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Posts Tagged ‘subfloor’

What’s new with the cob house this month?  Lots of things!

 

As my belly grows larger each week, physical labor becomes more difficult and complicated for me.  I’ve been very lucky lately to have a lot of help from my friends, who’ve done most of the work on the house, in exchange for a meal, and my company….

 

Greg and Jeremy worked on dry stacking some urbanite steps, so I no longer had to use a five gallon bucket as the first step up to the second floor.  I’ve had some really big pieces of urbanite left in the pile that were way too large to use in the foundation, as well as just much too heavy for me to ever move.  Here’s Greg and Jeremy transforming those chunks of urbanite into my new set of stairs…

Mike and Greg came out on another weekend to help pour the subfloor in the first story.  The mix was 3 buckets of sand, 3 buckets of screenings, and 1/2 bucket of soaked clay.  Its amazing that such a small amount of clay can bind all that aggregate!

 

The work on the subfloor went pretty fast, so Greg and Mike decided to make an urbanite patio outside the entrance.  Greg started digging while Mike collected rubble for drainage.

Greg found access to my rubble trench, and some perforated drainpipe was laid in the drainage layer of the patio so that it empties directly into the trench.

found the rubble trench!

filling with rubble

 

and then a layer of screenings...

laying "stones"

the finished patio!

 

You may have noticed the freshly plastered interior walls in some of the above  pictures.  One weekend we had a work party to plaster the first story interior walls.  Greg and I, as well as our friends Ash, Giovanna, and Kristy, worked together plastering all the oddly shaped surfaces.  Between the bookshelves, niches, window reveals, floor joists, etc, there were a lot of awkward spaces to plaster.  But it was a lot of fun, and so satisfying to see the room transformed by the smooth, smooth plaster.  We used a beautiful yellow-brown clay that we found here on our land, and I really love the color.  I must have been too excited about plastering, because I forgot to take any pictures that day!  But here’s some before pictures:

 

some niches I carved...

pre-plaster

 

And the room post-plaster:

Yesterday Greg and Dan came out, and they worked on decking the roof for the outdoor bed.  The poor tulip poplar rafters have been naked and exposed to the elements since last summer.  But not anymore!  Greg and Dan used the rest of the pile of decking I had left over from the main roof, and there ended up being just enough to finish the job.

I’m thinking of trying an experimental “earthen roof”, involving  my pond liner scraps and a final layer of lime and tiles, but I’ll write more about that later.  And, as soon as the subfloor dries, we’ll be pouring the finish floor layer, sealing that with linseed oil and beeswax, and then I’ll finally be able to  inhabit the entire cob house!

 

 

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It’s been a year now since this project began, and it’s fun for me to think about this time last January – digging into frozen ground, with the cob house still just an idea, sketches on graph paper.  My mind switches back and forth, and sometimes I feel like we’ve been working for a lifetime, and on such a small building.  But most of the time I look at the cob house and see this huge earthen structure, looking massive as it rises out of a plot of land that was an empty field just a year ago.  For a building that has the potential to exist for hundreds of years, sometimes it seems to have grown so fast.

I have to admit I haven’t really done any work on the house this month.  The temperatures are freezing, we’ve had lots of snow and ice, and I’ve been a bit under the weather these last few weeks.  But to make myself feel as if I’ve done some work lately, I wanted to post some pictures from the end of December.

Here you can kind of see the layer of carpet underlay we put over the pond liner.  It was all salvaged from a carpet store dumpster, and then meticulously checked over for staples before it ended up on the roof, where it serves as a protective cushioning layer, keeping that pricey pond liner safe.  There is a little bit of soil on the roof right now, mainly around the edges of the underlay, to hold it down.  Working up so high always adds some extra steps, like creating a pulley system to raise rolls of underlay and buckets of soil…

layer of carpet underlay

We finally got the drainage layer ready in anticipation of pouring the earthen floor.  To save money on gravel, we filled the first floor with chunks of urbanite, and then leveled it with purchased gravel.  If we had used only gravel, I can’t imagine how much it would have cost!  Although it looks like I just tossed a bunch of concrete in the house, each piece was placed on the chunks below it so that it didn’t rock, to keep any settling to a minimum.  And once we had raked in all the gravel, there was A LOT of tamping.

tamping

done!

Noel and I also finally installed all the stovepipe, more than eighteen feet of it!  I originally had planned to have the stovepipe go up through the floor and then out the east wall of the second story, where I had thoughtfully left a hole in the wall for the stovepipe.  But, because I ended up with a wood stove where the pipe exits from the rear, I decided it would be a better use of space if I put the stove in a different spot, and had the pipe go straight though the north wall of the first floor.  Which meant we had to make a new hole in the wall.  Greg and I took turns pounding the wall with a heavy steel dig bar until it finally broke through.  Trying to deconstruct cob isn’t easy!  It’s incredible how tough this mix of materials is.

Here’s a picture of the stove pipe exiting through the north wall of the house:

exiting through the north wall

And here’s how it attaches to the roof.  I didn’t want to go through the living roof, so we got one section of insulated pipe and kept it a short distance from the fascia:

As this month comes to a close, I’m getting excited about the days slowly getting longer, the weather slowly getting warmer, my energy returning, and the house getting closer to completion!

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