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Cob home in Hot humid climate?  RSS feed

 
Yen Has
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Hi

Looking to build a cob home in Cyprus. It gets really hot and humid here. My concern is that it will be too hot at night inside the house. Does anyone have any experience with cob homes in Hot and humid climates?
What is your advice? Suggestions?

Also thinking of incorporating pallets into the build. Pallet walls with cob filling maybe! What do you think?

Thanks
 
Miles Flansburg
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Can you use vines and trees to shade the sunny side of the home?

On the shady side can you put in a small pond and open windows that will help cool the home?
 
Jay C. White Cloud
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Hello Yen,

First thing I would suggest is look to the vernacular of Cyprus. Cyprus traditional architecture and the modalities of its construction are going to be the best models to follow and most germane as they have had millenia in their evolution. Much of Cyprus is stone, and the architecture has evolved to similar timber and stone styles of the Eastern coastal mediterranean, and Middle East. Do not ignore there beauty and logic of design.

Before I could really give sound advice, I would need to see photos of the building sight, understand you plan better, your skill sets (or those of you design/builder.) Designing a natural and traditional home there that employs natural convective currents to cool by using thermal mass and diurnal/nocturnal cycles is more than plausible, yet all factors must be examined to achieve this well.

Look forward to reading more and seeing pictures of you project.

Regards,

j

Some helpful reading:

The Wisdom of Mediterranean Traditional Architecture versus Contemporary Architecture

Learning from traditional built environment of Cyprus

(Sorry Yen, I realize I am repeating myself...yet it is still true to almost every post you have started. I didn't relize that till a moment ago when checking your other posts. You can PM me any time you would like.)
 
Yen Has
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Hi and thank you for your input everyone.

I have checked YouTube but didn't find much on the way I'm planing to build. I want to build the walls with pallets and fill them with a cobbish mixture. Finally plastering over the pallets and cobbish fill with an earthen plaster. Just unsure about tiny details, like what is the best way to secure a pallet wall to a stone foundation? Etc..

I realize that Cyprus has great natural buildings. And my family used to live in a natural building not long ago. I am trying to build with pallets and integrate this into the old earthen style. Since we have hundreds of unused pallets.
I'm going for the Wattle and daub style since in integrates wood and mud just like I was planing.

The build is getting clearer in my head but it's the small details that count. I was really looking forward to hearing from someone with experience in such structures. I think they are not as popular as other ways maybe?

I will try to post pictures of the site soon.


Thanks
 
Yen Has
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Thank you for the valuable documents j. Means a lot..
 
Jay C. White Cloud
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Hey Yen,

I am very excited for you and support what you are trying to do. As an "old permaculturalist" and almost as old "natural and traditional builder," I tend to look always to the pragmatic when considering a project. I meet many young folk that get excited about a "concept" (such as pallet architecture) without first looking at all the technical and logistical ramifications like:

Do I have the requisite skill sets to build this way safely?

Is this actually the most logical, durable and sustainable way I can build compared to other modalities in my area?

I have pallets, and I want to use them...do I have everything else to go with that to make it the best choice?

There is a big difference between "wanting" to do something and it being the best choice for an area. I see many DIY builds that are often far outside the best choices for a region. Using pallets may be a great choice, but you must prove this logically not just "want it" as a method, if you are following a permaculture perspective of "best practice.

If you can really answer all the questions above as they may apply to pallets in your area, as being a "good practice" and logical choice, then I can assist you in evaluating the method of using them. There is a great deal all over the internet on this, some pretty good concepts, most kinda "pie in the sky" daydream stuff. I will share ahead of time that this is an "experimental method," and not well supported. I would also be clear, like SB architecture I would only use pallets as an infill method in a sold timber frame structure. If you just use pallets alone I strongly suggest getting approval of your drawings from a structural engineer (PE).

Regards,

j

 
Yen Has
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Thank you for your reply.

I'm looking to build this as a family home for our future. I want my children to know that their parents care about the planet we inhabit.

Pallets are free and since we are on a tight budget I am looking into possibilities of building with them. Best choice? Still looking into it.

I believe I do have the skills and most of all the drive and willpower to accomplish this project. All going well, I plan to succeed before the rain season (fingers crossed).

The pallets I have are these
http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:EUR_Palette_Stapel.jpg

They are good quality and I have about 300 of them.

I'm not necessarily fixating on pallets I just think they may be a good construction option.

Here's a small sketch of my idea so far.
http://imgur.com/xKXmXsj

Thanks

 
Jay C. White Cloud
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Jay C. White Cloud wrote:

Do I have the requisite skill sets to build this way safely?

Is this actually the most logical, durable and sustainable way I can build compared to other modalities in my area?

I have pallets, and I want to use them...do I have everything else to go with that to make it the best choice?


Hey Yen,

Well, you addressed 1.5 of these questions...you believe you do have the skills...and you have 300 pallets. That's a start. Now have you really looked to see if this is the most logical, durable, and sustainable way to build compared to other modalities in your area?

The pallets you referenced look excellent. And I could follow part of you design scheme. Do you have any experience with Sketchup or hand drafting to achieve proper detail for a working drawing? What ever method you use, you will need much more detail. It also sounds like you are really close to when you plan to start this project. I am excited for you, yet also concerned. Most "fails" that happen on DIY projects come from poor planning, and/or rushing the project. I want to be supportive of your wishes, yet feel you may be pushing too fast, yet I will admit I may not understand completely everything you already know. For one example, I am assuming you already own the land, and have the fiscal resources to bring whatever final decision you have to a starting point, including the other materials needed, the tools, and methods to employ them.

Lets get through some of these questions and then see how, and if you can solidify your "pallet frame," concepts.

Regards,

j
 
Yen Has
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Hi j

Thank you for the reply.

I have been planing this build for over a year now. I have looked into local buildings, looked into concrete, steel frame, timber frame, underground construction, then ceb's, finally I came across cob. It interested me because there is no need to haul materials from abroad or anywhere else. Everything you need is right there on site. I also like the idea of sculpting.

So I got cob builders handbook and gave it a read. I'm still reading it for the 2nd time. Did a test on the soil and saw that it had 36% clay and 64% sand.

I don't have much time as I work everyday except Sunday. I could squeeze in about 2 hours everyday possibly as I leave work about 6pm and it gets totally dark at 1930.Friends that will help ( I hope and tools.

I have the land with a good well. Also got a solar system with batteries and panels.
I haven't bought things like Windows doors etc. But maybe they could be made with pallets.

I have hand drafted a few buildings before. I just want to get a better idea of what will work first.

Also, I think the first house will be a small test house to give us a place to live on site. Then I can test out the pallets a bit better and get a feel for them. I think of them like sip's. I'm also starting to think a frame will be needed. Will look into this further.

Thanks

 
Jay C. White Cloud
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Awesome Yen,

I am glad to read all that. Please send photos when you can. Make some test bricks and some alis and other plasters. Check on, perhaps, a source for hot limes to make plasters. I have forgotten if we discussed foundation or note? We all look forward to following along.

Regards,

j
 
Yen Has
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Thank J, means alot.

Thats the part Im trying to figure out. I will build the foundation out of stone, since there is a lot of it on site. But Im not sure how to connect the foundation with the wood !

I have something in mind. I will sketch it.
 
Yen Has
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Heres one of my crude sketches again

http://m.imgur.com/Dzhys1U


Not sure if you will get it but, I start with digging a trench for the foundation , build it out of stone and then add a layer of cob on top of the stone foundation, on top of that the pallet walls and then cover and fill with cob . Plaster with earthen plaster and then lime wash.
 
Jay C. White Cloud
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Hi Yen,

I would love if you could do this in SketchUp...as you must have access to a computer. At minimum if you can just get me a plan view, I can do a quick CAD render of it, and then send it back to you as I do many of my students, from there you can do more work on it. From this we can discuss, develop and implement a more dynamic plan...whatever the final outcome and type is. The foundation and its connection to the body of the architecture is critical (primary and where many fails start) however, I see ancient structures all the time that basically just "sit" on their foundation, even in very tectonically active locations.

Regards,

j
 
Yen Has
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Hello,

So I tried the google sketchup and a few other programs but I couldn't manage to draw on the computer so I drew another sketch by hand.

Here is the sketch of the design we have in mind. There are a few minor details to add to the overall plan, like doors and windows. It will be a two story building. There will be a partition wall in the middle with two arches to access the rooms on the first floor. The room to the North will be the living room and the room to the south will be the Kitchen. The stairs will be in the living room area. Still considering how to do the roof. What do you think?

image

 
Jay C. White Cloud
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Hi Yen,

I really want you to have success with this project and your dreams of doing it...I just must share that you really have to be "real" about your abilities and what you can achieve. I don't mean that to sound as a "put down" or want it to dissuade you from trying. Just take it as a friend to friend or teacher to student...

You have to be able to draw this in an Isometric fashion and/or create a 3d model either in real clay or in CAD (like sketchup.) I tell students all the time if you can only imagine something...you can't ever build it (or build it properly.) You must be able to manipulate the forms in the tangible wither full scale architecture or in a modelling medium. Getting help is fine, which you are, but lets really make an effort to expand your skill sets.

I sat down this afternoon with a cup of tea and "spun out" this little CAD for you to take (PM me for the sketchup file) it should get you going further toward success. Nevertheless I really need you to create more details in your posts of how you are going to pull this off logistically as that is the only way I can be of more help and/or you can see if this is something you can really do.


 
Yen Has
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Hi

Thank you for your post Jay. Much appreciated. I did some thinking after I read your post. Then I opened youtube after a day of learning I managed to draw something on sketchup. Im still playing around with it. Here are some of the results.

cob home drawing



Also took some soil samples last week, they finally seemed to settle. What do you guys think?
soil samples
 
Jay C. White Cloud
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Yen to say I am pleased would be a huge understatement!!!

You did a marvelous job of this. Now you can think, manipulate, and plan logistically each and every aspect of the pending project. This skill will save you a tremendous amount of time and energy in trying to figure what works and what doesn't. I still sketch by hand many of my projects...as it is a good way to just think about things...yet, when it comes to "modeling," I no longer have the drudgery of making scale models to see things 3D...CAD does this much more efficiently. I am sending you a private message...please look for it.

Regards,

j
 
Yen Has
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Thanks alot Jay.

Please check your inbox.

Here are some pictures of the test bricks I have made and of the site. One of the bricks is just mud water and straw .The other has a wooden skeleton, just like the pallets I was talking about and has dry straw filling in the middle with cob on the bottom, top and both sides.













When thrown around (like 5 meters into the air) the one out of pure mud and straw broke into pieces after a few throws, the one with a wooden frame however took quite a beating before losing the mud on one side of the frame only. So my conclusion is that a wooden frame gives the cob wall more strength. Also, as a note, the wooden frame wall did not use as much cob. Improvements to the wooden frame wall can be made by adding more clay to the straw filling in the middle and by adding some straw running horizontally through the frame so it has contact with the cob on both sides.
 
Jay C. White Cloud
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So my conclusion is that a wooden frame gives the cob wall more strength.


Excellent conclusion and empirically very true. Take the time to examine, study and understand some of these building styles. each one is often heavily augmented and or comprised of some form of cobb. This will assist you greatly in further understanding these modalities and their history.

Opus Craticium

Taq Construction

Dhajji Dewari Construction

Kath Kuni -Koti Banal Construction

Peruvian quincha construction

bahareque or taquezal construction

Hımış construction

Colombage Construction


There are many more, but this should provide you a strong foundation of understanding.

If you can find retire fishing and shipping rope this is very good to tie things together further strengthening the wall matrix.

You many also consider that one of the infill layers be of a "light cobb" mix...what many today are calling "clay straw slip forming" or "ramming." This is a clay "soup" mixing with mainly straw or wood chip that will not hold together fresh yet when "rammed" in to the wall against a form and allowed to dry creates a matrix that has higher insulative values than just cobb alone. Working in concert with both systems gives you a thermal mass wall and also an insulative wall made of very similar materials.

I look forward to your further progress.

Regards,

j
 
Yen Has
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Jay C. White Cloud wrote:
So my conclusion is that a wooden frame gives the cob wall more strength.


Excellent conclusion and empirically very true. Take the time to examine, study and understand some of these building styles. each one is often heavily augmented and or comprised of some form of cobb. This will assist you greatly in further understanding these modalities and their history.

Opus Craticium

Taq Construction

Dhajji Dewari Construction

Koti Banal Construction

Peruvian quincha construction

bahareque or taquezal construction

Hımış construction

Colombage Construction


There are many more, but this should provide you a strong foundation of understanding.

If you can find retire fishing and shipping rope this is very good to tie things together further strengthening the wall matrix.

You many also consider that one of the infill layers be of a "light cobb" mix...what many today are calling "clay straw slip forming" or "ramming." This is a clay "soup" mixing with mainly straw or wood chip that will not hold together fresh yet when "rammed" in to the wall against a form and allowed to dry creates a matrix that has higher insulative values than just cobb alone. Working in concert with both systems gives you a thermal mass wall and also an insulative wall made of very similar materials.

I look forward to your further progress.

Regards,

j


Thanks J

I have done some research and found that Hımış construction is very effective in our area.

Also found very interesting research about such homes. Worth a watch.


 
Yen Has
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I have a question about the foundation drainage.

I have decided to install a french drain under the foundation. I think that this will be enough drainage as we have a dry climate.

I wanted to ask your opinion. Do you guys think the drain can also be used as a way to bring in cool air during the summer? A french drain with dual functions.

This is a sketch of what I had in mind:

 
Jay C. White Cloud
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Hi Yen, et al,

I am not sure how this question of yours got by me...sorry for that...

I think my current post on Raised Earth Foundations, you will find very helpful to your plan, and it may answer your questions about drainage.

We would all love an update to your thoughts and progress.

Regards,

j
 
Topher Belknap
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Yen Has wrote:I have decided to install a french drain under the foundation. I think that this will be enough drainage as we have a dry climate.

I wanted to ask your opinion. Do you guys think the drain can also be used as a way to bring in cool air during the summer? A french drain with dual functions.


I would worry about the pipe becoming compromised with mold, mildew, algae, etc. then you aren't bringing in fresh air. Splurge and get a second pipe, one for a water drain, one for an earth tube.

Thank You Kindly,
Topher
 
Yen Has
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Hello Everyone

Thank you all for your kind input.

So far we have finished the planing (almost). You have to make sure you agree on details with your partner. This is important. So the planing took a little longer than expected. Now we are back on track.

The next stage was collecting equipment, materials and tools etc..

I have a pick axe a shovel and a few buckets. We have been diving to the site almost everyday after work, and working there until sundown. So far we have measured the plot, cleared the site and removed the top soil about 20 CM below ground level.
Here is a pic:


Next stage is to dig the foundation trench, about 30 cm down from top soil. Not sure if we would need anymore than that. A local architect friend thinks that is ok. The soil is pretty hard at 20 CM so I think 30 CM will be fine. We will gather round stones from the beach to fill the bottom of the trench and install a perforated pipe for the french drain, then further fill it with the round stones. On top of the french drain we will build our foundation out of slabs which have been discarded by the road builders. Here is a pic below. Please let me know if you think they will be good to use. They are used under the tarmac by road builders I believe.



Thank you all


 
Jay C. White Cloud
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Hey Yen...!

I am (as others are, I am sure) very excited to see your progress...thank you so much for sharing these stages with us. I concur with your Architect friend...for the soils, biome and climate of Cypress, a gravel/stone foundation of 300 mm in those apparent soil types should be more than adequate.

French Drains...hmmm...they are good, yet often not a necessity and may only add an expense you do not really need...depending on how you plan to use and facilitate them. To assist you further in this area...I would ask that you "price out" the "drainage pipe" and then also share with us the cost for "geo cloth" or what is more often called "road bed cloth." This is what I employ way more often, and if it is less (or the same about) and available to you...that is my recommendation at this time.

Love the beach stone use, and it ties to my other post Raised Earth Foundations, which I hope you have read and been following, as I believe you would find it useful and applicable to your current plans.

The "urbanite" (used concrete) is often very useful for project like yours...my concern is the amount of "asphalt" that seems to be on (or in?) the slabs in your photo. If that is not asphalt on them...what is it...just a colored layer? How hard is it? Does it react to a flame from a small torch? Does it give off an odor? Some of these can be pretty toxic so I would not use them on most builds. Let us know what you determine and other than that...they look great!

Regards,

j
 
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