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Duration (approx) 500 hours
Qualification Proficiency Award

Alternative Construction course now available

  • Study alternative construction with this 500 hour Proficiency Award consisting of three core modules:-
  • Healthy Buildings I
  • Healthy Building II
  • Mud Brick Construction
  • The course is completed by 200 hours of industry experience. This can be paid work, voluntary work or a research project of your choice relating to the topics covered in the course.

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Study alternative construction with this distance learning course and become an expert in healthy buildings and alternative construction methods

This course provides you with a solid foundation to develop your knowledge in alternative, ecologically friendly, sustainable and psychologically healthy buildings.

  • Learn from our experience! Study alternative construction and healthy buildings with ACS Distance EducationLearn about the elements of building design and construction - the use of different and alternative materials, and considerations for healthy environments.
  • This course is suitable for anyone who is involved in building, from a large to a small scale.
  • Offer unique, niche, individually designed buildings to meet your customers’ requirements or build for yourself.Learn more about healthy buildings and mud brick construction. 
  • Study three 100 hour modules - Healthy Buildings I and II, and Mud Brick Construction. Then complete a 200 hour workplace project.
  • Flexible study - start at any time and study when and where you want to.  We offer full tutoral support for the duration of your studies.


Healthy Buildings I (Healthy Buildings Construction) BSS200
This module looks at the impact of building construction on human physiological and physical health.  Through 10 lessons, students will learn about building biology, building diseases, the impact of services, light, colour, ventilation and much more.

Healthy Buildings II (Building Environment & Health) BSS300
Learn about alternative building construction with ACS Distance EducationThe Healthy Buildings II module builds on the knowledge gained in the previous module and also looks at additional areas such as the impact of the location upon health and surroundings to a building.  As well as considering the materials used in buildings and, in particular, materials or finishes used, the module looks at additional elements such as the management of interior environments and consulting services that can be offered to clients.

Learn about alternative building construction with ACS Distance EducationMud Brick Construction ASS103
This 10 lesson module looks at the processes involved with constructing buildings with alternative materials such as mud bricks.  Students will learn about the different materials that may be used and how they are made.  The module considers all of the important elements of the building process, from planning and building regulations, through the selection of materials, to site management and the provision of services (water, electricity etc.).

Workplace Project
To complete this qualification, you are also required to complete a workplace project lasting 200 hours.  

There are 4 options available to you to satisfy this requirement.  The options will be different dependent upon whether or not you currently work within the industry. The project can be work experience, voluntary experience, a project you carry out, other training you have already undertaken and there are other options. Don’t worry if you are not sure how to proceed at this stage, as your tutor will be there to discuss how to proceed and help you every step of the way.


Earth building can be done anywhere' but if you want to minimize maintenance needed; you need a location with protection from excessive water.

Earth walls are susceptible to moisture. For this reason, flood prone sites are totally unsuitable for earth building. Sites in low rainfall areas are generally preferable, though extended roofing over the walls (e.g. large eves or verandahs) can protect earth walls in even high rainfall areas. Less cost and effort is required to protect walls from weathering in drier climates though. If there is any chance whatsoever of walls being badly weathered by rain or flooding, cement stabilisation is recommended.

If a building is situated on top of a hill, there will be minimal problems with the drainage of water, however on the side of a hill, drainage can become a critical problem. Water coming down the hill must be caught and diverted away from the building, even in the heaviest of rains. Two series of drains are recommended, one close to the building and the other further away, both obviously up hill of the building. Reshaping the earth can also be an advantage, creating contours which will divert water to the sides of the building.

If a building is on a flat site, foundations will usually be less involved and less costly. If building on a slope it is not advisable to build on a slab foundation laid on an area leveled using a cut and fill technique. The filled section of a cut and filled site is likely to subside causing structural problems to a building built over it.
When purchasing land you should consider the following if you have any intention of putting an earth building on the site:

  • Check boundary pegs against measurements of the site.
  • Be sure you are buying what you are looking at.
  • Check any zoning regulations (i.e. Town Planning) which apply to the site, and make sure you can use it in the way you want to use it. You might consider if it can be used for a business, whether trees can be removed, what types of buildings can be built etc.
  • Consider the aspect. On a north slope (in the southern hemisphere) you will make better use of solar energy. A south slope could be cooler in summer.
  • Consider the weather; wind patterns, rainfall, temperature patterns etc.
  • Consider the amount of work and expense in preparing the site for building (e.g.: cost of clearing, drainage, excavation, access roads, bringing in power and water etc).
  • Access roads are important. A block which is accessible in summer might not be in winter.
  • Consider what services (e.g. water, gas, phone, electricity, postal services, garbage collection etc) are available.
  • Consider pest problems (e.g.: Termites, rabbits or other pests can affect both building construction or the garden you might be trying to establish)
  • Rock below the surface or as outcrops on a site can affect the cost of building considerably. You may be required to blast rock for sewer pipes, a septic tank or even building foundations. Digging or blasting rock can be very expensive.
  • Be aware of springs, boggy ground etc which can cause flooding.


... What next?

This course is just the first step. The Alternative Construction Proficiency Award will provide you with the skills to build ecologically friendly, psychologically healthy and sustainable buildings.

More and more today people are looking for ecologically friendly and sustainable products. What could be a more important product than a person’s own home or buildings?

The knowledge you gain with this course enables you to offer unique, niche services to your clients and yourself.

  • Learn more about mud brick construction, carpentry and healthy buildings with this course.
  • Turn your passion for alternative construction into reality.

Throughout the course you will be supported by our highly experienced and well qualified tutors.

Any Questions about the course? 

Our Alternative Construction tutors are more than happy to help and advise with any questions about the course. 






Courses can be started anytime from anywhere in the world!

Meet some of our academics

Timothy WalkerB.A.(Botany), RHS.M. Hort., Post.Grad.Dip.Ed. Former Director, Oxford Botanic Gardens.
Diana Cole (Horticulturist)Horticulturist, Permaculturist, Landscaper, Environmentalist. Holds a Diploma in Horticulture, degree in geography, permaculture certificate and various other qualifications. Between 1985 and 94, Diana was a task leader with the British Trust for Conservation Volunteers. Since 2001 she has been chairperson of the Friends of Mellor Park (with Stockport MDC). From 2005 she has worked exclusively in horticulture as proprietor of her own garden design and consultancy business in and around Derbyshire; and at the same time as part time manager of a small garden centre. Diana has been an enthusiastic and very knowledgeable tutor with ACS since 2008.
Yvonne Sharpe (Horticulturist)Started gardening in 1966, studied a series of horticulture qualifications throughout the 1980's and 90's, culminating in an RHS Master of Horticulture. Between 89 and 1994, she worked teaching in horticultural therapy. Founded the West Herts Garden Association in 1990 and exhibited at Chelsea Flower Show in 1991. In 1994, Yvonne joined the staff at Oaklands College, and between 1996 and 2000 was coordinator for all Amenity Horticulture courses at that college. Since leaving Oakland she has been active as a horticultural consultant, retail garden centre proprietor and sessional lecturer (across many colleges in southern England). In 2000, she also completed a Diploma in Management.

Check out our eBooks

Trees and ShrubsUseful for students, tradespeople already working in the field, or the home gardener who needs a quick reference when choosing plants for a garden.
Trees & Shrubs for Small GardensTurn even the smallest space into a great place. This e-book is an essential guide for any gardener who wants to make the most of a small garden, balcony, verandah or courtyard.
WeedsThis book helps you understand different types of weeds, and how to control them. Many of the more commonly occurring weeds around the world are both illustrated and described.
What to Plant WhereA great guide for choosing the right plant for a particular position in the garden. Thirteen chapters cover: plant selection, establishment, problems, and plants for wet areas. Shade, hedges and screens, dry gardens, coastal areas, small gardens, trees and shrubs, lawns and garden art.