Get confident building for yourself and others.

Our apprenticeship is non-residential and takes place at Wild Abundance, located near Asheville, NC. It’s appropriate for beginning to intermediate level builders; no experience is necessary, just enthusiasm and a willingness to learn by doing. If you do have experience, there will be plenty of depth and advanced skills to dive into. 

Four students work together with electrical box during building apprenticeship.Small group program with lots of personalized guidance and support.

For two days each week, you’ll work directly with our site managers, Austin and Tyler, on building and maintaining handmade structures—some very fun and funky natural buildings, and others that are relatively conventional—on our permaculture homestead campuses. Together with the site crew and a small group of other apprentices, you’ll get clear and hands-on guidance about what needs doing and when, and the practice (not just theory) of how to do it. You will be with one or both of the site managers and other apprentices for a portion of the time, and working on your own or working with other apprentices the remainder of the time. 

Lifetime access to our comprehensive online building program

The building apprenticeship includes access to our comprehensive online Tiny House Academy, and regular video lesson assignments to watch to prepare you for the work at hand. This way, you get to learn the concepts and then put them into action in a flexible online/in-person setting. 

What to Expect:

Two students work with electrical during building apprenticeship.

This building apprenticeship is all about learning by doing.

This season-long, two-day-per-week apprenticeship will give you a deep understanding of how to build structures that are needed for a functional land-based life. We’ll work together on some projects from the ground up, we’ll complete others, and maintain some of the structures and systems already in place on our well-established campuses. 

Some days you will be working with Austin or Tyler on a specific project, and other times you’ll be working with other apprentices or on your own. Throughout the apprenticeship you’ll get into a wide variety of tasks and skills like: setting up a tarp over a building site; doing site prep; learning how to mow with a tractor; installing hardwood floors; painting; running to the store for supplies; assisting a tile job with a tile expert, etc. 

Here are some specific projects you’ll get into:

A student puts on siding like the building apprenticeship students may do

  • Siding
  • Door and window installation
  • Floor systems
  • Finish work such as trim, flooring, etc.
  • Roofing
  • Electrical
  • Framing and sheathing
  • Site preparation and foundations
  • Building design
  • Use of numerous carpentry tools


Depending on timing and the progression of projects, you may also get into:

Apprentice doing plumbing during building apprenticeship

  • Plumbing
  • Fall session will involve earth moving prep and remediation
  • Joining modular structures
  • Tilework
  • Drywall
  • Interior paneling
  • Exterior trim
  • Timber framing
  • Moving buildings
  • Fixture installation

Please note: this program includes real work.

You’ll be bending, stooping, using tools, carrying heavy loads, climbing ladders, and working in varied weather. Some of this work will be glamorous, and a lot of it won’t be. Nobody will be pushed beyond their own physical abilities, but everyone will be expected to work hard. If there is a serious deluge, we will likely move to an indoor project; however, we will gather and work in gentle rain, wind, and hot sun. Before you apply, be sure that you’re up to the physical and mental challenge of working hard outside for two full days each week. If you have physical limitations, please make sure to mention them in the application so that we can discuss whether this program will be a good fit.

In addition to the hands-on portion, you’ll get detailed video instruction on most of these subjects, plus many more through our online tiny house building class. You can check out what’s included in that program here

Conventional and unconventional building

Two students pass tool during building apprenticeship.Some of the structures you’ll be working on are built with clay or wood from our land, others are much more conventional, with imported lumber and concrete slabs. Most of our buildings are some mixture between creatively earthy and efficiently modern. This is because we like to use the material that makes the most sense for a given project. For example, if we are building a mobile tiny house, we use conventional lumber because it is light; when we build an outhouse, we use treated wood where it will make contact with the ground and possibly rot, then locally sourced lumber for the majority of the framing and siding. We like to think ecologically and practically when choosing materials.

Best blend of online and in-person learning.

Building apprenticeship students install wood siding on house.

During and leading up to this apprenticeship, you’ll be required to complete approximately four hours of online learning each week. 

This includes watching video lessons and completing exercises. In order to accomplish this prep work, you’ll get unlimited access to our online Tiny House Academy, where you will find engaging teachers giving lectures and hands-on demonstrations on carpentry and tiny house building skills. 

Building is learned best by doing.

Engaging muscle memory is super important in the trades. Indeed, learning the theory of something is very different from getting practice actually doing it. That’s why we give the theory portion of the program in a searchable, online format, and we reserve in-person time tor repeated, hands-on experience. We’ve found that when you actually do a thing, many times, you’ll be much more likely to remember the ins and outs of it, and how to do it well years from now; you will learn the skills in your body and carry them with you. 

Creating new opportunities to enter the building trade.

Student on ladder installing tar paper like you may do in the building apprenticeship

Throughout our years of teaching women’s carpentry and all-gender tiny house classes, we’ve seen people from all different backgrounds learn to build for themselves, and feel great about it. All too often, building can feel like a world that isn’t accessible to everyone; we’re here to break down those barriers. Whether you’ve got some experience, or just a strong desire and willingness to work at it, you can learn how to build for yourself. This apprenticeship is an opportunity to transform that passionate interest into a bevy of real skills that will serve you throughout your life.

Working on your own building projects at home is strongly encouraged.

Your capacity and confidence will both be boosted if you take the skills you learn here and practice them at home. This doesn’t mean you need to build your own tiny house during your apprenticeship, but working with the tools and concepts in little projects around your home will be extremely supportive of your deep learning. 

Schedule and Timing of the Program

We meet each Wednesday and Thursday from 9:30am-4:30pm with some breaks and flexibility around weather. If you have obligations that prevent you from coming for a few days, don’t worry about it. Most students will miss a few days, but we expect you to attend at least six apprenticeship days per month. 

Getting your questions answered

Instructor teaches electrical to building apprenticeship student

The “lecture” aspect of this program is done totally online, through watching the Tiny House Academy video lessons. The in-person portion is completely hands-on, and you should expect to really get things done while you’re here! Questions are welcome as we are working on things, or during Q&A sessions before or after apprenticeship time, in order to deepen and clarify the content that’s been shared online. We ask that every apprentice watch the assigned online portion of the program before the in-person days, so you can arrive with a baseline understanding of what we’ll be doing. This way, our discussions can be much richer and apprentices can utilize in-person time to deepen their knowledge.

 

Attend and assist with Wild Abundance building classes

One of the best ways to learn deeply is by sharing and teaching. Wild Abundance offers a variety of building classes, including Women’s Basic Carpentry, All Genders Basic Carpentry, Advanced Carpentry, and our All Genders Tiny House Workshop. Participating in these classes can be a great opportunity for apprentices to deepen their learning by stepping into an assistant teacher role. In fact, all participants in the building apprenticeship are encouraged to attend and assist at least 2 of these classes during their time with us. 

Exactly what building apprentices do at any given class will be guided by the teacher(s) of that particular class, and the apprentice’s skills and confidence. Your roles may include learning alongside students, watching for safety issues, offering guidance on techniques, hustling on a special project or errand to get it done so the class can proceed, and/or teaching. For those with interest, participation in more than two building classes during the apprenticeship may be possible. 

Apprenticeship Size

Four students work in tiny house during building apprenticeshipWe will be welcoming a maximum of seven apprentices into this program. If you are interested, please register as soon as possible.

This building apprenticeship is open to all genders. Because of inequity in the world of building, women, nonbinary, and trans are encouraged to sign up!

Your Main Mentors

As a building apprentice, you’ll be working with our site management crew, along with some of our carpentry instructors, other experienced carpenters, and our founder and director, Natalie. Austin and Tyler manage physical infrastructure on our campuses, along with doing some instruction. They are skillful, patient, and fun to be around. They both identify as cis-male, but don’t let this deter you if you don’t share that identity! They have been welcomed into Wild Abundance by our female-leadership in part because they offer respect to people of all genders. In other words, they’re not macho and they won’t mansplain. 

Student in building apprenticeship using a sawzall.Attend for four months or eight months

The standard carpentry and building apprenticeship is for four months. If students are interested in attending an additional four month section, there is an opportunity for tuition reduction or even a small stipend for the second session attended. The terms of this are determined on an individual basis three months into the first session attended. If you would like to stay on for a full eight months, be sure to communicate this early. 

Big commitment and big reward.

The building apprenticeship is for you if you’re ready to commit significant time and energy toward learning how to build. During the course of the program, you will level-up your competence and confidence with building. If you apply yourself to the online material and in-person practice, you’ll likely come away with the ability to build sheds, decks, and even tiny houses on your own or with friends. We can’t wait to work with you!


Class Location

This class is held in Barnardsville, at the Wild Abundance home campuses

Wild Abundance has two beautiful mountain campuses just 30 minutes north of Asheville. Each of them is a a bustling landscape with woods, wild plants, trickling creeks, and lovely outdoor classrooms and facilities. Our original Sanford Way campus has well-established perennial plantings, many whimsical and beautiful hand-built structures, and a bustling community of people. Our newer Paint Fork campus is a bustling and beautiful place of new growth and development. We’re in the process of doing permaculture plant installations and building infrastructure there, which you’ll get to be a part of!

Please note: our campuses are all unconventional, with rustic amenities and uneven ground. Read more about our campuses here.


Registration Info

Regular Pricing: $1,900 – $3,800

Please pay what you can afford.  The median price is suggested to help cover the full cost of hosting this class. Please select the low end of the sliding scale if you are low income. If your household income is over $115,000/year, please select the maximum fee. Please place yourself in this range where you deem appropriate, based on your income.

Course Dates:

  • Mar 1 to Jun 29, 2023
  • Jul 19 to Nov 16, 2023