Print This Page

Essential Reading - Cob

Title: The Cob Builders Handbook
Author: Becky Bee
Comments: 173 pages, 3rd edition. One-third of the world's population lives in homes made of unbaked earth. Fifty thousand cob buildings are still in use in England today, most of them built in the 18th and 19th centuries. This is not a fad or craze, but rather a building technique that has stood the test of time. It is also, unfortunately, one of the many environmentally friendly techniques that was nearly lost in this century when we have been awash in a culture where every challenge is solved by the use of gallons of fossil fuel.

Title: Building with Earth
Author: John Norton
Comments: 80 pages. A practical handbook for helping the owner-builder to decide about using earth for construction, shows extensive information on soil testing, covers methods from adobe, to rammed earth to cob, plus floors, foundations, load bearing walls, formwork design, Clearly presented technical information and drawings. An excellent book for pre-planning of soils before earthen construction. Drawings show adobe , rammed earth construction, domes, building an earthen floor, making bricks and more.

Title: The Cobbers Companion
Author: Michael Smith
Comments: 136 pages. Cob houses are sculpted, allowing the builder to be creative in many more ways than traditional building allows. Cob has been used for centuries in rainy and windy climates. This ancient method doesn't contribute to deforestation, pollution or mining. It doesn't depend on manufactured materials or power tools. Cob in nontoxic and completely recyclable. This practical guide is based many years of experience building with cob in the U.S..., Mexico, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

Essential Reading - Cordwood Masonry

Title: Cordwood Construction - A Log End View
Author:
Richard Flatau
Address: W4837 Schulz Spur Dr. Merrill, WI 54452
Phone: 715.536.3195
Web Site: Find out more about his book and order information right here on Daycreek.Go to the Meet the Masons section.
Email: FLATO@aol.com
Comments: Richard's book has information about his house, but also expands on topics from the foundation on up to chinking the walls. There's also a wide range of house photos that give a good representation of the different styles used to build a cordwood house. Very nicely done.

Title: Cordwood Building: State of the Art
Author: Rob Roy
Address: 366 Murtagh Hill Road, West Chazy, NY 12992
Phone: 518.493.7744
Web Site: www.cordwoodmasonry.com
Comments:
Important papers from the 1994 and 1999 cordwood conferences brought up to date include Bill Tishler's historical piece, A Round House with 16 Sides ; Bottle Designs; Patterned Cordwood; Electric Wiring with Cordwood Masonry; Cement Retarders; What to do about Shrinkage; Cordwood Retrofit on a Mobile Home; three other articles on cordwood and the code, and more.

Title: Complete Book of Cordwood Masonry Housebuilding
Author: Rob Roy
Address: 366 Murtagh Hill Road, West Chazy, NY 12992
Phone: 518.493.7744
Web Site: www.cordwood.com
Comments: This is the first book that got me started and is easy to find. There's also a video from Rob that I would strongly suggest to anyone considering building. I may need a second copy of this book. It gets used a lot!
As of January 2004, this book is unfortunately out of print.

Title: '94 Continental Cordwood Conference Collected Papers
Author: Edited by Rob Roy, Many authors from those that have built cordwood houses.
Address: 366 Murtagh Hill Road, West Chazy, NY 12992
Phone: 518.493.7744
Web Site: www.cordwood.com
Comments: There's a wealth of information from this conference. I found this book extremely useful in putting together a pamphlet that I used to get my building permit.

Title: '99 Continental Cordwood Conference Collected Papers
Author: Edited by Rob Roy, Many authors from those that have built cordwood houses.
Address: 366 Murtagh Hill Road, West Chazy, NY 12992
Phone: 518.493.7744
Web Site: www.cordwood.com
Comments: Lots of new information and photographs of cordwood homes from around the world.

Title: Double Wall Stackwall Construction
Author: Cliff Shockey
Address: Box 193, Vanscoy, Skaskatchewan, Canada S0L 3J0
Phone: 306.668.2141
Comments: Well, I thought I knew how I was going to build our house until I found this book. Cliff's technique for building a cordwood house involves building two walls with a vapor barrier and fiberglass insulation in between. This is by far, the most energy efficient way to build a cordwood house and if you live up North, you might want to consider his approach. The book is not as detailed as Rob's but he gets his point across.

Title: ABC - About Building Cordwood
Author: Jack Henstridge
Address: RR#1 Oromocto, NB Canada
Phone: 506.488.2477
Comments: Jack's book is one of the present day founders of cordwood house building and he has collected them into this booklet. Although the illustrations are a little hard to see (photo copies), there's a lot of good ideas and photos of cordwood houses.

Title: Stackwall ~ How to Build It (2nd Edition)
Author: Al Lansdown and Kris Dick
Address: Building Alternatives, Inc., P.O. Box 22, Anola, Maitoba, Canada ROE OAO
Web Site: www.buildalt.com
Email: krisd@buildalt.com
Comments: Over 100 pages of excellent information on stackwall (cordwood construction). This book gives a detailed description of how to actually build a stackwall house. Live from Canada, it's a book worth adding to your collection.

 

Essential Reading - Strawbale

Title: The Straw Bale House
Author: Athena Swentzell Steen, Bill Steen and David Bainbridge, with David Eisenberg
Comments: 320 pages . 40 illustrations . 280 b&w photos . 20 color photos . floor plans . resources . bibliography . index

Title: Buildings of Earth and Straw
Author: David Easton
Comments: 192 pages . 48 b&w photos. illustrations. appendices

Title: Build It With Bales : A Step-By-Step Guide to Straw-Bale Construction, Version Two
Author: S. O. MacDonald, Matts Myhrman
Comments: 147 pages . 15 b&w photos . 100 illustrations . index . bibliography

Webmaster's Note: Although I am not promoting the following sites, there are a few good resources for books such as these. You may want to visit the following publisher's sites for ordering alternative house building books:

Chelsea Green
Taylor Publishing