Building with Cob & Straw

It's great value and in plentiful supply, could cob and straw be the right material for your project?


theselfbuilder_cob-house1We have been making our homes with it forever, and it remains the world’s most popular building material. Earth is cheap, abundant and, if well maintained, earth homes will last for centuries.

Cob is earth mixed with sand and straw, and is ideal for our temperate shores. Thanks to the green agenda, cob is enjoying something of a renaissance. Non-toxic and 100 per cent recyclable, this ancient building material doesn’t deforest or depend on manufactured materials. Cob theselfbuilder_cob-house2walls have an excellent thermal mass (if built around two-feet thick); they also provide good sound insulation and are load bearing. Cob building is easy to learn and can be used with heavy machinery, making it ideal for self-builders.

At under £2 per bale, straw is another cheap form of green building. Straw-bale walls act as a carbon sink, locking in carbon dioxide from the atmosphere as the grain grows. They are also highly insulative, can be erected very quickly and, like cob, can be made by hand. Finally, what a great way of supporting our agricultural economy.

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Words: Karen Glaser 

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