Building Your Own Cob Home – The Basics

If you’re looking to build an eco-friendly and sustainable home, then a cob house might be the perfect choice for you.

Cob is a natural building material made of clay, sand, and straw, which is dried in the sun to create a strong and durable material.

With a few basic tools and materials, building your own cob home is easy.

In this guide, we’ll outline the steps required to build your own cob home, including mixing cob clay, constructing the foundation and walls, and choosing the right materials.

Before we start:

If you have never built a home or used Cob before, then it would be advisable to hire a few professional builders to help or go on a few training courses.

The benefit of building a Cob home?

Cob homes are eco-friendly, cost-effective, highly sustainable, and energy-efficient, offering a warm and earthy feel to the living space.

They are durable and resilient, lasting for hundreds of years if adequately maintained, with a unique aesthetic appeal that can make your living environment stand out.

When did we start building homes with Cob?

Cob homes have been around for centuries, with evidence of buildings dating back to ancient times.

The use of cob in building construction peaked during the early 19th century, when it became a popular method of construction in England and Wales.

In the modern era, cob is still used as a natural and sustainable building material worldwide.

How much does it cost to build a Cob house?

Building a cob home is an economical option, depending on the design and size of the house.

Generally, you can expect to spend between £20,000 and £50,000 for a relatively small home.

For more complex designs, costs can easily exceed £100,000.

Do I need planning permission for a Cob home?

Depending on your locality, you may need to apply for planning permission prior to constructing a cob home.

Generally, planning permission is required if the building will be of a certain size or height, or is located in an area designated for protection.

It’s best to check with your local planning authority about specific requirements in your area.

What tools are needed to build a cob house

Tools Required for Building a Cob House
Wheelbarrow or mixing machine
Hoe and shovels
Tarp or plastic sheeting
Wooden frame for defining structure of the home
Trowel or plastering implement
Carpenter’s Level
Hammer and nails
Saw and measuring tools
Drill and screws
Pipe or conduit for wiring and plumbing

This list is just a guide to some of the basic tools necessary to build a cob house.

Depending on your specific design plans or requirements, the list of tools needed could be longer, or there could be some that aren’t required.

Additionally, specialised tools may be necessary to handle unique challenges in construction or to finish the project.

Understanding the Basics of Cob Building

Before you start building, it’s essential to understand the basic principles of cob building.

Cob is a mix of clay soil, sand, and straw that is used to make bricks and walls.

The great thing about cob is that it’s a natural and sustainable building material that’s readily available.

Also, it can be used to build various structures, from sheds to entire homes.

Choosing The Right Materials for Your Cob House

Choosing the right materials is crucial when building a cob home.

The type of clay you use is the most important factor in the success of your cob home.

You need to ensure that the soil is free of any contaminants, including heavy metals, salt, and organic matter.

You can determine your soil’s suitability for cob by performing a simple soil test.

Planning and Designing Your Cob Home Layout

Planning and designing your cob home layout is an essential step in the building process.

You don’t want to start building, only to realise later that you don’t have enough space or that your home doesn’t meet your needs.

Begin by surveying your land and deciding how big your home will be, what rooms you’ll need, and their sizes.

Once you have a basic layout in mind, you can start drawing up plans for your building.

Mixing Cob Clay

Mixing cob clay is a crucial step, and it can be done simply by hand or using a small mixing machine.

The basic mixture is approximately one-third clay, one-third sand, and one-third straw, but the ratio may vary depending on your soil type, climate, and other environmental factors.

Constructing the Foundation and Walls of Your Cob Home

Constructing the foundation and walls of your cob house are the most challenging parts of the project, but they require a lot of hard work and patience.

To start, you will need to excavate your foundation and lay the footing. It’s essential to get the footing level before building the walls.

When constructing the walls, some people use a wooden frame to define the cob building structure, and build the walls in sections, starting at the corners.

Use a tarp or plastic sheeting to protect the walls from weather damage while they dry.

Pros & Cons:

As with any building material, there are advantages and disadvantages to building with cob.

Some of the advantages include its inherent thermal mass, which helps regulate temperature, and its ability to absorb moisture, which can help regulate humidity levels.

Cob houses are also built to last and are usually more affordable than traditional homes.

However, some disadvantages include the fact that cob isn’t a common building material, which can lead to difficulty finding skilled professionals to work on it.


Don’t forget Cob homes need windows, doors and a roof

Windows, doors and a roof are essential components of a cob house.

Generally, it is advisable to use recycled or upcycled materials for these elements, as this reduces the overall cost of construction.

In addition, you must choose materials that will provide insulation against the weather and be able to withstand the weight of the cob walls.

Choosing suitable frames for windows and doors is also important to ensure they fit properly into the structure.

Finally, when choosing a roofing material, you need to decide whether you would prefer thatched, timber shingles, slate or a tiled roof.


Building a cob house is an excellent way to create a sustainable and eco-friendly home.

With a few basic tools and materials, you can build a durable, energy-efficient, and beautiful home.

Remember to choose the right materials, plan your layout carefully, mix your cob clay properly, and take your time to ensure your building is structurally sound.

With a little patience and effort, you can create your own piece of paradise that is both sustainable and beautiful.


  • Zero & Zen

    Dedicated to the cause of sustainability and eco-friendliness, our mission is to raise awareness about the importance of eco-conscious living.

    We firmly believe that individual actions can spark collective change and recognise the need for sustainable living to be tailored to your unique circumstances and pace.

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