Cob Lodging

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11/15/2013

I am very interested in natural building and permaculture. I have been researching building with cob and have found a least one place that uses their cob cottages as lodging. However, no internet research has lead me to understand how to get these created cottages zoned for commercial lodging.

Because we want our B & B to be more of a "homestead inn" - a lifestyle and a business, we not only want to make smart financial decisions but smart earthly footprints as well. Purchasing an established B & B or homestead/farmstay is beyond our financial means so we are looking into all alternatives. What is neat bout cobb is that you are literally sculpting the suite/cottage/home.

This is the link to a cob lodging place http://www.wattlehollow.com/retreat_lodging.htm#oceanlodge

Does anyone here have an unusual structure for your inn?

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Arks's picture
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05/22/2010

Well, I went to the http://www.wattlehollow.com/retreat_lodging.htm#oceanlodge site expecting lodging built out of corn cobs. Companies that make canned corn must have a lot of cobs to dispose of, so I pictured you driving away from a nearby plant with truck loads of cobs that you glued together to make a structure.

Even at the website they just assumed I knew what cob construction is and didn't define it. I must have been ill on cob day at school, but now that I've researched it, it reminds me of wattle and daub construction. You might look into that as well.

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Innkeep's picture
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06/04/2008

I have a very traditional B&B in a county that did not define B&B in the county zoning ordinance.  Before I could do anything else, I had to go through an appeal process to obtain a zoning variance to get permission from the county to open a B&B.  The "catch 22" is that by obtaining zoning, the reconstruction I did on my 50 year old house was no longer residential remodeling. It had to be done under the current COMMERCIAL building codes.  Even my ceilings were 2" too short.  Long story short, after a complete and total revision of the floor plan including a new addition, and submission of two building permits to the state (one for addition, one for remodel even though it was the same project), the architect and the county building commissioner (an appointed official who is in charge of inspecting buildings before they can be occupied) came up with several work-arounds so that I could avoid gutting the entire house.

If there had been a different local building commissioner who had a different view of how the world works, I might never have been able to build my B&B.  In so many places the ultimate thumbs up or thumbs down rests in the hands of one guy who may or may not value sustainability the way you do.

I would predict that you will encounter obstacles to this project that you have not yet even imagined.  I can't tell you which officials in your locality would have to be sympathetic, but I can tell you that the commercial code book is not online as are most other state and county ordinances.  When you think about picking out the state that you'll locate in, or even where you are living now, I think you should find a school of architecture and see if anyone there has experience in what kind of building codes you might encounter, and how difficult it might be to be in compliance with those codes, if anybody there at the school has actual experience building this kind of building.

Albuquerque has some adobe B&B's.  There's one out there with adobe in its name.  You might contact her.

In the retreat's case, she had owned the property for decades and was known in the community.  That might have been to her favor in getting permission to open the center.  You really should contact that lady to see how much trouble she had when she opened, or (no offense, Arky)  if she's actually operating under the radar, so to speak.  See what kind of liability insurance she carries - that might be too up close and personal a question to ask.

Building a code-compliant building that can be insured for the proper liability of keeping guests safe should be one that has plumbing, electrical and HVAC done as well as could be done by licensed contractors.  Will your building inspector come out and check off the work you do at each step of the way, or will you have to hire licensed subcontractors, costing more and taking time away from your day job to make sure they show up when they're supposed to.  I have some doubts that you would actually be able to save too much money that way.  

Here in the midwest, we think of farms comprising hundreds of acres. In our county, if I wanted to sell off a piece of property from one of my farms to build a house on, the zoning would not allow less than 5 acres to be sold.  Good farm land here is selling for well over $10,000 per acre.  Are you thinking of 1 or 2 acres for chickens and a kitchen garden, or enough acres to grow organic crops for the farmer's market?  That is very time and labor-intensive as well. Hard to imagine one couple doing enough lodging rooms as well as a major agricultural project.  

I'm not trying to be negative.  When I first started on my innkeeping journey I spent innumerable hours researching.  Lots of my ideas were discarded.  Eventually I ended up with the place that works for me.

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11/15/2013

Thank you, InnKeep. I think I will contact her. There are some other of these cob places and a larger community in OR. I think it would be a huge undertaking for sure. I think at this point, I need to call it quits on the B & B and just go for the lifestyle. If after all is said and done, I can have a B & B that will be awesome, but for now... it will have to be tabled.

Madeleine's picture
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09/29/2011

There's also the place that has yurts for their buildings. And they use permaculture as well.

But, their story is particular to their location and when they built, etc.

What worked several years ago might not now.

Keep in mind that depending on the size of your building or your renovation you may need to follow ADA requirements.

Innkeep had an excellent suggestion in contacting an architectural school in the area where you want to build. And nothing is truth if it isn't written down and signed by the actual person in charge. And if they retire, quit or get fired you start over from scratch in some places.

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OnTheShore's picture
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08/28/2011

You might take a look at this thread for some unusual accommodations: http://www.innspiring.com/node/13803

 

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11/15/2013

Thanks! I checked it out. Very cool. (Some literally) Smiling

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