Things to do to get ready
- Go over this book once or twice to get familiar with cob concepts.
Read the checklist (page 103) and visualize your home.
- Read books. At the library you probably won't find much on cob.
Read up on other types of earthen construction and natural building. Books
on permaculture, foundations and drainage, stone wall building, house design,
passive solar design, electricity and plumbing, and roof construction will
be helpful. (See the recommended reading list at the end of this book.)
- Go to a cob workshop if at all possible. Getting your hands in it
will give you lots of information, inspiring ideas, confidence and rekindle
your cellular knowledge. Workshops are a good way to get familiar with the
material you will be building with.
- Observe, define and document what it is about different environments
that appeals to you. Visit buildings that feel good to you. Check out
the natural buildings in your area. Collect your ideas, sketches and photographs
in a scrap book. Include the ideas you come up with while reading this book.
- Take design lessons from Mother Nature. Spend time in nature noticing
how she puts things together. What shapes appeal to you? Colors? Textures?
- Assess your resources: What do you have in the way of time, energy,
money, materials, skills and helpers? If you decide to have workshop(s) and/or
house raising parties, set the dates and start advertising. Get your friends
- Use your imagination as you design. Keep in mind the feelings you
would like to evoke in your home. Be flexible about your design. Once
you've established the foundation, the spirit of cob will help you design
from there up.
- Design your home so it belongs where it is. Spend lots of time
on your site during the design process. Plan any roads, parking, energy systems,
water sources, the garden-orchard areas, etc., at the same time, so that everything
will work together gracefully. Include the sheds and storage areas in the
design. It is important to make sure the home site will be as dry
as possible. Plan a drainage system that moves water away from your house.
(Read the chapter on choosing a site for your home carefully! See page 17.)
- Start gathering materials: roofing materials, doors, windows, etc.
These elements will influence the personality of your design.
- After you've started forming some clear ideas, make small cob models,
ideally right on the future home site. The models can be made of potter's
clay or cob. This exercise is incredibly valuable and will teach you a lot
about your design ideas. You can mock up your design full-scale with stacked
straw bales too.
- Allow plenty of time for the designing and building processes. A
home full of love is made by people who take the time to love the process.