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Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by Ang in AZ, Mar 26, 2005.
looking for any info on small 200sq ft maybe with a loft design,
We're also looking into cob buildings, and cob/cordwood hybrids. We have the book "Hand Sculpted House" that is considered the "bible" for cob building. These are the folks who run Cob Cottage Company here in Oregon. It's a very good book, though they really gloss over the building code issues. In fact, their advice is akin to "don't ask, don't tell." We're trying to figure out how we're going to circumvent our own code issues, ourselves as the counties in which we're looking are very leery of anything that isn't either stick built or manufactured. (A pity, if you ask me.)
I'd think a solid, ergonomic and healthy building (whether on the funky side or more "mainstream" in appearance) made from natural, renewable resources would be looked upon more favorably than boxy, toxic, airtight manufactured homes, or ugly-butt mobiles that fall apart after a decade or two. But nooooo.
If you are looking for somebody to advise you, or for workshops, I'd contact the Cob Cottage folks. They train apprentices who then go out and start their own workshops or contracting services. I'm sure you could find somebody who will agree to be as hands-on (or purely advisory) as you'd want. You may even be able to arrange to host a workshop, where you'll likely agree to provide camping/bathroom facilities and possibly food in exchange for a week or so of supervised labor. Usually, though, workshop hosts are required to be former workshop students. This is the route we might take, ourselves.
Strawbale, from what I've gathered, does best in drier climates, but I'm not as confident in that style of building due to issues people have had with mold. I'm sure that if the builder is EXTREMELY meticulous with selecting bales, plasters and designing proper circulation, etc., you could be fine if you're in a desert region. Of course, with all natural building, you need to be sure to have proper eaves, foundation and drainage to protect your wall surfaces from water and potential erosion.
Hand Sculpted House
Cob Cottage Company
I'm excited to read more and more posts from forum members interested in these building methods. As we grow closer to realizing our own goals and dreams, we really hope to be able to have as much insight as possible.
As for cob/strawbale specific forums, I haven't yet found any; if you do find one, please let us know! And by all means, please share your adventure with the forum.
By the way---usually with a smaller cottage such as the one you propose, you can get by with calling it an "outbuilding" as long as it doesn't have a kitchen.
And 200 square feet, thoguh it may seem really small for a square building, is far more spacious in a roundish building. More usable space per "round" foot.
There's a Yahoogroups list called LittleHouses. I know there are lists for cob and strawbale, too, but it has been a while since I looked at them. My strawbale house book is loaned out to a friend from church, and our pastor has my cob building book! I checked with our county building department last year, and if I can get an engineer to sign off on my plans for a cob house, they'll give me a building permit. Finding the engineer might be the hard part . . . however . . . Pastor's son-in-law is an engineer . . . . so it might not be all that hard, after all!! Local building department is also okay with composting toilets and graywater systems. Move to Klamath County!
I understand that it's a lot easier to get permission for a bar area in an outbuilding than for a kitchen. Surprisingly, bars need sinks, cupboards, refrigerators, maybe a small stove to heat things like Irish Coffee - or even snacks....
I don't know how well it would work in a colder climate, but in hotter areas it's not at all unusual to build smaller buildings as necessary - one or two rooms at a time, adjoining. You rapidly ramp up to a sizeable area under cover. If you put them face-to-face, with what amounted to a hall between the doors of facing out-buildings, lean-to roof filling the gap, then just used cob to fill in the ends of the "hall"....
Here's some discussion groups that may be helpful:
So where do you get cobs?
Here they are all chopped into sileage I think.
Where in AZ are you? Tuscon has classes on building straw bale homes. I believe they erect one as a class progect. Actually, they are no cheaper than a stick built home after you get the flooring (bales must be off the ground on something that doesn't rot), framing and larger roof due to overhang, again to keep bales dry, plus the interior and exterior coating on the bales. What is good about them, is the high insulation factor. I live in Northern AZ - Show Low area. Sally
Cob is basically the same thing as adobe, only not made into bricks. Building with cob is like building sand castles!
Here is a cob house in BC Canada.
any of you interested ihave a copy of becky bees cob book for sale pm me
If you want to know about traditional English cob structures and techniques give me a shout and I'll point you to a few areas and answer any question you have on the topic. Otherwise if you're interested in modern US cob and all that entails then the links and books provided are good sources.
Cob is a great building material if approached correctly. I think most of the "modern" approaches are hamstrung from the beginning by forcing cob into a philosophical mold not dealt with as a simple building structure regardless of the belief system of the owner/builder. Because of this most of the information within these sites and books are deeply flawed in many areas.
Best of luck in finding what you need. Cob structures (as well as many thermal mass building techniques) are wonderful things and can really create a sense of home not found in stick build properties.
Thatch, what do you see as the flaws in 'modern' cob construction? Could you point me to the information you mentioned?
Also, just as a FYI for anyone who is interested, Becky Bee's cob building handbook is available on-line. I think I saved it -- it's too late at night to look up the link, though. A search should turn it up.
Could you refer me to all the web sites that have information regarding English cob. Also any books, etc.
KC That is my FAVORITE house!!! I have it on my desktop at work!
Becky Bee's book on cob is good too.
I, too, would like links to the cob methods you favor, Thatch. I'd PM you, but I'm betting there are others who'd chime in. Could you post them on this thread?
I found the link to The Cob Builders Handbook. It's http://www.weblife.org/cob/ but it only gives the first few chapters of the book.
Here is one I've been looking at http://www.balewatch.com/ hope there is something on there you like Later Matt