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What is the cost of building a cob house?

No. 034 Reading Time 4 minutes

What is the cost of building a cob house?

It is not our favorite question but one of the most frequently asked.

One common misconception is that cob houses should be “dirt” cheap.

Another misconception is the notion of a fixed per-square-foot cost.

Ziggy built his 200 sq. ft. cottage at The Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage for 4,000 $ (Rs. 3,33,500)

This 600 sq. ft. cob house, one of the first fully permitted cob houses in Canada, cost CAD 56, 000 (approx Rs. 34,00,000)

It’s difficult to estimate the exact cost of a cob house. It’s a wide range even when owner-builders decide to build the house. It could be anywhere between Rs. 1500 to Rs. 3500 per sq ft in India and outside 150 $ to 500 $ per sq ft.

When looking to build a cob house, you ideally want to have a fixed figure to work with. Several variables come into play, influencing the overall expenses.

Here are five key factors to consider:

1) Size

Cob houses get exponentially more expensive the larger they get.

It’s easier to keep the budget under check when you are building small cottages such as 250-300 sq ft. but when you start getting to around the 500 sq ft range, can trigger a notable increase in costs.

Larger cob houses require an increased quantity of materials and labor required. Additionally, larger roofs and floors necessitate more extensive framing and support systems, further adding to material expenses.

The scale of site preparation and infrastructure requirements can increase with the size of the cob house.

2) Design

Cob houses are celebrated for their organic shapes and natural aesthetics. Each cob dwelling is a bespoke creation tailored to the owner's preferences and the surrounding environment.

The complexity of the design of your cob dwelling will directly impact the cost.

Intricate designs will naturally require more materials and labor, driving up overall expenses.

3) Labour

As a general observation, in conventional construction the labor accounts for 30% of the costs and the materials 70% but it’s the other way around in natural building.

Labor costs depend on the type and qualifications of the workers, availability, and location. Skilled labor costs more than unskilled labor.

You can become an owner-builder to save on labor costs and invite your friends and family to help you build.

Remember everything takes twice as long as you think and costs three times as much.

Ianto Evans

4) Materials

Clay, sand, and straw are inexpensive and you would hope to find the right composition on your site.

The tools are quite basic and inexpensive too.

What ends up costing more are the doors, windows, finishes, etc.

The roof is one of the most significant expenses in cob house construction. Depending on your design preferences and budget, roofing materials can range from traditional options like timber trusses to thatch or clay tiles.

Installing utilities such as plumbing, electricity, and heating systems also takes a major chunk of the cost.

5) Location

Cob houses are cheaper to build in rural areas where materials and labor costs are relatively low, however, the accessibility of your building site can affect construction costs, particularly in remote or challenging terrain.

Sites that are difficult to access may require specialized equipment, additional labor, or longer construction timelines, all of which can contribute to higher expenses.

We will soon do a cost breakdown of our cob building.

No matter how meticulously you plan, budget, and research,

your cob house will end up costing more than you imagined.

It will take more time than you thought.

But, it will all be worth it and you will absolutely love it.


Raghav and Ansh


The Stoltz Bluff Eco-Retreat is a monolithic cob house that’s completely off-grid. It has a 1-kilowatt solar power system and a backup generator for electricity, a propane radiant in-floor heating system, a Rumford fireplace for heat, and a constructed wetland for natural wastewater treatment.

A scientific researcher in sustainable construction materials, Yask's PhD thesis "Building affordable, durable, and desirable earthen houses" at TU Delft, Netherlands, tackles rural Indian housing challenges: affordability, durability, and desirability. 🇳🇱🌍

Ziggy constructed his 200-square-foot cottage in approximately nine months at The Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage in Iowa, Missouri, mostly working on it himself. He invested $3,000 in building materials and an additional $1,000 in labor costs.

Tiny Farm Friends Newsletter. Every Sunday, we share tiny valuable lessons to help you transition to the countryside and build naturally.


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