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[Cob] Building permits in NC for any natural building, especially cob?

phil philhawnnc at
Mon May 12 21:17:19 CDT 2008

Sam and Duncan and any other NCers out there.

Home Power had an article in the April/May issue of 2006 written by Stephen Hren, the builder of a fully permited cob house in the piedmont region og NC.

Currently there are no workarounds to get by the permiting process for a residence in NC. Anyhting larger than 144 sq ft must be permited, the exception being agricultural buildings.

The article mentioned above tells of the compromises the owners made to get their permit. While difficult, they did succeed.

Other cob buildings have been permited, the one that comes to mind is cob-built workshop outside of Boone. The problem with that structure was that they went through the process of getting a permit for a non-residential structure and fully intended to move into it as a residence. Their neighbors turned them in. It stands abandon last time I checked.

I worked for two and half years to make headway with inspectors through my non-profit group, North Carolina Natural Building Coalition, but saw little progress. I decided to go to school and earn my credentials in ecological building design and then try again. I graduate in December!

As far as other natural building structures, there are many. Most have a timber frame to support the roof which seems to be the biggest problem when discussing load bearing cob. Do a search for strawbale and you will find quite a few in NC along with other hybrid buildings.

Don't dispare, and continue to pursue the permit process because it will help pave the way for those that wish to build this way in the future.

Phil Hawn

claystruction: Eco-Design and Build



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