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Looking to chat with fellow green builders

Jeffrey Raycroft

Joined: Nov 17, 2011
Posts: 4
Greetings folks! I have been interested in green building and more particular cob building since first stumbling onto the technique a few years ago. I have always wanted to have a place to call my own, somewhere to build a house, somewhere to grow food to sustain myself and share with others. I came across cob building a few years ago after looking into the costs of modern building and thinking that there surely must be some way for us to make building materials ourselves. At the time I had bricks in mind which led to finding Google results on adobe brick which led to a few other things which led to cob which made me smile.

Anyhow, I own a piece of land in New Brunswick which is where I intend to build. The build start date is still at best a year and a half away as funds and other things need to be sorted before I can get to the point of actually standing on the land and beginning. I would like to get to know and chat with a few other people though perhaps in the area or not who have either done this sort of thing before or who are planning on doing it. I think it would be immensely beneficial to myself and those I communicate with to bounce ideas off of one another and just generally have a good time chatting about building and anything else that might come up.

So please hit me up folks or leave a message so I can reply via email or whatever suits you fine. I am just looking for like minds to socialize with and share idaes.

Dale Hodgins

Joined: Jul 28, 2011
Posts: 5489
Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
Hi Jeffrey. We do most of our communication here in the forums so that the world can see. It seems to work most of the time.

I wonder if you've checked out cordwood cob. It would be faster and give better insulation value for your climate. The Internet has plenty of information. There's a cob building in Victoria which I've kept an eye on for 11 years. So far it's holding up very well through our damp winters.

Dale's picks - These are some of my favorite threads. Greed - http://www.permies.com/t/10736/md/unbridled-greed-ambition-compatible-permaculture My garden - http://www.permies.com/t/27910/projects/Dale-Day-Garden ethics - http://www.permies.com/t/11534/permaculture/frustration-ethics Good wood bad wood http://www.permies.com/t/12206/hugelkultur/Hugelkultur-Good-wood-Bad-wood Alder - http://www.permies.com/t/10609/plants/Alder-nitrogen-fixation-native-tree Bees - http://www.permies.com/t/10917/bees/time-replace-European-honey-bee Pulling nails - http://www.permies.com/t/10249/natural-building/Removing-nails-recycled-wood-techniques
Jeffrey Raycroft

Joined: Nov 17, 2011
Posts: 4
Thanks kindly for your response Dale. I have to admit that I have not looked into cordwood cob despite seeing the term come up in a few places. The topic of insulation is one which I have had a keen interest in and have received a myriad of advice about which makes things perhaps unnecessarily confusing. That is with regards to building only with cob however. I shall take an indepth look into cordwood cob as both the point of insulation and speed interest me. Thanks again for your post.
Patricia Ramirez

Joined: Aug 25, 2011
Posts: 19
Location: Sioux Lookout, ON
Hello Jeffrey. My wife and I spent this last summer building a cob studio in Northern Ontario. Just a small 85 sq.ft. building to get our feet wet with cob, and to see how it performs up here. Feel free to come by our website at www.billygoatsgruff.org where we have documented the entire building process.
Jeffrey Raycroft

Joined: Nov 17, 2011
Posts: 4
Thank you kindly for your post soulmatenlove McCoy. Really nice to see your studio in the construction phases. Your website is a valuable source of good information. I will be particularly interested to see how you find things through the approaching (and perhaps already present) colder weather. I shall be keeping an eye on your website. Thanks again for the reply and sharing the link.
Willow Aelfwine

Joined: Feb 25, 2011
Posts: 14
Location: Keirsteadville, New Brunswick
Cob is great for sustainable building but there are a few other techniques out there that have piqued my interest....one is superadobe (sandbag and barbed wire http://calearth.org/building-designs/what-is-superadobe.html ) and I'm going to give that a try this summer in our new place.

“Wow, look at the grass stains on my skin. I say, if you knees aren’t green by the end of the day, you ought to seriously re-examine your life.”
- Calvin and Hobbes
Kari Gunnlaugsson

Joined: Jun 22, 2011
Posts: 308
Hello, and good idea for a discussion. Things are a bit up in the air for me, but my build timing will probably be pretty close to yours.

Your climate is more moderate than mine, but it's still cold, and I have some real concerns about cob for building full time residences in the north, and the possibility of creating a pretty high impact home just through the long term energy requirements for heating. I do love the aesthetic though, and I'm thinking it might be possible to have the best of both worlds...

I have started looking at some ideas around insulated modified earthbag building. Some possibilities are scoria or pumice fill, but it changes the structural dynamics of it all a bit. Owen geiger's earthbag building blog has great free info and links on some insulated earthbag ideas.


For what it's worth, here's what i'm thinking in a nutshell:

- rough wood pole 'henge' supports reciprocal rafter roof
- wall structure is three or four rings of re-purposed metal grain bin, it is not load bearing
-external wall is insulated 'earthbag' tied to to the bin wall, i have found a source of recycled polystyrene to use for the fill...this will be earthplastered where exposed, and heavily bermed to the north
-internal wall is cob and earth plaster, probably 'keyed to the bin wall with chicken wire or such, this will give some thermal mass inside the insulation shell
roof insulation will be more bags of recycled polystyrene above the ceiling / reciprocal rafters, followed by felt, pond liner and green roof..
- heat is passive solar and rocket stove mass heater
- earthbag / rubble trench insulated shallow foundation, and insulated adobe floor

it should look hobbit house-y.....to get a reasonable living space i'll probably split a grain bin in two, to make two roundhouses joined by a very short earthbag vault...

'wing-nuts-R-us' i guess, but it seems like a reasonable solution for a low cost, warm, DIY dwelling...


Max Tanner

Joined: Feb 26, 2011
Posts: 90
Location: Ontario North and South - right now, moving North Permanently soon. Timmins Cochrane areas
post to keep track of this topic
I am building a few green structures soon, and this summer/fall so this is interesting to me


my wilderness return story and adveture
Chris Kott

Joined: Jan 25, 2012
Posts: 796
Location: Toronto, Ontario
Hi everyone,

I'd love to hear feedback, especially from anyone who's actually worked in them, on compressed earth block and rammed earth as construction materials and methods. I have been thinking that if these were creatively employed, one could, with a minimum of brick or tile shapes on a single press, either create any work of masonry one could imagine, or more practically, replace the structural timber elements of Paul Wheaton's WOFATI method with masonry that would last longer. I would think that it would be easier, as well, to pass any sort of municipal inquiry if one's building materials can easily be tested in the same manner as, say, masonry units are tested, and if the way the structure is put together is recognisable as something the inspector would've found in his reference manual. As to the issue of not freezing one's ass off in the best of winters in the chosen medium, I think many things can be done with, say, paper waste from printing and bindery shops (I just happen to work in a book bindery) as insulation, either bagging into batts treated with diatomaceous earth and employed as fiberglass batts in conventional housing, or in this case, as it would be half-buried (or more, I like hobbit holes), filling a trench between masonry and soil layers to below the frost line. If anyone can speak to any of this, I'd love to hear it.

Vern Faulkner

Joined: Jan 01, 2013
Posts: 35
Jeffrey Raycroft wrote:
Anyhow, I own a piece of land in New Brunswick which is where I intend to build.

subject: Looking to chat with fellow green builders