Mud Brick Construction

Course CodeASS103
Fee CodeS1
Duration (approx)100 hours
QualificationStatement of Attainment
  

LEARN TO BUILD WITH MUD

  • Learn to build a home, a shed, a garden room, a wall, a community building
    Study from home, any time -100 hour self paced course
  • Course developed by people who have actually built earth construction buildings
  • ACS has been teaching earth construction since the early 1980's

Mud Brick Construction aims to develop an understanding of how to approach building with mud bricks. Mud brick building is also known by the alternative name 'adobe'. There are other ways of building with mud brick apart from 'adobe'. These will be covered briefly in this course. For the novice, there is not a lot which can go wrong if you choose to build with mud brick.


Our Story

John Mason, our principal first encountered earth building in the early 70's; in the Yarra Valley (near Melbourne), where he lived. He was encouraged by John Archer (founder of Owner Builder magazine) in the early 80's to develop this course, and in 1983 he built his first mud brick building -which was the first office for this school.  Since that time, we have continued to collect resources and learn increasingly more about earth building, through our own experiences and that of our students.    Let us help you learn too.



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Lesson Structure

There are 10 lessons in this course:

  1. Scope of Mud Brick
    • What is Mud Construction (Adobe, Pise)
    • Advantages of Earth Construction (Cost savings, Self satisfaction, Aesthetics, Eco friendliness, Health benefits)
    • History of earth construction
    • Pise (Rammed Earth)
    • Mud Brick
    • Wattle and Daub
    • Cob
    • Cinva Ram
    • Cement Stabilisation
    • Bituminous stabilisation
    • Mortar
    • Variations in Earth Building Techniques
    • Appropriate Soils for Earth Construction
    • Finding Resources
  2. How to make a mud brick
    • Testing and working with different soils
    • Soil Tests
    • Steps in making a brick
    • Plasticity Soil Test
    • Cake Soil Test
    • Compression Tests
    • Brick Size
    • Brick Weights
    • Moulds
    • Binding Materials
    • Mixing Mud
    • Treating Bricks after they are Cast
    • Stacking Bricks
    • Troubleshooting
  3. Planning and Site Works
    • Choosing Building Materials
    • Timber (Characteristics, Selection)
    • Adhesives
    • Plastics
    • Masonary, Bricks and Concrete
    • Insulation Materials
    • Selecting a Building Site
    • Solar House Design
    • General Principles of Building Design
    • Impact of Buildings on Health
    • Dangerous Building Materials (Awareness and factors)
  4. Legal Considerations
    • Building Regulations (Variations between jurisdictions)
    • What might be regulated
    • Types of Permits
    • Building Codes
  5. Foundations
    • Strip Foundations
    • Slab Foundations
    • Specialist Engineering Advice
    • Rock and Rubble Foundations
    • Problems to Avoid
    • Sealing Foundations
    • Other Options (Masonary pillars, timber pylons)
    • Earth Floors
  6. Laying Bricks
    • Damp Proof Course
    • Methods for laying bricks
    • Making mud mortar
    • Laying mortar
    • Bonding
    • Reinforcing Walls
  7. Doors, Windows and Roofs
    • Roofing Options
    • Thatching
    • Bark (for sheds)
    • Tiles
    • Fibreglass sheet
    • Shingles (timber or slate)
    • Mud brick domes
    • Steel sheet
    • Hessian soaked in concrete
    • Earth/sod
    • Roof Pitch
    • Roof Weight
    • Roof Gardens
    • Doors and Windows
    • Lintels
    • Fixing, Joinery and Plugs
    • Ceilings
    • Timber Finishes
    • Slab Floors
    • Supported Floors
    • Floor Surfaces
  8. Finishes
    • Wall Finishes
    • Whitewash
    • Bondcrete
    • Dagga
    • Lineed Oil
    • House Paints
    • Natural Loam Render
    • Cement Render (Plaster)
    • Latex Paint Render
    • Other Options
    • Floor Finishes
    • Applying Paints and Renders
    • Natural Healthy Paints
    • Making Lime Wash Paints
    • Problems with Lime Wash
    • Aly’s Clay Paint
    • Tallow and Lime Based Coating
    • Using Commercial Paints
    • Timber Treatments
  9. Services
    • Electricity
    • Water
    • Gas
    • Toilet
    • Working with Eartyh Walls
    • Plumbing
    • Electricity Supply Systems (Turbines, generators, batteries, Solar Cells, etc)
    • Safety with Electricity
    • Electro Magnetic Radiation (Managing EMR)
    • Terminology
  10. Other types of Earth Building
    • Making Rammed Earth Walls
    • How to Build Forms
    • Tampers (Hand and air)
    • Rammed Earth Construction
    • Wattle and Daub
    • Sod Buildings
    • Cob

Each lesson culminates in an assignment which is submitted to the school, marked by the school's tutors and returned to you with any relevant suggestions, comments, and if necessary, extra reading.

Aims

  • Discuss the nature and scope of Mud Brick construction
  • Identify the legal considerations which need to be met when building in mud.
  • Determine the requirement for foundations for a mud construction.
  • Determine options for building doors, windows and roofs into a mud building
  • Analyze options for coating or finishing the surface of a mud wall or other mud construction.
  • Compare options for providing water, electricity or any other required services in a mud building.
  • Describe a variety of mud construction techniques other than mud brick.

What You Will Do

  • Get together a sample of earth which you might like to use to make mud bricks. This earth might be on a property where you wish to build a mud brick house, or it might be from a friend's property. Collect earth from at least a few inches below the soil.
  • Find different types of soil. Give your assessment on the suitability of each for making mud bricks. Send a sample of each soil type along with your assessment of it's suitability for making mud bricks.
  • Using different types of soil make test mud bricks. One mud brick should be made with each type of soil plus straw. Make another brick out of each type of soil without straw.
  • Visit or contact your local council's building department. Find out from them where you can obtain a copy of `Standard Specifications' from.
  • Explain step by step how you would go about putting down a concrete strip foundation for a small single story mud brick workshop.
  • Lots more (These are just some examples of what you may do)

Mud brick building is also known by the alternative name `adobe'. There are other ways of building with mud apart from `adobe'. These will be considered briefly in this course. Of all the mud building techniques, `adobe' or `mud brick' is the most foolproof. For the novice, there is not a lot which can go wrong if you choose to build with `adobe'.


ADVANTAGES OF MUD BRICK CONSTRUCTIONS

There are several major attractions associated with earth buildings:

Cost Savings

Earth building can be a very cheap way of building. This is not necessarily always the case however. If you become too ambitious in your plans and design a building full of cathedral ceilings and stained glass, you are likely to find that any savings you might make by using mud are offset in the added expense of these features).

 

Self Satisfaction

Earth building can be so very simple that (with adobe at least) a beginner can attempt and successfully build his own home. The self satisfaction to be obtained from building your own home should not be underrated.

 

Aesthetics

Earth buildings have an appearance which is very unique. Many people build out of mud simply because they like the look of it.

 

ECO Friendliness

Earth is a natural material that can create a more environmentally friendly building. If done properly it can place less demand on planetary resources than other types of construction both in the actual building and in the running costs (eg. You are not chopping down trees to build, or burning fuel to create bricks. Thick earth walls are great for insulation, reducing heating and cooling costs).

 

Human Health

If done properly an earth building can be constructed with less use of toxins. You may not need pesticides to control termites. You may not need so many plastics, adhesives and other building materials that emit toxins into the air. An earth building can however be dusty if not constructed properly; and that can lead to problems with dust mites, allergies etc.

When it comes to making an earth building people friendly, you do need to pay attention to how things are constructed. Just because it’s an earth building does not mean it is automatically going to be a healthier place for you to live in. 

Two of the most common types of `earth building' are:

  • Adobe (i.e. mud brick) involves making bricks (i.e. blocks) out of mud; allowing them to dry and then laying them to form a wall; the same way that any other type of brick would be laid.
  • Pise (i.e. rammed earth) involves forming a framework to encase the earth (i.e. two timber walls are built perhaps 300 mm or so apart) with the ramming earth between these two boards. Once one section of wall is completed, the framework can be moved higher and another section of wall built.



 

WHAT CAN BE BUILT

Earth building can be on any scale from small to massive. Anything that can be built with normal bricks can be built with mud: it just looks different, needs to be built a little differently, and can be a lot less costly to build.
 
Often people start out by building nothing more than garden walls, a wood fired oven, outdoor seating, or other small projects.
Some people build gazebos, sheds, workshops or other small buildings and others construct entire houses.

Entire towns (eg. Timbuktu) in some parts of the world are built with mud. Mud buildings can last a very long time.

Properly maintained mud buildings have been known to last for over a thousand years.









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Credentials

ACS Distance Education holds an Educational Membership with the ATA
ACS Distance Education holds an Educational Membership with the ATA

ACS is an Organisational Member of the British Institute for Learning and Development
ACS is an Organisational Member of the British Institute for Learning and Development

Member of Study Gold Coast, Education Network
Member of Study Gold Coast, Education Network

ACS is recognised by the International Accreditation and Recognition Council
ACS is recognised by the International Accreditation and Recognition Council

ACS is a Member of the Permaculture Association (membership number 14088)
ACS is a Member of the Permaculture Association (membership number 14088)



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  John Mason

Writer, Manager, Teacher and Businessman with over 40 years interenational experience covering Education, Publishing, Leisure Management, Education, and Horticulture. He has extensive experience both as a public servant, and as a small business owner. John is a well respected member of many professional associations, and author of over seventy books and of over two thousand magazine articles.
  Maggi Brown

Maggi is regarded as an expert in organic growing throughout the UK, having worked for two decades as Education Officer at the world renowned Henry Doubleday Research Association. She has been active in education, environmental management and horticulture across the UK for more than three decades. Some of Maggi's qualifications include RHS Cert. Hort. Cert. Ed. Member RHS Life Member Garden Organic (HDRA) .
  Gavin Cole

Former operations manager for highly reputable Landscape firm, The Chelsea Gardener, before starting his own firm. Gavin has over 20 years of industry experience in Psychology, Landscaping, Publishing, Writing and Education. Gavin has a B.Sc., Psych.Cert., M. Psych. Cert.Garden Design, MACA.
  Martin Powdrill

25 years working in Telecommunications, IT, Organisational Development, and Energy Conservation & Efficiency, prior to setting up his own Permaculture consulting business. Martin has a Bsc (Hons) Applied Science (Resources Option), MSc Computer Studies, Permaculture Design Certificate. Martin volunteers with many local environmental and community groups, and facilitates discussions on climate change, peak oil, and transition towns. Martin has an allotment, and is currently enrolled in the Scottish Mountain Bike Leader Award programme. Martin’s goal as a catalyst for sustainable change brings together his strengths and experience in his environmental, project management, and business backgrounds.
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