"I enjoy reading your website and became a member. I am in the midst of buying
land. Why do you say only up to 20 acres and not more?
For cheap housing - I would recommend building with cob. This is a mixture
of sand, clay, straw and water, and is built by hand. You can form the cob into brick and let dry - that would be adobe, but
a cob building is stronger than adobe since it is all one piece, and can be built faster.
A small 120 sq ft cabin, with a built in fireplace, salvaged sink, propane
heater, door, 3 windows, ceiling insulation (ground up blue jeans), pond liner for the green roof (put sod on top of it),
would run around $800 for supplies. You would need to supply some poles for the ceiling and a roof beam.
The mixture is formed into handfuls called "cobs" and put directly on the
foundation stem wall. The book for this is "The Hand Sculpted House" by Ianto Evans. You can take cob building classes at
natural building schools such as the Cob Cottage Co. and House Alive in Oregon, in Tennessee at The Farm or Barefoot Builders,
and in Vermont at Yestermorrow Design/build school for approximately $800 for 10 days. If you have to purchase sand, clay
or straw add that in.
Cob is comfortable and does well in a sunny spot. It is a passive solar design,
with your larger windows on the south. It has a lot of thermal mass, and the building is cool in the summer, warm in the winter.
If you are building in a colder climate (Michigan etc.) you would have to put strawbale walls on the North and possibly West
sides, for more insulation.
Total time to build is approximately 5 weeks - done in stages. With a crew
of about 5 - 15 people - Takes about 1 week to dig a foundation, put in a drain, build a stemwall from broken concrete ("urbanite")
and cement, another 7-10 days to build the walls up to 9 ft., another 4 - 5 days to build ceiling, add insulation, built roof,
after leaving some time for drying, you would put a natural plaster coat on the inside and outside, and cob the floor, which
you would then put linseed oil on to seal. All of this building is easy for kids to seniors to do, but some muscle is helpful
for moving the beams. Add a compost toilet and you are set!
There are only a couple of downsides to cob - 1) most building codes do not
cover this - tell them about adobe 2) Does not do well on soft soil (you are basically building a stone house) or in rainy,
dark forests 3) You are going to be mixing a lot of cob so if you want to build a bigger house, go with strawbale for most
of it - the walls can go up in one week and they are code friendly since strawbale is not load bearing - it is used with a
Over 60% of the world lives in earthen houses - especially in the southern
A cob building can last for 500 years.......The only thing to destroy cob is water, so good drainage is essential."