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Is this even possible?

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Hello to all,

I joined to ask this question, but after looking around a bit, I'm interested to see what all I can learn from this whole forum! Lots of great stuff on here.

I have a question that I can't find a straight answer to. I'm gathering info about how to build a writer's studio/retreat on wheels, that will also function as a sort of "experiment" in green building, since I have zero experience.

My plan is to build a tiny writer's studio on wheels, made from wooden pallets (inspiration here: I would love to try insulating it with cob, because my thought is, "I could just stuff the cob between the pallet slats!" But from what I've read so far, it sounds like cob walls have to be at least 3 feet thick in order to really work well as insulation, and the spaces between the slats are definitely not 3 feet wide. Plus, I'm already tight on space, given that it's going to be a very small trailer, so I can't sacrifice 3 feet of space just for the walls.

Has anyone had any experience building a writer's studio, or maybe a playhouse for kids, or something, with a "tiny house on wheels" idea and incorporating green (and cheap!) insulation? If so, what did you do?

Some important things to note:

1) I need something that will be fairly easy to keep cool and warm, as my location here in East Texas can get below freezing during the winter months and close to 100* F in the summertime, all with TONS of humidity. I would like to use this writer's retreat year-round, so I'd like it to have insulation .
2) It will not have plumbing--possibly not even electricity--so that's not a concern.
3) I'm thinking the interior would be cob, and the exterior would be another material, like maybe recycled corrugated tin. So no cob would be exposed to the elements.

Any help anyone can share would be great! Also, let me know if I need to move this to the "cob" forum. I couldn't decide which place might be best.
Posts: 115
Location: Chcago IL
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Lindsay, welcome to Permies.

I like the idea because it's outside the box but it does need some tweaking as far as i can see..

Clay weights about 100 lbs per cubic foot. 4'x10'x6' trailer with 3'' thick cob plaster would have roughly 60 cubic feet of cob which amounts to something in the neighborhood of 3 tons of it All of that rocking and shaking on a bumpy road:) If the trailer is meant to be moved around and pulled behind a truck (??) then it would be a subject to a lot of strong and lasting shocks and vibration. The wheels, brakes and suspension for that would have to be something. I don't see how that could be made street legal without heavy $$. And the cob would probably crack and crumble fast.

I don't mean to be discouraging but i think you need to consider some other material for thermal insulation. Something more like wool or feather (with a bit of borax mixed in to keep bugs away) if you want it to be natural.

I looked recently and one can get a camper in an acceptable shape and with a title for few hundred $ on eBay. Designing and building a suspension for a trailer, even if it didn't weight 3 and a half ton, would be a lot more than that if you had to have it done by someone. Heck, you couldn't rent the tools necessary to put it together for that amount even if you could gather the components for free.
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Location: Upstate NY, zone 5
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A used trailer (especially an old one) will probably not have any "green" materials as such in it, but taking one that is destined for the landfill and rebuilding its insides reduces a lot of waste, which is a good green principle.

Do you intend to trailer it around, or is it just for legal purposes (avoiding building permits and real estate taxes)?
Posts: 65
Location: Columbia, Ky
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Hi Lindsey, welcome to Permies!
I like the pallets idea. It should work fine. I also like the "covered in tin" idea too. As far as insulation, cob is definitely not your best option at all. I would suggest a quality spray in cellulose insulation. Cellulose insulation is made from recycled newspaper more or less depending on what company makes it. This company produces a fairly legit product as far as "green" is concerned. I wouldn't recommend trying to cob over the pallets. Cob does not expand/contract like wood does when moisture and temperature come into play, so... your wood would expand and your cob would crack:/. Hope that helps!

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