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rachael hamblin
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Here are some pictures from building a primarily cob (one wall of light clay and some paja reque) art studio at O.U.R. Ecovillage in 2006.  We didn't completely finish the building that summer and I haven't been able to find pictures of the completed building, but I thought this would be interesting for folks wondering what cob in process looks like.
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rachael hamblin
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Here are a few more pictures;  the first one includes a dividing wall of paja reque.  Paja reque is a technique involving rolling long dry grasses in a clay slip into gooey snakes which you then weave between branches starting at the ground and building up to form a wall.  I believe it is originally from Mexico.
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rachael hamblin
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And here are a few pictures from plastering the Healing Sanctuary, another building on the property.
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Are those tires holding down a pond liner for a living roof?  And, if it was a living roof, how is it doing these days plant-wise and leak-wise?
 
                          
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beautiful!  where r u located?
 
paul wheaton
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Kathleen Sanderson
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Okay, Paul, I just watched your two videos and now I have some questions!  (Wish we lived on the green side of the mountains, too, but that's another topic!)

First, I'm assuming that they haven't gotten building permits for these little cob structures -- so it's okay to connect them with that wall that winds through?  I kind of had the impression that the little un-permitted buildings weren't supposed to be connected, but if they can be, then that opens up a whole bunch of new options!

Second, what are they using for foundation material?  That's something that's had me stymied -- we have plenty of soil suitable for cob, but I don't want to pour a cement foundation. 

I'll probably have some more questions later, but need to go do a couple of things. 

Oh, and the quality of your videos -- let's just say it's hard to keep from getting motion sickness!  How about only filming when you are stopped?

Thanks for sharing -- it looks a bit like a hobbit village (and I don't think they are building for someone your height, LOL!).

Kathleen
 
paul wheaton
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I think I am getting gradually better with my filming.  (video-ing?)

The important thing is that these videos are vastly superior to all of the other videos of cobville:  there are none! 

foundations are dry stack rock or urbanite.

building permits:  I think this is an area where building permits are not required.
 
Kathleen Sanderson
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paul wheaton wrote:
I think I am getting gradually better with my filming.  (video-ing?)

The important thing is that these videos are vastly superior to all of the other videos of cobville:  there are none! 

foundations are dry stack rock or urbanite.

building permits:  I think this is an area where building permits are not required.


Building permits are required everywhere in Oregon (believe me, I've checked on that, LOL!), so they must be building under the 200 s.f. max. for un-permitted structures.

I greatly appreciate the video, just was near to getting sea-sick while watching it, LOL!

Kathleen
 
Matthew Fallon
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what a cool little place, its like hobbits glen ! thanks Paul for filming that,
i TOTALLY subscribe to the " crappy video is better than no video" spirit. though this was not bad at all to me.filming with a dig.camera walking around is always going to look shaky.

while watching this i too wondered about the pesky problem of codes/permitting.
AFAK 200sf exemptions do not apply to living spaces. least in NY.think they're meant for garden sheds and such...

also wonder how well pond liner will hold up as roofing ? seems like they have either wood or corrugated panels ,then the liner i guess,then dirt/plants? how would one patch a leak on a green roof like that.or does that not really occur?

love to get up there for a visit sometime and that workshop

Matthew~
 
Kathleen Sanderson
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tribalwind wrote:
what a cool little place, its like hobbits glen ! thanks Paul for filming that,
i TOTALLY subscribe to the " crappy video is better than no video" spirit. though this was not bad at all to me.filming with a dig.camera walking around is always going to look shaky.

while watching this i too wondered about the pesky problem of codes/permitting.
AFAK 200sf exemptions do not apply to living spaces. least in NY.think they're meant for garden sheds and such...

also wonder how well pond liner will hold up as roofing ? seems like they have either wood or corrugated panels ,then the liner i guess,then dirt/plants? how would one patch a leak on a green roof like that.or does that not really occur?

love to get up there for a visit sometime and that workshop

Matthew~



The cob village is here in Oregon, and while the under-200-s.f.-exemption was probably really meant for garden sheds and such, they don't seem to care if people live in them.  But there *must* be a permitted house on the land before you can build one of the tiny ones. 

The pond liner material will last almost forever as long as it isn't exposed to the sun or have holes poked in it, so if handled with care, leaks *shouldn't* be an issue.  Two layers, as Paul has mentioned several places, would be a very good idea, with something between the layers to absorb any water that might get through from a pinhole leak.

Kathleen
 
paul wheaton
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With some housing density issues and some economy issues, my impression is that a lot of housing folks are choosing to look away for some of the, uh, more interesting things done with sheds and garages. 

Frankly, I think we should have a right to live in a tent or a hut if we want. 


 
Kathleen Sanderson
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paul wheaton wrote:

Frankly, I think we should have a right to live in a tent or a hut if we want. 





I agree.  And with the economy the way it is (and probably will continue to get worse -- this could end up a 'third-world country' before it's all said and done), building codes are going to have to relax a bit about tiny houses and 'auxiliary' structures. 

My mother and I were talking the other day about what she would do if her husband dies before she does, as she wouldn't have enough income to be able to keep their house (which has a mortgage).  I told her we could finish off our garage for living space, and she suggested bringing one or both of their 40' shipping containers, presently used for storage, down here to turn into a house for her.  I think cob or earthbags would also be useful.  I need to make a chicken coop, and will probably use one of those two (most likely cob); it will make good practice for if we need to make some extra living space later.

Kathleen
 
Henry Bjorklid
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Kathleen Sanderson wrote:
Second, what are they using for foundation material?  That's something that's had me stymied -- we have plenty of soil suitable for cob, but I don't want to pour a cement foundation.


Stones are good, as they can be put in the manner that you have a ventilation under the floor. We have the problem here in northern Europe, that if you have no ventilation under the building, you get a lot of Radon-gas. Not to speak about mold and all kind of related problems.
But if there is no stones available, I think you could use used tyres filled with earth + some floor-construction of wood.

Simon Dale used (partly) stones + used pallets + straw-bales + wooden floor;

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http://www.simondale.net/house/build.htm
and
http://www.simondale.net/house/floor.htm

This was a completely experimental technique which seems to have worked well. Since straw bales in walls can double as both insulation and structural support then why not the same in a floor... Building a conventional timber floor with joists uses a lot of sawn timber, a fair bit of work and joists can create 'thermal bridges' through insulation placed between them.

The ground was roughly leveled and compacted with an small excavator before construction started. The base of this hole was covered with builders damp proof plastic (i'm not certain that this was really needed, maybe gravel would have been better). On top of the plastic the ground was covered with scrap wooden pallets. On top of the pallets a single thickness of straw bales was laid right up to the walls and gaps at the edges were stuffed with split bales.

The floor boards were laid directly on top of these straw bales. In my case the floorboards were reclaimed crate lids, made up in 6' x 4' (2m x1.5m) panels. I used odd scraps of wood under the corners and edges of the pallets and screwed the palettes down onto them. This just means that when you step on one palette and it sinks very slightly, the ones next to it move together.

If you were doing this with regular floorboards rather than pallets I'd suggest something like laying 2"x1" (50 x 25mm) battons flat every 2'(60cm) or so. Lay the floorboards on top and fix down with some fairly heavy duty screws.


and

This was very easy and cheap to do. It made a floor that is not completely flat or level although it is completely practical. It is also just slightly springy, which I quite like. Maybe it moves at most 1/2" (12mm) under a person's weight. The only problem with this seems to be by the walls the join between floorboards and plaster on the wall is a bit prone to cracking, which just loks a little bit untidy. The palettes under the straw are intended to provide an air gap, though it could potentially be a popular hang out for rodents. We didn't have a problem with this though. They don't like to burrow through lime plaster so being careful to plaster everywhere up and having a cat do the job fine for me.

Visionary architect Hundertwasser thought that it was unhealthy for us to walk of perfectly level floors as that wasn't what our feet and beings evolved for !

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_______________________________[/center]


We have, (ProVillage, that is), planned to build like this:

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From here:
http://provillage.wordpress.com/2009/09/02/eco-building-part-1-establishment-of-a-family-oriented-village-for-artisans/


Henry
 
paul wheaton
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Kathleen Sanderson
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More questions, Paul!  The 'showcase' house -- about how big is it?  Do you know if they got a permit for it?  Any chance of a rough floorplan?  It was hard for me to get a real idea of the space from the video.  I don't like the stairs, and my daughter would never be able to navigate something like that.  But I see a lot to like about that little house.  Oh, and did you happen to find out how long it took to build?

Thanks for posting your videos of that tour -- don't know if I'll ever manage to get over there to see it in person.

Kathleen
 
Henry Bjorklid
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Kathleen Sanderson wrote:
More questions, Paul!  The 'showcase' house -- about how big is it?  Do you know if they got a permit for it?  Any chance of a rough floorplan?  It was hard for me to get a real idea of the space from the video.  I don't like the stairs, and my daughter would never be able to navigate something like that.  But I see a lot to like about that little house.  Oh, and did you happen to find out how long it took to build?

Thanks for posting your videos of that tour -- don't know if I'll ever manage to get over there to see it in person.

Kathleen


I have to agree with Kathleen.
Maybe I am wrong, but after seen many of this kind of places, on video, not in real life, I get the impression that much is "half-done". E.g. the stairs.
Some of these issues are certainly related to myself, the questions I have to cope with our hard climate.

When I was young helping at a building site, a carpenter told me: "The master will look upon a certain detail in his house for the following 30 - 50 years, so be careful when you choose the wood opposite the toilet-seat.   You do not want him to curse you every morning 7.30 sharp, if you have chosen there a board with an ugly knot, would you?"

It was said with humour, but there lies a lot of truth in it.
Later I saw a mason that made a stove of natural stone. He spent three days composing the colours of the stones. First he collected stones for two days at the shore. Then he washed the stones, looked at them in wet condition, let the sun dry them, wet them again as he moved the stones, "composing" the colours.
Later I heard that this old man was one of the most expensive masons in Finland. Since that, I have been a little bit 'stone-crazy'. I am also heavily addicted to birch as material, but that is another story.

Not so long ago, I draw up lines for a house, that isn't yet built, but anyhow. The natural stonewall will be about 40 meter long and approx. 2 meter high.
I can assure that we need stones, but it will be built in an area where there is a lot of them. Anyway, I heard objections - that it was too much, but let us think about it for a moment:
- If we think that I build the wall alone and can add 10 cm every day to its hight, the 40 meters that is. It will take me 20 days to build + getting the stones transported (with a lorry from the place where they sell sand).
Now, let's think that I will be happy with just 20 meters of stonewall. It will take me only 10 days to build.
- Now, you have to see it still with your mind's eye: What impression gives 40 meter of natural stonewall, compared with 20 meters?
- If I build something, I build so that it has to stand for 100 years.

Now, do I want my grand-grand-children to say; "Well the original plan was to build 40 meters of stone-wall, but grand-grand-father was so busy with chasing the village-girls, so he could not invest 10 more days from his life into this. So he built only 20 meters of this natural stone-wall."

The costs, the additional costs for the 40 meter long wall: More mortar is needed and some more transportation + bread for 10 additional days.
I have very little money, but a lot of time.  As i can't leave so much money for my children and grand-grand children, I leave what I have to give: time.
Spent time.
In different forms.

Do you catch my drift?

Sorry for sidetracking the thread, but I can never keep the eye on the subject. I think you will get used to it.



[center]

This stone-wall has stood for more than 130 years.


The newer end of the wall is not so nicely done.[/center]
You can see, left upper corner, that some goofer has put there some stones that are not round! Been lazy for 5 minutes and we can see that even today!


Henry
 
Kathleen Sanderson
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Henry, you have some very wise insights there.  It's good for us to remember that good craftsmanship will reward us, or whoever else lives in the house, for generations to come.  Your comments remind me of what I've read of the craftsmanship in old Japanese houses -- even the hidden joints were made like works of art.  It was a matter of pride in their craftsmanship, something that has largely been lost in this era of instant gratification.

That said, if we need shelter urgently, we may have to throw something together in a hurry, but if we can then live in that hastily-built shelter while we spend the time needed to build something beautiful, I think we'll be thankful for many years that we took that time.

Kathleen
 
paul wheaton
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The 'showcase' house -- about how big is it?


Kinda hard to hold a ruler up to.  After all, cob structures tend to be rounder.  And with the double loft thing ....   

But the other thing is that if somebody did go in there and measure and say "there is 500 square feet of floor space" I would guess that folks would fee more comfortable in that space than in a conventional home with 900 square feet of floor space.  All because of the brilliant architectural stuff. 

I strongly suggest reading Ianto's book The Hand-Sculpted House - loaded to the gills with information on the magic of this architecture.

Do you know if they got a permit for it? 


I have no idea.

Any chance of a rough floorplan?


I don't have anything.  I suppose one could try to make one based on watching the video.

Oh, and did you happen to find out how long it took to build?


That would be an excellent question!

I asked Ernie Wisner who lived in cobville for a couple of years.  He said "real time it was one year of building. the nature of the school stretched it out to 3 years.
with a dedicated crew it could be done in six months."


 
Henry Bjorklid
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I count that the building 70 sqm (800 sqf?) warm area, 50 sqm (550sq.f.) like this:
Let's assume that I begin 1.1. 2011.
- Collecting used glass, windows, pallets and whatever from day 0.

January - end of April => logging and sawing boards (three feet of snow melting away in May)

May => putting all the boards on sticks for drying through the summer, squaring the unsquared boards.

June - escavating the site, collecting and sorting stones. Building the stone-walls and foundation during three summer-months.

June - August - building the shed for the straw-bales that I get in August.

September, building the shed where I can work with lumber during the winter. Making pre-cut lumber the whole winter. Preparing/building windows, doors etc.

As soon as the summer 2012 comes, I begin to make the glue-lam balks as I can not do that in very low temperatures. Remember that I have done all the cutting to measure, marking etc. during the winter, so that the busiest period of time, the summer can be used to gluing and erecting the walls, making the roof etc.

June - July 2012 the main construction should be erected. Need some help here.
Early August the roof should be on - water-tight, the straw-bales can be put in place.

Here is the risky moment. If I am late, even just two weeks, it is impossible to render the straw-bales properly before the fall/winter is coming. If I am late, I have to wait to late spring 2013, before putting up the straw-bales. And in our climate, I think that there is not time, but I have to wait one additional winter.

But so what?
I will more likely do it that way, the slow way, as I want to be 130% sure the the foundation is well done. Everything else can be mended later if something goes wrong.

If I stall one winter, I can use that time to fix everything else, the toilets, the draining (and I will see how the draining works fall, winter and spring.
As the roof is on, I can prepare a lot inside.

On the other hand, as I plan to do eaves that are extremely long, I might work with just one layer of rendering, through the first fall/winter and then add the second and third summer 2013.
This would mean that I can do much of the interior work in winter 2012 -  2013.

It really does not matter, because knowing myself, I will keep on with the interior work for years. 
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A house that is built as in the picture beneath, the rendering is not a problem at the first floor as there is only the front side to render.

[center][/center]

The second floor has long eaves, but I think I will do them even longer to the northern side, where I can then store all the fire-wood.
Have to think carefully about these questions.

Henry
 
Kathleen Sanderson
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That's an interesting design, Henry.  If you are building this in Finland, you might want to reduce the eave overhangs on the south sides to get more solar gain in the winter.  I like deep porches, but you kind of have to balance that with your heating needs (and I've spent quite a few years in Alaska, so I know that the sun isn't going to do much good in your location in the deepest winter, but it should be helpful on both sides of that). 

It's a good idea to extend the eaves on the north side for firewood coverage!

Kathleen
 
Henry Bjorklid
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Kathleen Sanderson wrote:
That's an interesting design, Henry.  If you are building this in Finland, you might want to reduce the eave overhangs on the south sides to get more solar gain in the winter.  I like deep porches, but you kind of have to balance that with your heating needs (and I've spent quite a few years in Alaska, so I know that the sun isn't going to do much good in your location in the deepest winter, but it should be helpful on both sides of that). 

It's a good idea to extend the eaves on the north side for firewood coverage!

Kathleen


The eaves of this building is made such, that the sun will shine inside from September to about the middle of April. In the middle of winter, the sun is very low in the horisont. This is in the southern part of Finland. In the northest part of Finland, there is no sun (above the horisont) for weeks.
On the other hand, the sun does not go down in the summer at all.

Anyhow, the eaves has to let the sun in in the winter and shade the sun in summer. Just as you, Kathleen, say.
The continental climate that comes from Russia can be extremely hot for weeks.

Henry

 
Kathleen Sanderson
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HenryFinland wrote:
The eaves of this building is made such, that the sun will shine inside from September to about the middle of April. In the middle of winter, the sun is very low in the horisont. This is in the southern part of Finland. In the northest part of Finland, there is no sun (above the horisont) for weeks.
On the other hand, the sun does not go down in the summer at all.

Anyhow, the eaves has to let the sun in in the winter and shade the sun in summer. Just as you, Kathleen, say.
The continental climate that comes from Russia can be extremely hot for weeks.

Henry




It sounds like the climate is very much like the part of Alaska where I lived, although summer is quite short there.  One year we had hot weather for two weeks in July, which was very unusual!  If I ever go back to there to live, I'll have an underground house, probably sort of like yours only without the structure on top -- what is that going to be for?

Kathleen
 
Henry Bjorklid
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Kathleen Sanderson wrote:
It sounds like the climate is very much like the part of Alaska where I lived, although summer is quite short there.  One year we had hot weather for two weeks in July, which was very unusual!  If I ever go back to there to live, I'll have an underground house, probably sort of like yours only without the structure on top -- what is that going to be for?

Kathleen


A short description of the "Artist's house":
- The first floor faces naturally south. From west to east:
- Cold storage (The walls are not visible, but you can guess them as you look at the vertical balks.
- (Next 'row': warm storage, shower and toilet
- In the middle; the bigger work-room where the artisan/artist teach, works etc.
- The row to east, the last row: Kitchen and some "closed from tourists"-space, where the different "not-for-children-to-touch"-gizmos are kept; drills, circular saws or whatever, depending on what kind of artisan/artist is working there.

From the northern wall of the big room, behind the chimney, goes stairs to the privet upstairs where the artist/artisan sleeps etc. There is also a door out that takes her/him to her privet garden where the tourists can't come.

We do not want the artisans to leave after the season, so they do not pay any rent, but a percentage of what they sell to the tourists. That is why it does not cost her anything to stay also when the season is low.
On the other hand, when everyone is still at the village, not as in the other places that closes after season, we have easy to sell "group-tours for pensioners" etc., to our living village.

I come to this later, I think.


Henry
 
Kathleen Sanderson
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It sounds like you have a good plan thought out, both for the building and for your village!

Kathleen
 
paul wheaton
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For the tour of cobville ....  I had a lot of people asking me about the sun trap temps.  Ianto does not care for the internet, but Ernie, who hangs out in this forum a lot, has huge experience in cobville.  So I asked him.  Ernie says that it is about 30 degrees warmer in the sun trap!
 
Henry Bjorklid
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paul wheaton wrote:
For the tour of cobville ....   I had a lot of people asking me about the sun trap temps.  Ianto does not care for the internet, but Ernie, who hangs out in this forum a lot, has huge experience in cobville.  So I asked him.  Ernie says that it is about 30 degrees warmer in the sun trap!


Celsius? Or Farenheit? (not that I have ever expierienced the Farenheit warmth. 

Henry
 
Jami McBride
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Paul, in the vid you mention rumford stove - do you think Ernie could explain or show in another thread how those were made?

Thanks
 
paul wheaton
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HenryFinland wrote:
Celsius? Or Farenheit? (not that I have ever expierienced the Farenheit warmth. 

Henry


Well, he seemed to be relating a lot of stuff in F.  So I'm thinking F.

 
paul wheaton
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Jami McBride wrote:
Paul, in the vid you mention rumford stove - do you think Ernie could explain or show in another thread how those were made?

Thanks


Yes!  Start a new thread in the alternative energy forum!
 
giovanna. ash
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paul wheaton wrote:
For the tour of cobville ....   I had a lot of people asking me about the sun trap temps.  Ianto does not care for the internet, but Ernie, who hangs out in this forum a lot, has huge experience in cobville.  So I asked him.  Ernie says that it is about 30 degrees warmer in the sun trap!


I can't find any info on the internet about sun traps. Is that included in the cob building book you recommended?
 
Len Ovens
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Kathleen Sanderson wrote:

First, I'm assuming that they haven't gotten building permits for these little cob structures -- so it's okay to connect them with that wall that winds through?  I kind of had the impression that the little un-permitted buildings weren't supposed to be connected, but if they can be, then that opens up a whole bunch of new options!


Wall? what wall? Its just a very thin hill that those houses happen to built into... after all its just dirt

(I just saw the thread and videos today)

On a more serious note, how big is a house (permit wise) that is mostly pre-existing cave and only 100sqft building added to it?
 
Galen Johnson
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The stuff from Finland sounds great. It sounds like the climate where I am planning to build a cob place, Alaska. Where the summers are short, but filled with sunlight, posing a challenge to any cob builder. For instance, will a frozen cob wall continue to dry or not? Will frost on a cob wall prevent more cob from sticking to it? Will (dry) snow hurt a cob wall? Will wet snow? Will melting snow? How warm does a cob wall have to be in order to stick more cob onto it? What if the cob you stick to an existing wall freezes overnight? Is that cob still good?

Other questions arise. Assuming you build a cob wall on river rock or crushed rock, to provide a good, water-free foundation, what happens if the foundation gets water in it anyway? And the water freezes?

There are a lot of questions like these that I have never seen answered, since most people who build cob do so in sunny California or New Mexico. But not all people live there. Some of us live in cold climes like Alaska or Finland. Questions like these become important to us.
 
I child proofed my house but they still get in. Distract them with this tiny ad:
Permaculture Playing Cards by Paul Wheaton and Alexander Ojeda
https://permies.com/wiki/57503/digital-market/digital-market/Permaculture-Playing-Cards-Paul-Wheaton
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