I just got and read the e-book from the more recent link in this thread. Really a topic I'm interested in! It's a decent overview of the general state of affairs with natural building and the code, but I didn't find it to be too in depth. I've read through a couple cob books cover to cover, skimmed through anything I could find at the library or bookstore, attended a workshop, and helped build a small backyard shed. For me, I didn't find much new info that's not in the books already. I felt there was more information in the book on why you would want to by bypass the code, and how to bypass it, rather than how to face it head-on if you so desire.
The PDF I received after purchase was only 10 pages, vs the 20 mentioned in the first post here, and it had way less region specific info, and no personal experience/anecdotes. Can't say it was the best investment I've made, but I'm happy to throw a few dollars at any involved in this stuff right now, and other material on that webpage is great.
I absolutely understand the trail blazers in this area had every reason to stay out of view as they figure out how everything works. But now that cob's been decently (re-)discovered in the modern age, I think it has potential to spread beyond the situations where people have an ability to do everything under the radar. There's plenty of examples of people building cob homes for thousands of dollars, and in some cases hundreds. Considering a modern home will most likely be in the hundreds of thousands ballpark, I think there's room to drop tens of thousands of dollars on permitting and engineering, and still come out way ahead financially going the cob route (ignoring all the other benefits of cob). Yes, it's absolutely ridiculous to spend more on permits and bureacracy than the actual activity, but I can only imagine that only has to happen a few times before things become easier for everyone.
I've come across a few references to people who have gone fully legit, but unfortunately nothing very detailed, but mostly its been 1-2 sentences at most, eg: "they got an experimental building permit", or "they paid to have an engineer stamp the plans". I'm curious about so much more, stuff like:
- How was the conversation initiated with the local building department
- Any shortcuts, anything to definitely mention, or definitely not mention
- Do you need to find and use "natural building" engineers, or will *any* engineer just need to be asked to use the properties of natural materials for standard calculations.
So far the closest thing I've found is these guys
I think they have absolutely the right idea, just hoping they keep getting more material up. I'm trying to learn as much as I can, and hopefully in the future will be able to contribute a tiny little drop of info to make it slightly easier for the next person.