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Patricia Ramirez

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since Aug 25, 2011
Sioux Lookout, ON
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Recent posts by Patricia Ramirez

Hello Brandon. I'll first say that I'm not sure if it will or not. But, it might shrink when it dries and pull itself away from the wood on it's own...maybe. I suppose what you could try is lining the inside of the box. Maybe with plastic wrap or foil? I don't think I'd use oil on the wood as it might have an affect on the cob's surface, and therefor, give you a false reading. Anyway, these are just some quick thoughts regarding your question.
6 years ago
cob
Jay C. touched on this as well, and I would like to stress the point of 'material location'. If you plan on gathering the materials, all by hand, then that in itself, is a labour of love. I remember driving out to the bush and loading the truck up with stone (for the stem wall). Then unloading it at the site. And then moving them a third time to put them in the wall. Three times we handled those stones! And sometimes it was half a dozen or more, depending how many times it took to make a good fit. The clay was dug up right on site, but we still had to move it around three times to get the final product. The rubble and sand were trucked in by a local landscaping company, so that was a nice break.

Your proposed building will be hard work for sure, more-so if you're gathering the materials by hand. But if you're like us, you wouldn't have it any other way, hehe.

(*SNAP* Next time, I'll have to remember to make note of my weight, before and after. That would have been great to know the first time!)
6 years ago
cob
Apology accepted on both counts.

I'm confident that not one of my comments are lucid or comprehensive. And I'm sure that anyone who reads them can tell that a layman has written them. All the comments I post come from my personal experiences and ideas, as well as information I have gathered. It is through these concepts that I have found cob to be a basic skill. (I will stress that I, a layman, have found making cob to be a basic skill, in my opinion.) I read up on it, performed simple tests with different mixes until I found a satisfactory combination. I then decided on a method of mixing the ingredients that worked for me. The end result was a substance that I would call cob. The whole process it took to make my cob, I feel, is basic.

Now to use this cob structurally and effectively, in a building, I agree is not basic at all. And to be sure a building that is built with cob is sound and safe, I feel, can only be accomplished through engineering and a consistent cob-mix. To do otherwise is risky business.

I'm in awe at those who say building a house, of any kind, is simple and easy. Personally, I find house building to be very difficult and challenging.

But if others are like us, and willing to pioneer and explore cob and it's construction capabilities, I will not dissuade you, but only warn you to expect failures... minor and catastrophic.
6 years ago
cob
As stated by Jay C.:

So in closing Daniel, you are going to have to learn to play this game, learn more than you probably expected you would have to, and be prepared to loose everything if you "buck the system" in the wrong way, at the wrong time, with the wrong "official" types.



I couldn't have said it any better. And like Jay C. says, get yourself an engineer. He/She will make the process so much easier.

I'd also like to note, Brian, that the $16k figure, while it being about right for that area, is quite high in comparison to other places. Your building department should be able to give you a quick estimate of the fees over the phone.
6 years ago
cob
I don't think anyone has commented on the location yet. Cob can definitly take advantage of the sunlight and you'll probably have to burn more wood to compensate for it, but I don't think the lack of sun is going to be your deciding factor. Going with an insulated home is your safest bet. There's loads of data and better control in regards to the interior environment of your house. But if there are factors that require you to use cob, then I say go ahead and use cob. Will it be warm and dry enough for your likeing? It's a risky bet, but currently there's really only one way to find out..., call yourself a pioneer and build it!

I've read cordwood does well in New York. It might be a viable option and may even get some solid data to start with.

Here's a website:
cordwoodmasonry dot com
6 years ago
cob
Jay C., thanks for your comment.

I was misleading and my post was incomplete. With our plans to homestead, and with less-than-desired amount of money, we will most likely turn to utilizing locally harvested materials to build our home. With our combined skill sets and ideas on what our home needs to do for us, cob seems to be the best fit.

"working just fine" as I had broadly stated, is most definitely subjective. "worked" is probably a better fitting description. Thermal mass (log and stone) buildings were built over and over again for many reasons, including the fact that they worked. With the available materials and construction methods of that time, thermal mass buildings suited the needs of many folk. It just worked. And I am compelled to believe that they would even say it worked well, if not great!

I don't know if I used 'specialized skill' in the wrong context, but I think we can agree to disagree on this notion. When building our cob building I was more than happy to receive help from others to build the cob walls. Experienced or not, they could build the wall, the same way I would, with minimal instruction. I've never built a stone or log building, but I don't think an unexperienced person could do it properly. Cob is very forgiving in it's construction. I can't say the same for stone and log. True, there are a lot of things in cob buildings, as a whole, that do require a higher degree of skill and know-how, so I don't believe just anyone should build one. But building with cob, in itself, is pretty basic.

There are a lot of good thinkers out there trying to find different ways of dealing with the drawbacks of cob. Some of those ideas, I believe, are so different that I would no longer call it cob. My view is, there is nothing wrong with cob. To live in a cob house this far up north, I'm expecting to be uncomfortably cold. If being cold was unacceptable, then I simply wouldn't build with it, and would recommend that others do the same.

Like Brian H. had said, there just isn't any info regarding cob and cold weather. Overall, I'm pretty confident cob will work in cold climates, it's just a matter of it meeting each individuals specific wants and needs. Which is exactly why we are testing it out. Also, due to your (Jay C.) comment on condensation, I will definitely be watching for this more closely. I assumed it wouldn't be a huge issue, but if it concerns a man of your position, then I had better take note.

Thanks again Jay C.
6 years ago
cob
Thanks for the input Dale. Although we weren't able to 'live' in this cob building, we did monitor it throughout the four seasons. In winter, the snow sheds off the roof really well (too well in my opinion). The picture is a little misleading in that the snow is not up against the wall at all. It's the accumulation of the roof-shed snow, which is about 2' from the wall. Some of the snow did sluff off the berm and into the wall but, at most, it was only about 4" high. So it never got to the height of the cob.

Believe it or not, we are still getting backsplash on the cob. Most of the time it's not enough to worry about, but towards the end of winter, when the berms are about waist high, it starts getting warm enough to melt snow on the roof. The water that runs off, hits the berm and splashes the wall. I'd like to leave the berms as they are because I think they deter snow drifts from piling up agains the wall, but due to the backsplashing I may have to knock them down, at least part-way.

Good eye on the sides of the doors. We did get some slight erosion on the cob, from the water. It wasn't due to direct rain, but from poor construction on my husbands part. The dormer, at the lower corners weren't properly made up which permited water runoff to dribble below the roof and drip right onto the cob. He has since fixed this issue.

We are very aware of the dangerous metal roof edges and corners. We still need to install metal trim around the entire building, but I think the corners at the door still need additional protection. Possibly posts coming straight down? Or pony walls on each side of the door? Not sure yet.
6 years ago
We incorporated a trombe wall into our cob cottage. Our design features three vent holes at the top and bottom of the south facing wall minus the black backing (just never got around to finishing it). The photos included is of the final natural plaster coat we put on this summer without the glass window attached. And the second photo is of the window attached (no plaster) this photo is about 2 yrs old. Since we don't live in the cob and the trombe wall has not been completely finished we can not tell if there are any benefits. But I could feel the pressure of cool air coming through the bottom vents in the summer. Never thought of using firewood stacked in front of or inside of the trombe wall.
6 years ago
You're right Brian, there isn't much info out there about cob and cold climates. So the only way we could get the info, is to find it through experience. We built a small cob building to see how it performed up here in Northern Ontario. We planned on temporarily living in it throughout the winter, but the building department wouldn't have it. So regrettably, I can't comment on it's performance of having a continuous heat source inside while the temperature is below freezing on the outside. We plan on building our home with cob, but not until we give this smaller version a go. We plan on visiting our cob building. When I say visiting, I mean staying there for a couple of weeks (not living), and getting the heat turned up.

The 'Why?' question is a good one. But I also ask myself, 'Why not?'. Up until stick-framing, log and stone houses was the norm in this area. Both utilize thermal mass, and they worked just fine. But they require a specialized skill in order to build them properly. I wouldn't call cobbing a specialized skill. There are oodles of reasons of 'why' we want to build with cob, but we can't find one 'why not'. Sure, a design utilizing insulation will provide an even steady temperature, but for us, we appreciate an ever-changing temp. So a question regarding heat falls into the 'why' category. But we can't jump to any conclusions, which is why we want to perform this test.

There are many things that can be designed into a cob building to 'help' take advantage of it's thermal mass, but it will no way, as far as I can tell up here in the North, be comparable to a building that utilizes insulation. If you're curious if a thermal mass building works in cold climates, try to find a log or stone cottage, and give it a whirl. There are some differences with cob, but in regards to thermal mass, not many. As far as condensation goes, a fire will pull moisture out of the air, and an open (cracked) window should help as well. I think condensation will happen, especially when cooking. But as long as any moisture that ends up in the cob has a chance to dry, say throughout the night, then all should be fine. We'll find out on our test run, and make note of it on the website.
6 years ago
cob
Len,

The square footage is the same here in Ontario, ... in square meters, and like you said, is just over 100sqft. I made the interior dimensions at 8x10 hoping that the square footage was taken using the 'usable space' (That's how we did it in AZ). I was wrong. The walls were 1' thick, which made the overall dimensions 10x12. Naturally, the cob building caught the attention of the building department. He came out with a tape measure and determined it was big enough to require a permit. So yeah, be safe and go with the outside dimensions if you don't want to apply for a building permit.

Thanks for adding us to your 'watch list'. We have since moved to the city (temporarily), so there won't be a whole lot going on within our website. But we'll keep posting odd homesteading things whenever we do something we think is interesting. We did plaster the cob building with an earthen plaster, and documented it. But we have yet to get it all loaded up on our site. That should be there very soon though.
6 years ago
cob