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[Cob] New to cob; particular question re: bringing electricity to a cob structure

Jill Hogan jill.hogan at
Sat Nov 22 09:41:32 CST 2008

Hi I have built a cob house in South Africa with load bearing walls and a light straw/clay roof which we have lime rendered. I have been off the grid for 12 years and this email is sent by solar power. We are about to add a wind generator. All my lights are 12v, so is this laptop, plus my fans, radios, even operate a car vacuum cleaner off my 12v system. My inverter operates a little washing machine, my sewing machine, juice extractor, my big PC, printer and scanner on 220. In all the energy crises I am like a beacon on the hill the only lights to be seen. you can see more on 
Regards Jill

McGregor Alternative Technology Centre
023 625 1533

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  ----- Original Message ----- 
  From: philmoulton at 
  To: Andrew John Martinson 
  Cc: coblist at 
  Sent: Saturday, November 22, 2008 11:37 AM
  Subject: Re: [Cob] New to cob;particular question re: bringing electricity to a cob structure

  Please keep us in the loop on your progress.
  We are planning on the same direction.
  Currently have a cabin in Otis we have relocated to but the site is not healthy and not sunny so are planning another move to Eugene or Bend areas.

  Have found that the few Cob structures that are houses that are "legal" have a post and beam structure and has to be signed off by a structural engineer and quite a cost. Even cob cottage has not "yet" built one but I understand they are planning to do so in 2009.

  Have also found no help or replys from Cob Cottage and find that this coblist is probably the best we can hope for. There are a few people who have cob knowledge but most of those we have attempted to contact have not replied either. Seems there is more interest in building cob houses in Africa then here.

  Best option is to find property with existing power and septic and "remodel" it without telling anyone.
  There was a bill that did not pass that would have allowed any "remodel" less then 35k to NOT require a permit and the problem is to connect power you Need to have a electical permit which of course requires a building permit.

  There are permit requirements on the books for strawbail but they too require a post and beam in most cases.

  We are still hoping to do cob but it may end up to be a "garden room" that we happen to sleep and cook in a lot.

  Phil and lilpony

  philmoulton at

  -------------- Original message -------------- 
  From: "Andrew John Martinson" <andrew05 at> 

  > Hello, 
  > My wife and I are researching alternative living/building with the aim of 
  > building a small cob cottage in Oregon's mid-Willamette valley. She has 
  > experience building with cob at her school in Portland, and my intention is to 
  > take some classes in cob construction (to augment what I've been learning from 
  > books, the web, etc) through Cob Cottage Company. 
  > Of the myriad questions I have, one has to do with bringing electricity to a cob 
  > structure. Though we are considering (and trying to learn more about) solar PV, 
  > wind, microhydro, etc., we realize that we may want to have utilities to our 
  > property. I believe that bringing municipal utilities such as electricity to a 
  > building and site invites beurocracy and expense, but could anyone give me A) a 
  > rough (or specific) charge for such a hookup, and/or B) anecdotal experience of 
  > such an effort? Perhaps if we purchased land with a pre-existing structure that 
  > was wired (and plumbed) we could renovate that electrical system to bring power 
  > to the cob structure. 
  > Thank you. 
  > Andrew 
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