Cob Houses

My little brother, Stuart, has been given a grant from his college UNCA to build a cob building on the campus. Not long ago he and I ate supper together and he gave his proposal for building houses out of this old material.  What is cob? Well its a lot like Adobe houses that you find out west. There are a few things that make this different from Adobe. The inner walls are made with hay bales and then covered with clay. The roof can be made from several types of materials such as cut lumber or rough trees even a metal frame can be used.

My brother would like to start building these and improve his skills so that one day he can make them to live in. I think that it is an awesome idea. I will be working with his some to make these and I will get some good interview and documentary footage that will make its way here at some point.

Here are a couple images that I pulled from Google.  (These are not actually his work. Just examples)

cob house
Build a Cob House
Cob House
Outside Cob House
Cob House
Inside Cob House
Image from http://www.theyearofmud.com

Now I know what your are thinking … my brother is a major hippie and never showers and stinks like bo… well this is just not the case. He is at school for Music and Religion and is doing very well and I know that he takes a shower every now and then haha. When he was pitching this idea to me I told him that he needed to work this idea without looking like the Hippie and tree hugger. He needs to look like someone that is respectable and creditable. Some of the Cob Houses that I have looked at are very nice and I think that my brother will do well.

Stuart Brother
My Brother

 

Here is a little test that my brother has been doing. He does not have much time these days to work on this project due to school but at least he has started. These were made with clay and dirt from my parents house and with straw. After they dried out they were very firm. I can see why they would make a sturdy building material.

cob brick

9 thoughts on “Cob Houses

  1. I do not mean to be a disagreeable person but I think what your brother is building is a straw bail house, not cob. Cob houses are made of clay, sand, straw and water with no wood framing. Cob is mixed with your feet, made into balls and formed into the walls. So the walls are solid. Then a lime or milk plaster is applied over the mud walls. Straw bail homes have to have wood framing and then gone over with mud and then a plaster in applied. I will say that a straw bail house is much quicker to build than a cob house. Good Luck!

    1. Since this post my brother has been doing a lot of testing with cob. mixing the clay and straw with his feet. But to tell you the truth I dont think that he has been as motivated as I thought that he intended. You might be right. He might be doing some straw bail house. When I lived out west in New Mexico I saw a lot of the straw houses but I dont think that I have actually seen a true cob house before.

      Thank you for the comment.

    2. Hey there- actually cob houses can be made with wood framing or without- it just depends on the tastes of who is building it. Some codes require that you have some wood framing and allow you to fill the framing with the material of your choice including natural building methods like cob or straw bale. The cobs shown in the above photo are not straw bales, but cob does indeed include straw and you can see straw in the photos above- they are definitely not bales 🙂 I have some experience working with cob and also live in asheville- good luck to your brother, i would love to hear updates on his project! Peace

      1. Thank you for the info! My little brother has been finishing school and in the middle of getting married so he has not been working much with his ideas. He is still throwing around the idea of working with cob but he is also starting to look into tiny trailer houses. You never know with him. … Asheville is a nice place for building with non typical materials. People are understanding there.

  2. the diffrence: cob yes we all kno…mud clay and hey or straw even dried long grass works.
    Heybale: u take full bales of hey abd make a wall then cover it with pretty much a cob layer. adobe: is made with cob also but instead the make bricks out of the cob and then cover the bricks with yet snother layer of cob. i would love to see what your brother comes up either there are so many ways to get creative either this form of building. 🙂 have fun Yall!

    1. My brothers big plans have changed some as he has finished school and gotten married. He and his wife are planning more on the small house idea. 600 – 700sqf. He has gained so much music equipment that He would have to make a cob house the size of a football field to hold it all. haha. I would like to see him get back into a project like this but only time will tell. . . I lived in New Mexico for some time and I enjoyed getting to see the Adobe homes.

  3. I love these small houses. One thought, though. When I was selling insurance in Idaho there was a couple who built their own home using adobe with straw bale insulation and had a very difficult time getting it insured. And then there are building codes, even for tree houses and playhouses in one’s private backyard.

    Portland, Oregon is considering how to use tiny houses for the homeless. Good luck to you!

    1. I have grown fond of small houses too! there are so many issues with code right now. Its sad but I think that things can be worked around most of the time. In NC there is a new law that says hunting cabins and farm sheds are legal. so…. I am building a hunting cabin. haha

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