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Video reveals secrets behind ancient construction method that could help build low-cost housing: ‘A sustainable and affordable option’

Constructing a natural building costs substantially less than a traditional one.

Constructing a natural building costs substantially less than a traditional one.

Photo Credit: TikTok

There may be an ancient yet efficient and low-cost solution to a growing homelessness and housing crisis affecting many communities throughout the U.S. — and it’s made of mud.

Cooper Green, a self-described “educational content” provider and natural building disciple, is on a mission to teach the world how mudhouses are built. Although brief, the TikTok video is refreshingly straightforward and surprisingly comprehensive for a one-minute tutorial about home construction. 

Green also provides more detailed examples on Instagram and YouTube

@naturalbuildings How To Build A Mud House in 60 Seconds To watch the full tutorial series visit my YouTube channel with the link in bio! #mudhouse #cobhouse #bioconstrução #naturalbuilding #sustainability #ecofriendly #offgrid #tinyhouse #primitiveskills ♬ original sound – Natural Buildings

The main building component is cob, described by Green as “a mix of sand, straw, and clay” in the Natural Building’s Q&A forum. Additional materials like gravel, wooden rafters, and sheathing round out the supply list. With those ingredients on hand, someone has what Green would call a great recipe for constructing a solid mudhouse.  

Could he be on to something good? While it’s unconventional, the evidence suggests building a mudhouse is affordable, obtainable, and sustainable. Within the past three years, rent prices have spiked 24%, an astronomical increase, particularly for renters who were already struggling with rising cost-of-living demands. 

Constructing a natural building like a mudhouse costs substantially less than a traditional one. As many of the materials can be dug up, chopped down, or gathered by the person building the mudhouse, there’s not nearly as much to buy or transport. 

These sturdy structures have other advantages, too. Mudhouses possess a natural ability to stay cool in hot weather and retain heat in the cold. With the right composition, these natural buildings can also withstand fire and storms

The best proof of an earthen home’s durability can be found by looking to the past. Ancient buildings like some found in Africa, Asia, and Central and South America still stand, firmly and proudly. However, the most profound testament to these natural buildings is that mud architecture remains appealing and is becoming even more popular.  

Mudhouses bear some similarities to other resourceful styles of DIY-esque home-building, like “cob houses” and “Earthships.” Cob houses simply use cob as a primary ingredient, while Earthships go a few steps further. 

Earthships follow many of the same principles, except they typically involve the use of old tires and dirt to form a foundation and other types of discarded materials like glass bottles to build walls, often in artful ways, and are intended to be paired with solar power to allow an inhabitant to live off the grid.  

Great for the environment, low-cost, and completely doable with the right instructions and execution, natural buildings are undoubtedly compelling. And their capacity to effect positive change is tremendous. 

As Green continues his work to bring natural buildings into the mainstream, he also sees the potential for mudhouses to become an effective housing solution. 

“I think mudhouses are a sustainable and affordable option, depending on your climate,” he wrote, acknowledging it’s not a house type that would work in all areas of the world. Green also noted that increased land access would help and stressed the need to use “reclaimed and natural materials” when possible “to make the largest impact.” 

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