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Cob Advice!

 
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Hey all! My partner and I are planning on building a cob house next year around 400sq ft. We are wanting to do something similar to the Smiley at the Cob Cottage if anyone is familiar (small living space kitchen and bathroom with a small loft for sleeping and a desk) We live in Upstate South Carolina. It’s pretty humid and rainy here but also hot as get out. We live in predominant red clay area and the sun seems to bake the heck out of it on a clear day. But we are wondering about drying time for the cob. Does anyone have experience building cob in a similar climate or know of any other cob builders in this area? We also wanted to know if anyone has any tips for preventing mold in the building. We are planning on a French drain with a concrete bond beam and stone foundation over that. I’m hoping that will be okay, but I’ve read some mold horror stories and I know how easy it is to grow mold in our humidity. Any advice or tips about those topics or really anything for a first time cob builder would be greatly appreciated!
 
pollinator
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Location: Bendigo , Australia
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I thought I replied to this earlier?
 
Caitey Ronan
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You replied to my round pole question! this is similar but more looking for advice about the cob itself in our wet climate.
 
John C Daley
pollinator
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Air flow often beats mould growth.
What have you heard?
This video may help.
 
pollinator
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Location: Ashhurst New Zealand
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The clay content of cob inhibits much of the fungal and bacterial activity. Once it's dry and protected from the elements with good breathability, the moisture levels won't be high enough to support growth. Some folks add borax to the mix as an inhibitor during the drying process.
 
Posts: 27
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We did not have trouble with it cobbing in Southwestern Virginia. I have had trouble with molding plasters in enclosed rooms (on lath, not over a dry cob wall), even with borax, but the problem was short-lived; when the plaster finished drying out, the mold died.
 
Caitey Ronan
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Thanks for the responses y’all. In general I haven’t heard about many mold issues, except one or two experiences that have me scared. One thread on here titled “Mold in Cob” that mentions a magazine article where a man was having trouble with mold on the bottom 15% of his walls where condensation would collect up from his cold foundation. Luckily we have much more mild winters than his location, but we do have some stretches below freezing in the winter and I worry about a cold stone foundation. I suppose most of my fear comes from the lack of information or examples of cob building in my area and the insistence of folks (that aren’t natural builders) that it’s just not suitable here. Every structure I’ve been in here without a powerful climate control system has been very susceptible to mold and I’m nervous that the cob will be able to handle all of the moisture here.
 
Caitey Ronan
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It’s great to hear that you didn’t have trouble cobbing in VA! Every time I hear of someone in the SE building cob I feel a little more at ease
 
John C Daley
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Location: Bendigo , Australia
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I always ask naysayers where their information comes from.
They all mumble about things and sometimes admit 'they heard....'
Never take to heart what they say!!!
 
Posts: 32
Location: Winslow, AR zone 7a
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I built a cob house in humid NW Arkansas, and the only mold issue I've had is a slight spotting of the pale clay paint that I put over my earthen plaster each summer. (Then I would paint fresh in Fall).  Interestingly enough, the unplastered, unpainted walls of my cob greenhouse deal with even more humidity, and do not have any spotting that I can see. I put a bit of lime slip in my last batch of pale paint, upped the borax, and did not have any spotting last year.
The other humidity issue which I've written about in other threads, is the floor getting soft enough to dent in the heat if summer. Heavy maintenance oiling and a few throw rugs is the answer, I believe.
 
Do the next thing next. That's a pretty good rule. Read the tiny ad, that's a pretty good rule, too.
177 hours of video: the Permaculture Design Course and Appropriate Technology Course
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