Prepping For Tread.

David's picture

Apparently I must have slept through our first winter storm because everything is covered in snow. No, actually we've been having lots of scattered and sporadic snow flurries these past couple of weeks, and with the temperature staying under 0 deg.C, none of it has had a chance to melt. So the layers of snow have been stacking, and now there's plenty of snow covering the landscape. I love it!

But to my main topic, ... the cob building. Hmm, oh yeah, we past our final inspection with flying colours! Hooray! I was pretty confident it would pass, but truth be told I had my doubts. Everything was built per the building plans, but I had some minor variations. For instance the metal trim around the overhangs were missing. We couldn't afford it, and decided I could add them at a later time. Also, the framework for the gable decking was added which was not included in the plans. These are not all that detrimental, and I guess the inspector felt the same way because he never asked about them. Or maybe he was having a wonderful morning and kindly gave me a break. Either way we are happy.

Inspection done, we were ready to move on to insulation. And our first portion of insulation is the slip straw. Earlier, we had made a batch of slip straw in our form. So we went out to have a look-see and check if they were all dried and ready for installation. We found that they were NOT ready for installation. At least not all of our first tests. Remember how we made the slip straw three different ways? Well, only one of them was ready. The other two were still quite wet. And with the way the weather it is now, I'm thinking they, or any others we make this winter, won't dry out until Spring. Not good at all. So now what do we do?

Well, we came up with an easy, temporary fix. We'll just dry pack the straw in our floor. Heck if straw bales work just fine dry, then why shouldn't this right? I guess we're going to find out. And being how our flooring, once installed, isn't going to be easy to lift back up, it may end up a permanent thing. I suppose a major concern would be to keep the straw from getting wet and rotting away or worse, growing mold. We did lay out a vapour barrier on the ground before covering it with sand. I guess as long as we are not pouring liquids between the flooring we should be in decent shape. Only time will tell, so on we go.

Now, without having to make slip straw, we can move on to framing in the floor. This here, again, is going to be another odd way to do it. I'm being very trusting that the building shouldn't settle, and maybe even too trusting. I've decided to make what I would call a 'floating' floor. The sand will be leveled and the framing will lay right on top without any real attachments to the walls. The flooring will be trimmed for a tight fit against half of the wall. And on the other half, cob will be packed between the framing and wall. I can't see a way to accurately describe this so you'll just have to wait for pictures. Basically the floor framing will make an 'island' in the middle of the building to allow ducting to run in the floor along the walls. Without having any type of framework in the walls to attach the floor to, I really couldn't find a good way to do it. So a'floating it will be.

I drew up a quick layout of the floor framing and got to work cutting it all up. I used 2x6 for the framing. Larger would have given me more of an insulation value in the floor, but it would have also ate up some headroom. Which has already been found wanting. So with it all cut up, I hauled them into the building and nailed it altogether. With it sitting in the center of the building, I really didn't have much to go off of as far as it's exact location. I just needed to make sure I had enough room to build the pad for the rocket stove (or pocket rocket). So before I leveled and set the framing, I had to get the pad in.

It was easy enough. I had a couple of large paving tiles to use for the base of the stove which set nicely into the NW corner. I squared them up, and leveled it off. The pad in place gave me a great place to set my floor framing to. And with a little bit of sand leveling it was ready for insulation. I went ahead and put in our only slip straw cube nearest the stove pad. The rest will be filled in with packed dry straw.

It was about here that I stopped. I have the flooring and straw ready to go in, but I didn't have the correct nails. So the installation will have to wait. At least the brain work is done.

So that's where we are at now. But I'd also like to mention something I noticed the other day. First off, let me tell you that we currently sleep in a bed, in a basement, where the side of the bed is against the basement wall. I prefer to sleep on the wall side because I like the coolness of the wall. (I just can't sleep when I'm hot.) Anyway, the other day while going inside the cob studio I put my hand on the cob wall, and noticed something strange. It felt very similar to the basement wall. Now it was somewhere around -5C that day, and at that temperature I wasn't expecting such a gentle (if I can call it that) coldness. I felt a few other different places on the wall and had the same results. I then touched the metal roofing, the trombe window and the stones in the stem wall. All had a biting type of coldness. Very unpleasant. Ultimately I was pretty surprised and pleased with my discovery. Why the wall is much more mild to touch, I don't know. I could only fathom that it's rough surface doesn't allow the entire area of my skin to be in direct contact with the surface of the wall, allowing pockets of air to shield me from the biter cold.

I probably won't be cuddling up against this cob wall in the dead of winter, but it appears I won't be getting freezer burn if I happen to brush against it either.