Plastering is my favorite part of any cob build. I spend the entire build looking forward to it and dreaming about the final result. Plastering is what transforms a mass of sculpted earth in to a structure that looks and feels finished. I find the process of plastering read more
The Honey House now had a roof and roof top access. The next step was to install a floor. Up until this point the floor had simply been the earth on which the Honey House was built. It looked fine but we wanted something more stable, water tolerant, and wipeable (honey will spill on it, after all) for easy cleaning. This created the perfect excuse to try our hand at making an earthen floor. This is our first earthen floor, but certainly won’t be the last. It was fun to build and has so far been holding up well. See below for how we did it.
The honey house now had a green roof with a sitting deck but we had no easy way of getting up on to it. We had thought about a roof access system from early on in the build and considered incorporating floating stairs in to the back wall or building a ladder. It was always our dream, however, to build a spiral staircase and this seemed like the perfect excuse to learn how. It was a steep learning curve but we managed to build a custom spiral staircase with largely reclaimed materials. It was actually relatively straight forward, all things considered. Here’s how we did it…
When designing the honey house we knew we wanted a green roof to increase garden space and replace the lost green space taken up by its footprint. The honey house also faces West and overlooks the bee yard which we felt would make a nice sitting spot in the evenings. This structure is quite small but the roof has a lot of dynamic loads to contend with. In addition to the dead weight of the garden and the decks, it carries the live load of fluctuating water burden and the likes of us tromping around on it when it suits us. Below is the photoblog of the build. Again, we did our research. Make sure you do your own. To do this on a larger scale you may consider seeking an engineer’s advice. Enjoy!
In 2015 we built a purpose designed cob shed for storing our apiary boxes off the hives over the winter. We have taken to calling this the Honey House since it resides in our bee yard and holds apiary wares. It is just under 90 square feet in area, with an interior height of roughly 8 feet. It has a floating broken concrete foundation, a sealed earthen floor, and a green roof strawberry garden. We learned a lot from building this and had a lot of fun while we were at it. Below is a photoblog of its construction. Please be warned, we are NOT engineers, nor are we experts in cob or construction. We can not guarantee the safety of this structure and while we feel safe using it, we assume no responsibility for structures built based on its design. We hope you feel inspired by what we build but PLEASE do your own research if you are endeavouring to build a cob structure to ensure that you do it safely. We have several great references listed throughout this site.
From the earliest conception of our garden wall, we dreamed of topping it with a green roof. However until we actually started building the roof we had no idea how we were going to go about it. We first needed some sort of truss system since we wanted the roof to provide a protective eave for the wall. Again, we turned to Sketchup to model the dimensions of these trusses and settled on a pitch of 4 in 12 and a horizontal eve span of roughly 6 1/2″. We built the trusses out of dunnage from the lumber yard garbage bin, a GREAT source for scrap 2x4s, and fitted them along the top of the wall, tacking them in to place with blobs of cob. We did our best to tilt each one to rest roughly 90 degrees to the tangent of the curve at each point.
To give our wall a little curb appeal from the barn road and to get experience plumbing in cob structures we decided to incorporate a water feature in to the T junction buttress. Conveniently, around this time, the barn was getting a spring clean and an old porcelain sink was pulled out and left for the taking. We took it!
Early in the cobbing phase of building our wall, we decided to incorporate a fireplace in to it. We had so much fun building our first fireplace, and enjoyed using it so much, that this seemed like a perfect fit for our wall build. We placed it midspan on the soft curved wall, facing the original fireplace which allows us to have double fire place nights when our friends come over.
We started laying on the cob to our wall in March 2014. The earth for this project came from a construction site just down the road. It was a beautiful mishmash of grey clay, grit, and stones and required only the addition of straw and water to get a good consistency for cobbing.
In the summer of 2013 we built a cob outdoor fireplace. As soon as it was first fired, it became an instant gathering site and the large manure pile immediately behind it that collected from our barn of 7 horses became an increasingly troublesome eyesore (a shortcoming we had somehow overlooked in the fervid planning of the fireplace construction). We use the manure extensively on our property, to fertilize our pastures, build our hugelkultur gardens, and fertilize our berry patches and flower beds so getting rid of it was not an option. The solution to this problem obviously entailed another cob structure, and so was born the idea of the cob garden wall.