Thank you for sharing so much great information with the public. My family and I are excited about potentially building a cob house. We live in Arizona and are considering two very different areas in Arizona to build. Can you tell me if either or both places will work for cob? We have our eye on the Williams/Flagstaff area and Maricopa, Arizona. Some sites say that the Flagstaff area has a few nights that are below freezing every year. Plus, it gets a lot of snow. Maricopa, Arizona can get really hot, getting up to 121 degrees F. Would we need to insulate in either area or would building thicker walls take care of the challenge? What kind of roof should we use in each area? If we have a wood stove and fireplace in Flagstaff or Maricopa, would we need to include central heat/air in the build? We want to make the building process as affordable and sustainable as possible, but at the same time build with a realistic expectation.
Hi.. I have lived in Arizona..... I would build a post and beam framework with straw bale infill... then plaster the inside and outside of the bales with about 1 1/2"- 2" of straw/adobe mix (cob)...... this is very good insulation for cold, (Flagstaff can get down below zero degrees and several months below freezing)..... and it is great for insulating against the heat...... (Maricopa is over one hundred degrees for several months each year)....... If I was to live in Arizona again... I would live between 4,000- 5,000 ft elevation.... milder summers and milder winters.... We built a post & bean... straw bale infill... earth/straw plaster little house (350 sq. ft.)... for $5,000 ..... We wish you the best in what ever you do... Sunny photos attached of our hobbit house;
Well E-D...... It took 4 months to build by myself ...age 70...... we put in an earthen floor (adobe with finely chopped straw).....two and a half inches thick over packed earth... no insulation or vapor barrier underneath .... then troweled smooth...... and treated with natural oils (bioshield hard oil #9)...... then waxed.... It is holding up real good...... no foundation... just 18" of local stones mortared together with cement, sitting on the ground... rebar coming up into the center of the bales from the stones.....I saw 100+ year old adobe houses around here that have no foundation, just dry stacked stones for those heavy, thick adobe walls to sit on... they are doing just fine after a 100+ years.... so I thought I would build without a foundation... who cares if it was to settle some and create some cracks... simply patch them with more mud..... simple, natural, building.... found all over the world, in third world countries...... where they live lightly on the Earth, with very little money.... Best to you.... Sunny
Happy to hear about the earthen floor, it is exactly what we want to do. Do you think it would be better to create a fireplace out of cob, install a Benjamin Franklin type stove, or do both? Did you create any built-in seating with the adobe mix or niches...just wondering how hard it is to work with? If you don't mind me asking...have you had any problems with rodents in the straw bales? Most everything I have read on the internet says to make sure to cover the bales with cob and not leave any holes or cracks to avoid problems, but it would be great to hear from someone who is currently living in this type of sustainable home.
Location: SW New Mexico, 5300'elevation, 18" precip
NO we do not have any rodent or bug problems in the straw bales... because we have about 2" of cob sealing both sides inside and out... going down onto and covering the rocks 3-4 "......(it is hard as a rock).....If you know how to design a fireplace that doesn't smoke back into the house when you have strong cross winds across the top of the chimney..... and you design it so it reflects MOST of the heat out into the room (instead of up the chimney).... then you could build the fire box out of fire brick and furnace cement.... then surround it with cob or stone masonry. I build 'Rumford' style fireplace this way.... they are shallow and the lintel is high... so you see the flame... and it radiates a lot of heat........ and the smoke shelf is designed so there is never any back draft (smoke in the room)..... the simplest way would be to use a well built air tight metal wood stove with a glass window... then cover all of it with stonework, except the top (for cooking) and the front door (for loading and viewing).... the stones absorb the heat... releasing slowly at night after the fire is out...... no I didn't build benches or nooks or shelves into the structure.. because we wanted to be able to move the living arrangement around as we lived in the house over time..
I did some adobe building in Mohave county, got my permits before they required building inspections. Now it REALLY sucks, everything is inspected over 120 sqft.
Arizona has an AG exemption for properties over 4 acres and you can pretty much do whatever you want for barns etc., but I don't know about a house. And first you have to get the ag exemption and in Mohave county they are about to / just changed the rules. In one of the southern counties (Cochise?) they used to have the option to opt out of building codes if you had over 4 acres.
Can't imaging why you'd want to live in Maricopa county -- isn't that Phoenix metro?
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