Building the Complete Cob and Timber Cottage

Instructor: Natural Cottage Project
Location: Woodbury, Tennessee
Phone: (440)682-0582
Tuition: $1,450, discounts available


This fourteen-day building intensive will offer a complete introduction to all the skills you’ll need to complete a cob cottage from the foundation to the roof. This workshop offers a unique blend of construction experience in the fundamentals of building cob walls as well as equally important but frequently overlooked details such as plasters, floors, living roofs, and electrical.

You will also learn all the fundamentals of building load bearing cob walls, including designing and building a foundation, choosing materials, mixing cob by foot and with equipment, building walls, design and structural principals. The instructors will also guide us through the practical and theoretical aspects of building a round timber roof for our cob cottage. Timber will be harvested on site, peeled, cut and assembled into a roof during this workshop.

Roughly half of our time will be spent on new construction while the other half will focus on important (and often overlooked) finish work for natural buildings, including clay and lime plasters, earth floors, windows, earthen wall sculpture, artistic embellishments, and more. We will also include extended classroom sessions covering critical topics like building codes, electrical and plumbing installation, construction budget and schedule planning, etc.

What topics will we cover with hands-on practice and theory?

Materials selection for cob and stone
Stone masonry for foundations
Mixing cob by foot and with machinery
Building and trimming cob walls
Installing rough bucks for windows and doors
Installing window and door lintels
Finishing Details
Mixing and applying clay plaster
Mixing and applying lime plaster
Pigments and colors
Installing an earthen floor
Relief sculpture on earth walls
Building a living roof
Log and pole roof framing

What topics will be covered in a classroom setting?

Rubble trench foundations
Selecting materials
Site selection
Passive solar design
Thermal mass and insulation
Structural and functional design
Planning and staging, budgeting
Working with professionals
Strategies for getting more experience and education
Building Codes
Roofing Materials and Design (in addition to hands-on work)

Who should take this workshop?

This workshop is an excellent introduction to natural building for those with lots of interest and little or no experience. However, because of the additional time devoted to details and advanced classroom topics this course will also be of significant value to graduates of our previous introductory workshops and to experienced builders.

How is this class different from other natural building courses we offer?

This workshop is unique among our offerings this year because of its roughly equal focus on hands on rough construction, fine detail, and classroom learning time. Many workshops focus on constructing a single building as far as it can go in the allotted time, usually just the exterior shell. This course will make use of an established natural building site to allow us to work on several building at various stages of completion so that we can give a more in depth focus on important details, like roofing, finishing the interior, and abstract information on topics like working with the building department and making a realistic budget.

What does it cost?
Full price for this 2-week workshop: $1,450
Early Bird Discounts: $975 if paid in full by February 1 – that’s 35% off!
$1,150 if paid in full by February 15 – that’s 20% off
$1,230 if paid in full by March 15 – that’s 15% off
Bring a friend and pay $975 each!
Alumni pay $870 if registered by February 15
Kids come for $20/day


Who are the instructors?

Our instructors each have a decade or more of experience in teaching and building and we work hard to present information in a way that is useful and easy to understand regardless of how much or how little you have built before.

Christina Ott – Modern earthen (cob) building and natural finishes
Barefoot Builder

Deanne Bednar – Earthen sculpture and design, straw bale and bale-cob construction
Strawbale Studio

Chris McClellan – workshop coordinator, natural building author
Industrial Rustic

Where can I see more pictures of the instructors’ work and past workshops?

You can see pictures and learn more about each of our instructors at their individual websites. There are also pictures of our past NCP workshop here