Guest Author - Debbie Striker
With the increased interest in creating more environmentally sound dwellings as well as a need for less expensive housing, building with cob is an intriguing method that satisfies both desires. Home owners can build their own homes with materials that are local and sustainable. Building with cob may be fairly labor intensive, but the rewards can be countless.
“Building with cob, a step-by-step guide” by Adam Weismann & Katy Bryce gives you an in-depth look at many of the items you need to consider when planning to build a cob home as well as the instructions on how to do it yourself.
The book includes 13 chapters packed with information.
Chapter 1 - Earth Building around the world
Natural building with the materials that are local and easily available has always been a popular choice. There are many earth buildings around the world. In this chapter the authors discuss the vast range of earth buildings and provide an outline of their history.
Chapter 2 - Site & Design
This chapter gives you some great tips about what to look for in a property as well as how to situate your home. It discusses things like the best way to capitalize on passive solar and other environmental considerations.
Chapter 3 - Identifying and testing soil
Knowing exactly what kind of soil you are working with is essential so that you can include the right materials in your cob mix.
Chapter 4 - How to make a cob mix
The fun part! Instructions on mixing cob with your feet are included as well as other methods which the authors have worked. Detailed information is included so you’ll know if your have it right.
Chapter 5 - Foundations
Any building is only as good as the foundation it is placed on. Included in this chapter is how to create the best possible foundation so your building can last for generations.
Chapter 6 - Building with cob
How exactly does all this mud turn into a structure? This chapter describes multiple ways to build as well as discussing drying times and other important details.
Chapter 7 - Roofs
For cob to stand the test of time, it needs a good roof. Different types of roofing choices are discussed including the option of creating a turf roof. Specific instructions for creating a living roof are included.
Chapter 8 - Insulation
This chapter discusses your different options and ways to make your home comfortable all year long. They recommend natural materials that are sustainable and renewable.
Chapter 9 - Lime & other natural finishes
Specific recipes are given to create natural finishes for your home. The tools and methods are described in wonderful detail.
Chapter 10 - Earthen floors
Yes, your floor can be dirt also. The method to create an earthen floor is mapped out in this chapter. Instructions on how to care for your flooring are included.
Chapter 11 - Cob fireplaces & earthen ovens
Not everyone will want to put the time and work into creating an entire home, but cob can also be utilized to create wonderful fireplaces and ovens. Varying styles of both are discussed as well as instructions on how to create them.
Chapter 12 - Restoration
In the UK there are many cob building that have stood the test of time and survived for hundreds of years. Some of these homes are in need of repair and the authors discuss the best ways to make those repairs. They also give you some ideas about what types of problems you are most likely to come across when working with an older cob home.
Chapter 13 - Planning permission & building regulations
Because this book was written in the UK, all of the information in this chapter is only valid for that area of the world. Different countries and even different states will have varying regulations. If you intend to build a cob home, it is always advisable to check with your local government officials to find out what you need to do to make sure your home is legal and complies with all building codes.
Overall, this book is a wonderful primer filled with great information. It also includes many full color photographs that provide both insight and inspiration. Cob building is a growing building medium that creates community as well as structures.