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Making slow headway with cob building codes

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There have been some moves forward in getting approval for building cob homes, especially in California. If you do not know what a cob home is, read about Simon Dale's first cob home built for less than $5,000.

John Fordice, a licensed California architect out of Berkley, started the Cob Research Institute in 2007 and received 501c3 nonprofit status in 2011, has written the first cob code proposal, and is architect of record of the first permitted cob building in California.

View the Institute website to keep up with the progress. There is a forum on the site for asking questions or they can be reached by emailing otherfish@comcast.net or telephone 510.549.1033. They accept donations for the promoting cob.

Also in California, Rob Pollacek has built a 3,000 square foot cob house. He wrote a great article about his experiences in building the house in the Winter 2006 Issue #22 of The CobWeb. The home is completely code compliant with a permit filed under the Nevada County "Title 25" owner-builder process which also is used in Butte County. See numerous pictures of the cob construction at the California Cob website and schedules of cob workshops he holds. His email address is rob@anandabell.net.

Alex Sumerall, alex@thiscobhouse.com, offers a $7.49 ebook called Cob to Code on his website This Cob House. He claims to have solutions on "How to build a cob home according to building code; How to get building permits for cob homes; Loopholes to bypass certain building codes."

Read other articles suggested below on working with code enforcers. In the Greenville, South Carolina region, architectural engineer Bob Bourguignon, AIA, LEED AP Homes, lebourguignon@charter.net, has agreed to sign off on cob plans to get building code acceptance. His address is 121 River Ridge Drive, Moore, S.C., phone number 864.541.7222, cell 864.542.5073.

If you must build in a certain location of the country, check with the area's local building department to learn what their rules about building cob are. Rural areas are much more lenient with some having no rules at all about building with cob. In the entire United States there are no specific cob rules anywhere as yet which is what makes it difficult to build with cob. Cob is similar enough to adobe that adobe code rules may be used in some areas. Most Building Departments go by the International Building Code (IBC), for which states and cities can have their own local rules based on interpretations.

More cob home pioneers are needed to push forward on acceptance of cob as an outstanding building method choice. Please email greenerbuilt1@gmail.com when you have experiences to share with other readers needing to learn how to make it through the red tape.

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