Cob Home Engineering
Natural Building with Modern Cob Houses
At PSE Consulting Engineers, Inc., we are committed to sustainability and promoting natural building techniques. That’s why we offer engineering consultation services for clients who are interested in cob home building projects. Cob is a sustainable and natural building material that is typically made with straw, water, clay or subsoil. Cob construction is one of the lesser-known sustainable options.
What is a Cob home?
Cob homes are highly creative, individual yet, can blend in beautifully with the environment. Literally formed by hand and then kneaded like dough into form, it lends itself to gracious curving, flowing walls, roofs and décor. Cob is the British word for lump or rounded mass used for centuries in the traditional mud buildings throughout the UK. They can be used as infill or completely load-bearing. It is likely the oldest earth-building and certainly the simplest. It requires no equipment, is perfect for self-building, highly sculptural, and is completely recyclable, non-toxic and sustainable.
Cob structures are:
- Extremely economical.
- Insect proof, fire proof, wind and earthquake resistant, and can last for hundreds of years.
- Cob structures offer exceptional flexibility in design, and because of its extraordinary thermal mass, are ideally suited for solar heating and cooling and have a sense of quiet.
Here at PSE, our team is typically consulted on earth bag construction, shipping container construction and straw bale construction, which are all great sustainable building options. However, cob home building is another fantastic option for those who are looking to build a home themselves using natural building materials.
What are the benefits?
Constructing a cob home offers several benefits, which can allow for unique experiences in the design and building process. The oldest cob home is still standing after centuries in the United Kingdom, so it’s clear that durability is not a concern when it comes to cob home building.
Other benefits include:
- Low cost of building
- Sustainable/Green Construction
- Natural earthen materials & no toxic emissions
- Energy Efficient
- Termite & Fire Proof
- Opportunity for Creativity in The Building Process
Are There Cob Construction Disadvantages?
Though there are several benefits to cob home building, the unique material of cob also has some disadvantages, which should also be considered depending upon the location of your project and the intended use of the cob building.
- Material does not provide a large amount of insulation during seasonal changes
- Long building process due to the nature of the material
- Some municipalities do not allow cob homes to be built due to building code restrictions
Project Spotlight: 1st Commercial Code-Approved Earthen Building on the East Coast!
In 2016, PSE Consulting Engineers, LLC was approached by a client that was interested in building an Eco-Heal Center out of cob. The client had an excellent vision, along with ready-made architectural plans for our team of engineers to review. After discussing the project further with him, PSE Consulting Engineers, LLC decided to make the leap and take on the cob building project.
The cob Eco-Heal Center turned out to be a great success and is known as the first commercial code-approved earthen building on the east coast. The cob Eco-Heal Center also contained a living roof, which adds an amazing touch to the look of the building and the sustainable feel of the structure.
The cob Eco-Heal Center is a 1500 sq ft, 12-sided earthen building completed in the spring of 2017. Being the first commercial code-approved earthen building in the United States, the Eco-Heal Center is an educational hub for those seeking an economic, practical, and efficient way to build naturally. The client’s choice to build with cob added many beneficial elements to the completed Eco-Heal Center, and they are still enjoying the natural cob structure today.