If you’ve ventured out to Arizona or New Mexico, you may have been surprised by the stucco walls, terra cotta shingles, or wood beams that are so often present in pueblo-style homes.
In this blog, we’ll teach you more about pueblo homes and where the architectural design originated from.
1. What are pueblo homes?
Pueblo homes are single-family homes that are made from traditional materials.
Most often the material used is adobe, but you may also find some pueblo homes that are built from concrete or stucco.
Pueblo homes incorporate features like…
Smooth rounded walls
The more modern pueblo homes that you’ll see today are inspired by the original cliff dwellings of the southwestern Native American tribes.
There are also some influences from Spanish architecture.
When pueblo houses were first built, they were designed with local materials like dried clay-mud with the intention of withstanding intense temperature fluctuations.
To retain and disperse heat, the homes have thick walls that absorb heat during the day and release it throughout the night.
This helps keep occupants relatively warm on cold nights.
Additionally, the homes feature only small windows that limit the amount of sunlight (and warmth) that can get in.
Pueblo homes were even colored intentionally.
Instead of dark clay, light-colored clay was used to reflect light and prevent overheating.
2. What are pueblo homes made of?
Traditional pueblo homes are made from stone, adobe bricks, and wooden beams.
In a typical pueblo building, adobe blocks formed the walls of each room in addition to the central courtyard.
Each building could be up to 5 stories tall.
Movement between levels was originally achieved by a wooden ladder; however, steps are now commonly used.
The Pueblo people originally built apartment-like complexes that housed several (if not hundreds of) families.
Some complexes were so large that they included over 700 rooms.
However, the average size was closer to 200 rooms.
Newer pueblo homes may be constructed from these traditional materials as well as stucco, concrete, and mortar.
Pueblo homes use sustainable materials and construction generally doesn’t create a lot of waste.
Additionally, because of their design, homeowners will have lower heating and cooling costs compared to traditional homes.
3. Where can you find pueblo homes?
If you’re looking for pueblo homes in the United States, your best bet is in the southwest.
This region is where the original adobe homes were constructed.
Take a road trip to Chaco Canyon National Historical Park or the historic district of Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Both of these areas boast examples of traditional pueblo homes.
Additionally, more modern pueblo-style homes are still available in other areas.
New constructions in southwestern states like Utah, Arizona, Colorado, and Southern California pull from this style.
Although they may not be pueblo homes specifically, they use a lot of the design elements.
If you like features like simple stucco exteriors, earth tones, and minimal décor, it’s worth looking in these areas.
4. How much does a pueblo home cost to build?
If you’re not able to find an existing pueblo-style home in your area, you can opt to build on yourself.
This type of construction is roughly $55 per square foot.
However, the price can increase if you choose higher-end touches like stone countertops or hardwood floors.
5. What are pueblo architecture and design features?
Traditional pueblo homes transformed into the more modern style we’re accustomed to seeing today because of Spanish settlers in the mid-1800s.
When they arrived in the southwest, they began to add traditional Spanish architectural elements to adobe homes.
These architectural and design elements were reminiscent of European architecture.
Here are the characteristics of Spanish-influenced pueblo homes that you may recognize.
Earth-tone, stucco-covered exterior
Wooden posts that support the roof and protrude from the walls
Rounded corners and edges
Wide, covered porches
Brick or wood floors
Corner fireplaces and hearths
6. What are pueblo revival homes?
There was a revival of pueblo homes in the 1920s.
Although these homes retained many of the same qualities as their predecessors, there were some distinctions.
The major difference was that these houses tended to be a bit more ornate with bright accents or tiles.
Most of these are seen in windows or doorways.
Here are the characteristics of pueblo revival homes.
Earth-tone, stucco-covered exterior
Low-pitched or flat roof
Clay tile shingles
If you’re planning to build your own pueblo home, then understanding the differences between traditional pueblos, Spanish-influenced styles, and pueblo revival homes can be helpful in figuring out what you want.
7. How do you create the feel of a pueblo-style home?
If you love the idea of having this type of home, but you can’t up and move, remodel, or build your own, then you can do a few small things to bring in that pueblo-style feel.
For your exterior, remember that the pueblo style loves earthy base colors.
You can always repaint and go for something more neutral if your house is currently blue, green, red, etc.
You could also install an enclosed courtyard which is a popular feature of pueblo revival homes.
Likewise, extend the pueblo vibe to your interior.
You should opt for an earthy color palette (tans, muted greens, etc.).
Stick to natural materials when decorating.
Redo your floors with exposed/natural wood if you have the budget.
When it comes time for accents, go for bright pops of color.
Good accessories include natural fiber rugs, earthenware pottery, and wood sculptures.
You could even consider indoor plants with terracotta pots to bring some life inside.
8. What are the benefits of pueblo homes?
Here are the benefits of living in a pueblo home:
Energy efficiency in the desert climate
Materials provide natural insulation
Sustainable materials are good for the earth and can be sourced from near the building site
Pueblo homes have flat roofs which means they can be one or more stories tall
These buildings are generally equipped with root spouts to mitigate water erosion and prevent damage to brick surfaces
Ground floors generally lack doors and windows which make the dwellings more secure
Fire and earthquake resistant
9. Can you build your own pueblo home?
Yes, you can build your own pueblo home.
If you want to enjoy all the benefits listed above (and more!), but pueblo homes aren’t available in your area, then you may consider building your own.
To do so, you’ll need the following materials:
If built correctly, your pueblo house can be sturdy enough to last for centuries.
These southwestern-style homes are made of adobe bricks that are cured by the desert heat.
They are energy efficient because of their thick walls.
These also make it resistant to fires and earthquakes.
Here are the steps to constructing your very own pueblo home.
Create a framework mold of adobe bricks
To make adobe bricks, you’ll need to create a framework mold.
This mold should be roughly 28½-by-25 1/2 inches across and 2 inches deep, with compartments allowing you to make four bricks that are about 14-by-10 inches.
Dig a small pit near the construction site
Dig a small pit near the construction site.
Toss a mix of 60 percent sand and 40 percent clay into it.
Mix it with a shovel and add enough water to make it a bit muddy.
Mix the ingredients
Mix the ingredients as thoroughly as possible.
Your goal is to make it about pancake mix consistency.
Some people even jump in and use their feed to mix, but this is up to personal preference.
Once you have your ingredients properly mixed, you should place part of the mix on a large plastic sheet.
Next, toss some straw on top.
It should be enough straw to total 20 percent of the mix.
Start kneading the mix
Gather the mix together and begin to knead it again.
Continue to mix it until the consistency is stiff.
Take your mold and put it on the ground.
Use your trowel to put some of the mix into the mold, and then smooth off the top so it’s flat.
Remove the bricks and allow them to dry
Remove the bricks from the mold after half an hour and let them continue to dry.
Keep in mind that you’ll need to dedicate about two weeks to get the drying process before you can proceed.
You’ll also need to turn them over once or twice.
While some bricks are drying, you can continue to pour the mix into the mold and make more bricks.
Begin laying the walls of your building
With the dry bricks, you should be able to lay the walls of your building.
For best results, alternate the layer for increased stability.
Between each layer, spread a slightly wetter version of the brick mix to act as mortar.
10. What are the other types of traditional homes?
Tipis – made by the nomadic Great Plains Indians who needed to be able to carry around their dwellings with ease; tipis are often made from stretched canvas that was draped and secured around poles
Grass houses – tall, cone-shaped dwellings made out of thatched prairie grass covering a frame of wooden sticks by Native Americans in the southern part of the Great Plains
Wattle-and-daub – houses made of woven sticks, bark, vines, and other plant material (wattle) covered with clay or some other plaster (daub)
Igloos – homes made of padded snow and ice blocks that were readily available in cold northern regions (i.e., Alaska, northern Canada, Greenland, etc.)
Do you love the idea of living in a desert-inspired home?
Pueblo homes are made of natural materials in the southwestern states.
We suggest shopping in this area if you dream of owning one.
Likewise, if you can’t find one that you love in an area, you could also consider building your own.
With all the benefits they provide, it’s a worthwhile investment!
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Disclaimer: we are not lawyers, accountants, or financial advisors and the information in this article is for informational purposes only. This article is based on our own research and experience and we do our best to keep it accurate and up-to-date, but it may contain errors. Please be sure to consult a legal or financial professional before making any investment decisions.