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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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on December 9, 2004
Well, I ordered Becky's book and started to dig a hole for the foundation on July 28th 2003, and after 9 months (with a 5 month break for the winter in the middle) I built a house! I did it all with a great deal of blind faith that you wouldn't mislead someone as to just how easy building can be, and it's true. It all worked out. It's cozy and quiet and I will never be the same. I learned so much about myself in the process, and the earth really was the teacher.

I am so grateful that Becky wrote this book, and made it possible for me to build my own house by hand. I love living in it !!!

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on March 29, 1998
From advice on 'snuggling' foundation rocks together to practical explanation of creating the right mix..Becky really shows she knows how to work with earth. I began a cob bench after falling in love with photos of hers. I don't know any other way to sculpt, have fun, get dirty, and still create something useful. People might not build a whole house, but a meditation room, or garden shed, even animal house would be doable. Local cobbers I know respect her skills highly, I'd love to see more finished home and project photos. Anyone can do this, it's fun and gets you in touch with dirt!
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on January 4, 2000
Enjoyed reading how to build cob houses on a subject that is hard to find information on. Becky Bee's book on Cob House Building is thin because she delves only into the cob building portion. Those looking for electrical and plumbing ideas must go to other books. Still I believe that I could build a passable dwelling from the data within and some electrical and plumbing help.
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on January 19, 2000
Becky Bee's Cob Builder's Handbook is well written in plain, understandable language which even the most basic beginners can clearly understand. Her illustrations are equally clear. There is no doubt that anyone who is interested in building with cob can follow the steps in this book and enjoy a reasonable degree of success. Hopefully, future editions might include more ideas for house layouts and more photos of completed projects. That would bring it up to 5 stars!
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on December 16, 2002
Great book, but where are the photo's? This book could have been so much more if was full of photo's. Lots of info on Cob building, but the lack of photo's of peoples finished projects leaves you wondering.
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on November 9, 2006
I completely enjoyed this book, it is informative, practical, and consistently puts forth the message that ANYONE can build a home. I bought some acreage and have started my own. When I get overwhelmed, I reread this book, step back, and break it down into smaller steps. One of the easiest, most encouraging books I've read on any subject, and the best of the dozen books I've read on this subject.
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on May 12, 2003
Becky Bee does an EXCELLENT job of outlining the process for building a cob home. At first, I was a bit apprehensive because I am a very visual learner, and I noticed that throughout the book, the diagrams are all hand-drawn. I was concerned that without the actual photographs, I would get stumped on how to construct the house, or that some important idea would not be conveyed in the diagrams. Needless to say, I was wrong! The diagrams that Becky included in the book are all very clear and useful, and super-simple to understand. What I loved most about this book, though, was the very personal and encouraging manner in which she teaches you to build with cob. She gives several great examples in each section regarding inexpensive materials, reducing the strain on your body, and maximizing your creativity to get the cob house of your dreams. I have only owned this book for a little over a week, but I have already read each chapter three times, because it is so quick and easy to understand. You will definitely benefit from the knowledge in this book.
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on February 19, 2002
I found the book to be very informative. She made the entire process, excluding the plumbing and electrical, very simple and easy to follow. I don't doubt that with a little help with the plumbing and wiring I could also build a cob dwelling. Actually I have made plans to build a round cob excersise and meditation room off of my straw bale home when it is completed. The scuplted walls and window shapes will make for a very peaceful place to exercise and to meditate.
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on December 4, 2011
First, I will start with the good. This is a well written book and easy to read. It is a good starting point for the novice. There is some very good information in it. However...

I find it hard to refer to this as a handbook when so many aspects of the building process are missing from this book. There are many problems that you can expect that are not mentioned. First of all, dealing with code issues seems to be glaringly absent from this book. In many parts of the US there are building codes that have to be followed. How to get the code departments to approve your cob building is pretty important.

I understand that Becky is mainly dealing with the actual building of the walls, but a "handbook" implies an all inclusive manuscript about the subject. The lack of how to actually plan your plumbing and electrical systems is truly lacking. In addition what if a person wants to use store bought cabinets etc., what is the best way to integrate these squared units into "organic" shaped walls. Also, pictures are worth a thousand words, seeing more photos of actual cob houses would have been helpful.

Maybe Becky doesn't want to get "too technical" but there is hardly any discussion of one of the major reasons to build with cob... thermal mass. The idea that the walls weigh so much that they take a huge amount of energy to heat or cool them, creating a cool environment in the summer and a warm one in winter. This is much better explained in other books that discuss cob. Maybe a little bit of discussion about how to heat your cob home might be helpful. Like using the thermal mass present in the building to hold heat, like with rocket mass heaters or masonry heaters.

In addition, the amount of repetition is at times annoying. For example, when I buy a book called a "handbook", I don't expect to be told over and over to experiment and trust my intuition or my ancient knowledge that is in my cells. I expect examples, discussion of specific things that have worked well. Another example is boards, tongue and groove boards plywood, strips of wood, and wood lath are all wood or wood products. It also seems odd that someone that is as chemical-phobic as Becky is would mention plywood without commenting about the "toxic" glues used that tend to off-gas formaldehyde.

That brings me to another sticking point. Becky has not done her homework on many subjects. She comments that materials are "toxic" yet provides no examples or proof to back up her OPINION. I'm quite positive that she is NOT a toxicologist or any other highly educated scientist. For one, gypsum does not give off fumes at room temperature. It is a mineral, and is present in nature. It will not give off any fumes until heated to a very high temperature. Asphalt is also a natural material that is present in deposits and in crude oil. It may be manufactured but is identical to the natural version. Yet Becky neglects to mention that sawdust, at least according to California, is a carcinogen (toxin).

Lastly, before I bore too many people, Becky barely even mentions second stories. There are cob buildings that have regular second stories. There are even cob homes that were built in rectangular shapes. However, these things are glossed over because they don't fit the "organic concept" of cob homes.

Overall, I am thoroughly disappointed in this book. Much of the information is available elsewhere and in many cases it is better presented with more detail and photographs. I based part of my purchase of this book on the reviews of others and after reading it, I wish more people had reviewed this book and had more accurately represented its shortcomings in their reviews. I probably wouldn't have wasted my money.
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on December 26, 2007
I found this book invaluable. With it's simply put illustrations and descriptive nature. It's a simplified context that compliments "The Hand Sculpted House" wonderfully! Between these two books and a little research on site and with consideration to additional components of the structure to be erected, I feel confident that even a novice builder (with proper planning and a little guidance from some pro's) could complete a humble starter home of their own. I only speak from my little (16 years as a builder) experience with completing homes. *never built one like this till now* With another couple years of planning and designing, hopefully mine will be completed.
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