Training Programme

The School offers training in natural building to help you on your path, whether you want to be a natural builder and work in construction, want to understand how these materials really work so you can design better buildings, have a general interest in the subject and want to know more, or are just looking for a fun and active way to spend your time.

There are no terms or semesters, you can join at any time. You have the opportunity to meet new people throughout your training together with familiar faces who pop up on the same modules & courses as you. And, after your interview we provide you with an individual learning contract (LC) which maps out your own specific journey.

There may be opportunities for you to work with us as Associates of SNaB once you are trained, and for us to collaborate with you on your own projects. Associates teach on our courses, give talks on our behalf and/or work in our Contract Build team.

Do you have to join the School to take part in our modules and courses? The short answer is ‘no.’ They are open to everyone whether you want to follow the full training programme or not. If you subsequently decide that you do want to take the full training, attendance on previous courses will be taken into account – see accreditation section below.

Accreditation of Prior Learning (APL)

SNaB operates an accreditation of prior learning system (APL) which enables previous experience to be taken into account. We recognise that some of you have already attended many of our courses, or ones of similar quality offered by others, or already work for us as builders and trainers and wish to increase your existing skills.

If you apply to the School you will be asked to fill in the APL and tell us all about your knowledge and experience in this field. The APL allows us to draw up your individual Learning Contract and training route. Please don’t worry of you do not have any previous experience, we’re here to help change all that!

The School of Natural Building does not have a physical location. The reasons for this are:

  • The majority of our students do not want to train full time as they have other commitments.
  • SNaB practical training is done on on site and it’s not possible here in the UK to build with straw all year round.

Training structure

There is no requirement to follow the courses in any particular order, so that you can fit them around your own commitments but we suggest that you begin with a course in strawbale building and follow them 1 – 4 as below. You may find it useful to take the theoretical courses before the practical ones and then take them again (for free) after you have completed all your practical courses.

Stage One

Practical Building (PB).  For people who want to work for and with others, or simply have an interest in the subject. You will be required to undertake the following –

2 weeks Strawbale Building (SB) training: £650 (£65 per day)

2 weeks Clay Plaster (CP) training: £650

2 weeks Lime Plaster (LP) training: £650

3 days Car Tyre Foundations (CTF) training: £195

Followed by volunteering on our building sites for 1 week in each subject, except for CTF when the requirement is 3 days.

This stage also includes attendance at the following 4 core courses twice (but only paid for once) in order to gain the theoretical knowledge needed

  1. Planning & Preparing for Self Building (PBB): £75
  2. Designing your Strawbale Building (FS): £75
  3. Understanding technical details when building with straw (DD): £75
  4. Learning about natural plasters(NP): £75

An essential part of any practical skill is building up experience and learning how to deal with different issues that present themselves on a building site.  Therefore, part of the training is to work for a minimum of 3 weeks in each subject at a trainee rate on one of our suggested sites to build up your experience, or until we mutually agree that you are ready to progress to the next stage as a builder.

Total Cost for Stage One –  £2,445


The cost for a trainee will vary depending on the chosen training path, and previous experience.

Your learning contract will detail your programme and its costs tailored individually for you, taking into account any exemptions you may have due to previous experience.  Payment for food, travel and accommodation during your training period is your own responsibility, although if we can help with this i.e. by offering cheaper communal accommodation or camping, we will do.

All payment is pay as you go and courses must be paid for at least two weeks in advance of the course start date.

Case Study and Portfolio

You are required to submit a written piece of work towards the end of your practical training.  This will take the form of a case study with a minimum of 2,000 words.  The case study can be on any of the natural building projects you have worked on with SNaB and the content should be mixed mode in that it should contain photos, video, prose, graphic representations, reflections etc.  We would also encourage you while undergoing the practical part of the programme to keep a record of what you are doing and record it in the form of a portfolio, or diary, with pictures, written pieces, video or recordings, a blog etc.


Currently, our training is accredited by the substantial reputation of Barbara Jones. We will hold a graduation ceremony once a year where the students who have finished their course will receive a certificate of completion of their training.

In addition, we are hoping that the course will also be accredited by an outside source at some point in the future.  In view of this, we encourage you to keep good records of your training and build up a portfolio that can be used as part of this external accreditation.