Green Building: What Are the Downsides to Adobe?

updated May 9, 2019
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04_14_09_adobe.jpgWhile munching on pizza the other night, conversation drifted to the topic of adobe homes. Living in our hot, dry Texas climate lends itself to homes built from mud. We went over the pros: the bricks can be made on-site with little training, they’re “cheap as dirt,” they offer natural insulation, and the nature of the building material allows much room for creativity. And that’s just what we could think of on the spot.

But when asked for a downside, we were hard-pressed to come up with an immediate answer. So we did some digging.

Late last year, we had a question from a reader here at Re-Nest who lives in an adobe home and has problems with insulation. The reader said her house, “contrary to popular belief, it is not particularly energy efficient.”

Well, that definitely seemed contrary to what we’d always heard about adobe homes.

But other than that (something that can be remedied), we found that other cons could include the fact that adobe construction needs dry, temperate weather (wet or freezing conditions are not conducive to putting up a mud-brick house) and that sometimes critters can burrow through the bricks and weaken walls (something that can be prevented or lessened by using plaster).

So to us, it still sounds like the benefits of building an adobe home still far outweigh the downsides. What do you think? Should we build more and more adobe houses in climates where they’re appropriate? (We think so!)

For more, turn to The Natural House by Daniel Chiras.

Photo by drouu via