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FrY10cK



Joined: 04 Jul 2013
Posts: 5

PostPosted: Thu Jul 04, 2013 9:57 pm    Post subject: New user from the U.S. Reply with quote

Refugee from theoildrum.com making my first post.

Sorry if it's off topic. Just wanted to see if I can find a resource as rich and full of hard data and experienced people as the now defunct theoildrum.com

The whole site will be archived, not sold, and not given over to anyone. That way it can be brought back to life someday should the dedicated people who ran it decide to do so.
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clv101
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 04, 2013 10:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Welcome FrY10cK. Have a look around. Not sure you'll find another Oil Drum (I was an editor there for some years) but PowerSwitch does host some interesting discussions.
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UndercoverElephant



Joined: 10 Mar 2008
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 04, 2013 11:26 pm    Post subject: Re: New user from the U.S. Reply with quote

Welcome to the board. You'll find no shortage of experience and quality debate here. And "hard data" of sorts. Smile
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FrY10cK



Joined: 04 Jul 2013
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 05, 2013 12:36 am    Post subject: Thanks to all for the welcome. Reply with quote

I have an interest in Devon cob cottages.

Have any of you seen the round walled cob buildings (a round wall being stronger in compression than a square wall) in Oregon, USA?

Is there a forum here that might cater to my interest?
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Little John



Joined: 08 Mar 2008
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 05, 2013 1:16 am    Post subject: Re: Thanks to all for the welcome. Reply with quote

FrY10cK wrote:
I have an interest in Devon cob cottages.

Have any of you seen the round walled cob buildings (a round wall being stronger in compression than a square wall) in Oregon, USA?

Is there a forum here that might cater to my interest?
There isn't a specific one at present. However, I am also very interested on cob buildings and so would welcome any discussion.
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JohnB



Joined: 22 May 2006
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Location: Beautiful sunny West Wales!

PostPosted: Fri Jul 05, 2013 11:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Kenneal has built a cob house, but in Berkshire, not Devon.
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kenneal - lagger
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 05, 2013 2:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

There's the Earth Building UK website at http://www.ebuk.uk.com/.

Cob is built not just in Devon but in quite a few areas around the UK although it might go by a different name in those areas. Materials vary from clay to chalk including various natural mixtures of the two, from clay blocks to loose clay and from high lifts in sections to a continuous thin spiral. The actual method depends on the water content which depends on rainfall and the material that you are working with.

I'm having a Green Gathering in August at which we will be doing some earth building if the weather is OK.
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PS_RalphW



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PostPosted: Fri Jul 05, 2013 2:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm buying a timber framed clunch house, but it is already 350+ years old. However, never too late to add a bit of insulation...
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kenneal - lagger
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 05, 2013 3:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Make sure that it can breath Ralph.
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FrY10cK



Joined: 04 Jul 2013
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 05, 2013 4:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

kenneal - lagger wrote:
Cob is built not just in Devon but in quite a few areas around the UK although it might go by a different name in those areas. Materials vary ....

In Oregon, clay, sand, straw, and soil were always mixed by cement mixer, tarp, foot, or what-have-you resulting in beautiful sculptural dwellings quite different from the white Devon cottages with thatched roofs.

I wish I could produce a coffee table photo book of some of the dwellings I've seen (and worked on). Of course, building codes in the U.S. are designed to sell manufactured products and most cob buildings are kept below the radar.

Michael Reynolds spent 25 years getting building codes amended in Taos, NM USA but I wouldn't choose his construction method for myself although the finished dwelling are spectacular. There is a documentary about him called "Garbage Warrior." I highly recommend it.

Thanks for all the info.
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kenneal - lagger
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 05, 2013 4:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

There have only been half a dozen new cob houses built in the UK since the 1900s and they have all been fairly conventional shaped except one built by Kevin McCabe so most UK earth built houses are fairly conventional.

With the difficulty of getting planning permission to build houses in the UK resale value is a major consideration as is what the planners will allow. They tend to ere on the side of caution as well so most UK houses are fairly conventional.

There is another difficulty with cob houses and that is achieving the U value required by the Building Regulations for walls which is 0.2W/m2/degC. My house with 750 thick walls achieves 0.45 (in theory) so to achieve the .2 value you would need either a cob wall 1700mm thick or you would have to incorporate some insulation somewhere.
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JohnB



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PostPosted: Fri Jul 05, 2013 7:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This is a modern cob house in Devon. It had to be built with concrete block cavity walls up to the bottom of the windows to get the insulation to comply with building regulations:

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kenneal - lagger
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 06, 2013 1:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I would think that that was built to the Regs for a few years ago, John. It would be extremely difficult to get a pure cob walled house through the current Regs.
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FrY10cK



Joined: 04 Jul 2013
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 07, 2013 2:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The regs (building codes) are the problem in the U.S. too even though the thermal mass of a cob house maintains a sufficiently constant temperature all year round such that it needs only a small wood stove for supplementary heat. If your walls are a source of heat (thermal mass) they don't really need insulation.

This seems to work in the western and southern U.S. but not in the Northeast where I live.

I'm sure the manufacturers of sheetrock and fiberglass insulation would lobby heavily against any changes to the building codes.
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kenneal - lagger
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 07, 2013 4:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Having lived in the cob house that I built for nine years now I can assure you that the Regs aren't the problem and that a cob house looses heat like any other structure at a rate governed by its U-value. The internal air temperature might not drop as quickly as a more lightweight structure as the thermal mass buffers the air temperature but once the heat is lost from the structure it takes an awfully long time to replace it with just "a small wood stove."

The reason that it works in the south west of the US is probably due to the higher levels and longer duration of sunlight there than in the north east. Even at low outside air temperatures sun shining through south facing glass will provide one hell of a lot of heat. The latitude difference between Arizona and New England would make a hell of a difference even without the difference in sunlight duration available.

This extra heat being input into the house over winter in the south west would counteract the night time heat losses through an uninsulated cob structure. If you take that into account it's no wonder that earthships were invented in that area and work really well there whereas they aren't so good in the UK and northern Europe: nor New England for that matter!

The earth sheltered passive solar heated design does work in the UK, see the Hockerton Housing Association houses, but they require at least 300mm of polystyrene insulation all round and a good sized south facing solar conservatory to ensure liveable temperatures. The same would be true in New England but with thicker insulation or a greater depth of earth cover.
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