All hands on deck typify the cooperative building of a home. Here

‘Natural’ method of building comes to Sooke

Series of building workshops to be taught in Sooke

With increased attention being drawn to energy efficient and environmentally friendly homes, a workshop being offered by a natural builder is timely. People with sensitivities, allergies and an awareness for their environment may find this another way to build.

KC Natural Homes, in association with the EcoNest Building Company, will host a building workshop this summer in Sooke from July 15 to August 1 covering timber framing, clay and fibre wall construction, wall plastering and roof construction.

“We use natural materials and homes are built with a minimum of toxic chemicals (such as glues which contain formaldehyde, particle board),” said Keary Conwright, the host for the workshops.

The workshop starts with a week of timber framing, which gives hands on experience in mortise and tenon timber joinery – a true craft. It offers a unique opportunity to work with timbers as well as with others of like mind. For some, this experience could be a doorway into the rich world of wooden architecture and perhaps the beginnings of a career in timber framing. Regardless of your intent, the process of transforming a tree into one of the “bones” of a home is magical, explains Conwright.

“It’s a rather intensive three weeks and is an opportunity for people to learn a lot in a short time.”

The clay and fibre (straw and/or wood chip) wall is the core of the Econest building system. In this four day workshop learn how to efficiently wrap a building with a 12” thick blanket of dynamic insulation for health, comfort and building longevity. Called “light clay” construction, the walls provide a balance of thermal mass and insulation and allow the free diffusion of water vapour through the wall.

The next step is finishing the walls with natural clay plaster. The purpose of plastering is to provide a durable, healthy and beautiful protective surface. In the hands of a master craftsman, natural plaster work can be an art form. Students will be instructed by a master plasterer and gain valuable hands-on experience plastering an EcoNest wall.

Finally, with their growing confidence, the students will learn basic roof construction and build the major components of this all important “hat”, which will protect the walls and direct many millions of gallons of water over the life of the home. A well-executed roof should not only be beautiful, but last for many years.

The workshop will be directed by a renowned expert in the field of natural building, Robert Laporte of the EcoNest Building Company. Also, there will be a one-day seminar by an award winning eco-architect and building biologist, Paula Baker Laporte, FAIA, called “Homing in on your nesting instinct.” This seminar will be of particular interest to anyone planning to create a custom home and will address how to get the most out of the process through incorporating natural building, health and ecology.

No experience is necessary to take any of the workshops or segments, but one has to be capable of the physical task.

The site for this building/learning project is at 7708 West Coast Road, just minutes from the town of Sooke. There is room for camping on site and natural healthy lunches will be provided.  For details about the workshop program, including an excellent video showing the steps of the workshop, see the Econest website www.econest.com.

Keary Conwright is a natural home designer and builder living in Otter Point.

www.kcnaturalhomes.com.