Okay, you either already know that cob is merely a lump of what would become a brick – if you dried it first – or you just found out. Clay, water and straw, like any other brick only the drying step is skipped – the ‘brick’ is laid while still wet.
The advantages are that your materials can be delivered onsite with a dump truck and unloading does not involve a forklift. Form can be traditional or free form – pretty much anything that you can think of, you can do with cob.
Disadvantages include longer build times (courses dry somewhat in place to allow the next to be laid – mind you a ‘course’ is two or three feet high) and really susceptible to water until the roof is safely on.
However, cob buildings have been successfully built in even the worst environments. There are location issues to be considered – no building material is perfect for every site – but on the whole, it’s cheap, easy to work with and durable as all get out once done and properly maintained.
Okay, enough boring stuff – let’s look at the pretty buildings!
Doesn’t look a thing like a giant mud pie, does it?
Okay, I grant the thatch roof isn’t passing code on our side of the pond – but it is pretty!
Kevin McCabe was actually the builder on the first two above – this is a repair job on an 18th century home he also did.
I like the frontal view on this one – obviously not quite finished in this picture.
Of course, we have to visit Cob Cottage.
This one is a traditional style that I love! Isn’t it gorgeous?
But since we have dropped by, we may as well tour the more imaginative side:
Nice combination of cob and wood – very inviting.
Okay, house as sculpture – nice relief.
A bit Hobbity for my taste – but to be honest, the snow clouds my judgment. Snow is evil! Still, a nice aesthetic.
Seriously, it’s a cute little structure and it’s wonderful that the homeowner got to build something that expresses the home owner’s personality. Not a thing wrong with that.
But yes, I keep wondering if the home owner’s last name is Baggins…
Well, we may as well visit the other ‘must see’ – Pinterest…
You know what – no. There are a thousand pics on Pinterest of site built cob structures ready for Bilbo and his buds to move into. There’s nothing wrong with that – if you’re gonna put in all that work you should danged well get a building that suits your fancy. But the Hobbiton crowd makes using cob look somewhat comical at times – nothing actually wrong with that either but it’s not the sustainable, economic and resalable model that can actually eliminate homelessness and break the strangle hold of rental in this country (USA – yeah, a lot of the pics above are UK – I’m so jealous!).
Let’s go back by Houz Buzz
That’s more like it – let’s take a peek inside!
Forget Bilbo – when can we move in?!
Seriously, it looks like something out of an architecture magazine – yet the ‘cob aesthetic’ is still reflected in the fireplace and divider wall.
And I grant ‘affordability’ went out the window with both the size and the interiors – but it gives a glimpse of the real possibilities of cob.
Real houses, comfortable to live in, inexpensive to build (as long as you don’t go crazy – true of most homes, huh?) – this has real potential as a material/method for the future as well as the past.
And if you have that do-it-yourself urge – and read a little too much Tolkien growing up…
After all – we all have a little whimsy in us!