Riding the Cob Express!

David's picture

It was mid June when our shovel took it's first bite into the earth. Since then we have been working away trying to get our cob studio built before winter. We've had our ups, and we've had our downs. We've had our smiles and we've had our frowns. Well it's October now, and Fall is in full swing. The birch have turned bright orange and gold. Some have even dropped their leaves altogether. More and more geese can be seen flying overhead, making their way south. Yup. It won't be long now before we get hit with our first burst of snow. And still there is plenty that needs doing. Time is short, and money is tight. But we haven't thrown in the towel just yet. As a matter of fact, we just got some good news!

The building department has just notified us that our permit has been approved and is ready for pick-up! I was really doubting that it would be approved, especially on the first go around. *sigh* What a relief. So look out Winter! We've hopped on the Cob Express, and this train is comin' home!

So now what should we do first? We still have some cobbing to do. The roof framing is up and is waiting to be sheathed and roofed. The lumber is on hand to make the floor. The materials to build the rocket stove are also in the line-up. The mortar for the stone wall could be made up. And then there are the gable walls. It's a tough call. First and foremost we need to cob whenever we can get the chance. There is no way to get around the cobbing. As for the other items, we may be able to make temporary adjustments to get the building ready for use. We have been brainstorming ideas incase we aren't finished when the snow hits.

The roof is a tough one. We think if we can get the sheathing and tar paper up, we can cover it with good quality tarp, and just fill the entire loft with straw bales for insulation. This would allow the use of only the bottom portion until next season. The flooring was planned to use slip straw for insulation between the floor joists. We may have to go with loose straw and maybe a layer of that blue rigid foam. If we can line up a row of straw bales around the stone wall, covered with a tarp, we think we can stall putting on the mortar. The rocket stove we can substitute with maybe a pocket rocket, or other heating alternatives. The gables can be done similarly to the roof. All together, I think it would hold over until next season. Plus, even though there would be snow on the ground, the days can still be warm enough to work on the building.

But the cobbing, we have to get done. We have all day Saturday to work on it, and that should be enough. Plus, while we were waiting for the permit, I went ahead and started making up the gables. So when the cobbing is finished, I'll already have a good start on the gables. Tomorrow I plan on trying to cob some of the wall myself. Once I began working on the wall from a scaffold, I felt it just wasn't suited to cob with only one person. But there isn't any time for feelings now. I just need to suck it up and work my way through it.

We really want to get this building into usable condition for the winter. And we are not about to give up on it.

I think it's time for me to ask the weather for a favour.


It looks great and I'm so happy to hear your building permit came through. I know there's tar paper out there that is good all winter without shingles. Lots of people around here will lay the new tar paper in the fall and then shingle in the spring with the snow is gone....but I guess I'm not sure what kind of roofing you're putting up either :)

By Christina Ferderer (not verified)
Rachel's picture

That's wonderful news! Sounds like the permitting process wasn't all that bad. We'll keep good thoughts for a late winter. :-)

By Rachel