Ready For a Final. Huzzah!

David's picture

Mid November and we are finally finished with the bulk of the Sioux Studio, and not a moment too soon. The temperature these days are pretty steady at around 0 deg. C (+/- 5 deg.) and the snow is falling and flying in fantastically flaky flurries. The trees and grasses are covered in a nice white blanket in the morning, and by the evening it's all melted away, only to be repeated the following day. We haven't gotten the 'big' snow storm yet, but I reckon it ain't far off. At least we've reached the point in the construction of our cob building to call it finished ... but not completed.

Yes, it's finished all right. The walls are good and solid, the roof is on and the gables are closed in. We now can maintain a dry interior. I've called in for a final inspection today, and we should get it here directly. But of course even with the final inspection, we are far from finished with the building. For instance, the building is quite drafty. There is a large opening in the stone work where the flue of the rocket stove was, at first, going to be. The doors and windows have yet to be trimmed and sealed, and the areas where the roof passes over the wall (at the rafter tails) have yet to be enclosed. There isn't any insulation to be seen in the roof or gable walls, nor any interior coverings. The floor is currently a few inches of sand, and the loft is just bare bones. The gable wall decking is merely a few sticks sticking out of the wall, and the trombe wall is currently not much of a trombe at all. Do I even need to mention that there isn't any plaster on the walls?

But in due time, all this will be addressed. We are just happy to have gotten it dried in for winter. We had hoped to have a 'turn key' building by now, but that didn't happen. To build a building like this in one season is quite a stretch, especially if two people aren't working on it on a full time basis. We had high hopes and tried our best, but in the end we couldn't pull it off. Bah! No worries though. We can get some things done during winter, and finish it up in the spring.

So this past weekend we buttoned up the roof by putting in the last few screws and put on the ridge cap. We also sided the East gable wall, complete with Dutch doors. Lastly we cleaned up the site. I even dry stacked some stone around the dry well. The whole place looks a lot better. Now if I can only get rid of the left over mounds of clay.

Well, what's next? First things first, get the final inspection done. Then we will be looking to get our hands on some raw wool from a nearby sheep farm. Once we get that we can start insulating. Probably the ceiling first, then the gable walls. We are also deciding on what to use for the loft floor. The log joists were not planed on the tops, so the flooring would need to be able to conform to the changes in elevations where knots occur. I may be able to get away with using some of the same cedar siding that we skinned our gable walls with, but maybe some simple 1x8 pine will be better. The cedar is a bit on the brittle side and won't take kindly to any type of unevenness. The pine, I think would be more forgiving. Plywood will be our last resort.

We also will be working out what to use for the ceiling and gable wall finishes. Again, the cedar can work, but it's a bit on the dark side. And the place is dark enough as it is. So like the loft floor, pine planking is a good choice. We have talked about using birch branches for the ceiling, so we may go with that there. There is also the matter of our sandy floor. We are going to opt for a framed floor with some 3/4" hardwood flooring that I have already salvaged.

Lastly, is heat. I sure would like to put a rocket stove inside, but as it is right now, the building department won't allow it. I'm going to ask again when he comes for the final inspection. If he won't come around, then I think a pocket rocket is in order. It's design is similar the a rocket stove, but as the name suggests, it's smaller in size and pretty portable (when the fire's not cracklin' of course).

If we can get all this done before winter is over, we can then start monitoring the building, and deciding wether or not a cob building is anywhere suitable to being used as a house in Northern Ontario. I'm 100% positive there will be portions of our building that could be improved upon, but I would say I'm more than positive a cob house can be just as habitable as a log or stone/brick house.

So where are we at on costs? It seems our plans to keep monetary tabs on the project were lost somewhere between the dry stacked stone and the roof framing. We started out strong, diligently taking every receipt and copying the total onto a paper containing our lists of costs. Until we misplaced the paper. So we started another list where we left off, thinking the first list will turn up sooner or later. I guess 'later' hasn't came yet because we still can't find it. And now we can't remember where our new list went to. As you can see neither Patricia, or I, are good with paper work. But I think I can get us close to a ball park cost:

Gravel for foundation - $425
Sand for cob - $120
Metal roof - $555
Lumber - $150
Straw - $60
Roofing paper, 6 mil plastic, french drain, 5 tarps, hardware, tools, miscellaneous - $150

Total - $1,360

The next and probably last big purchase will be for the raw wool. We may need more straw, and the pine planking if we go that route. But as you can see, the roof and gravel are some pretty big ticket items. We may be able to get away from those costs if we opt for a living roof, and a foundation frost shield, but that's currently neither here, nor there. But this figure gives me a good idea of what to expect to pay for our real cob home.

Sadly, I haven't any pictures to go along with this blog. Other than the East gable wall, there isn't much new to look at anyhow. Although, the clean-up is a big difference. We are working on the camera issue, and will have new pictures up as soon as possible.


Rick's picture

I like the cost breakdown - can talk all day about different things, but until it's done you never know. Sounds like 1400 is pretty cheap for a solid building. What do you think the extra costs of appliances would be? Also I assume you will not have electric in it?

By Rick
David's picture

I had hoped for a somewhat smaller cost, but it is what it is. If I directly take the cost per square footage and translate it to the size of our real home, I'm looking at $14k. I just hope the construction time doesn't translate as such.

I'm not sure on the appliances. For our real home we hope to already have all our appliances before we start building.

By David
Criddles's picture

The costing is neat to reflect on. The cost to build your cob studio is one of my paychecks!! That's 2 weeks of hard work!!!
I want to see pics of the clean up!!!!

By Criddles
David's picture

Remember that some of the materials were salvaged or given to us. Who knows what we'll have to pay for (or not) when it comes time to build our real house.

Heh, I want pictures of the clean up too.

By David
Rachel's picture

This may be naive; but, would it be possible to get an engineer to stamp your rocket stove design? And, if so, would the inspector accept that?

By Rachel
David's picture

Good question. I'm not sure an engineer will cut it though. They'll probably want certifications from an organization such as WETT or NFI. And to get those, I can only imagine oodles of testing, loads of money and a ridiculous amount of time. And also, a rocket stove is nothing like a conventional fireplace or wood burning stove. It can have so many variations in it's construction and design that I would think would be impossible for the organization to cover everything. One would have to be very specific with the design and precise with it's construction. Which I suppose is not too bad I guess. Just don't make any mistakes.

In the end, I think if certs. can be obtained from an organization such as this, the building department shouldn't have any reason to deny it. But they may add additional requirements for it's installation such as setbacks from combustables.

All speculation of course.

By David