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Looking for a cob house designer?

 
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Hello!
Is there any artists who designs cob houses floor plans for others..?
I need someone with experience who can help me figure out what size house I need, what would be the best shape for the house, best way to arrange the rooms and their dimensions, who can look at all the reference pictures I have and tell me what’s realistic or not (we’ll be building mostly ourselves), help me figure out what is the smallest we could do with so we can be sure to finish it in the first season. (And add extensions later)

I’m toying with the idea of an indoor greenhouse but not sure if that’s realistic or not. I love all the intricacies and beautiful sculpting I see in a lot of houses but not sure if it’s something we can do ourselves.

I have zero experience in anything related to this, (I’m learning but it’s all theoretical so far) my husband is an artist who paints and sculpts really well but he has never sculpted a house.

If you are this person or know anyone who is please leave a message😊

Thank you!
 
pollinator
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If you are building all at once I like this. Its about 24ft by 36ft. With Each room being 12ft by 12fy. And the external walls being 18inches or 24inches. But you can always make any of the rooms a bit bigger


If you are building just build one section 1st and then adding to it.
Then add this


 
S Bengi
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Cob houses usually aren't made entirely out of cob, instead it could look like:

Roof: Just like stick frame house, lumber
External Wall: Timber/Lumber + Strawbale, covered with a bit of cob
Intenal Wall: Stick Frame
Stemwall: Earthbag
Foundation: Earthbag
Floor: Probably a lumber subfloor

You can probably just think of it as a timber framed house with non-structural cob walls.
Technically you can make the walls structural, but if you want to past inspection quickly and you want to be able to get a loan again your home in an emergency or resell it. Thats probably the best way to go about it.

Here is a cool build that I think you will like
https://permies.com/t/10/60866/balecob-home-earthbag-foundation-building
 
Anaïs Lys
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Thank you, that’s helpful! I do want the house to be round but I guess I could make this layout with round shapes!
 
Anaïs Lys
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Thank you for detailing all of this,
What I liked about the idea of a house made mostly from cob, beside the aesthetic, is that we could actually build it ourselves, this sounds pretty complicated😬
I mean I figured there would be other materials involved but this seems like cob wouldn’t be the main material…I need to do more research on all of this!
 
S Bengi
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Don't be discouraged you can still build out of cob quickly. All house are built out of multiple materials. Yes the roof and foundation/stemwall will not be build out of cob but the rest can be. In fact with the brick like strawbale you can build the walls even quicker, and it add alot of insulation, which you would have needed any way. I like cob house because they dont need as much plastic vapor barrier.  (None for the walls, just for the roof and floor)

Would love to to hear some more about the idea that are in your head.
General Building Location (state/country)
Budget
Time
Amount of rooms
What you want to have in your Outside Living Area (Grill, Kitchen; Dining Table; Sofa Fireplace, Natural Pool?)
Can you show me some of the pictures/designs/youtub vides of cob houses that your like.

Here is a design with some curves, let me know if you were thinking of a more circular round house.
cob.png
[Thumbnail for cob.png]
 
pollinator
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I have built many of these homes.
I can suggest an alternative to S Benji's experience.

ROOM SIZING
Look at existing rooms in houses you get to and compare what you can live with.
Remember that wall thickness has to be added.
WALLS
If you go stick walls there are extra costs, of sticks, lining  and painting.
If you go cob mudbrick there are different expenses, mainly time and finishing.
Windows are easier with cob because you can get away with anything.
Cob walls give you thermal mass.
ROOF
I encourage people to use large timber posts or suitable steel poles set into the ground with concrete to hold a roof up.
A round house can have a square roof and more easily collect rainwater.
Steel is my preferred material because its easy to manage, does not rot and is strong.
Metal roofing is safe, light and strong.
PROCESS
I always encourage people to build the roof first providing shelter and water catchment immediately.
 
Anaïs Lys
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By brick like strawbale, do you mean those rectangles of straws that are encased in cob..? The first cob house I saw was built like that and I was thinking about doing that for our house. I’m worried about mildew however, won’t the straw rot in a humid climate..?
We are in Georgia, we don’t have land yet, I’m trying to figure out the zoning etc… but we’ll be about an hour north of Atlanta.
What are plastic vapor barriers and do we really need one..? I would have loved to build everything without any plastic…

Our budget would be around 8000-10000 for the house itself. (One story)
I would like to have it done in one season but I’m not sure if that’s realistic as I don’t know how much help we’ll be able to find/hire and how efficient we will be. (I do want to do at least one small practice building before doing the house!)

The rooms would be:
Kitchen/ pantry
Bathroom
Laundry nook
Living room/dining room/library
Big Bedroom (to sleep 5)
Playroom
Study/sewing room
Three little cozy nooks

A fireplace/lounge area outside and a natural pool would be awesome! I didn’t think about that, thank you for the idea. But it would need to come last. We can leave space around the house for it?
Our priority will be the house and then the food forest.
I do want at least a pond to make a house for frogs and other beneficial wildlife.

I don’t have a set idea of the shape the house should have, as long as it’s rounded in some way, I’ll be happy the floor plan you sent is great!

I haven’t found a video of a house I liked entirely, I like bits and pieces. Here are a few pictures. I definitely want lots of natural wood in it, stones, round shapes, arch doorways, lots of natural light.



0F3A83E0-7E8D-465C-9E37-C1A6BDD70CC3.jpeg
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Anaïs Lys
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Thank you for your response, beside metal, what would be the second best material to build a roof..? I really don’t like the look of metal at all, although I can see why it would make a great option.
 
John C Daley
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Allow 3 years to build part time the rooms you have listed!!!
Perhaps plan in such a way you can start and complete different parts and keep adding.
I would suggest you look on this site, its been detailed before.
Start with rough cooking area, bath, shower and toilet and  sleeping area.
If you want cob, buy land with suitable soil.
Mud bricks are not strawbale, they are similar to cob but shaped with moulds and allowed to dry before use.
Being from Australia, I doubt there is a second best.
Steel / metal is versatile, light, easily shaped comes in colours and if the house is designed smartly you may not have to look at it.
It rarely needs replacement and rainfall can be captured and drunk.
Anyway, if you use a metal roof you cannot get
- Sunburnt
- diarrea
- critters cannot damage it
- the roof will outlast you
- you may become a trend setter in the area.
 
S Bengi
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For your 1st house that only cost $10,000 $20,000. I recommend it being this one 24ft x 36ft,  it is very forgiving. Easy for the gov to permit. You can call it the kids cottage after you upgrade

Foundation: rubble trench  
Stemwall: earthbag/gravelbag, stonewall
External Walls: $1.4K strawbale (H=7bale, W=9bale, L=15bale @$4/each), cob, lumber, plaster+lime/stucco
$8,000 Roof: 2ft+ overhang on all side to protect walls (W=32ft, L=44ft), bond beam, lumber, insulation, barrier, sheet metal/shingles/etc
$1,000 Floor: gravel, then 10mill poly, then adobe, then linseed oil/carpet
Doors: 2 external
Windows: 9
Internal Walls: 84 linear feet of wall

Mech/Laundry Room:
$3K+ Well, $2K Pump, $1K Pressure Tank + piping
$3K Septic
$700 Water Heater (Shower/etc + space heating), $1K Radiant Heating PEX pipe + $250 recirculating pump + $50 manifold.
$4K AC (mini-split 4 zone) + Whole house dehumidifier
$1.5K Washer + Dryer
Lights+Switch+Outlets+Wire, Breaker Box, Generator, Solar/Grid
Propane Tank

Bathroom:
Kitchen:
Bedroom/Playroom/

Below is another floor plan. Let me know if you like it. I think that it should be the 2nd or 3rd structure that you build on your property. After you have some more practice. It's huge. Think of it as adding to your 1st living space.
cob2.png
[Thumbnail for cob2.png]
 
John C Daley
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Looking at S Bengis first circular design again.
I see you could build the left hand part first, but only the kitchen doorway to the lounge and exclude the bedrooms.
When thats done, continue with the bedrooms on the left. Yes it would mean your wall between the kitchen and the bedrooms would be cob!
Then when money and time is available, complete the lounge room etc.
Its a nice design overall.
 
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That first circular plan looks like it could (and may be intended to) have the living room structure built first with temporary rudimentary kitchen facilities and a loft bedroom. This could be doable in one year. Then add the main structure and be able to get kitchen and other spaces right without having to rush, and while living right next to the work site. When ready, convert the living room to its final form.

Another possibility would be to first build a small temporary living structure in the area designated for "Pantry" in that plan, then after finishing the official living spaces convert the first part to storage, workshop, or whatever secondary use is desired. This gives you practice with something that doesn't have to look perfect to build up your skills.
 
Anaïs Lys
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S Bengi wrote:


For your 1st house that only cost $10,000 $20,000. I recommend it being this one 24ft x 36ft,  it is very forgiving. Easy for the gov to permit. You can call it the kids cottage after you upgrade

Foundation: rubble trench  
Stemwall: earthbag/gravelbag, stonewall
External Walls: $1.4K strawbale (H=7bale, W=9bale, L=15bale @$4/each), cob, lumber, plaster+lime/stucco
$8,000 Roof: 2ft+ overhang on all side to protect walls (W=32ft, L=44ft), bond beam, lumber, insulation, barrier, sheet metal/shingles/etc
$1,000 Floor: gravel, then 10mill poly, then adobe, then linseed oil/carpet
Doors: 2 external
Windows: 9
Internal Walls: 84 linear feet of wall

Mech/Laundry Room:
$3K+ Well, $2K Pump, $1K Pressure Tank + piping
$3K Septic
$700 Water Heater (Shower/etc + space heating), $1K Radiant Heating PEX pipe + $250 recirculating pump + $50 manifold.
$4K AC (mini-split 4 zone) + Whole house dehumidifier
$1.5K Washer + Dryer
Lights+Switch+Outlets+Wire, Breaker Box, Generator, Solar/Grid
Propane Tank

Bathroom:
Kitchen:
Bedroom/Playroom/

Below is another floor plan. Let me know if you like it. I think that it should be the 2nd or 3rd structure that you build on your property. After you have some more practice. It's huge. Think of it as adding to your 1st living space.



Thank you so much for taking the time to do this breakdown, it’s so helpful. I’m glad to see I wasn’t that far off. We won’t need AC or a septic tank. … but after researching a bit I see that it might be problematic to get approved to not have a tank… We’ll see what we can do about that I guess. Don’t think we’ll need a propane tank either.

I have a much better idea of how things will go now.
I like the second floor plan a lot, I agree with starting with the other building first it makes sense!

 
Anaïs Lys
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Glenn Herbert wrote:That first circular plan looks like it could (and may be intended to) have the living room structure built first with temporary rudimentary kitchen facilities and a loft bedroom. This could be doable in one year. Then add the main structure and be able to get kitchen and other spaces right without having to rush, and while living right next to the work site. When ready, convert the living room to its final form.

Another possibility would be to first build a small temporary living structure in the area designated for "Pantry" in that plan, then after finishing the official living spaces convert the first part to storage, workshop, or whatever secondary use is desired. This gives you practice with something that doesn't have to look perfect to build up your skills.



That is a good idea too, and it would cut down on expenses and time!
 
Anaïs Lys
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John C Daley wrote:Looking at S Bengis first circular design again.
I see you could build the left hand part first, but only the kitchen doorway to the lounge and exclude the bedrooms.
When thats done, continue with the bedrooms on the left. Yes it would mean your wall between the kitchen and the bedrooms would be cob!
Then when money and time is available, complete the lounge room etc.
Its a nice design overall.



I don’t mind cob walls inside :) it’s a good idea, I’ll have to see how we feel skill wise but I do like the idea of working directly on the house.
 
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I highly recommend either buying or getting from the library The Hand-Sculpted House: http://www.cobcottage.com/node/82

The book goes into detail about all your initial questions, and I believe they also still have building classes you can take there in coastal Oregon if you prefer hands-on learning. They recommend building as small as possible since cob is a very time/labor intensive building method.
 
S Bengi
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Mark Brunnr wrote:I highly recommend either buying or getting from the library The Hand-Sculpted House: http://www.cobcottage.com/node/82

The book goes into detail about all your initial questions, and I believe they also still have building classes you can take there in coastal Oregon if you prefer hands-on learning. They recommend building as small as possible since cob is a very time/labor intensive building method.



Great advice. That book is like a bible for cob builders. And yes cob is very labor-intensive, and even worse is the time-intensive detailing from built in shelves/nooks/etc. This is why I highly support balecob (strawbale with cob as thick/thin as you feel like), it goes up fast. After you are done with the foundation and stem wall. You can quickly stack up the 350 strawbales in 1-2 weeks. They are loadbearing so you can start building your $8k roof with a sub-contractor/mentor. Then camp inside the building while you add cob.

Permits:
They might charge you a $15,000 environmental impact permit fee. check the city/county new construction permitting rules. I found out that my lot never had this done, unlike most of the other lots. It was basically cheaper to buy an abutting lot, that had this fee paid, like 100yrs ago.

Septic:
Drainfield (digging it + piping, etc)
$1K Tank

Electric: grid or generator

Well: you are going to need alot of water
$3K Well
$3Pump + Pressure Tank/etc

Foundation: about 140 linear foot, 2ft-3ft deep
about 2 weeks to dig, + drains for bathroom/kitchen
then 2-6 weeks for an inspection for both plumbing and foundation
delivery of gravel/crush rocks/rubble
Filling the foundation trench with the delivered rubble

Stemwall: about 140 linear feet, 2ft-3ft high
delivery of rocks/gravel/etc, then build and lay earthbag, or stonewall
I want to say a month but ....

Exterior Walls:
Assemble of Door Jam and windows
Delivery of 350ish strawbale (no seeds, low moisture content, compact/load bearing)
Stacking the strawbales with cob "Mortar"
Cob + Bondbeam
Protect strawbale from rain until cob is added later

Roof:
24ft span
Delivery of supplies
Sub-contractor/Mentor
Roofs need to be inspected but I recommend calling them in after you have cob both sides of the strawbale. Not too sure if you want to claim your building as masonary-cob or strawbale or timber-frame, or a combination. Take plenty of picture and video, back it up off-site/cloud.

Interior Walls
Are you doing 100% cob or stick frame with cob infill or strawbale+cob or a combi
Add cobs to the exterior walls
add your interior walls
don't forget eletrical+plumbing+HVAC

Fixtures/Windows/Doors:

Floor:
gravel,
then 10mil barrier
then insulation
adobe (think cob)
then pex
then adobe
then linseed oil
 
Anaïs Lys
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Mark Brunnr wrote:I highly recommend either buying or getting from the library The Hand-Sculpted House: http://www.cobcottage.com/node/82

The book goes into detail about all your initial questions, and I believe they also still have building classes you can take there in coastal Oregon if you prefer hands-on learning. They recommend building as small as possible since cob is a very time/labor intensive building method.



Yes, I’m reading it right now
 
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