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Cob Building in the Ozarks  RSS feed

 
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Hi everyone! I have recently discovered cob building and have dreamed of building an affordable tiny house. The design, among other great perks really appeal to my husband and I. The problem is, neither one of us are builders in the least. We really have no idea where to start other than buying a piece of land. We live in northern Arkansas/Southern Missouri. Are there any cob builders around here? Or anyone that has built a cob house in this area that could give us some advice? We would appreciate it so very much!
 
pollinator
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Location: SW Missouri, Zone 7a
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Hi Sarah, welcome to Permies! We may be neighbors since I also live in Southern Missouri--almost within a stone's throw of Arkansas (Taney County, MO). Whereabouts are you? As for cob ... I always thought it was too humid here for cob, but it turns out it is not a problem except in the early drying stage (and you can always use fans). Check out this link ... http://www.housealive.org/faq The thing I wonder about is where in the heck you plan to get the soil you will need to make it! If your place is anything like ours, you will have a bumper crop of rocks, but very little of the stuff you need for cob. We have a few outcroppings of clay on part of our place, but not nearly enough for a house. (Well, not without considerable trouble excavating and hauling it anyway.) Our soil is only a couple of feet above bedrock at best--hopefully, you'll have better luck!
 
gardener
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Make sure you don't buy anyplace with building codes!
I'm having all kinds of stupid issues with them. Wish the land I bought (which I love) wasn't in city limits. My hedgerow is the city limits, I wish SO BAD I was on the other side of that fence.
I'm in Southern MO too
 
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Location: near Springfield, MO, USA
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Hi Sarah!

I actually don't know of anyone doing cob in the Ozarks. I have heard of it done in northern Missouri although I'm not sure how well it has held up over time.

I do, however, know of people building an earthbag tiny house. One near by me was built about 2 years ago, I have lost my contact info for that group but there seems to be a young couple willing to teach volunteers about this construction method. Here's there website which contains a "Contact" link for volunteers to learn. Good luck!

http://www.ozarkpermaculture.net/
 
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Hi Sarah, Cob is good to go anywhere as long as you have good high foundation and a good overhang. The only problem might be the farther north the harder to heat but there are ways to insulate. I think its the perfect building material because its non toxic and stays around 50% humidity all the time thus keeping a comfortable environment inside and good air quality. I'll bet we will be building with cob in Gods new earth.
  I bought some land in southern Mo. in Douglas county near Ava mo. I plan on building a cob house of sorts, Have to do more research but was thinking on a post and beam set the width of a pallet so pallets can be screwed to both sides of the post and the pallets being filled with cob. The space in between the pallets, the width of the post( maybe 4 inch posts) will be filled with a mixture of lime sawdust and maybe a little borax for bugs and fungus. I need to find out if the sawdust would retain too much moister being enclosed, They use it on cobwood houses. It will be more of a daub and wattle type. It will also have an earth roof but instead of earth I plan to use wood chips as they will soon turn to a light dirt and very insulative . Never seen any of this done before so its kinda experimental but sure it will work ok. Maybe if anyone in this area is interested in helping we could exchange labor or something.
 
Posts: 169
Location: The Arkansas Ozarks
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Hello all,

I am curious to know if there is someplace close to Beaver Lake in NW Arkansas that can find enough clay to build a cob house.  All we have is the most phenomenal draining rocky soil I have ever seen in my entire life.  I can't find enough clay around here to build a rocket stove.  Had to resort to buying fire clay.  I am not complaining mind you I had enough red clay in Maryland to last a lifetime the first 50 years of my life. I know that there are areas of north eastern Arkansa that are famous for their clay, but it doesn;t do me any good as the transportation cost would be exorbitant.  ;-)
 
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Hello all!

I am in south central MO also interested in building with cob. Have been wondering if a cob wofati is possible? From what I have read you just have to be sure and keep the water off of it so if you use a buried pond liner like a wofati to take the rain off and away from the structure I am thinking this is viable. I would not mind mixing materials like sort of wofati timber style on the buried exteriors and cob on the interior with a mixed timber/cob/stone exposed exterior front. Anyone currently building give me a shout I'd like to lend a hand for a weekend and see how things are being done.

As far as coming up with clay in the Ozarks I think this red stuff you find a little deeper has got to be rich in it. I am conducting the water jar test to see about that. When I mixed this red dirt with the water it turned a really great earthy orange color. still waiting for it to settle. I believe the difficulty in our area is going to be sifting out the rocks.
 
Pearl Sutton
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Jay Gore: If you have lots of rocks, rather than sifting them out as unwanted, consider working with them. Use the cob as surfacing on the inside and detailing, with the rock as the waterproof area? Just a thought. I'm not a fan of fighting too much with what is available. The rock is a resource, use it too :)
 
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Jay Gore wrote:Hello all!

I am in south central MO also interested in building with cob. Have been wondering if a cob wofati is possible? From what I have read you just have to be sure and keep the water off of it so if you use a buried pond liner like a wofati to take the rain off and away from the structure I am thinking this is viable. I would not mind mixing materials like sort of wofati timber style on the buried exteriors and cob on the interior with a mixed timber/cob/stone exposed exterior front. Anyone currently building give me a shout I'd like to lend a hand for a weekend and see how things are being done.

As far as coming up with clay in the Ozarks I think this red stuff you find a little deeper has got to be rich in it. I am conducting the water jar test to see about that. When I mixed this red dirt with the water it turned a really great earthy orange color. still waiting for it to settle. I believe the difficulty in our area is going to be sifting out the rocks.



How did the jar test go? Is there any reason you would be opposed to cedar cordwood? I too am in the Ozarks and feel the abundance of cedar and clay makes cordwood a viable option. I see lots of earth berm houses here and may incorporate that into my eventual design depending upon the countour of the land where I land.
 
Jay Gore
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I think the test is inconclusive. I'll have to do it again and use an actual glass jar. I had a water bottle in my car so I used that and it looks like its all clay but I don't think that can be right. I think the clay stuck to the plastic and messed up the test. Otherwise I just made cob in a water bottle. lol idk I'll get back to you.
 
Pearl Sutton
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Jay Gore wrote:I think the test is inconclusive. I'll have to do it again and use an actual glass jar. I had a water bottle in my car so I used that and it looks like its all clay but I don't think that can be right. I think the clay stuck to the plastic and messed up the test. Otherwise I just made cob in a water bottle. lol idk I'll get back to you.


Heh, you need straw or something to call it cob, you made pottery in a water bottle :D
You made me laugh :D
And in a lot of the Ozarks, rock and clay is what you get. It well could be all clay (with rocks.)
The land here came from old ocean bed, limestone and rocks mixed with fine slit. Any topsoil is more recent, any layered over the top of it.
 
Jay Gore
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yeah it needs a fiber matrix to be cob but I really expected there to be sand in there. When I took the sample it felt sandy in my hands. If it is the right ratio for cob will it stay mixed rather than settle into 2 layers? I haven't been out for another sample yet but the one on my desk just keeps getting a thicker layer of clear water on top and the rest just looks like orange clay.
IMG_20190202_103557986.jpg
[Thumbnail for IMG_20190202_103557986.jpg]
 
Pearl Sutton
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Whoo... you might have solid clay there. Get a better sample, do some of it that way, but do a batch just barely wet, and feel what it does when it dries most of the way out, does it feel slippery like clay? If you can go there when it's just rained, run your hands through the dirt, if it's all sticky and you are covered in horrifying muck, you have clay :) Be careful if you drive on clay soil, it's an utter bastard to get out of if you get stuck :D
 
Ralph Kettell
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Jay Gore wrote:yeah it needs a fiber matrix to be cob but I really expected there to be sand in there. When I took the sample it felt sandy in my hands. If it is the right ratio for cob will it stay mixed rather than settle into 2 layers? I haven't been out for another sample yet but the one on my desk just keeps getting a thicker layer of clear water on top and the rest just looks like orange clay.



Yep looks like clay.

No matter what the ratio, it will settle out.  Cob as useable for building does not have excess water in it, and that is why it has the consistency that it does.  If you take a soil sample and add a lot of water to it for a test and shake it up, it will eventually settle out whatever the constituent parts and ratios are therein.

Consider yourself fortunate, all I seem to find on my property is rocks, rocks and more rocks.

Sincerely,

Ralph
 
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