Build your sustainable dream home

A newly formed group, BC Alternative Housing Society, will hold the first of a series of workshops on building sustainable homes.

Have you ever considered learning how to build your own sustainable dream home?

A newly formed group, BC Alternative Housing Society, will hold the first of a series of workshops to teach you how for $35, or $45 for a couple. The first one will be held in Courtenay this Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from 1 p.m. to finish.

“There are many examples of truly alternative, sustainable and potentially affordable ways to build your home, such as stackwall, Earthships, cob and straw bale. Our workshop will be starting simple, with a small wall made from stackwall,” says Richard Drake, BCHS president.

Stackwall typically consists of stacking lengths of cordwood for walls, similar to a wood pile joined by mortar. What makes this type of house sustainable and affordable is the wood — usually cedar — can often be found for free, and can be assembled by a novice. It is strong and replaces the many layers of a conventional home.

“The buzzwords of green and affordable homes have gained a lot of popularity in recent times,” Drake said. “However, the examples are few and far between here in the Valley, and few in BC. BCHS’ mandate is to both teach people how to build their own homes using relatively simple techniques, and to radically reduce the ecological footprint. Although examples exist of these types of buildings, most often they are off the radar in more remote locations. Our aim is to work within the regulatory system to introduce these on a much wider basis.”

The workshop will be hands on where participants do the building. This will include log preparation, foundation layout and assembly of the wall. Workshops will be fun and sociable. Stackwall lends itself to incorporating all kinds of designs, so you can be as creative as you want.

Other workshops are planned. One will be an Earthship created by Mike Reynolds of the movie Garbage Warrior using rammed earth in old tyres and other reclaimed materials. Such buildings can be totally off the grid where the house is self-sustaining.

For more information contact Ed Wishart at 250-218-4098 or Drake at 250-898-4713, or email

— BC Alternative Housing Society

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