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Natural Building Certificate

August 1, 2016 - November 30, 2016

Rancho Mastatal - Natural Building - Upward Spirals

We are thrilled to announce a new building opportunity for 2016.

Overview, Description, Dates and Cost
We have added a Natural Building Certificate to our calendar for 2016 (August 1 through November 30, 2016).  This unique opportunity will solely focus on natural building with the aim of building a complete structure from foundation, to roof, to walls.  We will be building an approximately 500 square foot cabin.  The aim of this program is for participants to learn all the skills necessary to build their own house.

For a full description of this program please read the Natural Building Certificate description found here.

To learn more about this course’s Learning Objectives, please go here.

To see more information about the building design for this course, please go here.

The timber frame cabin that we will building the program will feature a concrete foundation (essential in our seismically active zone), locally harvested tropical wood, earthen walls, and clay and lime plasters.  Before each new building phase apprentices will receive lectures that will prepare, inform and provide context for each aspect of the building that is about to get tackled.

These lectures will include:

•    site assessment and planning
•    appropriate design (including solar passive design)
•    Google Sketchup
•    foundations (best practice, natural options etc…)
•    timber framing (history, square rule, how we will use it)
•    building with earth ( history, methods, how we will use it)
•    natural plasters ( history, methods, what we will do)
•    roofs (the natural building conundrum!)

Skills that will be learned include
•    levelling foundation site
•    squaring foundation site
•    making rebar reinforcement for concrete piers
•    mixing concrete by hand and pouring piers
•    laying out and cutting the timber frame
•    installing framing for windows, doors and shelving
•    framing for earthen wall structure and lathe
•    earthen wall systems
•    wall preparation for plastering
•    clay plastering
•    lime plastering
•    finish details
•    roof installation

Space in the Natural Building Certificate is limited to assure that participants receive the best training possible.  The Natural Building Certificate is priced at $1,500 per month for 4 months (total of $6,000) and includes all meals (except Sunday dinners when we support the local restaurant), lodging and instruction while at the Ranch.

Why is the Natural Building Certificate more expensive than the Apprenticeship in Sustainable Living?


  • the sole focus for this opportunity is on natural building
  • it is essentially a much longer and more in-depth version of a 10-14 day natural building class
  • we will have lower numbers to assure more individualized attention
  • participants will not be expect to contribute to farm maintenance jobs (except meal cleaning shifts 2-3 times a week)
  • your tuition will help cover costs of materials for the project
  • of the unique opportunity for condensed learning of technical skills
  • we will be learning and practicing 6-days a week (Sundays off to rest)
  • you will get a Natural Builder T-shirt
  • you will receive 3 Certificates in Timber Frame Construction, Earth Building and Natural Plasters.

Please don’t hesitate with questions.


August 1, 2016
November 30, 2016
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Rancho Mastatal
Costa Rica
506 2200-0920
View Venue Website


Tim O’Hara
View Organizer Website

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