Do I need to make a reservation and/or pay to come to Open House?
No, Open House is free to the public and no reservations are necessary. For more information and upcoming dates please see the Visiting page.
Where can I see examples of SuperAdobe structures that have been built outside of CalEarth?
Check out the SuperAdobe Structures Worldwide page for a sample of projects around the world. We have record of structures built in over 40 countries including Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chad, Chile, Colombia, Djibouti, France, Guatemala, Haiti, India, Iran, Jamaica, Jordan, Mexico, Mongolia, Morocco, Nepal, Pakistan, Senegal, Siberia, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Thailand, USA, and Venezuela among others.
I want to learn to build, but where should I start?
There are many different ways to learn, both in person and online. If you are not able to come to a workshop in person at this time or just want to see what this is all about before visiting us, check out our online classes available for download and streaming or purchase some of our books and DVDs for self-study. Our goal is to have the entire curriculum online this year (if you want to help us fundraise to make this possible please click here!) We always recommend hands-on workshops on-site at CalEarth in Hesperia, California if this is possible for you. We have a wide variety of programs to choose from depending on your interest level. There are four main categories: One Day Intro Workshops, Core Curriculum Workshops (4 day program or 2 weekends), Specialty Workshops (Permaculture and Rocket Stove Combined Programs offered annually and our Ceramics Program), and Long Term Apprenticeships. Visit our Learn to Build section to read more about each program and see which is the right fit for you.
If I pay my deposit but am unable to attend my workshop can I change to another workshop or get my deposit back?
Yes. If for some reason you are unable to attend the workshop you registered for, your deposit may also be applied to another course that same year if you notify CalEarth at least two weeks before the start of a course. If you wish to withdraw completely and cannot reschedule, your deposit will be refunded minus a $50 registration fee if you notify CalEarth two weeks prior to the start of the workshop. Any cancellations within two weeks of a workshop will not be refunded, only transferred. The full amount of your deposit will only be returned if for some reason you are not accepted to the program or CalEarth has to cancel/reschedule the program.
Are there any scholarships or discounts available for the workshops?
CalEarth is a nonprofit organization and a large portion of our operating budget comes from the workshop tuition. Given this, we do everything we can to make it possible for you to learn regardless of financial circumstances. We offer early registration discounts for almost all programs, and we allow you to apply tuition from shorter programs to longer programs. For example, you can take the online intro class ($40) then deduct that from the tuition of the One Day Workshop, then apply that tuition to a Weekend Workshop, and so on. We do offer some $100 gift scholarships for the Core Curriculum 4 Day Workshops and Specialty Programs. We also offer a 10% group discount if you and a friend register for the same program (Weekend or longer).
I don't have any building experience. Can I apply for a long term apprenticeship?
Of course! We do not require any prior experience before attending our programs. The long term apprenticeship always starts with a Core Curriculum workshop which gives you a foundation of knowledge and then the remainder of the program builds and expands on that knowledge. This program is ideal for students who are able to put in the time and effort to fully immerse themselves in each aspect of Superadobe building. The long term apprenticeship program is geared more to those who might like to make a career out of this work or who might like to teach and train others in sustainable or "green building". Additionally, the program will prepare you to lead a larger and more complex project-perhaps for a client or community.
I applied for the long term apprenticeship. When will I be interviewed/accepted?
While the application is open year round, interviews are only conducted in July for the September program and in December for the February program. The number of applications varies each year so admission is not guaranteed. Please do not make any travel arrangements prior to your interview.
What exactly is taught during the workshops?
How do I get a permit to build a SuperAdobe structure? Which states/counties/cities give permits for building SuperAdobe structures?
We have had many people successfully get a permit from the building department to build SuperAdobe structures in places throughout California well as in Texas, New York, Nevada, Florida, and Hawaii among other places. San Bernardino County (where CalEarth is located) allowed SuperAdobe as a stock plan for many years but recently changed their requirements and is not currently issuing any permits for SuperAdobe. CalEarth is in the process of doing additional testing to meet the new requirements and will share the progress as it moves forward. There is no exact science as to how to get a permit to build, but it usually starts with a conversation with your local building department. It is best to find out from them if any "alternative" architecture exists within that city/county (strawbale, cob, earth ship, SuperAdobe, etc.) and that is usually a good indication as to whether you will be successful or not in that county. Some building departments have strict aesthetic requirements (in addition to structural) which require all the buildings to essentially look the same or similar, thus a dome or vault would not be accepted in these areas very easily. However, many low-density areas do not have the same requirements, and CalEarth offers two blueprints with full engineering and structural calculations that can be purchased and submitted to building departments open to this type of architecture. Each individual must do their own due diligence and review county and city regulations before deciding to purchase land in an area in order to build a SuperAdobe structure.
Can I build somewhere with heavy rain fall and/or extremely cold/snowy weather?
The short answer is, yes, with some additional considerations. Although generally and historically associated with arid, desert climates, earth architecture and specifically SuperAdobe. construction is as suited to cold and wet climates as any other type of construction. With regard to water issues it is necessary to properly waterproof the building and this is achieved in a multi-elemental approach which is discussed and demonstrated in detail during our workshops (Weekend "B" and all Core Curriculum workshops). The question of water is not so much how do we protect the building from water but rather how do we harvest the resource of water from the building! See our Worldwide Superadobe Projects page for some examples of projects done by our students.
With regard to cold temperatures there are a variety of approaches which can be employed so as to maximize the heat energy used to make the building comfortable and then to retain that heat energy — regardless of the source of that energy — once captured in the walls and mass of the building. We teach a Rocket Mass Heater workshop annually--these high efficiency heaters are perfect for SuperAdobe structures.
Can I hire someone from CalEarth to build a dome for me?
CalEarth is first and foremost and educational and research institute. We do not offer a service for personal projects, but we may be able to put you in contact with past apprentices if you already have land, a design, and a project budget. Arrangements would be made directly with the builder, not through CalEarth. Contact us with your specific project details and we will put you in touch with some trained builders.