Hello, new to natural building, I’m interested in building a timber frame, cob house. However, I’m wondering if it is more expensive than traditional stick house building. Also, is there anyone here who hasdome so and what can you say about it. Thank you
John C Daley wrote: any structure has a $ cost and an effort cost.
I would also add an effect cost - cob and timber return happily to dirt in time, both an advantage and a disadvantage of the technology !
If you have a source of clay and fill and enough time and are doing it yourself, then cob is virtually free as I understand it in monetary terms. Takes a lot of time and effort however!
Assuming you are building a 3bedroom 24ft by 36ft aka 1,000sqft house that is 8ft high. Thats about 180 linear feet of walls and 1,440 cubic feet of wall or 53 cubic yard if you were to buy roadbase and make eartbags that would be about $5,000. But then you have to worry about the labor.
Iterations are fine, we don't have to be perfect
My 2nd Location:Florida HardinessZone:10 AHS:10 GDD:8500 Rainfall:2in/mth winter, 8in/mth summer, Soil:Sand pH8 Flat
A friend of mine recently started working for a company that builds such houses (Timber frames for the structure, straw bales with clay as walls).
The costs are just around the same as for conventional building... the materials may be cheaper but the amount of manual work offsets that.
As for building it yourself: Sorry you can't
The people who started that company had years of trial&error to build up their knowledge, because when they asked old people for recipies it failed miserably because the soil composition differs from location to location. The other reason why is difficult to build by youself, is that in most climates you have a very slim time-window to finish the job, so you need people to help you.
If you want to build it youself, i highly recommend you to not rely on knowledge from Books and the Internet, but to get in touch with people who offer hands-on workshops so you can gather practical experience before starting you project.
After you do a workshop you can apply to have your own build done, you have to pay for the filghts and accomodations for the husband and wife team that guide the workshop and provide camping space and food for 30 people for a week, but they all come and build it with you, after it is already framed and roofed, and should get it mostly done depending on the size of the home.
In our area timber frame is more expensive than stick frame. But then large dimensional Douglas Fir and Western Red Cedar has to be shipped in. Perhaps the lumber scene in Ohio is better than central Texas.
A stick framed house with walls infilled with cob and/or light clay straw is less expensive than a conventional house considering you won't need batt insulation, exterior foam insulation, a weather resistant barrier, sheetrock and exterior cladding. However, it will require more labor and since wall systems only account for about 5% of a home's cost in the grand scheme of things the cost difference will be negligible. Rather than middling financial savings I think the strengths of building with sand, clay and straw is aesthetics, non-toxicity and the low-embodied energy cost of the materials.
I think that 5% for wall cost is only for stick build and inferior materials. My walls from CEB and labor were above 30%.
It also matters if the house is permitted or not. If it is then probably you have to include engineer cost In case of cob you need more substantial foundation. Way too many possibilities to analyze. The key to savings is to do yourself as much as possible and stay away from any companies..
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