Friday, August 17, 2018
Building a (not corn) Cob House
When I first heard someone talk about building a cob house my first thought was, "Wow. That's gonna take a lot of corn cobs." I'm not alone. My friend thought the same thing the other day.
Cob in the way I'm using it is a mixture of about even parts clay and sand with some straw mixed in. No corn cobs needed. I won't get into the details of tensile strength and sand sieving right now. I just want to give a little introduction of what is to come, hopefully, for me at Dancing Rabbit.
Rabbits can and do build their own houses at DR. About 35 houses are inhabited with at least one if not two more possibly being worked on as you read this. Seriously. Right now, someone could be sticking their thumb into some cob being applied to a wall to merge it into some cob that is already on the wall. Think Play-doh on a liveable scale without getting yelled at for "getting it on everything." The idea is to get it on everything. It is everything. The whole house is made of clay and sand and straw cob.
Cob is strong.
It must hold its own weight plus any roof that is added. The walls are wider at the base, maybe around a foot wide, with a slight taper as they rise. Want extra strength? Curve the walls a little. Curves are stronger than straight lines.
Cob is easy.
In a technical sense, cob is easy. No special tools or seven year apprenticeship needed. It can be physically demanding, but take a lot of breaks and get some friends to help to spread the labor around.
Cob is cheap.
A few straw bales are about $10. If you have to buy sand, it's like $4 for 100 pounds. Clay? At DR, clay is free, because the soil is mostly clay. I'm going to track what it costs to build my house so I'll keep you posted. I'm shooting for it to cost less than the last Stickley recliner I bought.
Cob is pretty.
Cob can be sculpted like clay because it is largely clay. Want a salamander climbing the side of your house? Sculpt it. How about a built in tiki pole with a mouth that holds your bird watching binoculars. Sculpt it. How about outdoor seating to lounge on built right into your wall? You can sculpt it. A cob home is a work of art.
I'll begin helping on a strawbale house that will have cob-like plaster and perhaps other elements with cob beginning the first week of September so I'll keep you posted.