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NEW VENTURES: Naturally built home is first for Lehigh Valley; more planned

PHOTO COURTESY OF ARTISANAL STRUCTURES Construction workers use hay bales to line the walls of a naturally built home in Nazareth.

One of the newest homes in the Lehigh Valley has been made the old-fashioned way.

One of the newest homes in the Lehigh Valley has been made the old-fashioned way.

And after speaking with the Lehigh Valley Builders Association, the man who built it said the old-fashioned new house is the first of its kind in the area.

Mark Southard, owner of Artisanal Structures LLC in Fountain Hill, is hosting an open house March 17 at Little Pond Arts Retreat in Nazareth where other builders, architects and the public can tour the Lehigh Valley’s first naturally built house.

The house uses mostly natural and recycled material in its construction, while most of the building techniques are of the traditional hand-crafted variety.

For example, the beams and flooring come from recycled barn wood. The insulation is hay bales and the walls are constructed of lime and earthen plaster, which can be taken right from the earth. But in this case it was taken from a large amount of clay being disposed of from the art studios at the Banana Factory in Bethlehem.

“It was still recycled but it saved us the process of having to sift the clay from the soil,” Southard said.

The plasters were then mixed by hand – and sometimes foot – and spread onto the walls using a hand trowel.

Other features include a live-roof attached greenhouse and a rubble-trench foundation.

Southard said the demographic he’s aiming for is families who are more eco-conscious.

“People who are aware of their footprint,” he said.

Stacy Wescoe
Writer and online editor Stacy Wescoe has her finger on the pulse of the business community in the Greater Lehigh Valley and keeps you up-to-date with technology and trends, plus what coworkers and competitors are talking about around the water cooler — and on social media. She can be reached at stacyw@lvb.com or 610-807-9619, ext. 4104. Follow her on Twitter and on Facebook.

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