0. What is Natural Building?

1. What is Natural Building?

Just google it…seriously, because there is no short answer. There is tons of information in books, numerous articles on the internet, Facebook groups and YouTube. However, if you are still unable to find a satisfactory answer, come visit us and see for yourself. We’re open for day visitors on weekends. Else you can choose to attend one of our workshops.

2. How long can such mud buildings last?

Mud, clay or other such geological materials don’t have an end life so mud buildings can actually last forever, if people continue to live in them and take care of them. Cement/concrete homes on the other hand, only have a life of about 40-50 years.
Go ahead and watch this for more clarity
The 8 myths about Love and Mud | Shagun SIngh | TEDxSVC

3. Can mud buildings resist heavy rainfall? Wouldn’t mud get washed away in rains and collapse during a storm?

Clay is pliable when wet, but dries up to become an extremely hard and durable building material that can easily withstand small amounts of water from time to time. However, to protect mud walls from prolonged exposure to harsh weather, they should be built on a dry plinth with a 3′ wide eave in wet areas. That’s it.
Go ahead and watch this for more clarity
The 8 myths about Love and Mud | Shagun SIngh | TEDxSVC

4. How to find skilled workers to build a natural building?

We recommend doing a course that focuses on teaching the foundations correctly. You can then build yourself, and guide locally available labour to achieve the desired result. One of the advantages of doing a course at Geeli Mitti, is that you become part of a community of natural builders from across the country and globe and get access to contacts of professionals as well as skilled workers depending on where you’re based.

5. Why are natural material based buildings called ‘kachha’ (temporary) homes?

There are a lot of things that are taught wrong and a core reason why myths have spread so widely about mud building. When a lie is said often enough, it gets accepted as the truth. So homes that can last centuries are called ‘Kachha’ and ones that last a few decades are called ‘Pukka’ (permanent). Kalyug hai Kalyug!

6. If natural buildings are so good, why aren’t people already promoting and building them more than cement based homes?

Well, daily exercise is good for us, and so is meditation and sattvic food, but how many do it? The main reason here however, is the systematic replacement of natural buildings with cement and spread of lies by the cement companies and those profiteering from it.

7. I don’t think that mud homes can be built for the modern lifestyle and with modern appliances.

Not sure why you think that but it is untrue. Mud homes can be built as per your aesthetic preference and with all modern appliances as desired, though you won’t need A/Cs or heaters or humidifiers or dehumidifiers or air purifiers, with a well designed and built natural home.

8. Mud homes need 2ft thick walls and I don’t have such a big plot. It isn’t practical for cities.

Mud homes can be 4.5” or 9” or any thickness as per need. It can be built on upper levels of existing homes and you can even build multi-storied homes. Please see this video about more such myths – The 8 myths about Love and Mud | Shagun SIngh | TEDxSVC

9. What about pests? Don’t natural buildings attract a lot of pests?

No, there is no direct correlation between natural buildings and pests. First of all, there is no such thing as ‘pests’. Every living species has a crucial role to play in maintaining the delicate ecological balance. The problem of pests arises when that balance is disturbed. Anyway, let’s talk about the two most fretted pests – termites and rodents. We see termites and rodents in cement homes too. So it’s not a problem of building material but one of design and technique. A sound design, combined with appropriate techniques applied in the foundation and preparation of materials such as wood at the time of construction can take care of pests regardless of the material you’re building with. Hence the panic linked to mud homes attracting pests is not justified.

10. How to do plumbing and electricals in a natural building?

Exactly as you would do it in a cement building. Here are 2 videos to understand about both in more detail –
Installing electrical components in a Mud Home
Installing Plumbing System in a Mud Home

11. Can natural materials be used for retrofitting and expansions?

Yes of course. You can change your plaster, flooring, paints, or even add an extra room on your terrace or balcony. However, we strongly recommend that you consult a structural engineer to get the building assessed for its load bearing capacity before planning.

12. Doesn’t a natural building need more maintenance compared to a cement based building?

No. How much maintenance you need has nothing to do with whether yours is a cement or natural home. It ’s to do with the quality of construction and building design. A well designed home built with good quality materials will need less maintenance. Simple.

13. Cement is also made from natural materials. It’s easily available and ready to use so why not use it?

The major ingredient in cement is mined lime and clay, but that is not all. Manufacturing cement involves an energy intensive process where it is mixed and ground with several other ingredients and heated in high temperatures – emitting toxic gases into the atmosphere and  permanently altering the chemical composition of the mix to form cement. It’s easily available because companies want you to keep buying it instead of lime and clay, so that they can keep profiting from you.

14. Does wood come in the category of natural building? Isn’t cutting down trees not eco-friendly?

Would you ask a bird to stop using twigs for its nest, or a leopard to become a vegetarian because deer are in short supply? Like food and clothing, shelter is a fundamental need for which all living beings tap into nature’s resources. But humans have exploited this privilege not just for their need, but to satisfy their greed. Being eco-friendly starts with just being conscious about one’s choices. If every one of us consciously used less, while simultaneously giving back to nature at every opportunity and not just exploiting it, we wouldn’t need to worry about the environment at all.

15. What about mud and lime? Isn’t mining of lime, and using precious topsoil for bricks harmful to the environment?

What is worse? Mining a material to use it as it is in its natural form or changing its entire chemical composition making it non-biodegradable, causing a huge amount of pollution in the process, and releasing toxic gases into the atmosphere? The latter, which applies to toxic cement and fly ash, are being propagated as eco-friendly materials. And contrary to popular belief, bricks do not use agricultural topsoil, and even after being fired their chemical composition remains the same, hence they are still biodegradable.

16. Do we have enough expertise available now to build with natural materials?

Yes, for over 2000 years. We’ve always had the expertise but choose not to use it anymore because quick fixes like cement and concrete have become more accessible.

17. Isn’t the soil different in different places? Can any kind of soil be used for natural building?

All soils are a combination of silt, clay and sand in different proportions. In our soil class, we teach you how to identify soil composition and adapt this knowledge to apply techniques suitable to the kind of soil and materials available on your land.

18. What is the cost of building with natural materials? Shouldn’t it be ‘dirt’ cheap since it is mud after-all?

Sure, with your free labour, it will be even cheaper than dirt. And the added bonus is you’ll never need to go to a gym! Jokes apart, yes, using materials available on your land will be cheaper than buying them, however you still need to design your home and get skilled labourers to build it, both of which cost money. You can plan your home according to your available budget – the design, materials, time taken and labour decisions would be dictated by your budget. There is no fixed per sq ft rate that exists. A more detailed explanation is given here – Cost of building a Mud Home

1. I want to build a customised mud home/resort/community. Can you build it for me?

The first step towards us getting involved is for you to come over for a workshop, no matter the duration. That would mean investing some time and money. We insist on people doing a workshop or interning long term with us, before we consult on any design or build. It has proved to be an important step so that you know the possibilities, what it takes and are committed before getting started. It also establishes a mutually respectful relationship between us.

A lot of our students (of every age group and background) started with the same apprehension and went on to realise their dreams, with our mentoring. While some just needed additional design help.

Building your home with natural materials is a beautifully transformative experience that must not be reduced to simply hiring someone to build.

2. What if we still want geeli mitti to build for us even after attending a workshop?

The Geeli Mitti Support Programme is open to all workshop alumni. Depending on the extent of support you need, you can opt for one of the three options below:

  1. Consultancy: Set up need-based consultations with us for a part or the entire duration of building your home.
  2. Design services: Have your home designed by us while you execute the build on your own. We will design your space and prepare drawings for you, based on your requirements.
  3. Design and project management: Get complete support from start to finish including consulting, design and execution.

Alternatively, we can also provide you contact details of ex-students practising in your area and open to taking up new projects with whom you can deal directly. However, please note that we cannot guarantee the quality of work and do not take any responsibility for work undertaken by third parties.

3. I am looking at working from the mountains WFH, can you tell me the rate of your cottages?

The Geeli Mitti Research cum Training Centre at Pangot, Nainital offers accommodation only for workshop participants and retreat guests, as well as our volunteers and interns. However, we will soon be offering magical mud-based structures in neighbouring locations, which you can rent for short-term and long-term stays. Stay tuned on our instagram and facebook pages for more updates [links]

4. Can you give me contacts of your students/architects who can build for me at my place?

Yes, definitely. But we would first ask you to come over to the Geeli Mitti centre for a workshop, whether it is for a day, 3 days or 3 weeks. This is important to first understand what natural building is all about and its possibilities. Once we are all talking the same language, it will automatically reflect in the work that comes of it.

5. Can you train at my land and in the process build for me?

The Geeli Mitti Centre of Excellence has been designed and built to be able to provide the highest possible standard of training in natural building and appropriate systems for sustainable living. I am fanatically passionate about the quality of teaching and knowledge being imparted, therefore, I do not impart training in other locations. Instead, we recommend that you come to us if you are keen on exploring the world of natural building. Once you finish a workshop with us, you will be eligible to join the Geeli Mitti Support Programme. [See Q2 for details]

1. Tell us more about Geeli Mitti

We’re leaders in the space of ecological housing and sustainable design. Do visit the About Us and Community Initiatives pages for a more in-depth understanding of who we are.

2. I want to build an eco-friendly community like you. Can I set up a franchise of Geeli Mitti at my place? How can you help?

Geeli mitti is an ideology shaped by the vision and passion of several people who are a part of it. It cannot be replicated with a monetary investment. We suggest that you visit us, get inspired, become part of the family, and then go on to create your own unique space and community that is a reflection of your passion, rather than trying to create a duplicate of Geeli Mitti.

3. What kind of community projects is Geeli Mitti running in the region?

Geeli Mitti Foundation works with rural and disadvantaged communities on a variety of livelihood, health, education and environment initiatives in the villages surrounding our centre in the Naina Devi Bird Conservation Zone in Nainital District, Uttarakhand. Apart from this, we run projects all over the country in collaboration with animal shelters, prison inmates, schools in slums and other organisations working for the upliftment of weaker sections of society. For a more information on our community initiatives and volunteering opportunities, please visit Community Initiatives

4. Where do the funds come from for your social initiatives?

We work very hard and ethically so that we don’t have to rely on donations. Our professional consultations and our workshops are geared to generate revenues that can be directly invested into supporting our social initiatives.

5. How can we stay updated on the latest happenings at Geeli Mitti?

For visual inspiration, and day-to-day activities check out our Instagram and Facebook posts and stories. You can also find photo journals and explanatory albums detailing our building process stage by stage on our Facebook page. For virtual tours, demonstrations, educational talks and tutorials on all things related to natural building, subscribe to our YouTube Channel. For latest updates on our workshop dates, visit our website

6. Why do you have Kunwar Singh as the CEO of Geeli Mitti?

Because he is the original native inhabitant of this land and we believe in upholding indigenous rights! For Kunwar, work is religion and he doesn’t plan to retire for as long as he’s alive. Respect.

7. Can you describe the location of Geeli Mitti?

Geeli Mitti Farms is located just a 40 minute drive away from the famous tourist town of Nainital, within the Naina Devi Bird Conservation zone, a region spread across 111.9 km2 that is home to over 200 species of rare and endangered birds and dense temperate broad-leaved forests. Our farm is about a 15 minute uphill walk away from the main road, one of the reasons why it is so peaceful. We’re surrounded by picturesque mountain views and lots of scenic hiking trails, with a gurgling freshwater that runs right adjacent to the property. There are several ways to get here. Check out this link to figure out what is most convenient to you.

8. How do I get there?

There are several ways to get here depending on where you are travelling from. Check out this link to figure out what is most convenient to you.

9. We tried calling you twice at the given number – +91 9540937144 but no one seems to answer. What to do?

Please understand that we are always working on-ground, physically, with our hands, in remote areas and don’t have a dedicated person to answer calls. While we try our best to take turns to handle the phone and other communications, it can be taxing at times and we miss calls sometimes. You are requested to follow-up via email or whatsapp or another call, until you get through to us.

1. I want to enrol for the next workshop, where can I get the details?

Please visit our Upcoming Events link to check for workshops and register online.

2. I am not an architect or an engineer. I have no experience in building. Can I still attend a workshop at Geeli Mitti?

Our Natural Building courses are made for EVERYONE, particularly for those without a background or formal training in architecture. Building is a primal instinct and it is our mission to revive this inherent wisdom to build one’s own shelter in every human who comes in contact with us. What can possibly be more empowering than this?

3. Does Geeli Mitti design and conduct customised courses for Architecture college students and school children?

Yes, this is our core competency as a training institution. We offer a plethora of specialised courses for both architecture and regular school and college students as part of our Study Tours programme. We recently hosted a week-long workshop for 100+ architecture and design students from Gujarat. Go ahead and watch this video Study Tours at Geeli Mitti and check out our Study Tours Brochure for more information.

4. I don’t have land and I don’t know what I want to build yet. Should I still come for a natural building workshop?

Yes, regardless of whether you own land or not, natural building is an invaluable skill that is worth acquiring. Infact, if you’re feeling stuck in life and waiting for a sign from the universe, perhaps our workshop is just the answer for you! Here’s a fews ways how you can benefit:

  • Explore a career in the booming natural building industry
  • Get inspired and prepare yourself for your future dream. Learn to identify what kind of land and home you want for yourself.
  • Find your tribe! Become part of a like-minded community of people, make lifelong friends or even find a life partner!
  • Get fit and lose weight
  • Experience the beauty of community living
  • Learn other aspects of sustainable living – our workshops are not just about building, but about a choice of an alternate way of life

5. I think your workshop is very expensive. How dare you?

Would you tell Harvard that they’re too expensive, instead of earning your place there? We believe that if you want the best, you must be prepared to pay for it, or willing to work for it at least.

Here are some suggestions that we have all used at some point in our life and what several of our students have done in the past and continue to do, for financing their fees or anything else:

  • Work & save up just like you would for a fridge, TV, mobile phone, vacation, home, wedding etc.
  • Beg, borrow or steal from family or friends and pay them back later.
  • Crowdfund
  • Register online via a credit card and convert it into
  • Apply for a scholarship (when available). The October course doesn’t offer a scholarship, but the one in April does. Please note that our decision is purely based on merit and need.
  • Apply for a long term internship. Internships are a great way to learn on the job, but be prepared to invest a minimum of 6 months and work very very hard. Write to us with your CV and a good cover letter, highlighting your work, skills, reasons for applying and how you can contribute at Geeli Mitti.

In all the years of our teaching, not a single person who has expressed genuine intent to learn has been turned away for lack of funds. We are firm believers and practitioners on focussing on the solutions and making things happen, if we want it badly enough.

6. This is my life’s dream and I really want to do this, but I am running short of funds. Can you help?

We are firm believers and practitioners on focussing on the solutions and making things happen, if we want it badly enough. Here are some suggestions for financing your workshop:

  • Work & save up just like you would for a fridge, TV, mobile phone, vacation, home, wedding etc.
  • Beg, borrow or steal from family or friends and pay them back later.
  • Crowdfund Register online via a credit card and convert it into EMIs.
  • Apply for a scholarship (when available). The October course doesn’t offer a scholarship, but the one in April does. Please note that our decision is purely based on merit and need.
  • Apply for a long term internship. Internships are a great way to learn on the job, but be prepared to invest a minimum of 6 months and work very very hard. Write to us with your CV and a good cover letter, highlighting your work, skills, reasons for applying and how you can contribute at Geeli Mitti.

7. How do I know which workshop is best suited for me?

  • Long Workshops (2 to 4 weeks)

If you want to get in-depth knowledge about natural building and hands-on practical experience, explore a career in natural building or even hire an architect to build a natural home, we highly recommend a long workshop.

  • Short Workshops (3 to 5 days)

If you don’t have the time, then opt for a short workshop.

  • Weekend Visit

If you’re still unsure, consider a one-day or weekend visit wherein you can get a tour of our systems and structures and experience a night in a natural building before deciding whether you want to walk down this path and how you want to engage with us.

  • Internships

For architects and professionals who want to invest 6 months or more, and learn while also contributing in your professional capacity, apply for our Internship programme [link].

8. I want to attend a workshop with my family, can we get a discount?

We encourage families to attend the workshop together so that you can be equally involved in building your home. We understand that the cost can be high so we do offer a family discount. Also, for most of our workshops, it’s completely free for children below 9 years.

9. Is it a good idea to build my home with volunteers? Would it be cheaper?

If you are an expert who can manage the build independently and handle a team of amateurs, train them and correct mistakes, then go ahead and build with volunteers. However, if you want quality and efficiency, it is always better to build with a trained team and hired labour. We still can’t comment on whether it will be cheaper. If you live in a country where labour is very expensive then it might be cheaper, but not otherwise.

10. Can I work remotely for my office during the workshop?

Yes. But you have to decide how you want to manage your time in between breaks. Please note that we don’t have broadband internet services in this area as cables haven’t been laid here. Hence, you will have to rely on your mobile sim or dongle.

11. Can I attend the workshop partially?

No. Either you’re all in or you’re out.

12. Can I get my friend/partner for the workshop who will stay with me and not participate in the workshop?

Ideally not, but exceptional situations can be discussed.

13. I have small children, can I bring them along?

Principally, I’m not against it, but to ensure that you get the best out of the workshop, it is important that you also bring help, as you will not be able to manage both. We’ve had parents managing and attending the workshop on turns, so that’s an option worth considering. Also we sincerely request you to ensure that your children do not disturb the rest of the group.

14. I have a friendly dog with me, can I bring her/him along?

We love animals, but can be a bit moody and territorial and we certainly don’t guarantee safety from leopards. So bring them along, at your own risk!

15. Are all your workshops residential or can we stay elsewhere ?

Yes, all our workshops are residential. Our workshops are like a bootcamp, and we adapt to every group to pack in a lot into a very short duration.We don’t hold back on sharing knowledge and it is our prerogative is to equip people with as much knowledge and confidence as we possibly can. This means working late nights, starting early in the morning, offline conversations and debates in the free hours, q& a sessions and so on…all of which are an extremely valuable part of the entire experience. Also, the community living experience is as much a part of the learning, as the formal sessions. Therefore it is critical to be on site and make the most of your time here. Staying somewhere else will just not work.

16. Can I make payment for the workshop in instalments?

No. However, there is an option to make an online payment with your credit card and convert it into EMIs.

17. What is the cancellation policy for the workshop?

We have a strict zero cancellation policy and registration fees are non-refundable. This is because our workshops are usually overbooked, which means we close registrations as soon as slots are sold out and refuse several people thereafter to hold your seat. When you cancel a seat at the last moment, a seat that could’ve been filled is wasted and someone is denied a valuable opportunity to learn.

We do however allow you to send someone else in your place, or defer your application to attend a later workshop or retreat within the same financial year if you let us know a minimum of 1 month in advance.

18. I don’t have time to attend the workshop. Is there an online training option?

There is enough fantastic theoretical information already available online and in books, and there’s no added value in us re-creating it. What we offer is hands-on experience that cannot possibly be accomplished remotely. It is the practical aspect of the workshop, the formal and informal interactions and debates between participants and the entire community living experience that grooms you with the confidence to follow though on your journey as a natural builder. So yes it’s perhaps easier and more lucrative for us to offer online courses, but we have made a conscious decision not to.

19. Can you conduct where I live? It’s too far for me.

We have invested several years to set up a Centre of Excellence, offering the highest standard of teaching with specialised live demonstrations and ample opportunity for hands-on work. It is for this unparalleled experience that you can’t get anywhere else, that our participants travel to us from all over the country and world. A student goes to his Guru or to an institution to learn. Its never the other way around. The same rules that apply to any prestigious institution apply to us as well. So if you’re genuinely interested in learning, you’ve got to make the effort to meet us half way. We cannot come to you.

20. What all essential things do I need to carry for the workshop?

Our Institute is located away from tourist hubs and shops, so that you are here for only one purpose – to learn. We are fully equipped to look after all of your accommodation, food and basic first aid needs. We circulate an orientation note to all our workshop participants well in advance detailing a list of essentials you need to carry which includes things like appropriate clothing (depending on which time of year you’re visiting) toiletries, a torch, medicines, a water bottle, walking/hiking shoes, a hat or scarf, mosquito repellant, a camera and binoculars  etc. The nearest market is in Nainital which is an hour away. We have a system of taking special requests for items that you may need or have forgotten, usually fulfilled within a day or two.

21. Can I get some preferred food during the workshop?

No. Geeli Mitti offers simple vegetarian meals, cooked in-house with ingredients that are mostly locally sourced.  The kitchen is always working overtime to feed so many people who are ravenous all the time, that it is very difficult for us to accommodate special requests.

 22. I can offer space for conducting the workshop and in the process build my home/farmhouse for me. Would you take it up?

It has taken us years to set up an institution with all the facilities required to impart the highest standard of teaching to our students. You’re asking us to come all the way to your space instead, recreate the set-up that we already have, compromise on our quality of teaching, and also build for you. Why? I don’t see any good reason for doing that. Yes, we do conduct workshops in locations other than our headquarters, but these are at our sister concerns or community institutions set up for this purpose. We are extremely picky about where our workshops are held and strictly do not conduct workshops on private property.

23. What are the possibilities of treks and hikes from Geeli Mitti?

There are plenty of options for people of all fitness levels. In fact, going on hikes and walks whenever they get a chance, is one of the most preferred pastimes of our participants. If you’re a bird watching enthusiast, do bring your binoculars, as we are located inside the Naina Devi Bird Conservation Zone which is home to more than 200 species of rare and exotic birds.

24. What kind of wildlife can be spotted near Geeli Mitti?

We are surrounded by mixed oak forests that are home to langurs, jungle fowl, pine martens, barking deer, civet cat and a wide variety of snakes. And ofcourse, there’s a chance you might spot the evasive leopard, if you’re lucky or unlucky, however you want to see it! Occasionally, we do spot some weird humans too who don’t seem native to around here.

25. Are the dogs at Geeli Mitti friendly? I am afraid of dogs and contemplating coming to Geeli Mitti.

Considering that I am the CEO, and my core team is 100% dog, I’m not quite sure how to address that question. If you have an absolute panic for adorable four-legged creatures like me, you definitely should not come. The dogs here can be a little boisterous and playful but they’re very friendly. This is their home and they will not be tied or confined to make visitors comfortable.

26. I want to volunteer during a workshop to learn natural building. How can I go about it?

Like anywhere else, volunteering at Geeli Mitti means doing whatever work is given to you. This could range from writing, setting-up logistics, handling guests and photography, to cooking and cleaning bathrooms. Volunteers are expected to contribute to the need of the hour. As a volunteer you will not have the time to attend the workshop. If you want to learn, join a workshop instead.

1. I love the work you are doing, how can I contribute/support you?

You can either make a financial or material contribution or give your time as a volunteer.

We are who we are because of the fantastic souls who volunteer with us continuously. Being a volunteer at Geeli Mitti means contributing to anything and everything that we need at that given point of time. This could range from writing, setting-up logistics, handling guests and photography, to cooking and cleaning bathrooms. The minimum time commitment we expect is one week. There is a nominal charge of 360 rupees per day or $5 per day for international volunteers.

Please write to us separately mentioning how you would like to support us and we will get back to you with details of projects where we can use your help.

2. I want to intern at your place. What can I expect and how can I apply?

Internships are a great way to learn on the job, but be prepared to invest a minimum of 6 months and work very very hard. Write to us with your CV and a good cover letter, highlighting your work, skills, reasons for applying and how you can contribute at Geeli Mitti.

3. I would like to invest in the projects that you do. How to go about it?

The natural building industry is growing at a very fast pace and we believe that the future belongs to this space. We usually have multiple projects running concurrently. Write to us separately with the quantum of investment you’re looking at and we will suggest options.

4. We would like to cover you on our news?

We are working in a field where the media can play a significant role in spreading awareness. Please write to us an email with details of what you would like to cover and an example of your past coverage or write up. To see some of our media coverage please go ahead and visit

5. We have a few ideas for potential collaboration and want to discuss it.

Write us an email with your ideas and potential dates to schedule a call.  We are flooded with queries and usually respond within a few days.

6. Can I apply for a job at Geeli Mitti?

Geeli Mitti is run by volunteers and ex-students who eventually become part of the team. It’s an organic process, and we choose to keep it that way. We prefer not to hire directly from the market. To find out if you’re a fit for us, go ahead and visit

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