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Join Us 20 26 October 2024

Natural Building Course Details

Take the first step to a sustainable future by learning hands-on natural building skills on our natural building course. Understand the alchemy of how different types of earth work, and do not work together, their potential and limitations.

Have you been dreaming of building your own home? Are you curious how you can build a more sustainable lifestyle? Since 2010, Peter McIntosh has taught more than 300 owner-builders and architects the hands-on practical skills and theoretical principles they need to build and live more naturally and sustainably.

Gain the skills, knowledge, and confidence to build your dream home on our CPD-accredited natural building courses! This year, Peter will be hosting two CPD accredited natural building courses at Sandberg Fynbos Reserve, in Baardskeerdersbos.

Why you should attend: 

Each natural building technique has pros and cons. That is why our natural building course is designed around the principles of understanding earth, how it works and does not work together. You will leave with the theoretical understanding and practical grounding of a range of techniques and materials, so that you are able to make the most appropriate decisions regarding materials and or sustainability once you are ready to begin your project.

Our course is comprehensive and covers a range of materials and techniques based on Peter McIntosh’s professional and personal experience working with these approaches and from having lived off-grid since 1999. Although the course needs to be comprehensive in order to give a feel for the materials you may work with, you will be empowered to be successful and make rational choices whatever the given situation.

The course was an eye opening experience and I’ve learnt a lot. I feel confident that I can build my own house. 

— Nicole | October 2023


Building & Design skills  Materials & Techniques 
  • Earth theory and earth tests
  • Basic site layout and measuring
  • Passive solar design
  • Foundations
  • Walls
  • Arches
  • Natural plasters
  • Openings
  • Off-grid solar energy design
  • Cob
  • Mud brick/adobe
  • Rammed earth
  • Rock
  • Compressed earth brick (CEB)
  • Straw bale
  • Light earth (straw clay mix)
  • Glass bottle bricks

Dates for 2024:

 14 – 20 April | Natural building course: Materials and techniques [CPD-accredited] 

20 – 26 October | Natural building course: Materials and techniques [CPD-accredited]


The courses will be facilitated as usual by Peter McIntosh. We’re also excited to that our in-house architect, Emma McGregor, will join us for the first time as a guest lecturer. 

Peter McIntosh

Peter has been building with earth since 1999 and as a result he has gained a unique level of experience and knowledge about the various natural building materials and techniques in South Africa. On a mission to spread the word about natural building, he has been teaching and running natural building courses since 2010 and has honed the craft of transferring the knowledge and practical skills so you leave feeling confident and empowered to start your own project.

Peter walks the talk and he’s been living off-grid and practising permaculture in community living for the same period. We grow as much of our own food as possible, and our home is designed according to passive solar gain with various green technologies that he installed and maintains himself, from solar energy, grey water harvesting, solar food drying and sanitation to name a few.

His passion for sustainability means that he is continually looking for ways to increase his understanding and improve his skill-set, including building with plastic waste and tyres. Recently he’s set his sights on social development and innovation within the industry. He has been working closely with the City of Cape Town on several natural and sustainable building projects in some of the poorest communities in the city.

Emma McGregor

After graduating with an M.Arch from the University of Cape Town in 2009, she felt drawn to contribute to the built environment by focusing on buildings that serve and uplift the community. Emma went into private practice in 2021, which allowed her to collaborate with the Natural Building Collective in exploring the dynamic world of alternative and recycled building materials, with the intention to demonstrate that it is possible for the building industry to be less destructive in its relationship with the planet. 

With her expertise as an architect with experience in both conventional and sustainable building materials, Emma’s lectures will include insights on design, planning, and municipal submissions. 

Peter was absolutely great; professional, knowledgeable, inspirational and cool. The course exceeded my expectations 10 fold.

— Jess | April 2016

Who should attend: 

Have you been dreaming of building your dream home but don’t know where to start? We’ve been teaching natural and sustainable building to owner-builders, architects, and people that are eager to learn how they can lighten their footprint on the planet for more than 10 years.

You will enjoy this course if you’re interested in sustainability, building your own home and want to live more lightly on the planet is welcome. All that is needed is an eager mind, willing hands and a reasonable level of fitness.


Pendennis farm, Villiersdorp

Pendennis is located just over 100km from Cape Town on the outskirts of Villiersdorp in the breathtaking beautiful Bossieveld valley. The farm was established in 1875 and the Cape Dutch farmhouse was built shortly afterwards. Today on 42 hectares grapes (Pinotage, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon), apples and olives are grown. Sheep, cows, ostriches, and horses spend their days happily grazing in a picturesque setting.

This family-run farm is proud to provide a selection of newly renovated accommodation options on the estate, in the form of a delightful Victorian farm house The Pink Lady, historic Lavender Cottage, modern Container House, Lemon Cottage, and a range of glamping, safari, and tipi tents.


You will be provided with hearty vegetarian lunches and two teas daily. You will only need to provide for your breakfasts and dinners (Participants often have a braai at the end of the day). Expect hearty, soul-filled nourishing lunches and teas!


This 7 day course costs R5500 p/person. You will be provided with vegetarian lunches and two teas daily. Accommodation costs are not included. Visit the accommodations page to learn more about the range of available options.

Are you ready to book for October?

The bookings for October will open in July, but you can reserve your spot and we’ll get in touch when the time is right.

Send us the completed RSVP booking form via Google forms when you’re ready to book (To book, click on the link and complete the information before submitting the form). Or you’re welcome to send us an email if you have any questions:

A memorable experience that gives a huge leg-up to get started. Get there and be hugely enlightened – there is just so much more than meets the eye. Be curious.

— Graham | October 2018