Family’s Magical COB HOUSE Made With Earth, Sand & Straw

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Here’s a great video from TinyHouseGiantJourney about a beautiful alternative home in Montana, USA; made from cob – a natural, inexpensive, traditional building material, in combination with straw bales.

We learn that this home is not this family’s first rodeo – they previously built a small (350sq ft) cob house on an inherited piece of land. Not only did they gain many skills during the building of this first home, but they got ‘the bug’ for natural building.

After obtaining their own property, they built the current home, whish is around 750-800 sq ft and cost an estimated $15,000 to $20,000 to build. And now they are in a situation so many people dream of… having their own home on their own land and being debt free.

And what a beautiful home it is. Cob is a very simple material that has been used since ancient times. It’s a mix of sand, clay and straw – with the ratio around 20%-30% clay, 70%-80% sand. This mix is dumped onto a tarp, water is added and then straw is added as the mix is stomped to mash it all together. Barefoot fun. It’s advised to use longer straw stems if you can.

Once the mix is made, existing layers can be damped – and then the cob is simply packed on top.


The main “core” of the home’s walls are straw bales, with a layer of cob a few inches thick on the outside and inside. We learn also that many of the additional fittings were salvaged – with the windows being recycled and wine bottles being used to make light tubes and add an artistic flair. Roof support beams are made from natural timbers.

Inside the home there is a thick, solid cob wall called a traum wall. It is positioned directly in front of the windows so that it absorbs solar warmth and releases it slowly. High thermal mass thus evens out the temperature throughout the day and seasons.

One of the interesting challenges is that cob, being naturally put together, is not perfectly straight. Putting in perfectly straight kitchen cabinets and countertops will make life interesting and they had to trim the wooden countertop in order to fit the uneven wall.

It’s amazing to see just how much of this home was home-made. It was interesting to learn that they made most of their furniture out of cob too. These guys really love their cob. They even made their own rocket mass heater from an oil drum, which channels the heat from the wood burning stove so that it heats the home more efficiently.

Family’s Magical COB HOUSE Made With Earth, Sand & Straw
Family’s Magical COB HOUSE Made W Earth, Sand & Straw – Graphic © off-grid.info. Images: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OUGQNVleOEo

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