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  • Writer's pictureTim McGee


Its been a few months since the last post on our house build. We have been very busy building our foundation.

For those of you who don't know, we are building a house out of straw, mud, and wood. The natural building system we are using is called light straw clay (more on LSC in future posts) and it requires a 12 inch thick wall in order to meet code requirements in our area.

Most modern houses have much thinner walls which meant we had a hard time finding a concrete company to build our foundation at a reasonable price. So, we did it ourselves. It took us longer than the pros, but we saved tens of thousands of dollars (YES tens!). Most importantly, we were successful in the end.

Enjoy the photos below.

You got to start somewhere.

A master carpenter, Bernard Mehl, is our main advisor. He patiently answers questions for us and helps make sure we are on the right track. At times I felt like we were tuning the foundation like you would tune a guitar or a drum. A tweak here... a push there...until it all started to lock into place. It seems to create a resonance that will support the house and make it a home.

Cup of tea and you will be right as rain, is what they say.

With help from friends, grit, and some humor things slowly progressed. There are a lot of details that you have to line up doing a project like this. Pretty much every step of the way I have made some sort of mistake, or miscalculation. I'm starting to accept that as part of the flow of things as our house starts to take on a life of it's own.

A few days before the pour, I realized I was not going to be ready. The workers I had lined up had to quarantine, and I was all alone out in the rain tying rebar with busted knuckles. I sent out a text to anyone I thought might be able to help. A few people responded back and there was a spark of hope.

The morning of the pour, I just kept working, even though I didn't know if I would make it. All of a sudden, A whole team of people showed up to carry us through to the end. I had never even met a few of the people that came. They just new a neighbor needed help and they are the kind of people to show up and help.

And we did it!

As with all good things, endings lead to new beginnings, and answers open the door for more questions.

What does it mean to build a foundation? What does it mean for my family, the land, the Earth, myself? What will it be in 50 years? What will it be in 500 years? How can I use my experience to help others? How can we develop with the land in cooperation and harmony? How do I survive this experience while keeping a giggle or two tucked away in my pocket?


Tim McGee is an acupuncturist, herbalist, farmer, and permaculture expert. He and his wife, Debbie Nicol-McGee, created Farm Hands Acupuncture and Massage on Bainbridge Island, WA. They provide natural therapies for many problems and work to support wellness in their clients and community.

If you would like to talk with Tim, please email or leave a comment below.

69 views2 comments


Jun 18, 2022

Omg why am I thinking of doing this too?

Tim McGee
Tim McGee
Jun 18, 2022
Replying to

We are just getting all the hard stuff out of the way for you. What kind of structure are you guys thinking about?

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