Q: The word “natural” is tossed around quite a bit these days. What’s your definition of a natural house, and how do timber homes fit into this scenario?
A: Natural homes are built with materials that come from near the job site and are minimally processed. For example, timber is minimally processed; it involves taking away existing wood, and the end product still resembles a tree. On the other hand, oriented strand board (OSB) is made with the addition of glues and large amounts of energy. One might ask, “Is the source material still recognizable?”
Also, natural homes are constructed using simple, inexpensive tools and renewable energy in the form of human power. Contrast this concept with conventional building practices, where we use materials from unknown places and with an environmental and health impact we don’t fully understand. We’re forced to hire costly specialists to put the building together, and we must rely heavily on fossil fuels for the manufacture and transportation of materials.