Cob Building Basics: DIY House of Earth and Straw

Build your own mortgage-free home with low-cost and local materials using cob-building.

Cob house in California
This retreat center’s storage building features an attached cob oven and natural paints.
Photo By Chris McClellan
A cob-built hobbit house in Wales incorporates recycled building
Cob building lends itself to incorporating salvaged and eclectic building materials. This 'hobbit house' in Wales was built in four months and cost about $4,600 in building materials.
Photo By Spectrum Photofile/Brian McConne
A group of cob home builders apply clay and straw to a cob wall.
Gain building experience by enrolling in a workshop. Find one near you at and
Photo By Chris McClellan
Creative details are sculpted into the cob façade of a home during environmentally friendly remodels.
Cob sculpture can add artistic elements to existing homes. Here, a mosaic of broken tiles is incorporated to add color and intrigue.
Photo By Chris McClellan
Circular windows and tiles add cob home creativity.
Odd-shaped windows or cabinets? No Cob-lem.
Photo By Chris McClellan
Large windows add natural light for a British Columbia cob house
Large windows make use of natural light in this home on Cortes Island, British Columbia.
Photo by Bruce McGlenn
Backyard cob shed features a living roof with and rainwater catchment.
Native Oregon grasses colonize the living room on this backyard storage shed.
Photo By Chris McClellan
A tiny cob cottage sits in dusky light.
Foundation for cob can be made from stone or recycled concrete. Seal plaster with hemp or linseed oil.
Photo By Kara Block
Cob features can be incorporated into eco-friendly remodeling.
Cob walls often include bas relief sculptures. Cob building sites are generally safer than those involving projects that use heavy machinery.
Photo By Chris McClellan
Learn the proper technique for building a cob wall.
A profile of a typical cob and thatch building, illustrating wall details.
Illustration Courtesy Green Books/Christian Topf
Backfill a trench with gravel to pull rainwater away from home.
Dig a trench that will surround your structure and lead rainwater away. Backfill with gravel.
Photo Courtesy Green Books/Katy Bryce

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