Okay, some basic facts:
1: I intend to build a cob
house with living space enough
for myself, my wife, and our two children.
2: I've read now several books
and virtually everything I can find on the web about cob/cob building.
3: I have never built a cob
structure, but I have made numerous test bricks with a variety of materials. The test brick made from the mix I plan to use took more than a dozen whacks from a claw hammer to completely bifurcate it. It was about three inches thick and maybe six inches square, and this was after it sat outside in the rain for two days. (I did of course
let it dry back out.)
4: I am fortunate to have an abundance of clay and sand on hand, as well as a enough salvage lumber (mostly oak beams/rafters/joists etc) and other materials to use in the roof or other parts of the structure (door/window frames etc)
5: Foundation stone is abundant. Again, much of this is salvage stone from buildings that were constructed at or around the turn of the century. The buildings were/are falling down, but the piled stone foundations beneath them are screaming at me "rearrange me and cover me in cob
6: I have a site chosen where building codes are irrelevant, with good drainage, and and other positive factors that don't really warrant a lengthy detailing at this time.
So, while accepting that I still have much to learn I don't necessarily feel like I have no idea what I'm doing. In fact, I'm to the point now where I am getting pretty anxious about building some larger test models (probably a tool shed with a door and at least a couple south facing windows.)
But here's my problem: Warmth.
I live in south western Missouri. Summers are hot and very humid. Winters are cold (dipping often into the teens with single digit temps not at all uncommon) and equally humid. Precipitation is common year round. Now, I realize that cob construction has been going on for hundreds of years in various locales around the world and that stories of centuries old cob buildings in wales and elsewhere can easily be unearthed via google. I also happen to know that during the medieval ages people
sometimes froze to death in their homes sitting next to the hearth.
Look, what we live in now is a trailer house that was manufactured in the sixties with virtually no insulation left in the walls, floor, or ceiling, and it is costing us a fortune to keep this miserable hovel warm enough through the winter months that I don't worry about my family's health, but this has got to stop. It just has to. Keeping cool during the summer doesn't concern me much. There's shade trees
to sit under, a spring to sit in, and numerous streams to lay in if it comes to that. What worries me most is the cold. Yes I realize I could mortgage
the rest of my life on a home that costs hundreds of thousands of dollars that will continue to suck up electricity, propane, natural gas, etc for so long as it is standing, but I absolutely refuse. I am a staunch believer that one day humanity will look back on what we now call modern construction and say, "what were we thinking?"
Now, here's my question, and I don't know if anyone here can answer
it for me or not, but you don't know if you don't try. My question is if I incorporate enough fireplaces, rocket stoves, passive solar
design, and so on, is this thing going to be warm in the winter? And I'm not talking 20 degrees warmer than it is outside and we all have to stay bundled up and sit near the fireplace all day. we've pretty much got that situation now and it's pretty awful. This is also not a question of work. Some people I've read say it's a lot of work to build a rocket stove
, or that incorporating a big central fireplace creates an engineering headache that's best left to the professionals. Yeah, well, nuts to that. Anything some other guy can do I can do. I just wanna know if it's going to work, assuming I incorporate enough heating sources, or is my heat just going to be sucked through the walls leaving me shivering and furious and inside?
I do plan to insulate the roof, probably with commercial grade insulation (I know I know, not a very "green" solution) and the foundation as well, but what more should
I expect to do to stay nice and toasty when there's a foot of snow on the ground and the wind is howling out of the north? Should I be looking at installing a heat source (rocket stove
/fireplace) in every room in the house?
And sorry if I seem kinda frustrated. I am. This is an important question for me, but I can't seem to find a straight answer. I mean, this is not Yemen, It's not even Utah or California. It gets cold here.
Any input is appreciated. Thanks in advance.