The Pros and Cons of Cob Cottages; Building a Debt Free Home!
How would you like to build a debt free, inexpensive, beautiful home that you and your children could enjoy for..well forever? Let me introduce to you a building material that has been used for thousands of years, it's called Cob. You may have seen cob cottages before illustrated in children's fairy tale books. They cover the Irish landscape and have dotted the European countryside for millennium.
With all of the economic turmoil we are dealing with I wanted to bring to your attention a type of inexpensive housing that could really make a difference in a lot of people's lives. Just think what an improvement it would be if people could build their own homes for an average price of $10,000 to $15,000 dollars! And I'm not talking about some cardboard shack. It could revolutionize our economy! Just think of the economic prosperity if people were free of the financial burden of a mortgage!
It is my belief that Cob Cottages are the best kept secret out there. These cottages have been around for hundreds of years (some say thousands) and yet they are easy to build, last forever, and are virtually fireproof. Nevertheless, not very many people know about them and in some places you might even have trouble getting a building permit to build one (the establishment doesn't want anything that can be built by women and children that lasts forever). So my mission is to spread the word about the best kept secret in green building and that is the Whimsical Cob Cottage.
So what are the benefits of Cob Cottages?
- They are cute. If you've ever fantasized about having a fairy tale cottage in the woods you've probably imagined a cob cottage without knowing it. Cob cottages are those cute little Hansel and Gretel cottages from the fairy tale books. They are whimsical and inviting. Everything that an ugly boxed plain inhuman house in the suburbs is cob cottages are not. They can contain numerous nooks and crannies and can be sculpted into any shape imaginable. All that cob cottages require are a little imagination and magic fairy dust :)
- They are cheap cheap cheap. How cheap is mud, rocks, sand and straw? That's how cheap your house can be. Ok, ok you might have to hunt and gather some window pains and door knobs but the main construction of the house is mud, rocks, sand and straw. You can't get any cheaper than that and most of those ingredients can be found on the land that you are building the house on!
- Cob doesn't burn. Cob doesn't burn because the primary ingredients are mud, rocks and sand with some straw thrown in that is completely coated in mud rocks and sand. Have you ever seen mud, rocks or sand burning? Yeah, that's why cob houses don't burn.
- Insects wont eat cob. For the same reason that cob cottages don't burn, they aren't eaten by insects either. See # 3 above.
- They are warm in winter and cool in summer. They are warm in winter because the mud, rocks and sand hold the heat long after the source is gone. For the same reason they tend to stay cool in summer because they have excellent thermal mass. In fact cob has the highest thermal mass of any building material ever.
- You don't have to have an engineering degree to build one. They are easy to build, sort of like making giant mud pies. Ok, maybe a little more effort than that. But they are so easy to build that children can help and people who are not familiar with housing construction can build one. Any who can stomp mud can help build a cob house including seniors!
- They are green, they have no toxins and are completely natural. As far as I know, mud, rocks, straw and sand are the greenest things you can get, you can't get any greener. There are no chemicals, no led paint, no mold, no nothing. Cob is as natural as natural gets!
- They last for a very long time (some Cob houses are over 900 years old). People have been building with cob for hundreds of years (some say thousands). These houses are still standing. I wonder how long some of our suburban homes will last? Some modern houses fall apart after 30 years, cob homes will last for several generations and are easy to repair when they do need repairing.
- You don't need any special equipment to build one. Nope you don't need any fancy equipment, think about it...people built cob cottages way back when there was no fancy equipment and those houses are still standing, that alone should convince you. You don't need a table saw or hammers or nails and except for the roof you could probably build the whole thing yourself.
- They are quiet on the inside because of the thick walls. You can make the walls as thick as you want and most people do make them about 2 feet thick, because of that they are quite insulating and very quiet.
Ok, now for the Cons...there are only two:
They can take awhile to build because each layer has to dry. It might take you awhile to build your cob house especially if there are not very many of you. Since you are building it yourself and since each layer has to dry it can take an entire season to build..but considering all the pros I think that this one con is not too much of a stumbling block, you just have to plan well. Moreover, if you use straw-bales for your walls instead of just cob it will help you build faster.
- Some places you might have trouble with permits because municipalities aren't familiar with them. I have heard that some municipalities have given people trouble with permits because of cob. This is due mostly to ignorance as there aren't very many cob cottages in America (yet). I think as more and more people become educated about cob this will change but it is something you will have to check into before building.
And that's it, that's all of the cons. Cob homes are so beautiful and they have such a huge potential for enabling people to build their home without debt that I think the benefits out way the negatives by a huge margin. If you don't already have a home I hope you will consider building a cob cottage. I am.