2012 Natural Building Apprenticeship

6 Week Natural Building Apprenticeship

Dates: April 29 – June 9

Location: House Alive Homestead, Jacksonville, OR

Instructor: Coenraad Rogmans

Cost: $2650
Note: This program is nearly full! We try to keep it gender-balanced, so there is now a waitlist for male applicants. There is one spot left for a female applicant.


For the 8th year, House Alive is offering people the unique opportunity to immerse themselves in the art of Natural Building. With this 6-week apprenticeship, students will develop the skills and confidence to build for themselves or others, and teach others what they have learned. This program is also ideal for the owner-builder who is interested in a well rounded, extended training program.

Learning how to design and build is like many arts: the more you do it, the better you get.  During the course, we will build a small cabin from the ground up. We will go through the steps of designing and building the cabin, and paying close attention to skill development at each stage so that everyone can broaden their understanding of the challenges that face builders and teachers.

At the end of the 6 weeks, we aim for students to have developed their skills and understanding in the following areas:

  • Designing houses, cabins and outdoor spaces
  • Site preparation and foundations
  • Wall construction: cob, straw bale, light-straw-clay
  • Doors, windows, niches, built-in furniture,
  • Basic plumbing for natural buildings
  • Basic electricity for natural buildings
  • Earthen plasters on cob, drywall, and other materials
  • Earthen floors on compacted grade as well as on conventional surfaces
  • Harvesting and working with round poles
  • Roofs, ceilings and insulation
  • Building wood fired bread and pizza ovens
  • Use of recycled materials
  • Working with groups

The general schedule of the program is 5 days of of building and learning (Monday-Friday), with a field trip each Saturday morning. We are lucky enough to have many other cob and natural building in the area and will take time to visit those and learn from what we see.

Apprentices will be provided with a place to camp and all food for the duration of the program, and will be asked to take turns assisting with the food preparation. Our extensive natural building library will be available for after-hours reading, and hand-outs will be provided as appropriate.

Students who demonstrate good skill progression may be invited to further their building and teaching skills by joining the teaching team as an assistant for a House Alive workshop.  We will actively coach you in your development as a teacher.

This has been one of our most popular and successful programs over the years, and it tends to fill up quickly. There are no prerequisites to participation, but we ask that you answer a number of questions (see below) to make sure that what we have to offer will fit your needs. We feel that all of us, instructors and students, make a big commitment in time and money during these long programs and we want to make sure that it is a good match for all. If you’re interested in joining us this spring, send your application in now!

1) General information: What is your age, sex (if not obvious by your name), how do you occupy your time (work, school, etc.), and where do you live?
2) What are your interests and/or hobbies?
3) What experience do you have with physical labor?
4) What experience do you have in construction? (None required)
5) Why do you want to participate in this program?
6) Describe some of your experiences with living and/or working in a small community.

Please e-mail your answers to coenraad@housealive.org. Or if you prefer regular mail, you can send them to:

House Alive Apprenticeship
7540 Griffin Lane
Jacksonville, OR 97530

Once we receive your answers, we may follow up with a phone call or additional questions.  If you are accepted to the program, you’ll need to send in a $850 non-refundable deposit to hold your spot. Visit our general workshop information page if you would like to know more, and feel free to contact us if you have any questions or would like to be connected with previous participants in our program!