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Old wood house in Blue Mountains area. I'd like to renovate with cob or strawbale  RSS feed

 
Jackie Nguyen
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Advice please.

Hi I'm a single mother of 3 who just bought the only house I can afford. It's on half an acre, an old wood house. There's well and septic. The house is livable but it needs a new exterior and needs floor help. I think the main support beam is half rotten. (Seriously it's all I could afford)

I'd like to remove the old drywall and somehow use cob and plaster to have a sturdier house. A more organic and healthy home for my kids. I don't have the skill or money to rebuild. I'd like to just build on and better what I already have.

Has anyone heard of anyone doing this?

Tear down drywall and Build interior walls with cob?
I'd like to eventually cover the outside of the house with cob and plaster instead of wood siding.
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Exterior
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The floors are warped
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3 bedrooms like this
 
Jim Fry
Posts: 135
Location: Stone Garden Farm Richfield Twp., Ohio
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I suppose a couple of questions first, before being able to give appropriate advice. ...Where are you? And what's wrong with the exterior? (It looks like all it needs is paint.) How much insulation is in the attic? How weather tight are the windows?
---And can the main support beam be replaced or repaired without collapsing the house, ..and busting your budget?
 
Dale Hodgins
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Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
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Assuming that your house is on a crawl space, I would expect that the beam has powder beetle rot. If you are on a full basement, this is less likely. I'm wondering if you had a home inspection? This only happens if the space is too moist. If it's going to be repaired, the underlying moisture issues must be dealt with.

Cob is not very thermally efficient. If your walls are empty the most economic and probably greenest choice, would be to blow in cellulose insulation which is made from used paper. If the drywall is in very rough shape, a new thin layer could be put right over top of the old, after the insulation is blown in.

Some parts of Ontario have issues with radon gas. I know there have been problems in Owen Sound and in Collingwood. If your basement or crawlspace is undergoing renovation, be sure to check out what can be done in that regard. I'm not sure if there are still government grants available, but it's worth checking out.

I don't see anything seriously wrong with the exterior. Those shingles are probably Cedar, and if cared for they will last the life of the building. Edit. I'm doing this on a mobile phone. After examining the photo , I see that it's wood siding and not shingles. It doesn't look rotten to me. I would use a good quality, breathable paint. Your overhangs are not very large, so it will be important to always keep an eye on the quality of drip edges and in the flow of water generally once it reaches the ground.

I wouldn't do any of the things that you suggested, to the walls, on the interior or exterior. They are already conventional stick frame walls. The most economic way to deal with that is with insulation, paint and drywall repair.

One more edit. Lead paint was very common at the time when this house was built. It's quite likely that the exterior has lead paint. If any scraping is done, be sure to use lung protection and to capture the little bits that are scraped away. The best way to deal with lead paint is to completely encapsulate it, with a compatible new product. I would not grow anything edible within five feet of the house. Lead tends to accumulate close to where it drips onto the ground.
 
Angelika Maier
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Location: cool climate, Blue Mountains, Australia
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I would not mix cob with timber. Different thermal expansion. I would look that the crawl space is clear of debris and there is really enough air circulation. Don't plant close to that house!!! BTW the house looks nice. I would first look for the real issues (rotting timber) before doing anythin like an extension. If you have a good builder and the money saved up the extension is done in a week. Just look that everything is well insulated and don't go away while the builder works.
 
Angelika Maier
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Location: cool climate, Blue Mountains, Australia
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The house is actually very pretty! I would do all to preserve the character. We had an uninsulated timber house and the builder managed to pull out all the timber cladding without breaking much, he put insulation in the wall and sarking (important) on top of the timber and then the timber back up. The whole house was done in less than two days. Now it is nice and warm. We have insulated under the floor and the ceiling. You might be even able to do the job yourself, but you will have to hire a nail gun.
 
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