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ALL ABOUT EARTH BUILDING

Everything you need to know about making a house from the bounty of earth..... ..

A work in progress

Things i hope to fully cover in the future:

Cob - DONE

Strawbails

Strong Adobe

Mudbrick

Sod (Sod Roof, Living Roof, Grass Roof, sod house)

Rammed Earth

Underground Homes

Super Adobe

.....Log Cabbins

Cob and Straw & Adobe House

1000px-Ancient_Bam%2C_2002.png

Adobe building dated to 500BC

There are many ways to build a structual sound house by using mud, two of the most discussed ways are using Adobe|Mud Bricks or using straw bails as bricks and then essentially rendering the inside and then outside with Cob, These two methods we will be mainly discussing here but feel free to discuss other methods of "Earth" building. Cob houses if left to dry properly last for a amazing length of time and have proven to out last traditional homes, there are homes around the world that are still functional today 300 years later... made from simple adobe bricks.

A Simple Recipe:

The same recepe for Adobe bricks is also used for Cob rendering. The mixture consists of Sand / Clay Soil / Straw.

Mixing cob is very forgiving there is no real perfect ratio the earth tends to addapt, basically you want just a bit more sand then clay, and that's it.....

The sand stops the clayish soily muddy bricks from cracking once they dry out, I find using straw in bricks help with keeping cracked peices together, but i believe traditional adobe bricks have no straw, straw is invaluable for think rendering.

Traditionally all ingrediants would be added to a hole and the builder uses's there feet to mash and thoroughly mix the ingredients add water to achieve a clay like consistency, some soil will be wet and you will not need any water you do not want to over water your cob mixture.

cob%20mix1.jpg

Making Bricks:

If then making the Cob into bricks one can simply pack a "brick" mold made from wood with the mixture, compress it with hands, load the cob right in there, then take the mold off put that brick aside then go again, bricks need to be left in the sun with NO rain for 7 - 14 days.Adobe bricks have been created and work quite well only using Clay and Sand, The straw acts as a additional binding agent but isn't really necessarily when making bricks it only come's into its own when rendering for the straw assists the muddy mixture in sticking to the straw bails (or mud bricks) better.

adobe-brick-p4.jpgperu-trujillo-huacas-de-la-luna-adobe-brick.JPG

Making Plaster/Render:

If using the cob for rendering a strawbail wall or anything use imediatly and store airtight, if airtight storage cant be achieved simply remix the cob with a little water, remember the best way to mix is with your feet and you get a nice detoxing foot mask at the same time^_^.

Cob_balls.JPG

A Fun Simple DIY Weekend COB project:

A simple weekend project involving cob would be to make a cob lounge chair outside, simple design your chair using the "straw bails" size lego blocks, you can really let your imagination run wild including book shelf's and such inside the lounge, stack your bails in accordance to yoru design then render 1 good think layer onto the structor let dry then add a second think layor (for those who work in three's feel free to add a 3rd and let dry), the lounge can then be sprayed with a limewash or rendered with a lime plaster, rendered with a clay wash or simply left how it looks with the cob.

5163300431_41a878e8aa.jpg

Building a COB House:

First you must choose do you intend to build with Adobe bricks or with strawbails and a cob render.

You will also need to decide if you will stack your bricks or bails in a load bearing configuration or a non load bearing configuration, a load bearing stack is simply the above brick stacked in the middle of the two lower bricks like conventional brick laying.

When building a cob house the most important thing for one to consider is the foundation.

The other challenging part of the design process is the roof, for simplicity sake its highly recommended that you hand your mock up design over to a draftsman or even better a architect to draft the final design this will cost you about 30$ a hour including travel expenses, you will find many around Australia specialize in eco design, If you have trouble finding a architect i can refer you to one in northen NSW who has studied a lengthy eco-technology course in Arizona, US.

To build your design will have to meet all Australian building and State building codes, you will also need your designed singed of by a engineer, the local town planner of your shire will happily answer any questions and you will find they are all willing to help get a cob house created in there area's, most are rather exited about the idea.

Another option is to use sand bags filled with earth, stacked and then rendered with cob, much like the strawbail method, this is called "super adobe".

...TO BE CONTINUED

-V

Cob Pictures for Inspiration:

Some of my favorite ^_^ (You goto have a living roof!!, there to coool)....

cob-house-1.jpghildesoutsidefrontdoor-x01.jpgCobStudio2.jpgcob-house-living-room.jpg

cool-small-cob-house.jpg

3531827579_b8a013c7b8.jpgCob%20house%20side%20view.JPG

Great articial's on Cob houses:

House Plans:

Cob How To Videos:

More info:

And References:

This is a ongoing thread i will be adding more to it while i create my dwelling on my property

Consider it a place to store notes and disccuse methods.

So lets talk about earth building, starting with COB and adobe bricks,...

Do you like it?.. mud that is.

do you live in a cob house?

Do you plan on living in a cob house?

-V

Edited by vual
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Good read mate! Some of those houses looked freaking sweeeet

I like the couch idea to, might have to give it a try :)

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that is so interesting, thanks.

perhaps one day i might make one...

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Thanks guys,

Ya its a very interesting topic, cant wait to get started on mine.... so close...

Once i get plans drafted for NSW building codes and signed off by engineer i will upload them for free as like a "open source" home :)

Thanks for your links Ajna will be checking out the full length doco tonight, ill let you know how i find it.

-V

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Amazing thread guys... I'm looking at building a Cob home near Coffs Harbour, though am wondering about the building restrictions... so, vual, I would be very interested to see those NSW building codes!!!

Thanks :)

Edited by jack8thebeanstalk

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Plans will be released for free, but archatect cant come to propaty becuase it takes a long time in NSW to settle property, in QLD apparently real estate agents write there own contracts in NSW lawyers do it....

To get it approved you will need to take into consideration the soil type of where you are building it, termite protection, quake protection, bush fire protection and a few other things, basicly it dosnt matter what you build a home out of theres no special codes for earth buildings its just you must follow Australian Building Standards and you must follow NSW Building Codes, so Buy both books and do a online 2hr course to get your "Owner Builders Permit", then once you have plans that take into consideration the codes you present it to the town planer and building inspecter at the local shire.

You should first ring the local shire and talk to town planner and building inspecter tell them your plans they will help you.

NSW:

http://www.planning.nsw.gov.au/

http://housingcode.planning.nsw.gov.au/

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yea this subject has intrigued me for a while, having the opportunity to experiment with a building is the least of my worries. see my parents are lifelong hippies and want me to do something at the back of their joint and to tell you the truth im starting to get an itch. the problem is though the council laws etc..........if it was up to me i would just get the electricity and plumbing sorted then plonk down a shipping container or 2 or 3 then encase the shipping containers in large limestone blocks, if i needed windows i would just get a large brick cutter in grinder whatever, dig myself a few undergound tunnels and seems like ill mudbrick in a games room or extensions.

its the planning that does my head in, surely in this day and age you can still work as you go right (i know im wrong) seems like you have no option but to buy one of those generic dale alcock homes from some lame high school graduates lame scketch pad.

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yea this subject has intrigued me for a while, having the opportunity to experiment with a building is the least of my worries. see my parents are lifelong hippies and want me to do something at the back of their joint and to tell you the truth im starting to get an itch. the problem is though the council laws etc..........if it was up to me i would just get the electricity and plumbing sorted then plonk down a shipping container or 2 or 3 then encase the shipping containers in large limestone blocks, if i needed windows i would just get a large brick cutter in grinder whatever, dig myself a few undergound tunnels and seems like ill mudbrick in a games room or extensions.

its the planning that does my head in, surely in this day and age you can still work as you go right (i know im wrong) seems like you have no option but to buy one of those generic dale alcock homes from some lame high school graduates lame scketch pad.

council laws are nothing, it will take you a 10min phone call to find out anything you need, call the local council and ask them about duel occupancy give them your address or lot number, or simply stick a caravan up out the back thats a non permanent residence and dosnt need any "laws" to put up

You can also build "rural buildings / farm buildings and sheds" around most places without approval,simply just live in a shed, build a "COB and STRAW" shed at the back of your folks house and live in that

You can PLAN/BUILD As you go, simply get approval for a small tiny 1 bedroom cob house then once its approved build it, now for extensions you dont need approval so simply then extend your house to how you like..

Edited by vual

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thanks for the extra info vual, very interested to see how this all pans out for you

a strawbale/cob house down the back of my partner's parents place is a possibility we are looking at, the council approval/building codes stuff is where i'm stuck at as i imagine a 'build as i go' approach would suit me best. if there were no neighbours to dob us in i'd just do it, but it is in qld suburbia (large block tho) so that is a concern.

re termites - are your plans for load bearing cob walls or do you have a timber support? i've been told it's much harder to get a sign off without a more 'conventional' skeleton holding the place up, but then timber = termite concern.

we've looked at getting a yurt also, as a temporary dwelling we can dodge all the offical shit, and give us somewhere to live close while we work on the rest. but the models avail in oz i've seen have had pvc/polyvinyl coverings which are not what i'm after, and i'd prefer to do some courses and make my own, so yeh.....

anyway cheers for giving me a few more leads to look into, will help to get the ball rolling. do keep us updated!

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vual i downloaded my local councils list of things needed and it seems really hard just on paper to get approval. i cant than you enough for a really functional thread and i really hope you follow your plan in post one and continue on with veins you proposed.

ok, im fully into this and im quite amazed at the 500bc city in that picture, when you compare it with say english buildings of a similar ilk that 500bc city looks pristine in comparison to the atypical old grey brick look. which was what i was wondering? see my grandfather built his own house back in the 50's by his bare hand, it was in bayswater WA. i have no idea how he did it as i just never really cared as a teenybopper or young adult. it was floorboard and fibro i think. but i think thats a problem with our and future generations. in my gdads day they had less council restrictions but more to the point they just got off their ass and made a home for the family skills or not....they just did it. todays people myself included would rather just pay some freak to do work so that they can go to the cricket or football instead and most importantly pay 4 to 10 times the going rate on simple tasks such as the labour alone. thats where i see most of the money to build a planned dale alcocky home, on overpriced labour alone paying for a crew of brickys and roof tilers labour costs who in pure reality are probably no better workers than you or i at the worst of times. sure the paying house buyer thinks he saves on time and that is invaluable but he pays for that time with an average of half a million dollars which you have to pay off slaving in some crap job for the next 25 years at least. the only winners are the banks so im not suprised that councils are payed off or swayed by banks to promote buying a new house off a plan vs doing it yourself. its all cross promotion if you get my gist...no conspiricy just pure self serving greed and population harnessing through pure dollars projected in the future.

but i want to be different. really how many people aged 20-50 can really hang their head held high or even go to the grave in the knowledge that they just didnt but a generic quick built home off a marketed architect plan but instead built their own and not only saved 10's of thousands but actually can leave behind and physically create a legacy. legacy is dead these days if you ask me. people would rather get somebody else to do work for them while they waste away in the office or lounge chair.

however vual, if i had a free or cheap source of bricks, as in bricks of a house but of different colours and sizes would the cob house in regards to rendering or intermixing the two still be a good option or do you think its better to go cob or adobe all the way. i frequent junk yard i know and see building materials everywhere but im kinda leaning towards clay/earth making a brick mould myself just so im part of every granule, i think you may know what i mean.

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Hi santiago, i tottaly agree, It cant be tricky, i suggest you find a "cheap" draftsman who is into "alternative living" and offer them a "trade" (not sure your services). Stick a ad on gumtree/craigslist and you will be suprised i placed a ad and had many options some people offering to do it for just the cost of travel simply for the challange of getting it approved (honestly, i can forward you there address if you are building in New England NSW).

In regards to the other building tech's i have just ran out of time with uni work, so much to study....

If you had cheap/recycled bricks that would be great, its not all adobe but there are no rules, do what you like, its better then the bricks getting stuck in the ground as cheap land fill, just make sure to put your cob/adobe walls up on the side with the most sun so it can asorbe that preciouse energy and spread it around the house.

good luck

-v

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excellently inspiring vual ~ cob has the feel of home for many, when other forms seem dead. check out:

www.cobcottage.com

Edited by gwalchgwyn

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Very cool thread. Been reading about cob construction ever since.

Sure would be fun to make. A modern house is a rediculous expense. If u have a sParky and/or Plumber friend even better during construction for heads uP on how to build to accommodate electricity sewerage etc. the rest is totally do-able.

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I've been thinking about this for some time. I was considering creating a hybrid using plastic milk crates as structural support. (I know its illegal to pinch them) they are extremely strong interlock well and it s a pinch to get a hundred or so quick. That or Tyres and then fill and render the lot.

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interesting using plastic crates, how long would it takes for these to decompose??

Tyres have been done and prooven to be a great way to recycle them. I would lean towards tyres if you have access to them, i spose really it depends on what you have access to the most.

Edited by vual

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im building the chicken house out the back of my rental out of cob, with green roof.

as a pilot project. after i will attempt a larger 1-person house, then go all for it and a 5-person house, that's about 5-10 years away tho

if any1 wants step by step pics of the chicken house should I "keep you posted" here?

probly take me bout 4 months to finish it

:crux:

Edited by cyberPagan

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It'd be great to see your chook house come to life on these pages CyberPagan.

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