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8 life-changing lessons from building a Mud House

No. 019 Reading Time 5 minutes

We attended several online and offline workshops and read multiple books. Some introduced us to different techniques.

Others focused on plastering techniques.

We realized you can only learn limited things in theory or by attending workshops. Earned confidence from applying the knowledge is far superior to confidence earned by reading, or watching videos.

We decided to build a mud house from scratch to learn natural building.

As we are nearing completion, and reflect on our journey.

The journey has been less about learning natural building and more about learning life lessons.

Today, we want to share 8 life-changing lessons that this building project taught us.

1) Patience

We are paraphrasing what Dr. Joe D' Spenza often says, " the space between conceiving a thought and converting it into 3D reality is what we call time. "

For us, we had imagined finishing the mud house within a year. It took us three.

During this time we realized the meaning of patience.

Patience is not just about waiting. It is adopting the right attitude and temperament while navigating delays and challenges.

It was frustrating initially and we doubted ourselves but then we looked at nature. How it operates at its own pace.

The trees don't rush to bloom,

and the river doesn't fret about reaching its destination.

Nature doesn't hurry and yet gets everything done.

We often overestimate what we can do in a year

and underestimate what we can do in a decade.

It was a lesson to fall in love with the process.

To find happiness in progress.

2) Timing of the Universe

We had been looking for wooden beams for the reciprocal roof for almost a year. We only found them when we exactly needed them.

Then we met Lea at a cafe.

She already had the experience of putting up several reciprocal roofs.

Her help and energy were crucial in building the reciprocal roof.

These tiny incidents have made us believe in the timing of the universe.

The right things and the right people arrive at the right time.

Everything occurs exactly when it is supposed to.

The universe doesn't give you what you are not ready for.

This allows you to accept the uncertainty of the future.

It relieves us of the burden of trying to control our future.

3) Self-Discovery

The more we worked with natural materials,

the closer we got to our intrinsic nature.

As we sculpted with mud, we thought we were transforming the mud.

Little did we know it was transforming us, from within.

As you work with your hands, you get to have conversations with yourself.

It helps to internalize the things that you know.

Building with a cob is a repetitive task. It allows our brain to unplug from the problem we are struggling with. In doing so the solution magically appears.

When you work with partners you get to share life experiences and see life from a different perspective.

Working with hands gives you greater satisfaction and unparalleled pleasure.

There is some of the same fitness in a man's building his own house that there is in a bird's building its own nest… Shall we forever resign the pleasure of construction to the carpenter?

Henry David Thoreau

4) Trusting your Intuition.

If termites, cliff swallow birds, and mud dauber wasps know the right ratios of mud and water. Why do humans fear building with mud?

We have become disconnected from our nature.

We don’t trust our basic instincts anymore.

Institutional knowledge has its place.

The building process helped us rediscover our suppressed instincts.

It allowed us to trust our intuition over what we learned at any institution.

Building the house allowed us to get in tune with our primal instincts.

5) Season change. So do we.

In the cities, the sun and the moon hide behind tall buildings or are masked by smog. We have also become habitual to walking with our heads down,

fixated on our phones.

Even though we are architects, we did pay attention to the orientation of the building but we never followed the path of the sun and moon so closely.

Building the mud house, made us pay attention to cosmic geometry.

It brought us in tune with nature’s cycles.

We feel more connected to events such as the equinox and solstice.

Winter days are short. Things take time to dry. It is a time for rest and introspection.

In the spring, everything reawakens.

The days are longer, things dry faster. It’s the time for action and play.

Monsoon here is a time to be indoors. For us, it means to go back to the city. Take a break. Reunite with our family and friends. Realign and revisit our goals.

6) Physical work is a human need.

There is something primal about building a mud house. Our bodies are meant to do physical work and manual labor. Movement is a biological need.

When we felt anxious, building the mud house was a good excuse to get into the body from the mind.

Here the environment becomes our gym.

The natural building helped shape our bodies naturally.

We became the fittest and strongest version of ourselves

Most importantly, no tossing and turning in bed after a good day at work,

tired bodies sleep well.

7) Discipline over motivation

Building a cob house is both labor and time-intensive.

Our mud house ate thousands of batches of cob-clay, sand, and straw mixed and foot-stomped on a tarp. The cob lumps were then compressed and sculpted to build the walls.


Stomp with your feet.

Build with your hands.


Day after day.

Thousands of batches.

It taught us to cultivate discipline and not count on motivation.

Motivation is perishable. Discipline makes you show up every day.

8) Embracing Diversity.

In the art of stone masonry, we discovered a profound lesson of human existence.

The stones come in their shapes, sizes, and characteristics.

They are carefully selected and positioned to create structures of strength and beauty.

Each stone finds its place in the construction of something greater.

Like the stones, humans come with a diverse range of skills and qualities.

Each human contributes uniquely to the larger scheme of things.

Not every stone can serve the same purpose, just as not every person can excel in the same role.

Everyone has a specific role to play based on their individual qualities and abilities. We should embrace each other's strengths and weaknesses.

Find the right position in life to thrive.


The journey was not only about building a structure but building character.

It was about meeting new people.

Exchanging cultures, knowledge, and wisdom.

Creating a space for people to accept their true authentic identities.

Acquiring skills.

Changing your perspectives about life.

Healing your traumas.

Whether you build a brand or a business, you always fear the result. Instead of thinking of the result, you should think in terms of the skills you would get to acquire during the process. That itself will make the journey worth it.


Raghav and Ansh

Question to ponder -

Are you climbing the right mountain or walking in the direction of the mountain you want to climb?

PS: We’d also love to know what you thought of this newsletter, feel free to write feedback.


This is one of our favorite TED talks when it comes to talking about mud buildings. Anna Heringer shares her journey of building METI Handmade School in Rudrapur with local workers and children.

This is a heartwarming story of how we should build in harmony with the culture and context.

This talk encourages us to build more with earth and less with cement.

This is our first appearance together where we share our story of moving to the countryside and building a mud house.

In the south of Burkina Faso, the community uses its building envelope as a canvas for geometric shapes and symbols of local folklore, expressing the culture’s history and unique heritage.They are built by men during the dry season and decorated by women just before the rainy season.


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Tiny Farm Friends Newsletter. Every Sunday, we share tiny valuable lessons to help you transition to the countryside and build naturally.


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