The Year of Mud: Building a Cob House

Brian Liloia, a former Green Building Elements writer and a resident of an eco-village called The Dancing Rabbit, recently self-published his first book, “The of Year of Mud: Building a Cob House”. The books is available through Blurb for purchase on their website. Brian based the book on his experience of building a first cob house at the Dancing Rabbit.

Brian moved into the Dancing Rabbit in April of 2008. He built his first cob home there which completed almost a year later in July 2009. He documents the complete construction process in his book and shares knowledge with the readers about living in an earthen home.

Brian gives an intensely personal account of building with this natural building material. According to the publisher,

The Year of Mud is one novice builder’s story of building his first cob house, a house constructed largely of natural, local materials, many literally straight from the earth and surrounding ecosystem.

This book gears towards sustainable builders, home-owners and anyone interested in Environmental issues. “The Year of Mud demonstrates one example of a building that is intuitive, inexpensive, earth-friendly, and creative. And muddy, too, of course,” Liloia says. Some of the features of the book includes:

Photo detailed content with over 60 photos

Cob building lessons and recipes

And a highly detailed account of how the cob home was constructed and built by the author

Cob houses have risen with renewed interest with sustainable and green builders due to the natural material being a fireproof, resistant to seismic activity, and economical construction material. Similar to adobe, cob consists of clay, natural earth, straw and sand and have been around since prehistoric times. The most remarkable aspect of cob house is how inexpensive it is to build with it.

According to TreeHugger, Brian’s cob house took less than three thousand dollars to build his 360 square feet home. That equals to less than $8.33 per square foot. ” Here’s the actual breakdown of the building budget.

Sand (just over 30 tons total) - $507

Gravel (about 13 tons total) - $177

Straw (16 bales) - $36 (most straw I used was free)

Black walnut scrap lumber - $100

Misc. lumber - $20

Windows - $220 (two casement, one double hung window)

Electrical - $28

Galvanized wire - $30

Nails - $100 (I couldn’t believe how expensive nails are)

Raw linseed oil (for floor) - $72

EPDM pond liner $622

Polycarbonate for skylight $400

Reprinted with permission from Green Building Elements