Natural Building



Rammed Earth

Poured Earth




Timber Frame




Lightweight Concrete





Building with rock dates back to the beginning of human history. Many cultures have left durable evidence of their fine craftsmanship with stone masonry. It should not be surprising that such an abundant, indigenous, long-lasting and useful material would be utilized by our forebears. What is surprising is that it is not used more now. I suppose that this is because it isn't delivered to the construction site in perfectly rectangular blocks that can be quickly stacked into straight walls.

I have always been fascinated by rocks. One of my earliest memories is of making a miniature rock building, attempting to copy what my father was building with large, heavy stones. Rocks are infinitely variable in shape, color, texture, hardness, etc. To me, laying rocks, either with mortar or dry stacking, is a wonderful puzzle, one that is best approached with a Zen state of mind. Nothing could be more satisfying than seeing the pattern of a particular wall emerge! There is definitely an art to laying stones, one that can be learned by studying, watching or doing. One basic tenet is to overlap the rocks as much as possible, as one would do with laying bricks. This creates a strong wall that resists cracking along weak seam lines. Another good practice is to keep the very largest rocks toward the bottom of the structure. Every rock mason has his individual style, almost a signature.

Rocks are particularly suitable in areas where thermal mass is desired, since they can hold their temperature very well. This means that rock walls in the interior of a building, especially where they will be struck by sunlight, can serve to store heat or moderate temperature fluctuations. If used as an exterior wall, rocks should be insulated from the inside to keep them from bleeding heat or cold in either direction.




Moving an Old Stone Building




with Jose Garcia


Thermal mass

with Ed Hartz




Stone Rising:
the Work of Dan Snow

DVD or VHS, by Camilla Rockwell

Click on image to buy from the Producer

Irish Stone Walls:
History, Building, Conservation
byPatrick McAfee, 2012


Masonry: The DIY Guide
to Working with Concrete, Brick, Block, and Stone

by John Kelsey, 2012


Stone Designs for the Home
by John Morris, 2008


Building Natural Stone
Garden Features

by Andy Radford, 2007


In the Company of Stone:
The Art of the Stone Wall

by Dan Snow, 2007


Art of The Stonemason
by Ian Cramb, 2006


Building a Beautiful Inexpensive Stone House
by Chris Proulx, 2005


Stone upon Stone:
The Use of Stone
in Irish Building

by Nicholas Ryan, 2005


Stone by Design
by Lew French, 2005


Landscaping with Stone
by Pat Sagui, 2005


Dressed Stone:
Types of Stone, Details, Examples

by Theodor Hugues, Ludwig Steiger, Johann Weber 2005


Stone House:
A Guide to Self-Building
With Slipforms

by Tomm Stanley, 2004


Material Stone
by Christoph Mäckler, 2003


The Art & Craft of Stonework: Dry-Stacking, Mortaring, Paving, Carving, Gardenscaping
by David Reed, 2003


New Stone Architecture
by David Dernie, 2003


Stone Houses:
Colonial to Contemporary

by Lee Goff, 2002


Stone Style
by Michael Reis, 2002


The Granite Kiss:
Traditions and Techniques
of Building New England
Stone Walls

by Kevin Gardner, 2001


Stone Buildings:
Conservation, Repair, Building

by Patrick McAfee, 2001


Stone Style
by Linda Lee Purvis, 2001


A Guide to Dry Stone Walling
by Andy Radford , 2001


Sunset Landscaping With Stone
by Hazel White, 2000


New Projects in Stone,
Brick & Concrete

by Editors of Creative Publishing, 2000


Architectural Stone: Fabrication, Installation,
and Selection

by Mark A. Chacon, 1999


Stone Circles:
A Modern Builders Guide
to the Megalithic Revival

by Robert L. Roy, 1999


The Art and Craft
of Stonescapping:
Setting and Stacking Stone

by David Reed, 1998

The Stonebuilder's Primer:
A Step-By-Step Guide for Owner-Builders

by Charles K. Long, 1998


Conservation of Building
and Decorative Stone

by F G Dimes, J. Ashurst, 1998


The Stone Skeleton: Structural Engineering
of Masonry Architecture

by Jacques Heyman, 1997


The Construction of Gothic Cathedrals : A Study of Medieval Vault Erection
by John Fitchen, 1997


Basic Masonry Techniques
by Douglas Rossi, 1997


Techniques and Projects

by Charles McRaven, 1997


The Art of the Stonemason
by Ian Cramb, 1992


Build Your Own Stone House: Using the Easy Slipform Method
by Karl Schwenke, 1991



Stone Retreat
Touson Saryon, Designer

Here is an 896 sf plan made for a couple's weekend retreat...or even full time residence. It won't take much to heat this place in the winter or keep it cool in summer. It will be easy to go off grid with this one! It was originally designed for strawbales, but with the wide walls, it could be adapted for stones, with a double wall to allow for insulation.

For more information about this plan, and many others, visit our sister site www.dreamgreenhomes.com, where you will find a wide range of plans for sustainable homes, greenhouses, small buildings, garages, and food storage space for sale. Dream Green Homes is a consortium of outstanding architects and designers, who have pooled their talent and expertise for your benefit.


bigstones.com Rob Roy's site dedicated to his work with megalithic stone circles.

slipform masonry is featured here with pictures of several projects.

naturalstonesite.com is an unusual site offering a book, training courses in stonework, and various types of stones from Canada.

Moving the old Academy the story of moving a century-old stone building several blocks.

Disclaimer Of Liability And Warranty
I specifically disclaim any warranty, either expressed or implied, concerning the information on these pages. Neither I nor any of the advisor/consultants associated with this site will have liability for loss, damage, or injury, resulting from the use of any information found on this, or any other page at this site. Kelly Hart, Hartworks, Inc.


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