In view of the devastating loss of homes most recently, perhaps we should take a look at building homes other than the “stick” houses—that is, homes with framing made of pine 2×4’s. These pine boards ignite quickly if they get hot enough.
One type of construction is “rammed earth,” such as that used to build the exterior wall at the Festival of Arts grounds in Laguna. David Easton, of Napa, wrote a book about it. His home uses little supplemental heat in winter, and remains cool in summer without air conditioning, due to the rammed earth construction. If this type of construction is used in a tract, the price of construction would be about the same as a stick house. For just one house, the price might be 10 percent more. Constructing such homes would require builders to do a little studying, but with practice, just as with regular construction, things can be done quickly.
For peace of mind, 10 percent increase in cost would be a small price to pay.
David Kelly, Laguna Beach