Pat's First Cob (1998)
This was Patrick's first cob project on his own after taking a one week workshop with Cob Cottage Company (CCC) in 1997. He built the foundation and then used beach logs for the frame. CCC then taught a 2 week course, after which Patrick finished the walls and roof. Tracy and Patrick did the plastering. The budget for the project was $1,000. The 3 B's (beg, borrow and barter) came into play here. The cabin is 240 sq.ft. and is permitted as a studio.
Hilde's Cob (1999)
The major construction of this cob was completed in the summer of 1999. Pat had the excavation and foundation ready for a 3 week workshop led by Ianto Evans and Elke Cole of CCC. The roof was on by fall and the following spring saw the interior finishing completed by Tracy, Elke and Patrick. Hilde's project was the first cob fully permitted as a house in Canada. The roof is totally load bearing on the cob walls. The house is 600 sq.ft on 2 floors and is fully plumbed and wired. Finished cob and roof construction costs were approximately $56,000.
Garden Cob (2002)
Elke and Patrick built the Garden Cob during an 8 week apprenticeship course. We had 8 eager participants of whom 5 went on to build and teach cob. It was permitted as a Cobworks office. Elke did the finishing plaster, earthen floors and kitchen in exchange for 3 years rent. It is 500 sq.ft. and the construction costs were approximately $18,000.
Christina's Cob (2002-2004)
There are 3 separate cob projects on this site. The garden wall and gate were made during a 4-day course led by Kit and Tracy. The beautiful cabin was a contract project led by Tracy and a small crew of paid cobbers. It is about 240 sq.ft including the framed-in sleeping loft upstairs. During the third workshop, the oven, covered seating area and arched entranceway were added.
Kate's Cob (2003)
Kate's cob is our largest cob house project to date. It is 1200 sq.ft (big by cob standards, but small by North American averages). Patrick taught a 3 week workshop in July and had the roof on by September. Interior work continued into the fall and Tracy worked her plastering magic the following spring. Kate and her 3 daughters did much of the finishing work to keep the overall cost down. The final construction costs were just over $100,000 ($84 per square foot).
Deaconvale Farm Cob (2005)
Tracy and Patrick were the instructors for this intensive 9 week, 9 person apprenticeship program. The 800 sq.ft. cob is buried into the hillside on a 90 acre organic farm. All of the stone for the back wall and foundation was gathered on the farm (2 loads every day). The stonework took 2 weeks to complete. The logs were also harvested and milled on the farm. The rough-in plumbing and wiring were installed by participants along with a Rumford fireplace and earthen floor. The living roof was completed on the last day of the course. Tracy and company returned the following year and plastered the interior and exterior. The homeowners continued the finishing work and did a beautiful job with the cabinets, plumbing, wiring and woodwork. An exterior cob shower/composting toilet was later added. The total cost was approximately $48,000.
Lee's Courtyard (2000-2001)
This courtyard was 2 separate workshops over 2 summers. The owners wanted a "Touch of Tuscany". We originally used slate tiles for the roof on the wall but it did not allow enough coverage to protect against rain. The following year the tiles were replaced with cedar shingles, which provide the necessary overhang. This site is exposed to a lot of winter winds and rain blowing uphill. The owners now tarp the wall to for maximium protection during the winter months. The majority of the stonework (fountain, herb garden and walkway) was done by Kit and Patrick.
Charles' Cob (2001)
Charles wanted to use only materials from his site. He supplied sand, clay, stone, logs and lumber. This was a 2 week workshop led by Tracy, Elke and Patrick. The cabin is 500 sq.ft including the large sleeping loft. It took 4 month to complete. The total price was approximately $18,000. The adjacent cob bath house is a smaller version of the main cabin and was created begun during a 1-week workshop the following year led by Elke Cole.
Blacksmith Shop (2001)
This where Patrick and Kit were working on September 11th. Cobbing seemed to be the most sensible and sane thing we could do on that day. The owner was an 80-year-old retired Welsh doctor who had split all of the rocks and premade the foundation before approaching Patrick for a price to build cob walls and put the roof on. (The owner had also split the shakes for the roof himself!) For the 230 sq ft. walls and roof Patrick estimated $2800. It took 6 days with a small paid crew, some volunteers and mortar mixer.
Community Garden (2004)
This little garden shed was built at the Community Centre on Mayne Island during a 4-day workshop. It poured rain the first day, but our strong and determined group of 7 female participants still had the roof on by the last day! It is a beautiful little structure in a most delightful setting.
Tracy's Straw bale and Cob (2003-2006)
I built this home for resale and to exercise both my artist and building skills. Over the four building seasons we had a 2 month " straw bale and carpentry' course and two weekend courses. Myself and Michael Muenzer did most of the work but there were many many people whom helped and learned throughout the building's creation. My appreciation and thanks goes out to you all.
The house is an extrior wrap, to a 6x6 and 6x8 post and beam structure. The north and east walls are straw bale. The west wall,entry room and interior curved wall are straw clay. All the interior plasters are clay based and the exterior is lime and letima.
The house is heated with electric boiler radiant floor heat. Just about every piece of wood has been hand milled and the cabinets are made with antique panelling from my original family home.
Building this home was truly a labour of love and an incredible experience and I hope the new owners are soaking up all the good vibrations.
- Tracy Calvert
These pictures are from our 9 week apprenticeship at Deaconvale Farm. The entire building [800 square feet] was built during the course. This included building and installing:
- drain tile
- rock back wall and foundation
- all the cob walls
- doors and windows
- peeling logs
- post and beam frame
- roof and cardboard insulation
- rough in plumbing and wiring
It was an amazing project with a fantastic group of participants, volunteers, and owners.
These photos are from one of our many seasonal workshops in Baja. The finished house was a culmination of several workshop over 3 years for the family of José Juan and Yadi Transviña of Rancho Tezàl, San Bartolo, B.C.S. At the beginning of our negotiations with the family, Yadi was concerned that her neighbours would laugh at them for living in a mud house. Now they all want a cob house. It was a great exercise is using local and inexpensive materials in a totally different culture.
Other Cobs we Know and Love
This is a group of photos taken at the North American School for Natural Building in Coquille, Oregon. Many thanks to Linda Smiley and Ianto Evans of Cob Cottage Company, my mentors.
*We included construction cost approximations to help give a "ball park" idea. Every cob project is different and costs vary widely depending on such factors as how much the homeowners are willing to contribute labour, current material costs, availability of recycled or found materials etc. etc. etc. The construction costs given above are for the completed cob house only. Not included are ancillary expenses such as septic, well, permits, excavation and bringing power to the site. Prices are in Canadian dollars.