norbert hufnagl

partner, earthen touch natural builders, LLC
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Norbert Hufnagl brings to each project classic German engineering, with an MS in both electrical and mechanical engineering. He was born and raised in Germany, and moved to the U.S. in 1989 while working in tech support and consulting for motion control systems for 15 years in Germany and Switzerland.

He began living his connection to the earth upon starting and operating a small organic vegetable farm in Northern New Jersey in 1994 and farmed full time for 6 years. Through the design of many innovative tools and methods he was able to boost the productivity of his 3 acres well beyond normal standards.

He moved to New Mexico in 2002 and worked on various building and carpentry projects in and around Santa Fe, using his skills and experience to help local organic farms upgrade their greenhouses, seedling production and irrigation systems.

As he migrated toward building construction, exposure to conventional materials and techniques lead him to look for healthier and sustainable ways to build. He encouraged the use of natural materials, paints and finishes wherever possible, from simple garage conversions or decks to the creation of a studio with radiant in-floor heat, and solar hot water systems.

His first straw bale home project occurred in Penasco, New Mexico where he was hired for the electrical and plumbing installation which shifted quickly into sharing the role of lead contractor.

Next he tackled adobe construction as lead contractor on a complex 2500 sq. ft. adobe home in Arizona in which he was the only contractor utilized, with the exception of one, for the entire project. From there he joined forces full time with Carolyn and they created Earthen Touch Natural Builders. Together they have mastered the natural building methods listed here and have perfected their roles as partners in building.

In the many projects he has managed since, his engineering background combined with a growing experience in natural building systems allowed him to solve many complicated problems and bring often unique solutions to the table which has saved clients much time and cost savings on many projects.

Norbert would be happy to give advice or serve as consultant for any part of a project, as he is always up to a new challenge.

carolyn riege

partner, earthen touch natural builders, LLC
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Following a career in art direction/graphic design and freelance film in Chicago, Carolyn Riege visited her first cob home in Oregon in 1993. She set out to learn as much about natural building as she could, so began volunteering on projects in Oregon, Washington, Arizona and New Mexico and attending gatherings where she could work with pioneers in the field.

After her first workshop with Ianto and Linda of Cob Cottage Company, she worked on as many cob structures as she could, and taught a cob basics class at Ecoversity in Santa Fe. From there she progressed to straw bale construction, then light-straw clay, pumice block and finally adobe. While learning the techniques of natural building, she discovered her affinity for earthen plasters which allow her to merge many of her skills as an artist and designer.

She was a founding member, teacher and organizer with the World Hands Project, an organization which built straw bale, then shipping pallet homes in Anapra, Mexico for families in need. Her time with WHP, from 2002-2006 was a time of intense learning on many levels.

Her role at Earthen Touch Natural Builders is to work in tandem with Norbert, on all levels of a project. One of her strengths include mixing custom colors for finished earthen plasters and adobe floors. She also excels in designing and installing custom tile work for bathrooms and kitchens.

She is happy to serve as a consultant for clients, stepping in to give creative input on color and design whenever needed.