Chuck Johnson has been practicing green building (or “natural building,” as he likes to call it), since the 1970s. From decades of study and experience, he brings to Artisan Builders a holistic, pragmatic approach that combines an aesthetic living experience with energy efficiency, resource conservation and healthy indoor air.
Artisan Builders is known for passive and active solar homes, alternative building systems (such as seen below), as well as fine craftsmanship using locally-sourced and recycled materials. Many more examples are throughout the “Portfolio” section.
It is our commitment to conserving our natural resources that drives us to offer several alternatives to standard wood-frame construction:
The 3-D Insteel Panel System
The 3-D Insteel Panel System features a styrofoam panel with welded wire mesh on each side. Once the panels are formed, shotcrete or gunite is sprayed thick on each side of the styrofoam, making a steel-reinforced concrete sandwich around the styrofoam insulation. These homes are extremely energy efficient, durable and maintenance-free. These walls are bug proof, fireproof, rot proof, and as much as ten times stronger than standard wood-frame construction in seismic durability.
Rastra Blocks are styrofoam blocks impregnated with concrete. They form a base coat for stucco or plaster and require no paper-and-wire lathe. These hollow blocks are available in varying sizes and lengths and are reinforced with steel rebar and filled with concrete. Rastra blocks are an excellent system for someone wanting thick, insulated walls. The blocks come in 10-14 inch widths and the result is a super-insulated, very strong house that reflects the high value of solid construction. It is especially suited for old-world Spanish, Southwestern, or Mediterranean-style homes.
Cob is a versatile, fireproof, earthquake resistant, and inexpensive building material made from earthen plasters (mud) and straw. It can be used to create artistic sculptural forms and its use has been revived in recent years by the natural building and sustainability movements. Other names for cob are adobe and bousille. The material has a long lifespan, even in rainy climates provided a tall foundation and large roof overhang, with homes in Brittany still inhabited 500 years later.
Artisan Builders is a veteran at building with the durable and versatile medium of concrete. From shotcrete- to gunite-sprayed curvilinear walls, to countertops, acid-stained floors and patios, or same pigmented with integral colors, or veneered with natural plaster, concrete affords a great deal of creative possibility and is an affordable, low maintenance solution to a natural home. Concrete is also a superior medium for thermal mass in passive solar heating and with modern reinforcements has great seismic stability. Concrete also serves as a masonry base for a wood-frame house, serving as protection from earth and weather, while giving a solid architectural connection to the earth.
Cement-Plus Plaster is a proprietary system that Artisan Builders has been licensed to provide. It is essentially a tile substitute for counters, floors, baths, and showers available in any desired color or design. It provides a waterproof, hardened, old-world plaster look that is beautiful in specific applications.
Recyclable and Sustainable Wood
Artisan Builders maintains a constant supply of urban salvaged, native hardwoods, as well as previously used redwood. We incorporate recycled wood into our houses as much as possible, offering a beauty and quality that is unavailable in the current lumber market. Artisan Builders has purchased, milled, and stored several thousand feet of old-growth, clear-heart, vertical-grain redwood recycled from wine barrels. Coming from trees over a thousand years old, this type of wood is rare in the marketplace today and highly prized. This precious wood is recycled, and its use does not contribute to the continuing destruction of our old-growth redwood forests. We have used this wood for premium deck work, arbors and planters, as well as doors, cabinets, windows, and interior trim.
Passive solar is the foundation of a great home, but now, more than ever, active solar panels have become a sensible and economic course of action. Ask about current credits on solar electric and cost savings available on gas versus solar water heating. We are striving to incorporate solar energy into as many homes as possible.
The Earth Sauna
The Earth Sauna was designed by Chuck Johnson–inspired by architect Christopher Day. The sauna was built with native Sebastopol sandy loam soil mixed with 15 percent Portland cement. Reclaimed lumber was used on the roof frame, benches and door. It is an artistic example of a low-tech, effective eco-building.
ICS 3-D Panel System (pdf)
Stronger than block, more versatile than wood frame, faster than either. This process is changing construction methods worldwide!
David Kibbey – Environmental Building Consultant (pdf)
“Eleven Common Hazards In Building Environments”