Boise builder puts modern twist on ancient invention

Boise Builder constructing rammed-earth home
Posted at 7:38 PM, Oct 29, 2022
and last updated 2022-10-29 21:38:59-04

BOISE, Idaho — A Boise builder is putting a modern twist on an ancient invention. For this week’s Made In Idaho, Idaho News 6 is introducing you to a rammed-earth home.

For millennia, humans have used the earth to help build their dwellings. But in this Boise neighborhood, it’s a construction technique that still puzzles onlookers.

“I see so many people walking by stopping and looking. They come over and ask, ‘what is this,’” said builder Todd Jinkins.

Jinkins is used to plunging into big projects.

“In the late 90s, early 2000s I was a seasonal smoke jumper,” he said.

Now, after 23 years of fighting fires, he’s still looking for ways to protect the environment.

“I came across the idea of rammed earth and became really intrigued by it,” he said.

Rammed earth structures have been around since ancient times. The walls are made of an earthen mixture.

Jinkins’ home is shades of gray but a quick Google search reveals, beautiful homes with colors and patterns of all kinds.

Rammed-earth is fire resistant and thanks to high thermal mass, inside air temperature remains extremely stable.

“It’s a very resilient building product. It’s very eco-friendly too,” he said.

If you’re thinking of building your own, Jinkins says the upfront costs are expensive and it is labor intensive.

“But what people fail to consider is the longevity of the home and the long-term maintenance that is required of a stick-frame home,” he said.

Jinkins says as the world changes, we need to change with it and returning to an old method may be one way to help build a more sustainable future.