Learn to build with mud brick, rammed earth, wattle and daub online course. Inexpensive, environmentally friendly construction. Eco friendly and sustainable building.

Course Code: ASS103
Fee Code: S1
Duration (approx) Duration (approx) 100 hours
Qualification Statement of Attainment
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Learn Earth Building by Distance Education

  • Build your own Home, Garden Room, Shed or even garden wall
  • Create something different, inexpensive and natural, using raw materials at hand

Earth construction is one of the earliest forms of building known to man; and if done properly, can be just as solid and durable as any other type of building. This course has been developed over three decades by people who have actually constructed earth buildings using mud brick and other techniques (eg. Wattle and daub).



  • 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 6 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 three different types of soil make 6 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 level mud brick workshop

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


  • To discuss the nature and scope of Mud Brick construction
  • To gain some appreciation of the legal considerations which need to be met when building in mud.
  • To determine the requirement for foundations for a mud construction.
  • To determine options for building doors, windows and roofs into a mud building
  • To consider options for coating or finishing the surface of a mud wall or other mud construction.
  • To compare options for providing water, electricity or any other required services in a mud building.
  • To describe a variety of mud construction techniques other than mud brick.

Why Build With Mud?
People build with mud for many different reasons; for some, it is the cost, others the aesthetics, and others for some other reason.
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.
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.

Find Out More about Earth Construction -Talk with one of our Academic Staff.


Course Contributors

The following academics were involved in the development and/or updating of this course.

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.

Gavin Cole

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

Christine Todd

University lecturer, businesswoman, photographer, consultant and sustainability expert; with over 40 years industry experience
B.A., M.Plan.Prac., M.A.(Social).
An expert in planning, with years of practical experience in permaculture.

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