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Southwest Solar Adobe School - Learn how to build with adobe. Details on adobe construction, green building, rammed earth construction, passive solar homes, solaradobe, and pressed block. Become an adobe home builder!

  adobe plastering expert
  energy self-reliance, a home that blends with the landscape, or by an appreciation of rare craftsmanship. Others see the value over time ~ a well-built earth home appreciates faster than other residential real estate in the Southwest.  

All need to learn about the materials and the process- the nuts-and-bolts.This is true regardless of whether you plan to "build your own", or determine if that contractor or architect back home is really qualified to build for you.

How we teach-
We deploy slides, power-point, lecture, and on-the-spot sketches in the classroom. At hands-on, we stress safety, demonstrate the techniques and encourage you to get into the work. We want you to learn about your cost options, about the thermal aspect of mass walls, about seismic design and about the codes. We back up our lecture with handouts and reference material.

General plan and major topics-
The 2-day agenda is classroom all day on Saturday and Hands-on all day on Sunday. We may switch these days if Sundays prediction threatens rain. Class begins at 8 a.m. with coffee and fresh fruit/juice provided. We will typically hold class to a later hour on Saturday (6:30 pm) and let you out earlier on Sunday (3:30pm). In class, we'll be taking you through the steps for Earth wall construction: Preparing the site, identifying proper soils, stabilization, foundations, fireplaces, walls and windows, bond beams, and popular roofing solutions. Threaded in with the steps are tips on passive solar, green building, cost savers and finish options. We always stick to the current codes (the 2006 International Building Code and the 2006 International Residental Code.

For Sundays class, it's a rustic Hands-on day. Bring your work (or old) clothes, along with hat, gloves, supportive footwear and dark glasses (for eye protection from glare and flying adobe chips). We'll be building on a real

  Earth-wall plastering and sealing expert Jim Estess explains an application to SWSA students. Jim's sealers have been used on large, commercial as well as smaller scale earthen projects around the Western USA.

project and you'll have a chance to get familiar with the tools and materials. We'll be mixing mud and laying adobes to the string during adobe classes and pressing block and ramming a section of rammed earth wall during that class. At lunch time, you can brown bag lunch on site or go into town for a meal. Lunch break both days is one hour and 15 minutes. However, cold drinks, water and shade will be available on site and you should take a rest break whenever you feel the need. Do bring your camera!

Construction can be dangerous and safety must be practiced at all times. We wish to remind our students that children under 14 are not allowed in class and especially not on Hands-on sites, unless for a short while under parental supervision. Pets are likewise restricted, unless for a short while on a leash. Students may be asked to sign a release before beginning Hands-on. Occasionally, weather conditions can be uncomfortable, such as on windy days when dust may be airborne. A jacket may be welcome for chilly spring or fall evenings.

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