Rethink Your Life!
Finance, health, lifestyle, environment, philosophy
The Work of Art and The Art of Work
Kiko Denzer on Art

[Cob] Janet-windows, doors, thick walls

Henry Raduazo raduazo at
Mon Dec 22 08:08:44 CST 2008

Again regarding 5 foot thick earth walls earth sheltered building  
design is well known and there are several good books that explain  
how it works. Basically you try to put portions of your house below  
ground and the above ground portion is covered with an earthen berm  
at least 6 foot thick. The actual wall is usually constructed from  
cinder block or cast concrete, but I think rammed tires have also  
been used.
	Earth bags might work as the interior wall as well, but I know of no  
place where it has been tried.  You would need to make the wall  
convex for more strength and be very careful placing the earthen berm  
so that the pressure of the earth does not cave in your wall.  
Insulation, if any, is provided on the interior wall. The earth used  
for the berm covering the outside of the wall can be sand or clay or  
garden soil you do not care. You use whatever soil you have available.
	There are even a few videos on the internet. I think you can find  
them by searching "earthship", but I am not a big fan of ramming dirt  
into old tires.
	I currently have in my book collection: Earth Sheltered Housing:  
Code, Zoning and Financing Issues by the U.S. Department of Housing  
and Urban Development, The Complete Book of Underground Houses by Rob  
Roy, and How to build an Underground House by Malcolm Wells. I also  
had one of the earth ship books but I may have loaned that out.
	These books are left over from my days as a Patent Examiner and if  
there is anyone one on this list who is actually considering building  
an earth sheltered house, I will be glad to loan them to anyone  
willing to pay shipping out and back. I want them back in six months.  
(That is plenty of time to read them and copy out anything you might  

On Dec 21, 2008, at 10:27 PM, Barbara Roemer wrote:

>> Hmmm, I wonder about saving money on the permit: in California,  
>> buildings
>> are usually permitted based on the exterior footprint.  With some
>> conversations with building depts., some jurisdictions will accept  
>> the
>> interior measurement and add the thickness of a 2 x6"wall so that  
>> the owner
>> isn't in effect penalized for a super-insulated wall.
> Also,  someone  else probably already commented on this, but a 5'  
> thick wall
> of cob will take a loooong time to heat up if the house cools for a  
> couple
> of days during the winter.  I think you'd be much better off with a
> conventional strawbale or light straw clay wall and a very thick  
> cob like
> plaster on the interior, and conventional clay plaster on the  
> exterior.
> Then you'd have the insulation where you need it, outside the  
> thermal mass.
> You might defeat your comfort level with so much mass at such a low  
> rate of
> insulation.  See for the Steens' approach to  
> built-ins
> with bale.
> I encourage you to use a vapor barrier between the ground and your  
> floor.
> We didn't on our bathroom addition, and's a colder  
> space than
> need be because ground moisture (there is excellent drainage, so  
> it's not
> that) soaks up the heat.
> Best of luck with your project.
> Barbara
>> OKOKOK lolol
>> "I still want to keep the walls 5 feet thick because I want the  
>> effect
>> of building everything into the walls.
>> It will also save me money on the permit."
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>> End of Coblist Digest, Vol 6, Issue 177
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