Building My First Cob House

Cob House InteriorBelow is the timeline of my cob house construction, from designing to actually moving in. For more details about the actual cost of the home, and a “recipe” for building a cob house, please read my You Can Build This Cob House for $3000.

I had little prior building experience when I took on this project.

The Year of Mud: Cob Building Timeline

Over the winter of 2007-08, I decided I would build my own cob house.

By April 2008, I had a finalized design. The spiral-shaped home would be a single room dwelling, with a reciprocal living roof, a rocket stove connected to a heated cob bed, and earthen floor. I would install a single electrical outlet, but would forgo having a power system. The building would be constructed using materials obtained as locally and cheaply as possible. Few synthetic or manufactured materials would go into the building.

On April 19 of 2008, I began digging a rubble trench, and then setting the urbanite foundation.

Reciprocal Roof FrameOn May 19, the first batches of cob were mixed and applied to the completed urbanite foundation.

On August 31, after a long summer of stomping, building the cob walls was completed.

On September 18, the main reciprocal roof frame was built atop the walls.

By October 30, the cob walls met the roof (now fully decked, and with EPDM pond liner on top), the door and windows were installed, and the earthen floor was started.

2009: Wrapping Up

In March, the exterior earth plaster was put on the walls.

Building a Cob HouseIn April, the rocket stove was built along with a cob bed and bench.

In May, the living sod roof was completed, and the finish interior earthen plaster was applied.

In June , the finish earthen floor was completed.

And on July 11, I moved into GOBCOBATRON.

2010: Renovations and a Mud Room

In 2010, I decided to remove the rocket stove and cob bed, which did not work as expected. I installed a small wood stove instead, and sent the stovepipe through the living roof.

A small mud room addition was also added as an airlock, and as a space to keep muddy shoes.
Cob House Floor

2011: Yet More Changes

In 2011, it was clear that moisture was a significant concern that needed immediate attention. To alleviate, I dug a curtain drain to move excess water away from the house site.

I also deconstructed the earthen floor, and replaced it with a terracotta tile floor with insulation, and a vapor barrier underneath — a big improvement for indoor humidity.

Other changes included replacing the front window with an operable one, and doing a lime plaster design on the bottom half of the interior wall.

Stay Tuned For More Cob Building Stories

This is my first house. This is the year of mud. Follow this natural building resource with my new building documentation, building announcements, and how-to information about working with cob and other natural materials, including straw bale and timber framing. The adventure continues.

Gobcobatron Panorama