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Cob cottage planning questions

Posts: 29
Location: West Virginia
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Greetings folks,

We're gearing up to embark upon the construction of a cabin in West Virginia. I'm attracted to cob for several reasons, not least among them the fact that the clay soil I'm excavating for a pond on our property seems like it is already perfectly constituted. While we're still trying to settle on what wall material that cob will adhere to, we've got some prior questions to address first. As we plan, I'm also building a smaller structure to get my hands dirty.

I'd like to build a rocket mass heater, and probably want to build the kitchen counter and bookshelves to serve as thermal masses a la passive solar design. We're probably going with wood floors (as much as I like the notion of earthen floors, our damp location seems to exclude the option).

I think we're going to go with the rubble trench foundation (w/ french drain) with a thin layer of concrete for the foundation.

Is it right that we should be thinking of building these thermal masses on an insulated foundation too, and build the floors "up to" them? The alternative-- having these several very heavy thermal mass features sitting on wood floors-- seems like a lot of strain.

Also, while I've most recently been drawn to a hybrid earth-bag and straw bale timber framed building with exterior insulation, an old-timer around here with considerable experience has suggested that the only insulation we need can be achieved by building a second wall (wattle-and-daub) to provide an air gap between this and the exterior walls. Have any of you seen or built anything like this?

Many thanks for your suggestions and reflections.
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