Life Update (skip to “Creating a Cob Cottage” if you don't care and/or don't love to read):
I apologize for the lack of scheduled events lately. Over the past few months I managed to move out of the city! I now live in an intentional community with over 200 people in Summertown, TN. Although it is not a permaculture (self-reliant) community, there are many shining stars here who produce most or all of their families needs themselves on-site.
My bills are about half of what I was paying in the city and my quality of living has more than doubled! Instead of waking up to the sound of freeway traffic, sirens and airplanes overhead, I am now greeted by my neighbors chickens softly clucking outside as they eat bugs in my backyard, and more often than not, just glorious and serene silence. It is warmer here on cold days and cooler on hot days because the forest regulates temperature far better than the concrete jungle. Every sense is delighted daily simply from the lack of dystopian sensory inputs that the city bombards us with.
Half will take place near Nashville. The rest in Summertown. This community, “The Farm”, is 1 hour away driving the speed of traffic. When we meet up here it will be for some kind of permaculture project (ex. Building a cob pizza oven, building natural fencing for gardens, setup rainwater catchment, etc.).
Creating a Cob Cottage:
For a crash course on what a cob home is, check out the wonderful article from Mother Earth News (in PDF format) that I sent to your inbox... Can't find it and/or got deleted? Message me for another copy!
In March 2021 I receive a patch of land from the community that I am allowed to build on. We have NO building restrictions! There are a number of Earth Buildings already present here.
Self-Imposed Building Guidelines are... Less than 500 s.f. No sharp corners. Includes full kitchen and bathroom, sleeping loft, music nook, area for indoor plants with floor drain and faucet, and utility closet for photovoltaic components. Aside from screws, hinges, plumbing, electric and windows, ALL materials will be Natural, unprocessed and uncombined until we minimally combine and Naturally process them ourselves on-site.
Construction Details... A “french drain” around the perimeter of the roof footprint for drainage. The foundation is “rubble trench” style with a stone “stemwall” protruding 2'-3' above ground. Interior floor is an “Earthen mass” floor on gravel base with linseed oil finish (possibly including “hydronic heating” tubes inside the Earth slab). The North side of the cottage is “Earth bermed” at least 3'-4' deep. Most windows are on the South and East sides with very sheltered North and West sides to incorporate “passive solar”. The walls are 2'-3' thick “cob”, a mixture of sand, clay and straw that has been used by humans for millennia! A “sod/living/green roof”, with 4”- 6” of Earth, on top of waterproof membrane, on top of heavy wood sheathing, supported by large round timber trusses. The entire building is encased in high R-value, 100% Natural and breathable insulation. The floor gets vermiculite or perilite covered in a light “clay slip” for bonding, the walls are insulated by the stray inside the cob mix, the roof will have a wool, cotton and/or “clay slip” covered straw sandwiched between thick planks of wood forming the ceiling and an air gap between it and the roof sheathing. The windows will get heavy floor-to-ceiling curtains and wooden shutters on the outside (real shutters that actually close and serve a purpose other than mere decoration).
Floorplan... Undecided... Since I am the architect, general contractor, laborer, interior designer, and (in most cases) materials manufacturer, it is up to me to create a floorplan that harmonizes with the method of construction, and maximizes the benefits from the site itself. I have drawn out over 30 floorplans in the last 3 years but have not committed to any of the best ones yet. I will post pictures of some soon!
Philosophy - Why Build this way?:
A simple Pros vs Cons list sheds light on any decision life throws our way. It's extra helpful with huge decisions like choosing your shelter. Here is my list of Pros and Cons between “Modern House” and “Earth House”. It is overwhelmingly obvious which decision is best for your families health, your bank account, the Earths resources and even your great-great-great grandchildren!
Modern House Pros
• Built very quickly.
• Culturally acceptable.
• Meets requirements for codes.
Modern House Cons
• Destroys Natural Habitats.
• Creates large amounts of greenhouse gasses.
• Toxic to workers who produce and assemble it's materials.
• Poisonous to it's inhabitants.
• Very susceptible to fire and water damage.
• Its sterile, unNatural appearance causes psychological stress.
• Very expensive to heat and cool.
• Difficult and costly to make repairs and/or expansions.
• Thin walls do not protect from EMF, environmental toxins, radiation or stray projectiles (bullets).
• Costs average of 30% of your labor for 30 years of your life to pay off.
• Actual costs more than double when mortgage interest is calculated.
• The interest money goes to the worst people in our society (super wealthy financial frauds and real estate cartels).
• The building falls apart in less than one human lifetime (can't pass it on to your children).
Earth House Pros
• Minimally invasive on Natural habitats.
• Creates zero greenhouse gas if hand tools are used.
• Water resistant, fireproof, bulletproof, filters environmental toxins out. 3' thick Earth shields all forms of radiation.
• Very inexpensive (free most the time) to heat and cool.
• Easy and cheap to make repairs and/or additions.
• Cost $10,000 for 500s.f. If all materials must be purchased (drastically less using materials harvested from Nature).
• Does not fund oligarchs and super wealthy white collar criminals.
• The home will last for 300-500 years with zero maintenance. Many Earth buildings are much older and still being lived in today!
Earth House Cons
• Probably won't meet building codes corrupt requirements (must build in rural area and/or practice “outlaw building”).
• Friends and family may think you are weird (if they don't already).
• You may have to design and/or build it yourself (not many contractors have Earth building skills).