Natural Building Workshop

Natural Building Workshop

We invite you to a practical workshop that is designed to give you knowledge and skills to help you build your own natural home.


The workshop will be led by Jill Hogan,founder of McGregor Alternative Centre who has over 14 years of experience in natural building. The house is a sandbag house already built and although the focus will not be on building with sandbags, Susan will share all her gained experience and story of the sandbag construction. The sandbag walls have been covered with cob, and no matter what method you use for natural building, whether it is cob, wattle, adobe, rammed earth or strawbale, you use cob.

On the course, we will teach you how to make cob and there will be a mini soil identification workshop so that you can adjust the cob recipe according to your soil type. We will be building wattle and daub walls which is the traditional form of building in the Eastern Cape. We will also be demonstrating earth floors, rubble foundations and then most important lime plaster which is used as a finishing layer over the cob.


Topics that will be covered in the course include the following:

 1.  Wattle and Daub Walls We will be constructing inner walls using an ancient building technique called wattle and daub. Many historic buildings include wattle and daub walls and it has been used for at least 6 000 years. It consists of a woven wooden lattice work that is plastered with an earthen plaster (combination of earth, straw and cow dung). This technique is brilliant for inner walls since it takes up little space and is more insulating that dry walls.


2.  Earthen floors We will be building an earthen floor which contains no cement. This type of floor is far warmer than a synthetic floor and a lot cheaper to construct. Layered with stone, cob and lime, the floor is warm to the touch.

 3.  Natural Plaster We will give you an understanding of the process of plastering walls with a combination of cob and lime. Thereafter we will spent the day making our own and learning the technique of applying lime plaster. Lime plaster is one of the oldest and and hardest endurable building materials. We will teach you how to add colour to the lime using earth. This helps you to exclude toxic paints when you are building your house.


 4.  Rubble foundation Jill will guide us through the construction of a rubble foundation for a stoep. This type of foundation can be used when constructing many different types of natural homes and eliminates the use of concrete. It is brilliant, simple and very effective. And all the material can easily be sourced for free.


 What you will need:

 You are what you repeatedly do so we will be doing a lot of practical work to help you remember the theory. Be prepared for lots of physical building activity. However if you are not capable of physical work, you can still participate and monitor your own contribution in accordance with your body’s capability. There is no forced activity – you be the judge of what you can or can not do. Bring old clothes to work in, gloves, your hand cream (almond oil works wonders) for after work and a good pair of gumboots which is essential for making natural cob mixture and a torch. Remember we can have all sorts of weather, so bring something warm and wind proof. The sandbag house is fully insulated with doors and windows and when the weather is rough, we will take ourselves inside where it is warmer. A pair of gloves and scarf is a good call for the mornings. Also it would be wonderful if you could bring the following work tools: plaster board, rectangular trowel and triangular gauge.


Date: 15 to 19 August 2011

Start 15 August at 08:30 am for breakfast

Cost: The cost of the course is R1350

Places will be reserved on a first paid basis.

Please e-mail a deposit of your payment slip to book your place on the course


Catering: Two teas, breakfast and lunch will be served. All catering will be vegetarian. Please let us know if you have other special dietary requirements.


Accommodation: A range of accommodation options are available in Jeffreys Bay and since it is a small town whatever option you choose will be approximately 5 minute drive from the building location.

We have booked four basic wooden cabins at the Seaview Resort in Jeffreys Bay. Each cabin has two bedrooms, one room has a double bed and the other room three single beds. The cost is R140 per person per night. Should you be interested in sharing accommodation with other course participants, this option could work. Please indicate in your e-mails whether you would be interested in staying at the Seaview Resort.



Finally: Jill Hogan is an incredible source of knowledge and has an amazing “feel” for natural building. We will be covering such a wide range of topics on the course which makes it invaluable to anyone who would like to learn more about natural building.

 For queries related to the course please contact me at


3 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Myra Bailie (Grahamstown) on August 8, 2011 at 11:47 am

    Would love to attend the workshop but seem to not find a e-mail address.


  2. Hi Sue! Well done on the house. I am friends with one of the course participants (Chris) all about it. I am totally jealous that you have beaten us to the finish (although neither of us are completely finished). See our blogspot at Love Heidi


  3. Posted by J.W.D.Pyck on June 26, 2012 at 1:42 pm

    Goeiedag S.Botha.Graag wil ek weet of daar nog kurssusse aangebied word of nie.Ek stel dalk belang om dit te volg,of grondige informasie daar oor te kry.Van beroep is ek een klipkapper-beeldhouer en restoreer sandsteen huise in Oudtshoorn.My opleiding het ek in Europa gekry,ek het dus wel enige bou ervaring.Die bedoeling is om vir my self so een tiepe huis te bou.Kan u my dus dalk help met meer instruksies hoe om dit te doen ens…Ek is bereid m vir die informasie te betaal.Groete Joost Wilfried Dirk Pyck Jonkerstraat 8 Oudtshoorn.Selfoon:0835801954/


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