“Can I build a home with stone?” Yes, you can, if you choose to do so. You will be following an ancient tradition of shelter building combined with the modern choice to live in a more eco-friendly home.
The ancient art of stone houses
These houses have been built by humans for several thousands of years and in nearly every region of the world. It is considered to be, “the oldest construction material known to mankind.” Early shelters were made of stones carefully piled up, one on top of another. Ancient dry stone (structures built of stone without mortar) structures are still found throughout the world.
Some dry stone structures are still in use. Their walls and buildings are durable, fire, water, and insect resistant; they seem to last forever.
A house of stone – yes or no?
Many modern individuals have chosen to return to older, more sustainable building materials such as stonehouses. Here are certain advantages to building this type of house, and there are a number of potential disadvantages. Let’s explore both sides:
- Sustainability – Few building materials are more sustainable than stone.
- Nearly damage-proof – As mentioned earlier, stone structures are fire, water, and insect resistant.
- Organically attractive – Stone is often the choice of counter tops for its organic beauty. A stone house is like a magnification of the organic beauty of stone.
- Lower maintenance -Stone houses that don’t have plaster surfaces (exterior or interior) don’t require siding or painting. They are easy to clean with a simple hosing down with water.
- Comfortable -Stone houses can be comfortably warm or cool seasonally if constructed with passive solar design.
- Cost – Constructing a stone house can be cost effective or budget challenging depending on several factors:
- Source – the cost of building a stone house will go up depending on the transportation distance from the source of the stones to the construction site.
- Labor – Depending on who builds your house, the cost of expert design and construction may be higher than for a “traditional” modern house.
- Energy waste – If you don’t include a quality passive solar design, you may be losing too much heat in the winter and retaining too much of it in the summer. Proper insulation also helps resolve the age-old problems of drafts and dampness.
- Repair/modify – Be careful in your choice of stone – it must be strong enough to support the considerable weight of the structure; inferior quality stone may not be able to support the weight, causing damage or collapse.
Modifications to the structure will require extra planning, cost, and care in execution.
Finding replacement stone for repairs years later may be difficult.
- Equipment/expertise – If building with cut stone, you will need special stone-cutting tools to shape the blocks.
- Setting stone, either in dry stone masonry (without mortar) or using mortar requires jigsaw puzzle-solving like skill to shape and fit the stone together so that the house properly supports itself.
Your stone house
First-hand information can be very helpful when you are considering such a major undertaking.
Before you decide to build your house of stone, speak with people who are living in (or have built and lived in) a stone house and ask if they would be willing to share some of their experiences – pros and the cons – with you.
Become as knowledgeable as possible on the building process, types of stones, how to best utilize passive energy sources, design, and everything else related to the building of stone houses.