Limecrete and renovating old homes with natural materials, with April Magill of RootDown Design: 128

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I finally had the chance to do a follow up session with one of my favorite natural builders, April Magill. She’s not only an accomplished architect, builder, and educator through her company “Root Down Design” and the American College of the Building Arts, she’s also constantly experimenting with new techniques and materials as you’ll hear in this episode. Back in the first interview that I recorded with April, we dissected rammed earth and how she was working to revive the craft for all its potential benefits for her climate and conditions in Charleston, NC. This time we talk about hempcrete, and how its anti molding insulative properties are presenting all kinds of new options for natural builders whos’ contexts call for insulation to overcome the large temperature swings in different seasons and also need to resist the humidity. We talk about her recent experiments in packing forms in traditional framed homes, the mixture that she’s had success with that includes the pozzolan additive metakaolin, as well as where certain materials are sourced from.

The second half of the interview we dedicate to the topic of home renovations and how it can often be more environmentally responsible to repair and retrofit an existing home than to build and entirely new one, even if it’s made primarily with natural materials. This interview gives a realistic view of some common topics that you listeners have asked me in the past and I’m always excited to talk to professionals who give an honest account of costs, processes, and help to bust myths about natural building and the construction trades in general.

In case you’re looking for even more information on the myths and realities of building for yourself or hiring a contractor to build a natural structure, you can also check out the article that sums these things up called “The Real Cost of a Natural Building” by clicking on the link in the show notes or in the catalogue of articles in the navigation bar at I really feel motivated to give people the most accurate picture of the whole process of building a natural structure for themselves since social media and so many click-bait articles have planted unrealistic expectations around the web.


Root Down Designs

The American College of the Building Arts

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