Cob houses are possibly the best building solution in the world. There are incredible benefits to building with cob. Cob houses are an inexpensive, energy-efficient and Earth friendly alternative to more the more common construction materials used in the United States. Earth is one of the most common building materials used in the rest of the world.
Cob is created by kneading together of clay, sand and straw with your hands, and stomping it into place with your feet.The straw adds tensile strength and binds the materials together for a strong structure. It is then left to sun-dry. It is also a very versatile building material, and easy to build with. Just about any shape can be created with cob. You can create organic curving shapes, niches and arches, making unusual and beautiful houses. Cob can be easily remodeled or added on to, since it can be cut and re-molded even after drying. The walls are strong and self-supporting, being one to two feet thick. When dry, it is nearly as strong as concrete. These thick walls are also insulating, keeping your house cool in summer and warm in the winter.
Cob is an inexpensive way to build. Some of the materials you may even be able to find for free. Clay, sand and straw are cheap and abundant throughout the world. Construction doesn’t use up precious resources or cause pollution. You don’t even need electricity or power tools. The components of cob are recyclable and non-toxic, making it even better for the environment.
The walls are resistant to nearly all weather conditions, even rain. In extremely rainy areas, however, the walls can eventually erode, so steps should be taken to protect them. A form of plaster is often used to protect the outer walls. A concrete foundation should be used in rainy ares like the Pacific Northwest, as well as overhangs to keep more water away from the house.A well-built house could stay intact for hundreds of years. Cob can be used in all but the coldest regions. Cob houses are also fire-proof and quake-proof. You can build fireplaces, chimneys and ovens using this material.
One third of the world’s population uses earth as a building material. In fact, these building materials have been commonly used for thousands of years by people from all parts of the globe. Yet in the West it is unusual. The skill of building with cob has nearly died out. Perhaps if more of us would use earth-based construction like rammed earth, adobe and cob, our less-abundant natural resources wouldn’t be wasted. You can do your part to help preserve our natural resources while living in a natural and beautiful home you made with your own hands.