Materials that make the house

Norris Residence, 2,600 sf.

  • The owners wanted a farmhouse-style home.

  • They chose straw‐bale construction.

  • As they had lived in Mexico for fifteen years, they wanted bright plaster walls.

  • A design that mixed adobe and wood floors. 

We enjoy various choices of building materials in the Taos area. Stemming from the indigenous Pueblo style of adobe, vigas, and latillas, there have developments and explorations in other building systems that have proved exciting and appropriate for this region.

Initially, materials other than adobe were developed to emulate the Pueblo adobe-style, but these materials are also considered when building Territorial and Contemporary buildings.

A primary building material is insulated concrete forms (ICF), which provide a sound structural wall, sound attenuation, and a good insulation value.

There was a time when straw-bale construction was popular. Its thick walls are appealing, but the structural requirements associated with straw-bale are costly.

There is also pumicrete, which is a cast-in-place pumice and portland cement slurry which provides a well-insulated and thick-walled structure.

Another common choice is wood-frame, which is a typical building material in much of the country. In Taos, however, we take special care to detail the framing to match the architectural style: from soft rounded corners for adobe-style to hard crisp corners for contemporary.

Home owners have a range of choices in materials to suit their style, their architectural design, and the climate of Northern New Mexico.