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The Roots of Earth Construction: Why Adobe and Rammed Earth Architecture is Seeing a Resurgence 

Posted by on Aug 16, 2021 in Las Cruces NM, Rammed Earth | 0 comments

The Southwestern United States is unlike any other part of the country. It has unique characteristics that create the well-known southwestern flavor. Aside from its desert landscapes, breath-taking sunsets, succulent cactus, and plant life, the Southwest also offers a flourishing earth construction movement inspired by the traditions of the Pueblo Indians, Spanish settlers, and others. So what is earth construction and how does it implement various building and architectural traditions?

Here, at Villa Custom Homes, we have written a lot about what we do and what sets us apart from other home builders in the area. Not only do we specialize in earth construction with rammed earth homes but we implement both traditional, modern, and smart home technologies to create living quarters that are sustainable while never compromising style and beauty. 

Let’s take a deep dive into the idea of earth construction and how it has changed over the last few decades. 

Using the Earth’s Natural Materials to Build Homes

Human dwellings have seen considerable advancements since the days of our ancestors and their hunting and gathering way of life. When humans were killing buffalo with spears and wearing loincloths, building shelters was not practical as people had to follow herds and animals. As civilizations advanced, shelters became of utmost concern. The Romans, for example, were one of the first advanced civilizations to use rammed earth techniques. The style traveled to France and Spain. So when Spanish settlers came to the modern-day southwestern United States, they brought these ideas, although earth construction was already a tradition here. 

Pueblo Indians used the soil and dry clay mixtures as building materials as well.  The Spanish settlers, however, brought Moorish influences that further changed how the architecture of the area would be developed. 

The Alhambra castle in Granada, Spain, for example, was built in the 10th century by the Moors and described by poets as “a pearl set in emeralds.” The castle/fortress complex still stands today. 

Using Adobe Bricks to Characterize the Southwestern Style 

The use of adobe bricks would become a significant advancement in the construction of the Southwest United States. In the 1930s and 40s, adobe bricks were used in the construction of southwestern buildings, but this method of construction slowed down right before World War II.

Common load-bearing masonry used in this country includes adobe and rammed earth. As concern over sustainable building and resources rises, materials like adobe and rammed earth are being further analyzed as worthy materials to consider for the building of homes and smaller structures. The building of these homes uses far less if any fossil fuels and no industrial processing. 

What is Rammed Earth Construction? 

What happens when you compress and dry a natural sandy mixture? You get an incredibly formidable material known as rammed earth! Think of rammed earth as a permanent, re-constituted rock that is often reinforced with beams, concrete, or other materials. Rammed earth, unlike a lot of adobe construction, is resilient even in rainy parts of the world, as it could withstand both dry and humid environments.

Characteristics of Rammed Earth Structures and Walls 

This building material has several unique characteristics that set it apart:

  • This type of building is inherently environmentally suited. The walls are resistant against outside temperature and will resist the heat during the day and the cold at night. They have what is known as a 12-hour temperature cycle or the flywheel effect, which takes in heat in the day and releasing it at night when it gets cooler.
  • Rammed earth walls are thick and might vary from 18 inches to 24 inches
  • The thick walls of rammed earth homes add to the coziness and warmth of the structure 
  • The walls of rammed earth have a great thermal mass
  • Walls are extremely fire resistant since there are no flammable components
  • The walls of rammed earth homes do not invite rodents, bugs, termites, or any unwanted critters

Rammed Earth in the Modern World and the 21st Century 

Rammed earth homes continue to be relatively rare, although they’ve garnered more and more attention as people seek alternative materials. So, despite the fact that using clay, soil, and dirt as building materials has been used for thousands of years, there is nothing old-fashioned about it. The versatility available with using this material is seen in more and more nuanced architectural forms. 

The Southwest is ahead of the rest of the country in implementing these building techniques in modern ways, without compromising luxury, beauty, or style. 

Bringing the Truth About Earth Construction Home

Earth construction is inherently more robust and sustainable than other materials. Earth construction proved time and time again in history that it could withstand the demands of harsh conditions, but it has to be done correctly. 

At Villa Custom Homes, we are the leading experts in rammed earth and adobe building in the Southwest. View some of the homes that we have built across New Mexico. 

Want to find out more? Call us today and learn how getting a custom-built rammed earth home can be the decision that changes your life!

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A Time to Build: On Building Your Dream Home During a Pandemic

Posted by on Oct 27, 2020 in Home Builder, Las Cruces | 0 comments

It might not sound like a good idea to go for one of the biggest investments of your life during a pandemic year, but 2020 has shown us that life is short and precious, so why not have the home you’ve always dreamed of and embark on a journey unlike any other? 

Here’s the thing, all this craziness will eventually pass and the stability in the economy and markets will return. It always does. This country has seen depression, war, political upheavals, major recessions, and it has always bounced back. In the meantime, low-interest rates mean a great deal on a long-term investment. A low-interest rate has deceptively HUGE impacts on your monthly payment. There are several reasons why now is the best time to buy your custom home. 

But first…

There is a high demand for homes, however, and this means we’re in a seller’s market. It often means a ready buyer is eager to throw money at a home that might not be the right one. Lured in by the low-interest rates, people are jumping on any opportunity they can. A seller’s market is not always the best time for a homebuyer to put down their money on an existing home; there is likely to be bidding wars, high closing costs, rushing real estate agents, and buyers that end up settling for less home for their buck. 

So why go for a custom build? 

Seller’s markets can be deceptive. 

Simply put, the seller has the upper hand. The supply of homes is low and shrinking, meaning sellers get to cash in on hungry buyers. Sometimes sellers skimp out on needed repairs. Real estate agents report seeing bidding wars and the like as buyers throw their money at any property they see.

The excitement of that low-interest rate might dissipate and you may find yourself a month or two from now in a home that was far from what you had envisioned or needed. Plus, you overpaid for it because you had to win the offer, and/or get stuck with maintenance costs and unprecedented repairs—which always tend to happen about the second month you move in. This is not unheard of in the seller’s market, but one way to take advantage of those low-interest rates is by looking into a custom builder and how they can help you get the exact home you want and need in the location you prefer with quality construction.  

Buying Property in New Mexico — As Told by an Experienced New Mexico Builder

The Land of Enchantment has a lot to offer. As your New Mexico homebuilder of more than twenty years, Villa Custom Homes knows the area of the Southwest like the back of our hand. We have built all across the state. New Mexico is not only a great state due to mild weather, low cost of living, and plenty of available land but it also offers some great benefits to homeowners including: 

Low Property Taxes – People are often surprised to find out that our charming state offers some of the lowest property taxes across the country. The median annual property tax paid by homeowners in New Mexico is $1,272, which is about $800/year less than the average across the nation. 

A Quiet and Beautiful Community – Forbes recently reported how folks are fleeing from larger cities and looking to build in suburbs and smaller towns where people have more space and are less crowded. The pandemic has revitalized the love for small towns, space, and private property. For example, in the Spring of 2020, Manhattan property values dropped 56% in July and rose 44% in nearby suburbs. People are seeking better locations and better communities without the crowded metropolitan areas—especially with so many people given the opportunity to work from home while choosing where they live. A quick look at population density reveals that New York has a population density of about 27,000 people per square mile, while Las Cruces, New Mexico with a total population of about 213,849 has approximately 56 people per square mile. That’s quite the difference and allows for people to build the home of their dreams in the beautiful desert landscape. 

Know Your Materials and the Quality from Start to Finish 

At Villa Custom Homes, we build our homes to last. We never sacrifice quality and durability for a quick build. Our specialty is building with rammed earth and other materials that are made to last in the hotter and drier climates of Southern New Mexico.  At the same time, our home design uses the beloved Pueblo-revival architectural style that so characterizes the beautiful homes in the lovely Southwest. 

A Custom Build is More than a Purchase, It’s an Adventure of a Lifetime 

We overheard a story the other day about a gentleman whose home had what were some kind of AC water lines running through one sidewall and beneath his living room floor. This—if ever a good idea to do at all—needs to be done very carefully because you might find yourself in a nightmare scenario. Sure enough, it happened to him. One of the pipes burst underneath the home and the entire hardwood floor had to be dug out in order to get to the damage. His home was barely SIX years old! 

Issues like this often happen when home builders choose to sacrifice quality and foundation for saving a few bucks or getting the project done faster. With a custom build from a trusted builder, you don’t have to worry about surprises like this because you’ll know how your house is built from the start. You will have materials, plans, and plenty of walkthroughs during the construction process.

The Impacts of Low Mortgage Interest Rates

Compound interest is a good thing if you are earning it, not paying for it. This refers to interest on interest and is sometimes the case for high mortgages with big interest rates. Even small changes in your mortgage interest can have a big impact on your payment and account balance. 

If you finance for about 3.08%—about the current rate—you can save thousands of dollars over the life of your loan and pay less every month. Waiting until next year, even if materials are slightly less expensive then, can mean a simple difference of 1% on the interest, but this means a considerable difference in your monthly payment. This further reiterates the point that there’s no time like the present to have your dream home built!

Why Wait? It’s Time for Your Dream Home to Become a Reality!

So, despite the talk of uncertainty, one thing that is for sure is that the home of your dreams has indisputable value. When built properly and with top-of-the-line architecture and design, your home becomes an investment that will keep on giving for many years to come. Call us today and find out more about Villa Custom Homes and how you can take advantage of low-interest rates and the best quality materials in the Southwest. 

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