My close friend, Mani Mullenneaux's parents Hap and Lin have been doing just that. They've had "cobbing" parties, mixing earth from their own land in our hometown of Fairfield, Iowa (South East corner of the state) to create their sustainable and natural dream home. Their end result: 400 square feet including a loft bedroom. An article from The Iowa Source features Lin and Hap's journey through not only building their cob home, but the community they've built around it. I was home for a little this summer before moving to Colorado, and I almost went with Mani to help cob, so the story touched me on a personal level. Here are the highlights from the article, with my opinions and thoughts inserted throughout...
Lin in the early stages of foundation of the cob walls (Photo Credit: Hap and Lin Mullenneaux)
As of October the house has grown and is close to finish. There is a white lime-plaster finish, a green metal roof to catch rainwater and a periwinkle blue door.
“Hap wanted the door to be the color of morning glories,” says Lin. The morning glories have climbed to the top of the arches over the garden and Hap’s mother Dorothy and her husband Bill Beal have planted a beautiful garden of their own, next to the camper where they have lived this summer."
Hap's mother Dorothy and her husband, Bill enjoying the 'cob dance' (Photo Credit: Hap and Lin Mullenneaux)
I think the author, Linda Egenes does a beautiful job of describing the mystical cob, cottage of which I can't wait to see when I make a trip back home:
"But the cottage, the cottage. It’s a cozy, magical place, with a winding staircase to the wooden loft where the bed already rests, and two small baskets for socks and sleepwear are the only other furniture. Pine saplings, cut as dead wood by Hap from a nearby forest, form rustic beams downstairs. The partially plastered interior walls feel smooth and cool as stone. A wood stove sits in the northwest corner, cob benches create a window seat under the south windows."
The best part is that their unique home cost them only an estimated $7000 and half of that was in the windows and roof. Not only have they efficiently spent less on their new home but they are reaping the benefits of the sustainable lifestyle it will provide them.
“The experience of building this house was completely different than the home we built ten years ago,” says Hap. “I don’t remember feeling so vibrant at the end of the process like I do now. These materials are alive. With materials coming out of the ground, with labor coming from so many wonderful friends and family, it’s a tremendous blessing that we’ve received. It feels like a miracle."