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Newbie looking for advice  RSS feed

 
Hans Harker
Posts: 115
Location: Chcago IL
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Hi guys, my wife and i started seriously considering moving out of the city and building a house. We are a fairly sizable family with 3 kids and the forth one due in Dec so it seems that a cob structure would be probably what we would go for.
To be honest i'm feeling a bit intimidated by the task and the vastness of experience i found in this forum which i'll probably get over over time but in the meantime i'd like to ask for some directions on how it'd make most sense to research the topic. and get ready for the task.
 
Miles Flansburg
steward
Posts: 3981
Location: Zones 2-4 Wyoming and 4-5 Colorado
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Howdy Voy, welcome to permies!

The best way is just to dig in a read a bunch of the threads here in the cob section. You will then find the folks who have experience and be able to ask some specific questions of them.

Have you worked on any cob projects yet?
 
Mike Cantrell
Posts: 555
Location: Mid-Michigan
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Maybe your kids are effortless, and you and your pregnant wife are both physically invincible and emotionally saintly... but I'VE got three kids, and the thought of taking on a project that's going to require the hours of a full-time job and cost the money of a full-time job is DOA to me.


I'm going to repeat the excellent advice found in every alternative building books I've put my hands on: build a shed first.

Make your mistakes on a shed. Change your plans on a shed. Practice foundation, windows, roofing on a shed. Time yourself (and get faster) on a shed. Gather the buckets, tarps, and other necessary tools while you work on a shed. And (you gotta acknowledge the possibility) get overwhelmed and quit on a shed.

Build a shed first.
 
Hans Harker
Posts: 115
Location: Chcago IL
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Thanks, I've never built anything out of cob, but i have some experience in building in general. I've worked with carpenters, plumbers, AC/heating and tile guys, and what not. I helped (what i could) my father to build a house when i was a kid. I'm fairly handy as well, i just successfully swapped a Mercedes dies engine into a 67 Series Land Rover.

At the other hand our rent $1600 a month, kindergarten 1200 and with food, utilities and car insurance i need to make at least $5k a month just to survive. Basically i am trying to quit on the city because it's to taxing for me and to dangerous for the kids.

We thought of buying a house earlier this year but we found the whole mortgage system with prices dictated by the banks to be inhumane and barbaric. We also considered building a brick house since i'm more familiar with this technology but cob seems to be more consistent with our intent to move towards a more enlightened way of living.

The shed may not be such a bad idea as a temporary shelter. I wonder if the authorities would have any problem with children living in such 'alternative' housing arrangement.


 
Peter Ellis
Posts: 1432
Location: Central New Jersey
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Some thoughts from someone on a similar path. My wife and I don't have children yet, so that piece is different, and we live in suburbia, not the city. But - our plans involve moving back to where her family lives and building our own place in a rural(ish?) location.

So, a bit less to deal with in that we don't have three kids, but parallel plans.

My intentions are to build animal shelters and outbuildings before we start building our house. Experiment a bit, get some experience under our belts - and then get going on the human habitation. Along with just plain getting some practice in, we think this route will help us in dealing with the necessary governmental approvals. Alternative building is not particularly well supported under "code" standards and being able to offer some examples of working structures should be helpful. At least we hope so. Most importantly, it gives us practice before we are trusting our lives, and our future children's lives, to our building skills.

I would have very real concerns about the child protective services reaction to children living in a shed. Our plans tend more toward a ger (aka yurt) as a temporary dwelling while we're getting the permanent home built.
 
Hans Harker
Posts: 115
Location: Chcago IL
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Maybe a cottage than but the idea of building animal shelters and other buildings first sounds good.

I've been reading thread after thread from the cob forum and it seems that a lot depends on the location. Actually we have three to choose from:

1) 10 acres about three ours east of Seattle WA. Zone 6 most likely. Forested.
2) 20 acres in Oregon near Nevada and Idaho. Zone 6 as well, with a creak going through the middle.
3) 0.5 acre in northern California, very close to the ocean, zone 10 with some seismic activity threat .With timber, residential.

I'm sort of leaning towards #3 because of the mild climate and closeness to the ocean, but i wonder we'd be able to grow enough food on half an acre.
My wife likes #1 but she's far from committing to leaving Illinois. We sort of agree we'll take the kids on a road trip as soon as the youngest is ready for travel visit the places and make our minds up.
 
Peter Ellis
Posts: 1432
Location: Central New Jersey
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Research, researvh, research. The differences in what you can do on 10 v 20 acres are minor compared to a half acre. It is a completely different world.

But aside from that, look at all the regulations. Zoned for farming or not; building regulations; water rights; pond building restrictions.many of these questions a realtor may not be able to answer. Taxes, utilities. Grey water regulations and sewage processing requirements. There is a load of regulatory environment info that matters to what you want to do.
and then there are all the physical environment factors. Look at heating and cooling days for all locations. Building with cob or Rammed earth requires certain kinds of material. You don't want to be buying truckloads of clay or sand in order to build your home. You want a site where you can get the material right there. What is the terrain like. Water movement across the propeerty. These both affect how and what you can grow and can be important in house placement.
and off course there is much much more.
at least Oregon has quite a few cob cottages. That should be an advantage.
 
Hans Harker
Posts: 115
Location: Chcago IL
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Thank you Peter.

After reading a year worth of threads about cob and scanning through building codes i think it' time for me to start learning 'bout framing.

BTW i found out that you can get a yurt permit in Okanogan county where our 10 acres is for $100. So that may be another option for a temporary dwelling
 
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