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Cob house in possible floodplain...  RSS feed

 
Mitch Holmes
Posts: 11
Location: Fort Collins, Colorado - Zone 5B
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Hey Everyone, this is my first ever post!

I just gotta say that I have been lurking around here the past few months (especially the cob section), and I simply love it.

SO, I am in the stages of trying to start building myself a small cob house here in Northern Colorado hopefully this spring! I am entertaining different options right now for the building site, but there is one property that is a pretty good situation. The only this is.... It is in a potential floodplain (probably for only MAJOR floods). Northern Colorado got hit pretty hard this year with the floods, and the owners of the property told me the area where i may build was under about a foot of water. Their property has an agricultural ditch on the far south side of the property, and I would like to build my house on the far north side of their property. (Property only about 100-150 ft. wide) The property runs east-west from the road (maybe 300 yards long?), and gently slopes downhill to the east from the road. I would be building about 2/3 down the property (200 yards), which keep sloping gently downhill.

I have read a couple cob books, and I hear it stressed pretty hard to not build in a floodplain. If this piece of land turns out to be my only option, what precautionary steps can i take to make sure my house doesn't flood when the next big flood comes through the area? Logic tells me to just raise the land where i want to set my house, maybe 3 feet or so, but that makes me wonder about how much work that is to make it solid ground to build on. I'm not sure if this is an option, but if i am going to do an earthen floor, can I just add a crazy amount of drain rock first? (to pretty much raise the entire interior floor as high as i want). Or since the land gently slopes to the east with the ag ditch, should i just take steps to divert water away and downhill from my house with earth berms or something? Any input would be greatly appreciated.
 
Mike Turner
Posts: 329
Location: Upstate SC
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Since cob turns back into mud if the floodwaters reach it, you'll have to either raise the land you build on above the expected flood level or build your cob walls on top of stem walls high enough to get it above possible flood waters.
 
Mitch Holmes
Posts: 11
Location: Fort Collins, Colorado - Zone 5B
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Yes I agree that raising the land would be a good option, I am just wondering if it is realistically feasible. But with your idea about building the stem walls higher, i would also have to raise up the interior floor level with lots and lots of drain rock of some sort, or else my earthen floor would also be ruined. Also wanting to know if that is feasible as well.
 
Anna Harris
Posts: 1
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I don't know much about cob yet but I'm interested in learning and eventually building my own one day. I live in Fort Collins, let me know when you start needing help! I'd love to learn and assist in any way!
 
R Scott
Posts: 3349
Location: Kansas Zone 6a
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Well, last year's flood was pretty historic so that would be a good high water line--until they change the upslope conditions so you get more run off. Floodwater on the cob would be terminal, there is no fix to a melted base but to tear the whole thing down and start over.

Building up the ground is expensive, especially if you are on a schedule. If you had time, you could backfill that area and let it settle for a few years. This is what farmers do when they can plan a barn or shed a couple years in advance. But to do it on a timeframe means running compactors like they do for roads---$$$$$$$$.

I honestly would NOT build cob in an area like that. I would build a strawbale house on piers high enough the area under the floor is basically a walkout basement/mudroom and possibly screenroom in the summer. The opposite of earth contact, though.
 
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