Ask Uncle Mud is a free service. Questions will be answered as part of our Ask Uncle Mud column as time permits. Generally we choose questions that we feel will have wider appeal. If you urgently need information, or have questions specific to your individual build, please consider using our consulting services.

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Mon, 07/27/2020 - 16:37

Marilyn From Utah asked: "How Much would it cost to have a 1000 square foot Natural Building constructed for me?"

People often come to Natural Builders saying to us something like "I heard so-and-so built their house for $25 per square foot." So much of what we want to do depends on how much money it costs, and we spend most of our time in pursuit of that money so "how much does a natural house cost per square foot" is a perfectly reasonable question that it is surprisingly hard to answer in an equally reasonable fashion. The short answer is "It depends."

The less short but more useful answer is that it generally costs about the same amount per square foot to have a natural materials house built for you as any custom house would in your area, generally between $150 and…

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Mon, 07/27/2020 - 16:35

Travis asks,

"Anyone have any experience using a masonry sealant on cob? Specifically, I'm interested in cob tub/hot tub applications. I've seen the old video of the cob hot tub attached to the wood fired oven....but this seems to be the only recorded application. I'm sure there are more. I'm curious about long term water exposure and using possibly some portland in the final layer then sealing as you would a concrete hot tub or pool. Benefit would be a "more" natural process and the ability to sculpt the product more than straight concrete would allow. Thoughts? Experience? Photos?"

Cob expert Miguel Elliott (way above my Uncle Mud pay grade)…

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Mon, 07/27/2020 - 16:34

Amanda writes:  

I live in the sandhills of Nebraska. Are our extreme high and low temps are going to be conducive to building a cob cottage here. What are your thoughts on this? We max at 130 degrees and bottom at -30 all before wind factor. Oh and its fairly open prairie but there are some trees and hills.


Your area has a few interesting tie-ins to Natural Building you should be aware of. East of you in Gotherberg Nebraska I came across recreation of the "Soddies" our pioneer ancestors lived in because (A) there wasn't any timber, and (B) it was too cold and windy to live in a timber house comfortably if you could afford to build one. Here's a link to a short clip about my visit to one a couple years ago…

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Mon, 07/27/2020 - 16:33

Originally Posted on Patreon. Become a Patron to get early access and exclusive content from Uncle Mud.

Michael asks:
#1 can you build with cob in colder climates? (SW Missouri) 
#2 how thick do the walls have to be? 
Thanks!   Michael,

1. Can and should are two different things. Before the advent of modern insulation cob houses were among the most comfortable because the heat from your fire warmed the wall, and the the thermal mass of the wall kept warming you long after the fire went out. More importantly, unlike brick or log houses which also had relatively high mass, cob houses didn't have a thousand tiny cracks letting cold wind…

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