The sod house, often known as a "soddy," was a prevalent type of home in the frontier west. The plains' tall, resilient grasses possessed tight, complicated root systems, and the dirt in which they grew could be carved into flexible, yet sturdy, bricks. By stacking these in the right order, with the correct amount of mud or clay between each brick, a builder could create a solid wall without using any nails or other fasteners. This was especially useful since there were no tools available to fix holes or cracks once the house was completed.
Sod houses did not need to be completely sealed against the elements. Their only function was to provide shelter from the sun and rain. However, if you wanted to go beyond simply sheltering your family, you could add insulation to your walls and floor, use hay for bedding instead of earth, or even install a small cooking fire in one corner of your house.
In addition to being easy to build with simple hand tools, sod houses were inexpensive. A single stack of sods would cover an area about the size of a modern patio, and depending on the quality of the soil and how many layers were used, a good-quality sod house could be built for under $10,000 ($70,000 in today's dollars).
Sod cutters cut long, narrow strips of sod, which were subsequently cut into bricks using an axe. Sod bricks two to three feet square and four inches thick were then placed to construct the walls of the sod home. The thatch or straw that covered the roof was typically six inches deep, but could be as much as 18 inches deep in areas where there was plenty of rain fall.
Sod houses were easy to build and inexpensive. They also provided shelter from extreme temperatures. If you wanted more comfort you could add on some features such as a floor, windows, and doors. Although these additions would increase the cost of your house they would also give you more protection from the elements.
There are many different ways to put together a sod house. The most common way was to start at one end and lay out each row of sods, pressing them firmly into place. The tops of the sods should be flat with no dips or rises. You should also try to keep the edges even so that the thatch will lie flat against the wall when it is attached.
After laying out the first row, lift up each sod and check its height relative to the last row placed. If one or more rows are too high, remove them and replace them with lower rows.
During the frontier colonization of Canada and the United States' Great Plains, the sod house, or "soddy," was a popular alternative to the log cabin. Originally used for animal shelters, corrals, and fences if regular construction materials like wood or stone were unavailable on the prairie, or if poverty...
The following are reasons why sod houses were built on the prairies:
It is estimated that there were approximately 500,000 soddies in North America at the time of European contact. Most of these were located in what are now parts of Canada and the United States. There were also many more under construction when the first Europeans arrived. The main reason for this popularity is because it is easy to build and relatively inexpensive. A sod house can be constructed by anyone with basic building skills. It does not need to be a professional builder to construct one either; some pioneers even took their families camping each year so they could build them up again next season.
Sod houses were widely used by farmers who had no access to lumber or other building materials. They were also used by hunters and fishermen when no timber was available near their homes. Some soddies are still in use today in areas where grasses for roofing material can be found.
Early settlers on the prairies made use of the abundant supplies of buffalo dung (poop) to fuel their homes' stoves.
Sod homes, often known as "soddies," were a popular kind of residence in the Prairies during the second part of the nineteenth century. Soddies were miniature buildings made of sod blocks with primitive housing furnishings. Sod is grass and the soil beneath it that is kept together by the roots of the grass. In this case, the roots of wheat or other grains are used to bind the soil together instead.
Sod houses were easy to build and cheap. A carpenter could have them ready in a few days. They also lasted quite a long time. Some were still standing over 100 years later. That's more durable than most wooden buildings today!
The parts of a sod house was easily obtained too. For the frame, farmers took advantage of any strong vegetation they might have lying around: trees, shrubs, weeds. If not available, they would use wood, usually pines since they were plentiful and easy to find. The roof was usually made of clay or dirt, but sometimes sheets of metal were used instead. The walls were usually made of earth or mud, but some were built with stones or bricks too.
People everywhere used sod houses until we started using concrete for buildings. Concrete is much stronger than sod and doesn't break down over time like wood does. It's also very heat-resistant so you wouldn't need to worry about ice storms like you do with wood.
During the frontier colonization of Canada and the United States' Great Plains, the sod house, or soddy, was a popular alternative to the log cabin. Sod dwellings have standard doors and windows. The resultant building used less expensive materials and took less time to construct than a wood-framed home. It was also much cooler inside the sod house during the summer months.
Sod houses were widely used by farmers who had moved onto the prairie from other parts of Europe. They proved very economical to build and easy to maintain. A sod house typically uses soil, grass, and straw as its main components. When dried, the soil provides structural support while the grasses keep the house warm in winter and cool in summer. Straw is used as insulation between the floor and ceiling.
In addition to being cost effective, sod houses are environmentally friendly because they use natural resources and require little energy to maintain. There is also some evidence to suggest that children who grow up in sod houses have better respiratory systems than those who do not. This may be due to the fact that the moist, fresh air inside helps prevent allergies and asthma.
The first sod houses were built by French colonists around 1720. Although they were not unique to this ethnic group, they became popular with immigrants from Germany and Scotland. Today, sod houses can be found across the prairies of Alberta and Saskatchewan.