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Cob Start to Finish?  RSS feed

 
Sean Banks
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I am looking to build a cob home similar to the one below..........I cant afford classes and would like to do this either by book or videos........also I would like to know if its feasible to build a cob home without help?
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John Elliott
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Cute house. Looks like a lot of work -- to be building without help. Have you seen the series of Earthship videos on the houses they were building in Haiti? Here is one of them, and there are a whole mess of others they have posted on YouTube:



The reason I am linking to this video is to illustrate the saying "many hands make light work". Sure it's feasible to do by yourself. I knew an American down in Baja who was building a little "hobbit house" up in the hills, pretty much by himself. I think he was 3 years into it and it still wasn't even ready to be camping out in. What's your schedule like?

 
Sean Banks
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3 years? I was thinking 1 year at the most if I did it myself.........mind you this would be something I would be working on everyday. On another note do you know of any books or videos that describe in detail how to build one of these cob house?....my biggest obstacles I think will be the foundation, doors, windows, and the roof. Just a little insight on the design....a green roof with native plants and outdoor cob oven with benches (might make this a summer kitchen). Water will be coming from a well and the greywater will flow into a constructed wetland. Power will come mainly from solar panels and a small wind turbine...might also include hydro system. A composting outhouse will be onsite to take care of waste and a rocket stove will be built inside the house. Away from the house I want to build a earth sheltered passive solar greenhouse and plant a large garden with a food forest. My plan is to build the house first then take care of the greenhouse and garden later.
 
John Elliott
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Watch all the Earthship videos on YouTube. There is LOTS of information there and once you have internalized it, you will have a much better idea of the path forward.
 
Jonathan 'yukkuri' Kame
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Location: Foothills north of L.A., zone 9ish mediterranean
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Cob is not a very technically challenging material, but it is very labor intensive and slow-going, even with a few people working. Get your roof and your footing right and you're probably good for a few hundred years.

Mixing the cob is a lot of work. You could cut down on your personal labor if you have a small concrete or mortar mixer - there are mixed opinions on that, no pun intended.

Your climate, # of sunny days vs. rain and harshness of winters will be a factor.

Some other techniques such as earthbag, hyperadobe, earthship, cordwood, wattle & daub, etc. can all be done on at a quicker pace, though I personally love the sensuality of cob.

Consider building in modular fashion. Maybe your first winter you do a 'shed', 'guestroom' or other temporary shelter and work on your dream home once you have a roof over your head.

All and all, considering many people spend 1/3 of their lives paying for a house, a year or two isn't a long time - and, if cared for, you sure won't be the last to live in it.
 
Kate Nudd
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Sean,Hi

There used to be part of Becky Bee's cob building book online for free...www.weblife.org/cob....
There is a super blog titled 'Year of Mud' with a good capturing of the process he went through.
Often there are folks seeking help on these themselves and much could be learned from volunteering. I believe there will be a small,round cob/strawbale built next year on the prairies and others are encouraged to come..camp at the site,feed your self and build and learn( this owner/builder has interned with Ianto Evans)
I like your planned set up,similar to what I am moving towards.
All the best.
Kate
 
Morven Glas
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You want to know can you do it alone without classes and aren't asking how to get people to help you but as i said to someone else recently because I'm thinking nah i don't need classes I'll just do it. Though i'm sure there's plenty to learn about roofing and foundations and even the cob. So I do suppose for the price you may pay in the end total for th house then paying some amount of money for courses isn't unreasonable. Land can cost up to 15k by itself. You could be pirating or building on someones property with permissions and hoping to do it for nothing but i've looked at things people spent 48k on and still don't have an inside toilet. Roofing and foundation courses are likely thier own program for $100-500 each. I'm confident to figure it out as i go. For books and such don't forget about your local library and check with them about getting books on loan from other libraries for you.

As for doing it alone, remember those classes people are charging $750 a week to students to come build thier stuff for them. It's a unique interesting thing you can try to use to get some help to come to you but i'm sure thats a whole process in itself. Definitely worth getting the help of the village whenever possible. I havn't started mine. I've seen group programs advertised where they say a group of 6 got a garden wall done in a week. Times that by 4 walls then with a roof and foundation. My uneducated guess is 1 wk x4 x 6(only u) = 6 months for bare basic 4 small walls. Month for top and month for bottom i'll say you can do it in 8 months with enough gumption, blood, sweat and tears. Sifting sand, moving dirt from start to finish from scratch its likely a pretty big endevor, that is before any building.

I plan to start with a small to medium round circle for a studio/ maybe live in that at first. Roof but no ammenities or much yet. Round seats 15 around circle bench to give demo's lessons classes to my volunteers/ students and impress them with the 1st structure. Then a larger possibly rectangular type of ranch house for the workshop and can do pottery in the studio or convert the studio to any number of things. I'll Keep a more enclosed office/ bedroom in the workshop and then build the house after i made my mistakes and get things going. Setting up toiletries and cooking along the way and possibly build the main house off of the bath house.
 
Jim schalles
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Can you describe in a little more detail your project? Where are you building? How big are you building? I'd say if work is started in the spring and worked on a daily basis, one person could finish at least the exterior work of a 200 sq. ft. cottage with a sleeping loft. This is the same most people will tell you, but start with ianto, linda, and michael smiths 'The Hand Sculpted House'. Also, my favorite instructional dvd so far is available at the firespeaking.com website and is filmed in spanish with english subtitles entitled 'mud, hands, and a house'. If you give more specifics about your structures size and location, I'd be happy to share some input with you on my experiences.
 
Len Ovens
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Location: Vancouver Island
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Jim schalles wrote:Can you describe in a little more detail your project? Where are you building? How big are you building? I'd say if work is started in the spring and worked on a daily basis, one person could finish at least the exterior work of a 200 sq. ft. cottage with a sleeping loft. This is the same most people will tell you, but start with ianto, linda, and michael smiths 'The Hand Sculpted House'. Also, my favorite instructional dvd so far is available at the firespeaking.com website and is filmed in spanish with english subtitles entitled 'mud, hands, and a house'. If you give more specifics about your structures size and location, I'd be happy to share some input with you on my experiences.


I agree, both the book and video are good. I have also downloaded The cob builder's handbook by Becky Bee and Building with earth by Gemot Minke. Both are free downloads, but I don't remember where I downloaded them for now. Google should help. I don't know that the two downloads add a lot to hand sculpted house and I like to have the book in my hand The other two may show up in the library or book store too. Still it is great to get as many view points as you can and the two downloads are free, so it is worth while spending the time to read them.

I am frustrated waiting to buy land. One thing about cob is that there is only so much preplanning you can do. Some general size/layout stuff... some ideas on good siting, but in the end it seems the design should work with the site and the materials planning can't be started till you know what the site has on it. I have seen much clay around here... but then lots of sand too. I want to get started though
 
Patricia Ramirez
Posts: 19
Location: Sioux Lookout, ON
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Hello Sean. Yes, you can build this all yourself, and with only a book or two, or maybe a few more. There are a lot of variables that will effect the outcome, of course. Your personal skill level and fitness, weather, quality, location and abundance of raw materials, and of course the weather will all play in the total construction. Can you do it, yes you can. And if you did it correctly, it will survive a good long time.

My wife and I built a cob building, on our own, and with only one book. (Some additional ideas and methods were taken from various other books and the internet though.) We had no previous cob training, but I do have a background in construction, which was quite valuable. We documented it on our website at billygoatsgruff dot org. You can see what we did, and what hiccoughs we had in the process.

I hope this helps.
 
Patricia Ramirez
Posts: 19
Location: Sioux Lookout, ON
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We spent this past year applying two coats of natural homemade plaster to our cob studio that we built in Northern Ontario.
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first coat of natural plaster on cob studio
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fresh horse manure to go into natural plaster for cob studio
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homemade wheat paste mixed into plaster of clay, sand and manure
 
kim Duncan
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Hi we are building a rock and cob home in NZ. Hubby did the steelbeam frame onto a central large tree.alot of the rock and cob I did.easter will be three years into it.We are living inside.fully functioning kitchen and bathroom and waiting for.the loo
.we did not attend courses but youtube and books including building standards.we have a concrete mixer.without it project could not have been done.later investec in a bobcat the mixing is so easy.
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kim Duncan
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Some pics our project.Transition towns have alot of encouraging youtube tips. A book we read the steps.
1.everything takes longer
2.everything needs to be moved
3.injury slows you down. So prep is essential.

Things change..we did raised gardens outside to trial our cob.We did use cement with our clay. Our earthoven is wonderful. Everything is recycled.the glass arches above the lounge were ex shower glass.11panes of safety glass 110$ granite kitchen $1000.retail$22000.ebay for our taps.auctions for timber +. So it can be done.all the best for your project
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lounge. decagon
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outside cladding
 
Brian McCune
Posts: 27
Location: Kent County, MI
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Sean Banks wrote:3 years? I was thinking 1 year at the most if I did it myself.........mind you this would be something I would be working on everyday. On another note do you know of any books or videos that describe in detail how to build one of these cob house?....my biggest obstacles I think will be the foundation, doors, windows, and the roof. Just a little insight on the design....a green roof with native plants and outdoor cob oven with benches (might make this a summer kitchen). Water will be coming from a well and the greywater will flow into a constructed wetland. Power will come mainly from solar panels and a small wind turbine...might also include hydro system. A composting outhouse will be onsite to take care of waste and a rocket stove will be built inside the house. Away from the house I want to build a earth sheltered passive solar greenhouse and plant a large garden with a food forest. My plan is to build the house first then take care of the greenhouse and garden later. 


Definitely "The Hand-sculpted house" is my favorite comprehensive book on the subject. Although, I am still looking for more information on round-pole timber supports for the roof. His time line is much shorter for a small cottage.
 
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