Archive for the ‘design’ Category

After cobbing day after day without a break, in addition to working full time, I’ve let the pace slow the last couple of weeks, spending more time hanging out with friends, reading, taking walks through the woods, and finally returning some phone calls and emails.  As the sun sets earlier each evening, just to wake up later each morning, I’ve been hearing the pending winter weather whispering to me, telling me to take it slow, and catch up on some sleep…

We have still been working a lot on the cob house, cobbing some random spots, trimming and shaping walls and window reveals, and doing some much needed site clean-up.  I built a hearth for our tiny wood stove, out of urbanite and cob (I’ll post some pictures of it soon).  And Noel and Gray spent a lot of time in the woods, harvesting and de-barking tulip poplar to use as rafters.

For the ridge beam I found a nice sourwood tree with a gentle curve, and Noel and I spent hours last weekend shaving all the bark off.  We only have one drawshave, so Noel and Gray made an improvised drawshave by taking a large knife we had dumpstered from behind the thrift store, and pounding it into a piece of wood, creating a double handled blade.  It actually does a great job getting the bark off all the roundwood!

On Sunday we managed to carry the ridge beam out of the woods and place it on top of this two story building.  It took at least eight of us to haul it from the forest, and even with that many people it was still really, really heavy.  My shoulder is still sore…  But its worth all the pain, because I’m really looking forward to not having to see this anymore:

On Monday my friends Greg and Steve worked on placing rafters and securing them to the ridge beam.  Each rafter is notched where it rests on the beam, and also secured with screws.  The ends of the rafters that rest on the wall will also be attached to “deadmen,” which will further anchor them to the walls.

Noel rounds the edges

About half the rafters are in place, and we’ll be working later this week on the rest of them.  Soon enough I’ll be able to fold up all these tarps, and sleep peacefully through rainy nights…





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model making

I haven’t done much work on the house lately, due to all the snow (and me leaving town again…).  But the other night, after working on a cob garden wall with my friend Greg, we were inspired to gather some cardboard, tape, and scissors, and settle in for an exciting night of model making.

I’ve been having trouble figuring out the roof for our house.  The roof line.  The materials.  The pitch.  The whole roof design in general.  I’ve done sketch after sketch on graph paper, and ended up no closer to any roofing inspiration.  After making this model, I realized designing a roof in 2-D just doesn’t make much sense.

Deciding on the materials for the roof has been difficult, partly b/c we are interested in doing rainwater catchment.  When collecting rainwater people generally use metal roofing, but metal just doesn’t seem fitting for an earthen building.  I was into the idea of making wood shingles/shakes, but that would require a steeper pitch than I want for a house already so tall and skinny, and there is also the whole issue of tannins when collecting rainwater.  Thatch, in my opinion,  is the most beautiful roofing material, and I definitely plan on experimenting with it for other buildings on our land, but thatch, too, needs a steeper pitch (thatch generally needs a 45-60 degree pitch).  Originally I was against the idea of a living roof, b/c I selfishly didn’t want those plants up there using my rainwater, but I’m leaning that way now.  We are playing around with different green roof designs that would still allow for some amount of rainwater collection.

And, because I’m a nerd:

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floor plans

first floor

second floor

So here are the house plans.  Pretty simple and straight forward.  One room downstairs, with a bench, a wood stove, a desk, shelves, and a ladder leading to the second floor.  The room upstairs will provide a place to sleep during the cold winter months, as well during any other challenging weather days, like one of our great summer thunderstorms.  Also on the second level will be plenty of storage space for clothes and anything else we want to keep up there.  The house is designed to create a lot of outdoor hangout space, which is where I imagine we will sleep most nights.  What I like most about living in a small space (which right now is an 8’ x 12’ bedroom/kitchen) is that I end up outside most of the time.  So there will be a cob wall extending out from the eastern wall of the house that will designate an outdoor living area.  That’s where we’ll have an outdoor bed, a table, a fire pit, and plenty of seating.

The house doesn’t have a kitchen, or a bathroom, or a lot of other things.  That was intentional.  We have plans to build all that separately, as spaces that can be shared with other people living on the land.  There is the potential for a lot of people to be staying here at any given time.  Do we each need our own bathroom, our own kitchen?  That just seems silly.

south wall

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