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Advice for Building Cob in our area  RSS feed

 
Maren Heiberg
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Hi,
My husband and I are new to natural building. We are looking to build a cob style house on our land. Our land is in the foothills of the Himalayas. People have been doing this for 100s of years if not more around this area. They do the Timber Framing style. That is what we are going for. We do not see a lot of straw in our area and wondering what some alternatives might be. My husband is wondering if strips of jute will work. Can you give us an idea of what other things might work to help bind the clay together? Thank you!
 
John Elliott
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I have seen research papers* where they studied the use of jute as fiber reinforcement. From what I remember they determined that the optimal length was less than 2" and that long fibers weakened the tensile strength of the end product as it could fail (slip) along the axis of the fibers. If you chop it up into strands shorter than 2", it should work for you.

I can't give you an exact cite right now, but if it is critical, let me know and I will try to dig it out for you.
 
Jay C. White Cloud
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Hello Maren...Welcome!!! to Permies...

I am so glad you have joined us and decided to embrace this path of living and building...

I will try and go line by line to address your query...I would also suggest that you may find of interest many of the different articles I have written here at Permies for folks just like you....some even from and applicable to your region.

We are looking to build a cob style house on our land. Our land is in the foothills of the Himalayas. People have been doing this for 100s of years if not more around this area. They do the Timber Framing style.


Stone, Earth and Timber architecture is very applicable to that region as It would seem you have learned from seeing the vernacular forms. You are very wise to follow their guidance, as so many folks will move to a new region and try to ignore the environ they are in. Often "displaced" architecture never really fits in or works, nor is it necessary to reinvent the "wheels of architecture," when such fine examples are around. I know your region well and if you choose, I can guide you through almost all there different forms and modalities of traditional building....

All I ask is that you learn to do really good posts, with lots of photos...so others may learn from what you do...

We do not see a lot of straw in our area and wondering what some alternatives might be. My husband is wondering if strips of jute will work. Can you give us an idea of what other things might work to help bind the clay together?


Jute can definitely work, and the length standards are from 20 mm to 100 mm for most Cobb matrix that employs such.

I again would look to the local vernacular and what they use. Many of them are probably using the dung from ruminant animals.

It would seem you have a computer and access, so I would also suggest downloading "sketchup" which is a free CAD program you can do design work in. I maybe able to even provide some assistance and designs for you to consider.

That should get you going...read what I have share else where on this subject, and study the links I have in them that are applicable to your region.

Warm Regards,

j


 
Maren Heiberg
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Thank you so much John and Jay for your help. We will definitely be researching and asking a lot of people in our community for help along the way. My husband is from here and has an understanding of a lot of the environment, but of course he is always still learning as well. We will do our best to post pictures along the way. We do have access to internet in our current house. However, when we move to where we are building there is no internet access.
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