step manual, but does offer a wealth of information about the topic. It’s the most comprehensive source of papercrete information available in one place. You’ll see two ways to build a papercrete mixer, several dome projects, the use of slipforms, several types of block forms, a structure made from paper bales and how several pioneers are pushing the evolution of papercrete.

The packet includes issues 1 through 5 of Earth Quarterly, plus Papercrete News Issues 1 and two. The book Building with Papercrete was a collection of articles that appeared in the Earth Quarterly (Issues 1 – 4 ). The book is now out of print, but this packet contains everything that appeared in the book, and considerably more.

1999 – 2000, 168 pages

All about papercrete: And other alternative building materials

All about papercrete: And other alternative building materials

All about papercrete: And other alternative building materialsAuthor(s): Charmaine Taylor

Publisher: Taylor Publishing and Elk River Press (2001)


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Papercrete is an IDEA , a gift, a new (old) way to look at alternative building materials. By taking unwanted newspapers, discarded cardboard, old phone books, pizza boxes and junk mail you can help eliminate landfill waste and build anything from garden pottery and outdoor furniture, up to a full sized house! This book describes all known methods and practices using Papercrete.

“Papercrete” has been rediscovered about every 30 years. In 1948 an Idaho man, Walt Friberg turned cement, sawdust and diatomaceous earth into crisp building blocks for his home, and went on to help more than 30 others construct their homes. In 1978 Mother Earth news reviewed his still functional home and tried to re-promote the mix. But the Idaho governement-funded study support money dried up and another 30 years went by until Ken Kern experimented with sawdust and clay again.

You’ll read about the latest three “inventors” working with papercrete, and learn how individuals are experimenting and building. Complete houses have been built already, along with offices, privacy walls, workshops and other structures. Small projects like garden pottery (also called Tufastone- with specialized recipes) are easy to make. Mixing instructions and formulas are given, as well as descriptions for mixer construction and alternative options.This version has close up photos of Mike McCain’s new scissor blades and mixer design.

The book also includes descriptions of building experiments with woodchips, sawdust, peat moss, hemp, lime, weeds, EPS and paper adobe, which can be used just like papercrete. This is NOT a housebuilding how- to , but it will get you started on construction ideas away from traditional stick built housing. Papercrete mixes can be used for wall insulation, for sturdy interior plaster over adobe and other materials, as bricks for wall infill, as a slipform pour to build walls, as a poured floor or ceiling, and more, such as the outdoor garden bench I built.

You can begin by making test bricks and plasters using kitchen tools, and experiment on a small scale. Then move on to construct a simple privacy wall, a shed, doghouse, or other small project. 75+ pages with black & white photos and illustrations, tips and advice. Includes emails with pertinent information, and interviews with people who are building with this material, plus comments on building with paper adobe, and earth friendly materials from inventor Sean Sands and Mike McCain.

Book FORMAT: This is a high quality, xerographic document, comb bound, 75+ pages with black & white photos and illustrations. Includes floppy disks with color photos, sites and more papercrete information. If you want to try similar papercrete recipes on a small scale-sucessfully- get Making Concrete Garden Ornaments #1078, beautiful color photos of projects you can try in a weekend, for very little money.