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Other things to think about when designing

One Story or More?


Cob walls do an excellent job cutting noise, windows less so. Hopefully the noisy side is not the sunny side. Design accordingly.

Plan for Future Additions Now

If you plan to add onto your home in the future, it's important to design the different stages so they complement each other well. Keep future addition(s) in mind as you design. Make sure the water will run straight off every roof into a gutter, and not onto another roof. (See page 38 for more about future additions.) You may want to consider a C, L, S, or U shape for modular building.

Designing the Entrance

The entrance to a home is a big part of its personality. It creates an impression for everyone as they come and go. It's worth investing thought and imagination into this important aspect of designing your home. (See the section on designing the door area, page 36.)



To strengthen a wall design, either because you want a thin wall or because you've decided to make a long straight wall, plan in some buttresses to help support it. A buttress is a secondary construction that adds lateral support to the wall.

Buttress protruding from wall

A big buttress with a door in it makes a romantic entry to the garden or courtyard.It can be on the inside or outside of the wall. It will need its own foundation.

Interior walls that join the exterior walls serve as buttresses. Any substantial blob of cob, like a fireplace or furniture against the wall, will give the main outer walls lateral support. Furniture and interior walls will support less weight than the main walls so they can have less substantial foundations.

Interior walls take up precious space so the thinner you can make them, the more space you'll have.

Ideally, you'll plan the buttresses as you plan the home so they can be built at the same time as the main walls. This will make a strong connection between the main wall and the buttress and their foundations.

If you build a buttress on the outer side of the wall, it must be protected from the rain -either with extra long eaves or with its own little roof. The same is true for outdoor garden or patio walls.

Flat stones or tiles can be carefully laid right on the top of the buttress to make a roof. cob-15.jpg


If you live where building permits are required and you want to get the building permitted, you will probably run into some resistance. Some commissions don't require permits for buildings under a certain size. Many counties will permit a pole structure and won't be too fussy about what you use to fill between the poles. The New Zealand planning commission has recently drawn up the requirements for building cob houses. They still require an engineer's approval before the building permit is granted. There's lots of work to be done before cob becomes an acceptable building material in most parts of the western world. Good luck! When dealing with building officials it is helpful to think of them as your friends and ask for their help.

[Stylish Doorway]

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