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I decided to build my cob house. I need advice/mentor. (North Texas Area)  RSS feed

 
Nicolas Ellis
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Greetings all,

I've always known I wanted a cob house. I am 24, just finished college, with a nice teaching job, and finally decided it's time to act.

I will begin to finance a plot of land for 80,000 (3.8 acres) very soon. I want to build a two-story cobhouse for myself and my future wife/family. After I finish that one, one for my parents. I have researched cob building methods and I'm currently reading "The Hand-Sculpted House." I know it takes lots of labor, I know it is not as much money as a conventional house, and I know permits can be an issue sometimes. I want my cob-house to be 800 Sqft or more. I want my cob house to have electricity and water.

I would like resources of:

-Cob Courses I can take (Near me if possible)
-Estimate of the amount of hours of labor (I realize this is really hard due to many factors, but a rough estimate would do me a huge favor)
-Estimate of the cost (Read above^)
-Website/Builder where I can find plans that I can submit to the county
-Any resources that YOU as an experienced cob/permie person can provide that would help my situation.

I can post pictures of the land if that would make it easier for people to help me. The land already has a septic system installed, it has a little pond, fencing and easement. It is missing quite a few trees. I'm very excited to reach out to people who are more knowledgeable than me

I see days of hard work ahead of me, but hope that it will be made easier if I have a detailed plan with a direction and resources.

Thank you for reading,
Nicolas "Cob-Toes"
 
Daniel Ray
pollinator
Posts: 122
Location: Stevensville, Montana; Zone 4b
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Hey, sounds like an awesome plot of land. I'm not sure about cob courses in the area, not really on top of that, but I am sure someone on here will know.

What I always tell everyone on the cob verge is to think as small as possible. Even 800 square feet is a lot of cob. Although a two-story 400 on 400 is very doable. Hours of labor is going to be very high, especially if you are planning on building by yourself with little help from others. In perspective, my wife and I built our 400sq foot house by ourselves stomping cob 8 hours a day over 4 months and then spent another 6 months working on the floor, roof, plaster, alis, counters, plumbing, and the general odds and ends of a house.

Again I only have my experience to go from, but our house cost roughly $4,000. Going into the project I thought it would be even cheaper, however I forgot about the cost of new tools (saws, shovels, wheel-barrow, etc.) I expect wanting to build larger and under a permit will raise additional costs. I think the toughest obstacle for cob builders with permits are convincing inspectors that cob is a viable building material and the trade off of insulation for thermal mass.

Keep us posted and some pics of the property would be cool too.
 
Harry Ruff
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Location: Vermont
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Hey Nicolas,
Check out The Natural Cottage Project. They were offering an apprenticeship last year in Tennessee. It's worth contacting them to see what they are working on as its not too far from you. My intro book was also The Hand-Sculpted House which is a fantastic book. I am just a beginner but from my experience so far, you could get involved with as many projects and courses as you can before building yourself. A month long internship or even a two week course would put you in touch with great people and the first hand experience of building a structure from the ground up would be a huge leap forward in terms of learning the skills and troubleshooting.
 
Rose Steele
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I am not an experienced builder, but I will be building cob this summer (first build) in northeast Texas. We should keep in touch and can trade tips since our climate is similar. I'm also a teacher, and I'm planning to do mine in phases over the next three years, one room each summer. Should total out near 800 square foot after everything is built.
 
Jack Edmondson
Posts: 240
Location: Central Texas zone 8a, 800 chill hours 28 blessed inches of rain
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Once you guys, both of you, get set; put some dates out there for work parties. If you give people some notice, I bet you will have some folks willing to show up with tools and a cooler of beverages to lend a hand. I am down in the Houston area, and normally have weekends free (with some notice.) You may not get journeyman level help, but good hands well organized by you, can do a lot for moving a process along. Consider me your first volunteer.
 
Bill Bradbury
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Location: Richmond, Utah
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Hi Nicolas,

Have you thought about adobe or ceb? Check out this website for info on their schoolsouthwest-solaradobe-school They also have plans and lots of great information.

There is also the earthbuildersguild.

Yes, please post photos.

Bill
 
Nicolas Ellis
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Sorry for the late reply, yes I will check out all of these resources

Rose: Yes, lets get in contact, I would love to know more about your project and perhaps help you with it.

Thank you all for replying
 
Oliver Goshey
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Location: Tzununa, Guatemala
forest garden greening the desert urban
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Hi Nicolas,
my name is Oliver and i'm a cob and natural home designer and contractor based in washington state. i would love to help you out with any questions and estimates to help you get started and i even have preparation lists for planning a build project or a workshop that i can make available to you if youre interested.
i have worked in conventional building and remodeling for six years before becoming a marine engineer and electrician on container vessels through the marine fireman's union. for the last three years i apprenticed with the cob cottage company and worked on cob and adobe structures all around the western US as well as Ecuador and most recently designed and build a cob house in the Philippines. if this is your first attempt at working with cob there are many pitfalls and simple mistakes that i can help you avoid in order to see your project through to the best you can envision. feel free to contact me at oliver.goshey@gmail.com
i look forward to being of service
 
Rose Steele
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Sure thing! Email me curioallure@gmail.com
 
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