Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Cob and rain

The rainy season is in full swing, with huge storms most days, I've been unable to build as much the past few weeks because of this. I have covered the walls to protect them from the rain as there is no roof to do this yet.  There should be breaks in the rain that will allow me to continue building, this season has been different every year since I've lived here, so it's hard to know how the coming months will be.  
I had to protect the walls with plastic during the storms, the trees have all their leaves now, the bush is thick and full of life! 
rain collected from the shed roof after a storm
We have started to buy a few fence poles at a time, this is mainly to keep livestock out of areas where we will be growing crops. It won't stop elephants or lions, this we will tackle at a later date, possibly using chilli fence or bee-hive fence.
Friends coming for a holiday, end up doing some hard work!!
Filling up the clay in the soaking bins
It's great to have some shade again where the cob mixing goes on!!
The pit on the plot where the majority of the sand in the mix comes from is getting pretty deep, this will  be a made into a water cistern to collect rainwater at a later date

When the weather has been clear, I've been building up the side of the house that will have a higher floor level, so that the remaining window frames can be placed.
I will be using glass bottles in the walls once the walls are higher, this is commonly done in cob building,  as decorative windows, often the bottles are left as they are with the neck on the outside wall. Having the narrow neck on one side means that less light will get through, in Becky Bee's book she suggest placing a jar over the neck. I was thinking of cutting  one bottle to have a perfect fit and size for the wall thickness to fit over another bottle.  So I looked up ways of cutting bottles with a minimum amount of tools and found a method of using a piece of string soaked in nail polish remover that is tied around the bottle, then burned, then dunked into cold water. 
It hasn't been working as well as it said on the internet!! The cut is not clean, when it does break!!
This is what I'm aiming at so that the circular ends are  on both exterior and interior walls to allow more light through. 

Our friends came with materials to make solar cookers, so we tried making a couple of designs which have yet to be tested properly. 


  1. Wow I am inspired! Just read all your posts here. I am moving to Chad next month with my family to begin work in education and agriculture. Now mulling cob construction...

    I will being keeping tabs on your progress--especially since I grew up in Africa and tend to be skeptical about the resistance of any natural construction to termites :)

    1. Hi Nathanael, Thank you for the comment, I'm glad you are inspired! Unfortunately though you must read the post I have just written as I have come into some problem with termites! This doesn't mean cob is not possible in Africa, I took a very purist approach and took a lot of risks. I know there are many other people who have built with cob in Africa and with a few precautions it works. There are also other natural building techniques that do not have any organic matter in them that are more appropriate in termite prone areas. Such as sandbag/earthbag, adobe bricks without straw, compressed earth brick etc. What kind of work with agriculture are you doing? I have just completed a permaculture design course which I am excited to apply to my whole life!

  2. I still believe progress is good and you are doing good job even if in rainy season. Thank you for sharing it with us and keep updating us with further proceedings