Cob building is a form of building that combines clay, straw and sand into a very malleable structure that can be sculpted at will. One can build houses, walls, outdoor or indoor ovens, benches, and pretty much anything you want to build with it. It has structural integrity because of the straw. One can see cob structures built in the 1500’s still in use in England, and much older examples elsewhere around the world. The house below has tapering walls that are sometimes more than two feet thick at the bottom. This is what offers structural support.
We love the creative potential of cob building. It truly is a medium for artists.
Can you build with cob in Florida? Absolutely! Building in the dry season is preferable when working with natural building materials. And keeping the structure off the ground and potential flooding with stones or earthbags is also important.
Is it legal? Yes, as long as your structural support can be permitted – timber frame or other accepted structural support can be used, with cob being used for the walls.
There is nothing like the warmth of living in a shelter made from the earth. Radiant heat and cooling from the walls feels really good on the skin. The earth provides healing instead of the toxic off-gassing one gets from modern construction. Our favorite herb lady, Willow, said this about natural building, “It’s like living in a hug.” We can relate 🙂
We include hands on basic cob building in our Urban Permaculture Design Course and built environment workshops (see our courses page for more info), and plan to build what we believe will be the first cob oven in the Tampa Bay area, soon! We love cob!