Monday, December 1, 2014

Cob House Update

November 2014 - Cob House Update 

My last post on the cob house was early in August, when we were still working on the foundation. Since then we've raised the inner walls up to the level of the outer stem walls (the part of the stone wall that rises above the ground), and have started to create the space for the door. However when it started raining in early November we found that we've had no dry periods long enough to lay down more cob. So the site is covered and we will probably have to wait until the end of the rainy season sometime in late March or April to make more cob. In the meantime we plan to gather more stones and build the foundation and stem walls for the second bedroom and the bathroom.

This is where we were at the end of July.

We still had to gather a lot of rocks, along the roadsides and creek beds. We'd traded our 1996 Peugeot in for a 2008 Fiat Uno - less trunk space but enough to carry a good load of rocks.

My son Victor helped out one Sunday afternoon, but he was disappointed that the rocks were so small.

Our neighbors - three generations - helped out with their pickup truck and a lot of good energy.

 Now we had a lot of rocks to choose from.
The stem walls started going up.

We used a mortar of earth and lime to hold the stones.
For first time stone builders we feel pretty good about our results.
Sofia and Kimberly prepare the first cob.

Now it's time to mix another batch. Kimberly brought the earth up from the pit, and Lisa, wielding the machete, cut the straw that gets mixed into the cob.

The other inside wall.

It was wonderful to have Sofia, Lisa and Kimberly help us get the cob walls started. Their energy and enthusiasm gave us a big boost. After they left Guy and I carried on.

We were blessed with the visit of a woofer (world wide organic farm volunteer), Hale from Turkey, who spent a week with us in September. Sofia and my granddaughter joined in on the weekend to make a cob.

Detail of the wall where the cob gets laid on the stem wall at the joint with the 
wall of the next room. Pieces of straw will help bind one wall to the other. 

We had to stop shortly after we reached this point, because of the heavy rains and high humidity. The space where the board lies is the opening for the door. 

And here you can see the outline of the second bedroom. We plan to work on the foundation and stem wall for this room and the joining bathroom while we await the rains to diminish some time in March or April.

Hopefully these photos give you a good idea of the simplicity of cob construction. It's work but something that everyone, old and young, can do, requiring very little in the way of tools and gadgets. Granted, when the walls get higher it will complicate matters, and we'll show you how we do it as we go along. Setting in the door and windows, laying the floor, and finishing the walls - all this lies ahead. So keep checking - it's a real adventure.

Construction inspector, Mr. Fofo, on the job.