The One-Day Cob House Workshop


| 6/9/2014 8:45:00 AM


Tags: cob building, natural building, Nevada, Kyle Chandler-Isacksen,

An Urban Home-Raising and So Much More

The Be the Change Project and House Alive Natural Builders conducted a three-day cordwood cob house-raising workshop in early May in Reno, Nevada. Registrations and interest in the months leading up to the “One-Day Cob House” event were great and we gathered on Friday morning with 60 people and high hopes.  Cob is known as a slow and laborious building technique and this effort, as far as we know, was a first.  Friday was a set-up and skill building day and included a tour of our project – an electricity, car, and fossil-fuel-free urban homestead – to strengthen the container of the weekend and share the broader vision behind our project and this most unusual of natural building workshops. Saturday was the build day – 6:30 a.m. start!  Sunday was a light day of cleanup, some base coat of plaster, reflection and goodbyes. We raised a 184-square-foot cob cabin that weekend but what we really built was a beloved community.

One Day Group.jpg

It was three o’clock on Saturday afternoon when I left the building site on my bike to get a line level from my house (our “Be the Change Project”) two blocks away. Five minutes later I was pedaling my way through marble-sized hail ricocheting off me and the road. My heart sank as I figured our ambitious effort to raise a cob house in one day was doomed. 

We had risen at dawn that morning – all 60 of us - and started building at 6:30am. Progress was good at about 10 inches an hour.  We assembled the roof on the ground without a hitch.  The workshop participants were a wonderful, interesting, and hard-working group from all walks of life: a team that builds houses for the homeless, a couple from a Jewish urban farm and education center in Berkeley, a family with three girls from the foothills of California (the girls orchestrated the Friday night talent show all on their own), older women homesteaders, young single guys just getting started in natural building…

Weather Woes

One Day wall.jpg

But alas, the weather was against us. May in Reno is a tricky time of year with any kind of weather possible.  I had checked the weather forecast daily for the past 10 days and saw it go from good to bad and worse.  While Friday, the first day of the workshop where we did skill building, harvested clay, and gave a tour of our project, was pleasant with sunshine and a light wind, Saturday called for afternoon rain and temperatures dropping throughout the day. And that’s just about what we got. 




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