Letter Re: Retreat Architecture Options

I noticed that one of your readers requested information on retreat architecture. I’m off the grid and in the process of building a house. Before designing it, I investigated several different types of architecture, including straw bale, insulated concreted form (ICF), adobe, corn cob, concrete and earth-bermed. All of these have wonderful advantages, but one major drawback: nearly all literature and materials available to novices are dedicated to mainstream stick-built homes.

I’ve found few books or other resources that give step-by-step instructions on building in alternative materials, although I’ve found many for stick-built. Home Depot carries lumber, insulation, windows, etc designed to be used in stick-built homes. Even sub-contractors for concrete, electrical, and plumbing look askance when asked about alternative building.

End result: I’m building a standard frame house, despite its many drawbacks. Those who wish to pursue alternative building designs should be aware that they’ll need to be either very experienced, or very stubborn in the face of obstacles. 🙂 – JD