Planning Your Dream Natural Building Home Workshop, East Sussex, UK.

Earth, Hands and Houses Straw Bale Workshop Leader, Paulina Wojciechowska

Building with earth: Paulina and her passion…

People having fun at a Clay Plastering Workshop run by Earth, Hands and Houses.

Workshops are always lots of fun!

A six day workshop on planning your dream natural home
Friday 16th – Thursday 22nd June 2017, (with one day off in the middle)
Taught by Antony Dennis and an architect and earthbag author Paulina Wojciechowska.

The workshop will be held in a lovely field in the english countryside 30 minutes drive from London Gatwick airport.

This workshop is a combination of lots of hands on experience combined with lectures and discussion to help you plan your dream home made from natural materials.

What You Will Learn

The workshop covers all areas of planning your home, from choosing a site, through planning the design, to an awareness of what is involved in all aspects of the build so you can plan what you can do and what will require the help of others.

Throughout the six days, the workshop is 50% presentation and discussion, and 50% hands-on practical work.

The topic areas covered are:

An in-depth look at all aspects of planning the design of your natural home, including:

  • Choosing your site
  • Preparation of a site plan
  • Dealing with the site’s characteristics such as earth types, ground topology, etc.
  • Creating a house design to suite your lifestyle
  • The balance of costs: money, time, quality.
  • How to find your balance point and cost your project in a realistic way
  • Working with architects, builders and volunteers
  • Fitting the project into your life.
  • A design example: the amazing 5 bedroom house being built at Oaklands Farm.

Technologies choices for the house structure:

  • Foundations: types of foundations, pros and cons, which to use in different site situations, relative costs and effort involved.
  • Roof structures: types of roofs, pros and cons, how to choose the best roof structure for your project, relative costs and effort involved.
  • Insulation: a discussion of different solutions and their relative effectiveness.
  • Walls: an overview of natural building wall technologies: straw bale, cordwood, earthbag, cob, rammed earth, old tyres.
  • Floors: an overview of the different technologies, their pros and cons.
  • Guidelines for designing wall structures using different technologies
  • Balancing your idealogical ideas with your building inspector’s logical, legal ones.
  • Hands-on experience:  on straw bale, earthbag and cob and wattle and daub.

An overview of planning and installing services, with an emphasis on specific considerations for houses built from natural materials:

  • Electrical systems
  • Plumbing systems
  • Heating systems.
  • Waste water drainage systems
  • Rainwater drainage systems
  • Internal shelving and structures.

Review and Presentation of up to Three Design Plans
Many people come to our workshops with plans and ideas for their house and site design. We will select up to three design ideas from participants to be reviewed by Paulina during the workshop and presented to the group on the last day for further discussion. Many of our attendees have specialist knowledge on particular areas of design, construction or permaculture, and it can be a valuable experience to share that knowledge. Please let us know with your workshop application if you would like your design ideas to be reviewed and presented.

Hands-on Experience – 50% of Workshop Time

This would be a very boring workshop if it were 5 days of lectures – and you would never be able to retain and use all the details. This workshop will be around 50% hands-on, based around the building aspects of a natural home. The hands-on work will be a brief introduction to the technologies involved, and will include:

  • Constructing some of the foundations on the straw bale project that follows this workshop.
  • Building with cob
  • Building with earthbags
  • Building with cordwood
  • Building with straw bales
  • Constructing part of a rainwater drainage system.
  • Working with electrical wiring, sockets and lights.
  • Working with plumbing and waste water parts.

Book Your Place

The price of the six day workshop is £445 per person, or a discounted price of £395 is available if booked by 1st March 2017.

Note that immediately after this workshop, we will run a five day workshop on how to build with earthbags, domes and arches, then a 5 day straw bales workshop followed by a further 6 day course on artistry with clay, more in-depth clay plastering techniques.

Numbers on the workshop will be limited to ensure a good learning experience, and we are expecting the allocated places to fill up before the workshop begins.

Children from the age of 8 are welcome to accompany their parent(s) and may participate in parts of the workshop as they wish. No charges are made for children under the age of 16 years.

To book your place:

email info@EarthHandsAndHouses.org or
call Antony on (+44) 7812 070413.

About your Workshop Leader

The workshop will be lead by Earth, Hands and Houses Antony Dennis and founder Paulina Wojciechowska, a qualified architect who has over 18 years of experience building with straw bales and  earthbags in communities all around the world.

Paulina worked alongside Nader Khalili at Cal-Earth in 1996 and is the author of “Building with Earth”, one of the leading earthbag construction books. She also worked with leading straw bale and clay plaster veterans Bill and Athena Steen in 1997-8 and has been involved in running straw bale and earthbag workshops and designing and building straw bale structures since then. Click here to hear Paulina talk about her experiences.

Food, Location, Accommodation

Vegetarian food will be available at an additional cost, payable upon arrival. The food will comprise a self service breakfast, full cooked lunchtime meal, and a light supper.

The workshop will be held on a farming field, close to Weir Wood reservoir, in Forest Row, which is a 30 minute drive south of London Gatwick airport. You may camp at the farm for £5/night.

Click here for more details of the camping facilities, maps, travel information and other accommodation available.

Workshop Timing

The workshop will run the following times:

Day 1: from 10:00 to 18:00. You are welcome to arrive on the afternoon of the day before to set up camp and settle in before the workshop begins.

Days 2-5: from 09:00 to 17:00.

Day 6: from 09:00 to 16:00. If you are camping, you are welcome to stay on until the following morning if you wish.

But there is more…

This will be more than just a natural building workshop – it will be a wonderful opportunity to enjoy learning and relaxing amongst like minded people, some who may become your friends for life!

Learn more…

Hear Paulina talk about her experience and vision for Earth, Hands and Houses:

Watch people’s experience of an Earth, Hands and Houses straw bale and clay plastering workshop: