The Seeds of Permanence: Building a multi-century home

For the past 18 months, PlaceShakers has been covering the work of my friend, Clay Chapman, and his quest to build a near-permanent, structural masonry home for a price accessible to the middle class. I wrote this introduction when he was breaking ground and, later, when the shell of his test home was completed, I posted a follow-up.

That house, which launched his “Hope for Architecture” initiative, is now complete and Clay’s been engaged to build a new house — a modest variation of the original HFA house — for a new client.

In an effort to help everyone understand just what’s involved in his approach to structural masonry, and just how much it differs from conventional, stick-built construction, he produced an animation sequence illustrating all the steps required up until the point where conventional framing and finishing takes over.

Curious what it takes to build a house with a multi-century design life? Here’s 2:35 you’ll be glad you invested:

Scott Doyon

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  1. Relatives of my boyfriend visited from Germany last year and showed us slides of the home that they had constructed. As they discussed the materials and methods, all I could think is that they were building something that would last 100s of years, not something that might be scraped away when the next housing fad emerged. The difference in attitude was so refreshing. Would that most construction was approached this way.

  2. Cheryl Carlson says

    Strawbale homes are more affordable than masonry,more insulative and meet code in many states. Just saying…

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