Interview 1191 – Catarina Mota and Marcin Jakubowski Introduce the Open Building Institute

by | Jul 13, 2016 | Interviews | 8 comments

You wouldn’t download a house, would you? Of course you would! And now with the Open Building Institute, you can! Join us today as we talk to Marcin Jakubowski of Open Source Ecology and Catarina Mota of the Open Building Institute about how they are bringing their vision of an affordable, open source, modular, ecological building toolkit to life. We discuss the free, open source library of modules that form the basis of the building’s design, how the institute will train others to start designing and building their own homes, and how you can find out more information and help the collaborative effort.

Open Building Institute

Open Building Kickstarter

Open Source Ecology

Episode 222 – Lessons in Resistance: Open Source

Open Source Solutions: An Open Source Investigation


  1. I absolutely love when you do Solution-Based videos like this. A buddy of mine worked with Jakubowski last year; he did a presentation on hydroponics for OSE. We’re currently looking to build a greenhouse/barn/apartment and you released this video at the perfect time! Thank you so much for this resource. I might have to look into going down to Missouri for that workshop in November.

    Keep up the fantastic work!

  2. I like the idea of do it yourself and open source, but we have to be careful about people seeking to capitalize on this trend just by uttering the right buzzwords. Some big red flags stuck out to me about this couple’s presentation:

    1. Free labor – a large part of construction cost is labor, yet they are getting it for free or even charging people for “immersion”. This doesn’t sound sustainable or scalable at all. It also strikes me as a bit like a cult, where a bunch of people put in free work to build up assets for the dear leader. At the very least, it is a misrepresentation to the consumers of the real costs of this process, since presumably the people paying for this “immersion” training expect to eventually be paid for their labor.

    2. Asking for funding for a large, ambitious, complex project with ill-defined scope. That is a recipe for misaligned expectations and failure to deliver. Every project faces risks, yet their approach multiplies the risk factors of a typical project by orders of magnitude. Better to start small and grow incrementally, before attempting a world-changing goal all at once.

    3. Unexplained failure of previous project. Failure is part of business and is a necessary component of learning about market demand, that ultimately can lead to success. However, they do not give an adequate explanation for why their previous project, the brick-making machine, did not get any adoption. The ostensible reason is that they need to build houses in order to make the machines useful. But, they also mentioed that the market price for these devices is $50k and they are producing them for $5k. If this is true, they should have been able to sell them like hotcakes. It doesn’t add up and is not a good sign for pursuing an even bigger project when the smaller project was not completed to expectations.

    I’m very, very wary about these people, their business model doesn’t make sense to me, there are too many unanswered questions, and not enough critical questions posed to them in this video at least. This modular home / eco home / tiny home fad is a magnet for hucksters spewing the right words, but I’ll hold on to my money until there’s some proof in the pudding.

  3. I was particularly interested in the open source building project for mechanical tools when it was posted originally. With the right participants it is a good idea. However, after listening to the last video, going to the website and reviewing the information I must say that the excitement went right out of me. The modules idea is not new but it’s nice to see it laid out for the homeowner in bite-able portions. Nevertheless, if I were to build such a home I’d have to have the free labor of 30+ people to accomplish the task in the time and with the material costs noted. I don’t even know 30+ people. I would have to agree with the earlier poster. Yes, there is something fundamental about this project that eludes me.

  4. Great news! We’re 107% funded, and have a few days left. Support modular open source eco-housing and follow progress updates at

Submit a Comment


Become a Corbett Report member