Indispensable for the sheer quantity of information, but I think the actual instructions are intimidating and nit-picky. If you like to be told exactly how to do everything, it's great, but I prefer the looser, more improvisational attitude in Becky Bee's Cob Builders Handbook.
posted 7 years ago
The foremost cobbing bible! It's an indispensable reference for any natural builder. Becky Bee's book is great, and (mostly) freely available (http://weblife.org/cob/) but it's very basic in it's nature. The Hand Sculpted House goes much further in depth into the possibilities that are available without putting any strict rules on anything. Ianto, Linda, and Michael teach in a very general way; they present guidelines to get you started and ideas that are bound to spark amazing creativity.
I have read it and I really like it. Its not just the building part of the book but also all the smart tips in it on how you should/could think about building a house. Too not take any loan and to not build larger than u can finish in a season and stuff like that. Also its good inspiration.
I wrote a short essay for a class at school. I'd love for you guys to read it and let me know what you think!
I can send it in .pdf
Upload it to megauploads.com, a free file sharing site
Location: Stevensville, MT
posted 6 years ago
I am putting together a book/dvd/magazine page for Paul, and to save him some time from making a (short paragraph) written review of everything, I figured I'd ask permie folks to write "what Paul would say" in each thread something is talked about.
Having read it front to back, I would say it's the leading book on cob work. Considering Ianto's vast experience with the material and expertise in site location and understanding of passive solar and all that jazz, I think it's a book everyone should read if planning to build a cob house, or work with it in general. It's an easy read, and also super informative.
Wonderful book! Adding to the other comments, Ianto demystifies passive solar design so anyone can learn to take advantage of the sun to heat their home. I think the philosophical section is of great value too.
This was one of the first books I read that got me into the world of permaculture; you could say it was a "gateway" book that got me excited and eager to learn more. The contents of the book is like the title in that it goes into quaint details about cob building that truly make it a craft. But there is also plenty of information to build your own house. Sure, supplemental reading would be valuable, but if you are fine with learning as you go and fixing some mistakes down the road, this book'll do the trick. And honestly, as someone who experiences peralisys by analysis, not having ALL the other options laid out may be a downside.
And now I have a cob hot tub! There is a bunch of improvement (think rocket heater) to be done on it, and maybe I went against the rules and did cob outside unprotected and have had to use a cement based sealer on it. But it works! And I learned a bunch! And this books gave me enough info that made it pretty hard to fail to a point a regretting even starting. So the proof of this book's information and inspirational power is there nonetheless.
If I remember correctly, the book also does a great job of applying the permaculture design process to building a house. The steps through building a house that meets your needs, the lands needs, and the greater communities needs easy to follow and down to earth, no pun intended, although most of the communities needs are implicit through such concepts as conserving resources and locally sourcing materials when logical. The potential to create cheap environmentally friendly homes that a customized to the residents is well articulated and picture-ated with this book.
So thank you Cob Cottage; keep the great literature coming.
Location: Grand Valley of Colorado's Western Slope
posted 3 years ago
I give this book 9.5 out of 10 acorns. It is a complete guide to design and build a cob structure. It includes concepts such as "round feet" to help get our heads around the idea of a round house. It tells how to assess the soil, how to tell silt from clay, where to find a clay bank, just oodles of information.
It has beautiful photographs of beautiful cob buildings, from the free form sculptured houses of today, to traditional British houses with thatched roofs, to a house in New Zealand that is square, and looks like it could have been built out of 2 x 4s, that is a couple hundred years old and has withstood major earthquakes.
Though other books may be published that explain one thing or another better or with more eloquence, The Hand Sculpted House will remain a classic on the topic of cob building.
Thanks Ianto, Linda, and Michael for making cob accessible through this book and you r many workshops over the years.