How to Incorporate Indigenous Materials Into Your Home

How can new homeowners incorporate indigenous materials into their homes?


The homeowner is the captain of his or her building project. You set the standards and requirements for your home and can demand healthy, local materials and have them assembled with low environmental impact and maximum thermal performance.

There are general contractors who specialize in building natural timber homes. In fact, while doing research for our book, we were fortunate to meet builders who could take a natural building from design through interior finish. A good first step for builders and homeowners is to look for local materials. Small mills still exist in many parts of the country and can supply lumber for doors, sheathing boards, windows and cabinetry.

Are you up for a bigger challenge? After your timber supplier raises the frame, consider finishing the home yourself. There’s great satisfaction in knowing how to build your own shelter, and the final cost is often a fraction of a conventional house. Workshops and books can help you gain the necessary skills.

The primary benefit of building with local materials is the connection to the places we live. We meet the people in our town and are in a much better position to act on behalf of our community and our children when making decisions about building materials.

Our advice: build naturally, build small and build community.