July 28-August 4(FULL) or October 1 -8 (FULL, Standby ONLY open for registration)
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Do you dream of living in a beautiful, practical, ecologically responsible home that you build with your own hands? Do you yearn for the autonomy of owning a home, but don’t have the budget to buy? It’s time to get tiny, naturally!
Our Natural Building and Tiny House Workshop near Asheville, NC, will help transform those dreams into reality in just 10 or 8 days of hands-on learning, plus comprehensive online instruction to study ahead of time, and to refer back to indefinitely. It’s a deep-dive covering the basics (and beyond) of tiny house design and construction, plus an opportunity to learn about natural building.
We’ll give you practical, hands-on instruction and clear video lessons for every step of the process of building your own tiny house.
You’ll also get a chance to explore natural building modalities and ecological considerations through online lessons and, in some cases, hands-on practice and visits.
Can’t make it in person? Check out our Online Tiny House Academy – Go at your own pace and learn from home!
The Online Tiny House Academy is a comprehensive program that walks you through every step in the process of building a tiny house, plus more, via on-demand video lessons. These include a ton of how-to’s, along with a library of tutorials, lectures, and demos. The best part is that you can refer to whatever you need help with, again and again, throughout all your building projects!
*All in-person tiny house students receive access to the Tiny House Academy as part of their registration*
Learn to build your very own tiny house from start to finish!
The in-person and online portions of this tiny house workshop cover everything from creating your own tiny house floor plans, to choosing whether to build on wheels, to budgeting your build, to integrating natural building and green design. In fact, students will get their hands on all of these aspects of building a tiny house, and more. Whatever your learning style, we’ve got you covered.
The Best of Both Worlds: 8 Days of Hands-On Building, Plus 20+ Hours of Online Instruction
We believe this is the most comprehensive tiny house class you’re going to find. That’s because we cover so much breadth and depth. To do this effectively, we’ve taken the lecture portion of the class and put it online, leaving the entirety of our in-person time to focus exclusively on skills that are best taught in-person.
It’s a hybrid structure that maximizes our time together, and provides you with ample take-home resources to consult as you work on your own projects.
This means that, during your in-person time, you get to focus on experiential learning about tiny houses. This includes guidance, and of course, plenty of real building practice. Plus, you get over 20 hours of online lecture content that you can keep referring back to — month after month or year after year — as you build your own tiny house… or houses!
As soon as you register for the workshop, you’ll get access to the online Tiny House Academy, and you’ll have it indefinitely. We love offering this online content because when you show up, you’ll be ready to get hands-on; we get to use the entire class time for building practice!
This class is appropriate whether you are an experienced builder or are an enthusiastic novice.
During most of our class time, we split the students into two groups, each with a lead instructor. We keep the teacher to student ration to 1:12 or less. This means that the class flows extremely smoothly, and is able to accommodate students with varying knowledge and skill bases.
During the first 1.5 days, newbies learn safe and effective hand and power tool use in a small group setting, while more advanced students go deeper with the subtleties of tiny houses, tours, and in the long class, geek out on natural building techniques. Newbies get a bit of these other exciting things too, but more advanced students will have more time to sink their teeth in. Everyone will get a chance to learn everything, in a way that’s tailored to meet them where they’re at.
Together, we’ll build tiny houses from the ground up.
Applying the ideas and concepts you learned in the online lecture series will bring them to life and anchor your learning. For example, we’ll learn about wall and roof systems conceptually, then get out and build some. As a result, you’ll leave the class feeling prepared to build your own tiny houses or natural buildings. In fact, many past participants have gone on to build tiny homes in Asheville and beyond!
What to Expect from this Tiny House Workshop and Natural Building Course:
Between the online and the in-person content, you can expect to learn about every aspect of building a tiny house in this comprehensive workshop, including the basics of plumbing and electrical, plus how tiny homes can fit into community living. This is not an overview or intro class. On the contrary, it’s an all-encompassing program that will not only get you ready to build your own tiny house, but also prepare you to create your own design, source the best materials, and understand more deeply how tiny homes can fit into your life.
During our time together, we’ll cover the following:
Hands-On Tiny House Building
- Floor Systems
- Framing Out Wall Systems
- Erecting Wall Systems
- Framing Out Windows and Doors
- Roof Rafter Pitch Determination, Cutting and Installation
- Wall and Roof Sheathing
- Window and Door Installation
- And more! (Depending on the build, we may get into electrical and insulation.)
- Building Site Assessment
- How to Build a Tiny House on a Foundation
- How to Build a Tiny House on Wheels
- Tiny and Not-So-Tiny House Tours
- Natural Building Tours (for students who don’t need a tool basics class)
- Natural Building Techniques
- Ecological Awareness in Building
- Practical Choices for Tiny Houses and Natural Buildings
- You’ll even experience a real-life tiny house community!
And here’s what you’ll learn in the online lecture series:
- Tiny Houses: Permanent Foundations vs. On Wheels
- Simple and Sustainable Living in a Tiny House
- Tools of the Trade including: Measuring and Marking; Plumb, Level, and Square; Power Tools and more!
- Designing Your Tiny House
- Ecological Awareness in Building
- Passive Solar Design
- Legal Considerations for Tiny Homes
- Special Construction Considerations for Tiny House on Wheels and on Foundations
- Naturally Built Wall Systems
- Natural Building Techniques
- Steps of Building a Building Basics of Electrical: Theory and Install
- Basics of Plumbing
- Tiny and Not-So-Tiny-Tours
- Tiny House Foundations
- Tiny House Floor Systems
Foundations, Floors, Walls, and Roofs
We’ll get started by learning about how buildings stand up. This includes the basics of foundations, and loads. Whatever the size, a building must have a solid foundation for safety and function—even if that “foundation” is a trailer. Along with that, we’ll cover floor systems, walls, and roof systems in depth. All of this information is crucial for building a solid, sturdy tiny house, or any kind of structure. In fact, one of the great things about the tiny house class is that you learn all the basics of building a house, but in a much shorter timeframe than it would take to build a traditional house.
Tiny House Plans
Planning your ideal tiny house takes some skill! And a good design can translate into a smoother building process and more beautiful and liveable space.
In the online Tiny House Academy (included in the in-person class), we provide an overview of the design/build process that includes site analysis, sketching, and architectural and construction drawing exercises. We also review passive solar design concepts and provide tips and tricks for working with the sun.
How to Build a Tiny House on Wheels, on a Trailer, or on Skids
There are lots of options when it comes to tiny house “bases.” We’ll cover three of the most common and practical choices for mobile tiny houses: building on wheels, on a trailer, or on skids. Each of these approaches has benefits and challenges, and they’re best suited to different situations and budgets. Through discussion and exploration in the online portion of the class, you’ll learn how to build a tiny house on wheels, a trailer, or skids, and get the knowledge to decide if one of these options is right for you. We’ll also cover special considerations for moveable structures, like additional bracing and ideal dimensions.
How to Build a Tiny House on a Foundation
There are definitely some big advantages to building your home on a permanent foundation, if you have access to land and know where you want the house to sit. For example, there are many sites, especially here in the mountains, where you could never get a tiny house on wheels, but where you could build one on a foundation. Additionally, you can create more permanent systems for water and electricity if you’re in a fixed location. For these reasons, this class explores both permanent and mobile tiny houses.
Plumbing and Electricity, Specifically for Tiny Houses
Most modern houses have built-in water and power systems, and tiny houses don’t need to be an exception to that. In the online portion of the class, we discuss plumbing and electrical systems specifically for tiny houses. Plus we’ll explain installation of the basic framework for these systems in the tiny houses we build. As a result, you’ll feel more empowered to design these elements into your own tiny house. We do advise working with a professional electrician for the installation and hookup of your tiny house electrical system, as there can be dangerous consequences with non-professional electrical installations.
In addition to true tiny houses, this workshop applies to not-so-tiny houses (500-800 square feet). In our longer class session, the tiny houses on foundations are often not-so-tiny houses.
We applaud your enthusiasm for downsizing, and want it to really work! For some folks, especially when there will be multiple adults and/or kids living in the house, a not-so-tiny house can be way more appropriate than a truly tiny house. Along with exploring several not-so-tiny houses, we’ll engage in an honest discussion of the pros and cons of downsizing. Central to this is the importance of good design when you’re living and/or working in a small space. Plus, we’ll talk about and check out large covered porches, outbuildings, outdoor kitchens, shared infrastructure, and other strategies that can make tiny house living feel more spacious and doable. Both the hands-on aspects of the class and the lecture subjects will be applicable whether you are building tiny or not-so-tiny! In our longer class session, the tiny houses on foundations are often not-so-tiny houses.
Natural Building Techniques and Ecological Awareness
During the first day and a half of class you will get to explore:
- Slip straw
- Bas relief
- Wattle and daub, and more!
The online portion of the class explores the pros and cons of several natural building modalities, too. So, you won’t totally miss out on that aspect of this program even if you attend a fast class session.
Additionally, we’ll discuss regenerative timber harvesting, the ecological impact of various building materials, and creative sourcing for upcycled and lower footprint options. For our projects, we use materials sourced from a variety of places, including an onsite forest, a local sawmill, the local lumber yard, and the local big box building store.
We encourage students to mix and match natural and conventional building styles based on their interests, skill set, resources, and desired outcomes. Just because you take a natural building course doesn’t mean you have to build 100% natural in order to apply what you learn. You can find your own sweet spot according to your available time, your budget, and whether you’re going with a mobile unit, or a tiny (or not-so-tiny) house on a foundation.
Passive Solar Design
This is a super neat and low-carbon-footprint method for keeping homes warm in the winter and cool in the summer. Passive solar design involves positioning your house and windows in a specific way, and catching heat with thermal mass (i.e. dark colored tile, stone countertops, or rocks). The result is that you can stay very warm and cozy in your tiny house on most winter days without any other heat source, if it’s done properly. Furthermore, passive solar design includes using overhangs to completely block direct sun from entering your house in the summertime, which keeps it cool! In this tiny house workshop, you’ll learn how to take advantage of passive solar design, just as many people have done since ancient times. Some aspects of this approach are especially suited to permanent tiny houses, but there are others that can work well even with a mobile unit.
Practical Choices for Tiny Houses and Natural Buildings
There is a lot of hype out there about building tiny houses and natural buildings, and many people who claim that they will solve all of your problems, in a short amount of time, on an extremely low budget. We’re here to offer an encouraging and supportive voice of reason. Our team has decades of experience, and we’ve tried all the tricks and shortcuts out there. In other words, everything you learn in this class will not only be cool and inspiring, but also practical and time-tested.
We’ll discuss the real implications of various choices and techniques, including their pros, cons, appropriate applications, and tradeoffs. For example: salvaging some materials can save you money, but in some cases you’ll end up paying in time, labor, or exposure to environmental toxins. We’ll offer guidance on when it makes sense to salvage, and when it’s more practical to buy new, and discuss the practicalities and appropriate use of various natural building approaches and ecological materials. We want you to succeed in your building aspirations, so we’ll discuss, in detail, how to decide on your very own recipe for what to salvage, what to buy new, and what to source from the land.
Experience a Real-Life Tiny House Community!
Within a mile of the Wild Abundance home campus, there are many tiny homes you’ll get to check out in the classes that take place at the Wild Abundance home campus. In our neighborhood, you’ll see tiny houses of all different shapes and sizes that utilize an assortment of construction techniques, from conventional to adobe. Luckily, where we live, it’s legal to build as small as you want, which is part of why this tiny house community is possible. The area surrounding and including Wild Abundance is a great example of how tiny houses can allow people to live together and share resources, while still preserving the autonomy and personal space that many of us cherish.
Dynamic Video Tours Exploring Asheville’s Own Tiny House Nation
In the online portion of the class, we take tours of tiny houses in and around Asheville, NC. You’ll get to see a variety of tiny home designs, materials, and sizes…It’s Asheville’s eco-conscious, DIY spin on Tiny House Nation! In the longer format class, you’ll also see, touch, and learn about various building styles, including timber framing, log cabin construction, stone masonry, adobe, cob, strawbale, hempcrete, thatch with invasive grasses, wattle and daub, earthen floors, and bamboo construction. Additionally, you’ll see how tiny houses can work in a community setting and can provide a viable option in an area with a housing crisis.
**Please note, due to the coronavirus pandemic, tours in 2022 may not include interior visits, and may not include the hempcrete and straw bale houses.
Hands-On Tiny House Building
Once the theoretical groundwork is laid, we’ll dive into building two tiny houses from the ground up, with natural building techniques applied. For the majority of this workshop, you’ll work with your build crew for most of the day. Our instructors provide lots of guidance, answer questions, and share what they know throughout the process. In fact, the mentorship, camaraderie, and “team spirit” of building together is often our students’ favorite part of the workshop.
Your Very Own Tiny House
Learn how to design a cozy space in this tiny home course!
We’re excited to have a real-life architect teach the design lesson in the online Tiny House Academy. After learning techniques and approaches in a clear, step-by-step manner, you’ll be able to experiment with designing your own tiny house floor plans and elevations .
Frequently Asked Questions
An Empowering Build at Wild Abundance
“If I had to choose a word to describe how I felt after spending a week and a half at Wild Abundance taking the Tiny House Building class I would say empowered. I had very little building knowledge and even less hands-on experience going into the class. Despite this, I felt confident during each part of the build because of the amazing instruction and guidance available. Baron was the main instructor for the build of the mobile tiny house and he’s as patient as he is experienced. He’s open to answering any and all questions and prioritizes safety and knowledge above all else. It was so incredible seeing something, as fundamental and necessary as a home coming together as a result of the teams’ efforts. I haven’t had many experiences using my hands to create something so useful and it was a powerful experience. Not to mention, the energy of the build site is so fun to be around- it’s serious, hard work but light hearted at the same time. I made some really wonderful friends throughout my time on Wild Abundance! I highly recommend this course to anyone who wishes to gain or strengthen their building knowledge or experience- you won’t regret it!”
Jessie Scanlon, Hartford, CT
Tiny House and Natural Building Student
“I’m so satisfied with my decision in taking the Tiny House & Natural Building course at Wild Abundance this year. The culture of building is complex and rich, and even though my dad is a general contractor, it never felt accessible to me until I took the building classes at Wild Abundance. I’m grateful to have connected with such knowledgeable and patient teachers who are so willing to share their extensive experience and kindness (Barron Brown knows everything about building, come with your questions!). I’m pleasantly surprised with the confidence I’ve gained and am excited to build my own tiny home someday soon!”
Honey Ng, World Traveller
Tiny House and Natural Building Student
“Natalie is a phenomenal teacher, host, and land steward!!! I recommend taking any and all of her courses if you can! The team around her reflects her leadership and passion at every step, and her supporting network is a testament to the lasting relationship she clearly builds with her community. Thankful for a truly awesome experience in every way!”
– Nikita Lukichev
Tiny House and Natural Building Student
“I was really impressed by the depth of the course materials, and the instructor’s ability to accommodate beginner builders, yet remain engaging to advanced students. The blend of instruction time in the open air classroom with hands-on training at a live construction site (not just a demo) provided a firm understanding of how to build my own tiny home from start to finish.”
– Mel Shapcott
Founder & Editor of Wild Woman Rising Magazine
Tiny House and Natural Building Student
Please note, not all instructors will teach for every session of this class
Natalie BogwalkerNatalie is the visionary behind Wild Abundance, as well as a primary instructor for many classes. She’s passionate about teaching and sharing skills to help all kinds of people live in an empowered and Earth-centered way. Natalie and her family live at the Wild Abundance homestead campus in the Southern Appalachians. She balances her time ...
Jeramy StaufferJeremy (he/him) and his company, Nanostead, focus on small footprint homes and homestead design, including tiny houses on wheels and on foundations. He’s built and lived in many tiny homes, and teaches about building and living tiny, along with homesteading and sustainable living.
Ella ScottoElla (she/her) took a carpentry class with Wild Abundance in 2017. After that, she bought an acre of land in Barnardsville, NC, and began building a house. For over a year, she worked with Barron Brown, learning everything she could about carpentry and construction. Ella is always eager to learn more, and is constantly honing her ...
Mollie CurryMollie (she/her) has been practicing natural building for about 20 years and is still in love with the mud! Natural paints and plasters are her favorite techniques, and she has plenty of “structural” experience with things like straw-bale building, earthbags, adobe, cob, straw-clay, and that most familiar of natural materials, wood. Besides building, she loves ...
Keenan PhillipsKeenan (he/him) had always dreamt of building his own home one day and finally embarked on that journey 6 years ago. It’s still a work in progress, but it caught the attention of friends and neighbors and resulted in the accidental creation of his small construction/renovation business, KSPhillips Contracting. He is now assisting a friend ...
NadiNadi (they/them) has been on a quest to study traditional woodworking, metalworking and ancestral skills ever since leaving behind their Aerospace Engineering path in Germany where they grew up. While attending University in Germany they turned an old early 1900s circus trailer into their first tiny home they lived in for the duration of their ...
Barron BrownBarron (he/him) is a truly amazing jack-of-all-trades. He learned timber framing, post-and-beam construction, log cabin construction, and much more from his grandparents when he was a child and teenager. He currently works as a sculptor, welder and builder, as well as teaching carving, blacksmithing, and building. Barron is a joy to learn from, as he ...
This class is held in Barnardsville, at the Wild Abundance home campused, and in Marshall, at the Nanostead sister campus, and at a build site in Asheville
Part of our tiny house building classes are held at the Wild Abundance home campuses; the mobile-build instruction happens at Nanostead. Some stationary builds will take place off campus. All students are welcome to camp at the original Wild Abundance home campus, a beautiful and diverse permaculture homestead, about 25 minutes north of Asheville. You’ll receive detailed directions on how to get here upon registration. This is where Wild Abundance founder and director Natalie Bogwalker lives with her family. It’s nestled amidst a handful of other homes in a small community on a short gravel road.
The Nanostead sister campus is a ½ acre facility with a 4,000 square foot covered workshop right in downtown Marshall, about 30 minutes from Asheville. You’ll receive detailed directions on how to get to Nanostead upon registration. Unlike our other campuses, Nanostead is not a rural homestead or farm, but instead is a bustling tiny house workshop, within walking distance to local restaurants, bars, and the other artsy attractions of quaint Marshall, NC.
Please note: our campuses are all unconventional, with rustic amenities and uneven ground. Read more about our campuses here.
Local Accommodations and Facilities
Note: Camping for classes held at Nanostead is available at the Wild Abundance home campus, 25 minutes from Nanostead.
Wherever you’re coming from, you’re welcome to pitch a tent in one of our flat camping spots in the woods or field, or to tie a hammock in the forest on our seven-acre property. If you live locally, you may prefer to commute to Wild Abundance from Asheville (25 minute drive). If you choose to camp, please bring your own bedding and rainproof tent or tarp. In the early spring and late fall it can be cold at night, so please bring warm bedding if you’ll be here before May or after September. We have a lovely outdoor kitchen equipped with a stove and running water, an outdoor shower, and an outhouse available to campers. In extremely cold weather, the sink and shower may be out of operation due to water freezing.
If you prefer something with more creature comforts, we suggest you browse Airbnb for numerous options close to the campus. We will send Nanostead’s address upon registration so you can also check out local motels and B&Bs within a 10-15 minute drive to Nanostead in Marshall.
This class is currently FULL. We are accepting STANDBY REGISTRATIONS ONLY at this time.
If you register and pay for this class, you will be one of the first people in line on the standby list, in case of a cancellation. To get on the standby list, you must pay in full. This payment will go toward the class if/when you’re accepted, or will be refunded to you if a space doesn’t open up within the specified time frame.
For more details about standby registrations, please read through our very thorough description of the standby program here. Make sure you are 100% clear of the terms and conditions of standby registration before registering.
We strive to make our classes accessible to those who wish to learn. Please pay what you can afford on the sliding scale. The median price covers the full cost of producing the class. Please select the low end of the sliding scale if you are low-income. If your household income is over $80,000/year, please select the maximum fee. Please place yourself in this range where you deem appropriate, based on your income.
All lectures will be online, hands-on content will be in-person and outdoors.
July 28-August 4 (FULL), October 1 -8 (FULL, Standby Only open for registration)
Sliding Scale: $1,520 – $ 2,432
Get on the waitlist to be notified when new class sessions open up
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