Want to build a cob house in a cold climate?

Published by Ianto Evans on May 27, 2008 in Articles

Drawing by Ianto Evans

Some suggestions:

by Ianto Evans

Build against a South or Southeast facing hill with evergreen trees to North and West, to buffer cold winds.
Build small and compact. Gloves not boxes.
Proportions: longer East-West than North-South, by about 1 1/4 to 1; 1 1/2-two stories with basement/semi-basement.
Consider a duplex; it shares heat. Cob partition walls will deaden any neighbor noise.
Insulate heavily from the surrounding ground
Insulate everything, heavily! Insulated curtains all windows/skylights, overkill in roof and outside walls.
Minimize glass. Glass mostly on South and Southeast sides, downstairs and basement. Small skylights upstairs for light. Keep eaves short on South, so that you do not block sky light.
Add glass solarium to South side with winter entry through solarium.
Build a heavy mass floor (cob, adobe, brick, woodblock on adobe) and a central mass heater/rocket stove/mass stove. Avoid fireplace use in coldest weather.
Keep ceilings very low in snug spaces.
Use strawbale or balecob on the north and west walls. Round the outside corners to reduce surface area, cut heat loss by wind and eliminate drafts.
Create a closeable and heatable snug space for desking, handwork, etc.

Ianto Evans is an applied ecologist, landscape architect, inventor, writer and teacher with building experience on six continents. Cob is traditional in Wales, his homeland. He teaches ecological building and has consulted to USAID, World Bank, US Peace Corps and foreign governments. Ianto, Linda Smiley and Michael Smith are the authors of “The Hand-Sculpted House”, the most comprehensive book available about cob building.

Cob Cottage Company, PO Box 942, Coquille, OR 97423 USA, Phone (541) 942-2005