How-To find and use reclaimed materials in your Tiny House

When we decided to build Tiny House we knew that our project was going to be different from others. It had to be different from others. Up until that point Crystal and I had taken great pride in recycling, reusing, reclaiming, and repurposing a number of materials around Odom’s Idle Acres and our little county of Lamar in Georgia to create some exciting project.

You may remember the solar shower, the Coop de ‘Ville, or even our Earth Oven. All were made with reclaimed and recycled materials. So when thinking about Tiny House we decided from the word go that we would incorporate the most sustainable building techniques we could find and commit to (within financial reason, of course).

Even after scouring the shelves of the Habitat for Humanity store, the clearance racks at Home Depot, Craigslist, and other sources, we realized that the least expensive and most sustainable ways to acquire building materials would be to collect supplies from current construction projects, soon-to-be demolished homes, and people’s “junk piles.” Afterall, this is how we scored the 102 year old wood for our chicken coop, the windows for our cold frames and cold boxes, the tongue and groove flooring for a small shed, and literally dozens of other random projects. Granted we could work a manageable budget even buying new lumber and materials but that contributes to deforestation and waste. And honestly, in our opinion, it is more fun to scavenge old doors, windows, fixtures, etc. to provide character, history, and whimsy to our build. In fact, according to the Building Materials Reuse Association, recycling is becoming more common in the construction industry.

But if you’re like us you may not be real sure how to go about finding said reclaimed materials. Using recycled building elements is like shopping at a thrift store: You can’t be certain you’ll find exactly what you’re looking for. If you are hoping for a good deal to save on your construction budget…well, here are a few tried and true tips for using reclaimed materials to build your Tiny House (or even larger size, eco-friendly, home).

  • Good things come to those who wait. Anyone interested in a good deal to spruce up their home—an ornate wood mantelpiece or a set of authentic French doors, for example—has to be willing to compromise on some of the details and commit some time to the endeavor.
  • Urban decay can be a rural builders delight. If you live in or near a city and have access to a salvage yard, you’re in luck. They get tons of construction “waste,” often receive daily shipments, and some stores even post offerings online.
  • Be present. Crystal and I have found that there is no substitute for showing up on a regular basis and going through the inventory. A lot of reclaimed stores change stock frequently. If your search is specific it may take numerous trips to find it. But be patient and be present!
  • Switch it up. We are familiar with searching the newspaper classifieds for people selling stuff. However, you may want to try listing an ad looking for something. When we were trying to build raised beds we simply put an ad in the paper stating what we were looking for and that we would pick it up in exchange for removing it. It worked like a charm and we got a super deal.
  • Learn to say NO. Perhaps the hardest thing to do is turn down anything free. But when you are building your own home you want quality. Not all free stuff is quality (or even attractive). Don’t take something or even buy something if it is just going to bog you down, clutter your space, or go to waste. There may be someone else behind you who could use the material more!

What is your take on reclaimed materials? Do you use them? If so, for what? Are you against recycling building materials for other use? Why? And as always, we love to hear from you and to have you share this information with your friends on Facebook or followers on Twitter!


Bigger does not always mean better. Progress does not always mean forgetting our roots in order to forge a new future. Blogger, photojournalist, and hobby farmer Andrew Odom has spent much of the last few years rediscovering the lost art of living, growing, and being truly happy. Visit him online, find him on Facebook, or follow him on Twitter.

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Diane - July 14, 2011 Reply

I’ve read some posts about people using wooden pallets to build tiny homes. Our local House Rabbit Society rescue just sent out an email saying that they often get goods delivered on pallets and offering the pallets free to anyone who wants them. Maybe this type of small nonprofit might be a source for pallets in other areas as well.

    Josh - July 14, 2011 Reply

    Wooden pallets are made from wood that was, until the advent of the wooden pallet, considered scrap. It’s not wood that would otherwise have been cut into lumber. That’s why companies have no qualms about simply throwing them away; they’re junk. If they were worth anything, they’d be remarketing them. I’d be a little leery about building out of something like that.

      Joe3 - July 14, 2011 Reply

      While I agree with you pallets are made of scrap lumber, I’ve found many a pallat made out of oak that is very useful once taken apart carefully. A long time ago I gathered up some teak pallets that were sent to the company I worked for, it turned out to be beautiful wood when finished. The boss thought I was crazy taking pallets home, till I showed him a piece of finished wood. There’s good and bad out there, you just have to be choosey.

        Josh - July 15, 2011 Reply

        That’s cool. I’m sure there are some decent pieces of wood to be found that could be made into some nice furniture or something. But it’s still untreated wood that was never intended to be used in construction. I guess I’d worry about the longevity of it if nothing else. I’d take salvaged construction lumber from a torn down house, barn, etc. long before considering using pallets. And like you said, there’s good and bad out there; the majority is pretty bad though, and that’s the stuff that usually gets thrown out.

          Joe3 - July 16, 2011 Reply

          I agree, there’s a lot of trash out there. Near me are two lawnmower shops and a glass shop that get OK lumber. The best was pallets from a glass shop that contained morrors. They were built with 2 x 8 lumber 10 feet long, three to a pallet. I had so much collected I started giving it to my contracter friends for forms. I probably still have 15 pieces in my garage. That was the best find, but now with the poor economy, no more!

        nicky w savage - January 9, 2017 Reply

        Even cheap old pallets that seem to worthless, if taken apart right can be made into cablinests, wall boards for decorations. Boxes to keep stuff. I have never seen a pallet I couldn’t use for something. Even to help level out a trailer or two.

April - July 14, 2011 Reply

We are definitely in this camp! Might explain why so much of our interior is unfinished—most of it’s salvaged and we’re waiting to find the perfect things to make it all come together. Great tips!

    anotherkindofdrew - July 14, 2011 Reply

    Thank you so much for your kinds words April. We love using recycled and upcycled materials. Adds a lot of visual interest.

Jennifer Meyer - July 14, 2011 Reply

I have only recently developed the habit of shopping resale. It can be a lot of work and I have to admit, when you through kids into the mix it can get a little overwhelming; especially having a child with special needs. If I’m going to “hunt” for treasure in a salvage yard, thrift store, etc. I usually need to leave the kiddies behind. 🙂

alice - July 14, 2011 Reply

I grew up with recycled material use. My dad was a carpenter and cabinetmaker and we often upgraded our house with things his employers were tossing out. Many Saturday mornings were spent in the garage with my dad, straightening out old nails and using the hand-cranked grinding wheel to sharpen them, then sorting them in jars. Now I still keep an eye out for useful stuff, often in the alleys around my home and my granddaughter sometimes accompanies me on salvage expeditions. People often put out still good but no longer wanted items the day before garbage day around here. We got enough matching tile to do an outdoor kitchen counter the other day and a few interesting offcuts from granite countertops to use as trivets. I also take apart things I don’t use any more and repurpose the materials, sometimes building with eventual re-use in mind.

Thomas Trujillo - July 14, 2011 Reply

I do it all the time. Some times it is more work than going to the store. One place I have scored big is behind a sing shop. Really good plywood and 4x6s.

Joe3 - July 14, 2011 Reply

I love using ‘found’ wood, today a friend took me to meet an Estate buyer who just bought a house full of stuff including a 4 car garage full of wood stuff, odds and ends of a collection of antique furniture that was collected over a 30 year period. He (they) were only interested in things quickly resellable. I came home with a trailer full of wood, all useable….and he gave me $25 for my trouble…and I took the money ! he explained he’d have to hire someone to take it to the dump, pay them and the dump fees too, he was happy to see me. Anew source for me. Yahoo…
I’m still looking for my ‘new’ kitchen, anytime I’m by the habitat resale store, I stop, as well as brouse the specials/discounted items at HD and Lowes. I love a good find.

Jan - July 15, 2011 Reply

When I decided in January that I was going to build a tiny house this summer, I began scouring Craigslist every single day (and a Habitat Re-Store on a regular basis) for items I could use in my house. I didn’t have much luck–1) I don’t own a truck (which would help enormously when making a spur-of-the-moment decision to go pick up a bunch of materials), 2) I have very limited time for building, and I don’t feel I can spend a bunch of it driving all over the place and cleaning up salvaged materials, 3) I decided I want my door and windows to coordinate and to be of the exact sizes that work with my house design, and 4) maybe in large urban areas there is simply more used material available? Here in Maine, we only have 1.3 million people in the whole state, which I’m thinking possibly adds to the scarcity of used materials and makes it more far-flung when available.
Consequently, there are only a few old, re-used items I will use in my tiny house–an antique cast-iron kitchen sink, a propane stove/heater, and a display-model shower stall (the only one I could find that will be small enough). Everything else I am buying new.

    elisabeth in ct - July 15, 2011 Reply

    Jan…There is a website for a huge salvage operation down in New Hampshire (Northeast Salvage, I think)…they have so much amazing material that you might find something there. Most salvage yard ‘finds’ are of really good quality once you get them de-gunked (watch out for lead)…no one makes things like that any more. No fears of Chinese drywall when you shop re-cycle. As for not having a truck…if you find something at the right price, either rent a van or truck – or get it delivered.

elisabeth in ct - July 15, 2011 Reply

I have used salvage for years now in my home projects…I am currently restoring a 1934 house here in CT and I’m haunting the salvage yards to match what is already in the place. The house is not tiny…or even very small…but I’m using so many concepts from this site! Thank you for bringing up the salvage angle…it’s the ultimate in green-recycling! No (more) trees are chopped down when you recycle and perfectly good items are made ready for another generation of service…

cj - July 15, 2011 Reply

People are always throwing/giving away futon frames. I’ve gotten a couple of nice teak ones. You get a lot of boards all pre-cut, same length, etc.

    Joe3 - July 16, 2011 Reply

    One day I stopped and picked up a curb find…an old chest of drawers. My girlfriend was less than happy about stopping for it and let me know what she thought, I told her she was correct, the chest was crappy…but the wood was oak and it could be reused for something else…then the ‘light’ went off in her head, and she understood, amazing !!

alice - July 15, 2011 Reply

Oh my goodness! On the way home just now I found a double laundry sink in the alley! The legs are shot and it’s a bit scratched up and stained, only one of those plastic ones, but it’s perfect for my shackteau! I can set up the old hand wringer in the centre and have one tub for wash and one for rinse. Just need to build a nice wood base and I’m all set! Going back with my granddaughter’s little red wagon right now to pick it up.

    cj - July 29, 2011 Reply

    “shackteau”.:) Love it!

      alice - July 29, 2011 Reply

      I think I first saw that word on this blog someplace but it fits. I just finished setting up the laundry sink out at my wash house, it’s perfect! The original legs were in good enough shape to use once I beefed them up with some crossbracing and the wringer fits perfectly with a piece of 1×4 to strengthen the centre. No more carting laundry to town! Makes a perfect match for the ‘solar dryer’ (AKA clothesline).

Mary - July 15, 2011 Reply

An up-and-coming local biz…website is still in the works, but it gives you a flavor of what sorts of things folks are doing with The Used, and repurposing too.

    Mary - July 15, 2011 Reply

    That is:

Abel Zimmerman Zyl - July 16, 2011 Reply

I have done alot of work with reclaimed items. I usually incorporate a few into each structure i build — but houses on wheels need to be light and structurally coherent. It is very difficult to do this with reclaimed materials… Not impossible… But difficult. And sometimes more expensive than buying new. A conundrum to be sure!


Carolyn MVaussies - July 17, 2011 Reply

I have shopped Thriftshops for over 35 yrs, Depends on the shop, but I have bought furniture for the wood. I bought an OLD monster Mahogany wooden desk (dovetailed oak drawers…with nice brass pulls, & took it apart, willuse both sides as my Side “dressers” on either side of my bed, & the top is my Kitchen table top.

You have to look at a piece for WHAT is made of, & whether it can be taken a part easily. Old things relied on screws more than Glue, the new things use.

For the people who want new, HAUNT craig’s list(people over buy or change their mind), & places that sell their mistakes, returns, misorders or displays,(HD & Lowe’s both do it)is a start for newer stuff.

Chuck - July 21, 2011 Reply

If you’re near a local Habitat for Humanity organization, they often have a resale shop for materials that have been donated but can not be utilized in their projects. While not free, they are greatly discounted, often used (kept out of the local landfill) and the money you spend supports a wonderful organization.

Tiny House Living – July 19, 2009 | Tiny House Living - July 25, 2011 Reply

[…] One of my favorite topics… building stuff from used/reclaimed stuff. Andrew and Crystal (who write the blog share some of their learnings on Tiny House Blog today. Learn more about scavenging building materials. […]

Patrick Hennebery - September 29, 2011 Reply

Here is my recycling story;

My First Cob, or the Fine Art of Scrounging-
      I took my first cob workshop with Ianto Evans and Cob Cottage Company during the summer of ’97, in the interior of British Columbia and returned home from the week long course excited about building something out of mud. The next weekend I rounded up my 3 kids and all their friends [ages 13 and 14] and showed them how to mix cob. Now the early teens are not a compliant age for enticing them to take off their shoes and dance in the mud. One young girl, however, whom the group all looked up to, thought it would be “kind of cool”. The others all removed their shoes and had a blast; while my first cob oven was built. 
     I decided I wanted my own cob cabin. A good relationship exists between the building inspection department and myself, so I applied for a permit for a cob “studio”. “What the hell is cob?” they wanted to know. I sent them a copy of the new COBBERS COMPANION by Ianto Evans, Linda Smiley and Michael Smith and THE STRAWBALE BOOK [TSBB] by Bill and Althena Steen and slowly began educating them. The next month a permit was issued and I contacted Ianto and Elke Cole about teaching a 2 week workshop the following summer. The serious planning began.
     Being self employed on a small island and raising 3 kids was a financial challenge. My wife decided we could budget $1000 for the project after I explained how we could rent it out on weekends and get our “investment” back. That winter I began gathering materials and thinking about “the budget”.
    I began by evoking the 3 “B’s”: beg, borrow and barter [but no buy]. Being a carpenter/contractor, I have many friends in the building trades and decided to call in some favours. One such friend with an excavation/trucking business was working on a job nearby, where he was blasting out a building site for a monster house. He needed a place to store 30 dump truck loads of rock. In return for using my property [20 acres], he dropped off 2 loads of smaller rocks at the site, perfect for the foundation. A couple trips to the beach after a winter storm and I had enough drift wood logs for the post and beam frame and rafters. Another buddy with a self loading logging truck, hauled away some logs after clearing the site. In exchange for the logs, he excavated the building site, roughed in a driveway  and dug a small pond to provide water and clay for the project. So far the budget had not been touched. All of this prep work was done during the winter before the workshop was to commence.
     I only had weekends to work on my “hobby”, as my wife called it and as spring arrived and the days got longer, work could continue into the evenings. Now I had never even seen a picture of a cob house and here I  was about to build one. With my 1 week cob workshop under my belt, I started the foundation of dry stacked stone. We are blessed with a mild winter climate in the Pacific Northwest with no frost line, so the excavation for the foundation was only a foot deep to get down to undisturbed soil. Quickly, I learned about easy rocks and ugly rocks. Quarried sandstone tends to have several flat sides and is very stackable but rock that has been drilled and blasted is generally triangular in shape; not ideal for stacking.
     I am not a big fan of concrete and a lot of natural builders shun it. It is a fact, that we as North Americans use more of it per person than any other substance, except water. It is also a fact, that it’s production produces a large percentage of the green house gases but I figured a tiny bit would go a long way to securing the base for my cabin. It made laying the ugly rock so much easier. The foundation was 18″ wide and between 12″ and 24″ high above ground, while the footprint was 240 square feet on the interior.
     The south facing beaches on Mayne Island provide me with an ongoing source of building materials. Perfectly straight 40′ fir beams, gnarly cedar stumps for posts, large cedar logs for shakes, beach boards for furniture and a variety of yellow cedar, arbutus and alder can all be found. It is free, resistant to bugs [salt], peeled and sculpted and who needs an excuse to go to the beach anyway? We call it God’s Lumberyard, delivered twice a day [tides]. The powers that be are getting stricter by restricting the use of vehicles and chainsaws on the beach but basically if you can carry it, you can have it. 4 people on 2 log carriers can move a pretty hefty chunk of wood. The best pieces are alway furthest away, so I have a idea to build a little electric motorized dolly with wheelbarrow tires that could move large pieces. You could use the frame from an old rotor-tiller with and electric starter motor and car battery. Hmmmm.
     I put in 3 rows of 3 posts, each row with a beam on top; the higher middle beam being the ridge. The outer beams are 16′ apart. Instead of a concrete pad under the posts, I rolled large rocks into place and buried them a third in the ground. Using a rock drill, a 6″X 3/4″ hole is drilled into the top of all 9 rocks. I then pound a 12″X 3/4″ piece of rebar into the rock, which in turn goes into the post. Between the rock and the post is several layers of asphalt roofing to prevent moisture from wicking up. You want the post to look like it is growing right out of the rock. Before the workshop, the foundation, post and beam  and beach log rafters were all completed. This works well for throwing  a shade or rain tarp over during the construction. 
     My labour was not part of the budget, so I still had a $1000 but knew it would go quick. Being a builder, I had a lot scrap lumber stored away in the shed. I never threw away anything and now it was going to payoff. I took a trip to an off island lumberyard that sells large amounts of asphalt roofing shingles. The shingles are all stored outdoors and the paper wrapping that holds the bundles together was deteriorated on some of the pallets that were not covered. Some bundles were dinged with the forklift and some were just scattered about. I spent an hour separating the damaged, opened and odd colour bundles. When I spoke to the manager about my clean up job, he gave me all the shingles I needed! He knew they were unsaleable and I had been a customer for many years. After the shingles were installed on the roof, it was covered with hay and seeded with wildflowers. Every spring the flowers and hayseeds bloom. Awesome.
      Cruise back alleys and if you see some building material that look like it has been there for a while, park your truck and go ask about it. All they can say is no. You will be surprised how often you drive away with something useable. Two important tips are: you will have better luck during the day when the husband is at work and if they say yes, pick it up right away. If you wait till the weekend, it may be gone. I acquired 24 sheets of old 3/4″ form plywood for my roof this way. Sweet.
     Hay was what I decided to use to insulate my cob house roof. A local farmer traded me 100 bales of last years hay for an old wood stove and some chimney pipe. I always seem to have at least  3 wood stoves in my shed, all courtesy of island recycling. There are 5  cob buildings on my land and every one has a recycled woodstove. The local recycling depot is a great source for stainless steel sinks, wood stoves, scrap iron, rebar, crushed glass for drainage, windows, ABS plumbing pipe, cardboard for insulation, used electrical parts and wire. Over the years I’ve even acquired 3 utility trailers from them. Most of the products they take in [cardboard, glass, plastic and scrap iron] are worthless on the present market and they are happy to have someone haul it away. I put an ad for windows wanted, in the monthly island paper. That was 13 years  ago and the calls are still coming in. Doors and windows are plentiful, so be choosy.
     Used building supply stores are all the rage in urban centres. Expensive but an impressive selection. Garage sales are also great sources for building materials and if you wait till Sunday afternoon, the stuff is free. Never worry about the things you missed. Sometimes it was just not meant to be. Lumberyards always have slings of weathered grey lumber for sale cheap. Take 2 or 3 and they get even cheaper. They look bad sitting out front and the sales people are always glad to see them gone. Lumber wrap is the covering that lumber arrives in at the lumberyard. They have dumpsters full of it and have to haul it to the dump. 2 layers and it is almost waterproof, a great moisture barrier in small framed cottages and best of all….perfect for mixing cob. When I cob in Mexico, it is folded under the mattress of my teardrop trailer; about a foot thick. No lumber wrap in Baja. Recycle yards are full of appliances. Washers, dryers, freezers, fridges  and stoves and all have 3 sides of baked enamel steel that is 32″X32″. How about using them for large roofing shingles? Harvest gold and avocado  green are some of the more popular colours. Pallets are everywhere. You can pick them up by the truck load, free on Craig’s list. Pallets from the east can be maple and birch while glass from Asia, arrives on mahogany pallets. Screw them together to make a house and you can pack them with a straw/clay mixture and plaster them with a sticky clay/cob mix. Very cheap house.
     I started a straw bale cabin back before I found COB. The cabin lay unfinished while my passion for cob was growing and I knew I had to get back to it. When it came time to buy the bales, the only ones available were from Alberta [1000 miles] and $10 each. I talked to my farm neighbour and he agreed to deliver old dry hay for $2 a bale. End of discussion. Now I know all the books tell you not to use hay but the point is: if you have a limited supply of cash and a big pile of hay, you can still build a beautiful, comfortable and long lasting house. I know because I’m living in that house. Back to the cob.
     I was laying down an earthen floor with the recipe from TSBB. They talked about a month drying time in New Mexico; in the summer and here I was in the Pacific Northwest in December! I thought “what the hell” and poured an inch of concrete over everything. Next day, a hard floor and I was ready to move on. Like I said before, there is a time and place for a wee bit of concrete. With a dwindling personal stash of lumber, I pondered over what to use to finish off the floor. High in the rafters of my shop, I came across a hidden cache of rough cedar 1″x8″ between 2 and 3 feet long. They were the off cuts from a long ago siding job. I planed down the 1″x8″ and cut it into 7″ squares, which were then finished with a recycled varnish. We have a painter’s exchange where paint, varnish, glue and stain, are all free. These pieces were glued to the concrete floor with grout spacers between them. The construction adhesive I used, was the single most expensive purchase in the entire cabin. After grouting the cedar “tiles”,  another coat of varnish was applied. I’ve never heard of cedar being used in a floor but it looks great, seems to wears well and I would definitely use it again. It is a soft wood but take your shoes off if your worried. It’s a floor.
     Now, I’m not saying save every little scrap of building material, but learning to recognize something of value, is an acquired skill. It took me years of collecting a lot of junk, before I realized this. When you are about to drag something home, ask yourself; will it be  used in the next few years? It’s easy for the area out back of your shop to become a junkyard. If you can’t use it, don’t take it: unless of course it’s fantastically super cool! I used to think that the really really great stuff, would be saved for MY house of the future but I finally figured it out. Do not hoard that curved one piece cedar log door frame, that beautiful beveled stained glass church window, that textured gnarly yew ridge beam or those 3 piece curved rear windows from a 53′ Buick. Put it all in the next cob project. I am a firm believer that you need to move those amazing elements on, in order to receive even better pieces. It’s worked every time: that plus regular visits to the recycling depot and beach. I often get calls from island acquaintances,  to come and pick up something “perfect” for one of my cob houses. I never ask what it is, just get in the truck and go. Oh, the surprise of it all. The last thing was a gigantic set of moose antlers that I fashioned into handles and knobs and coat hangers.
      For the interior plaster, I went with a sand/clay/hemp mixture. One of the participants was president of Hemp Tech and had shipped me 2 huge vacuum packed bags of chopped hemp stalk; so into the mix it went. When the plaster dried, it was whitewashed with a thin lime/water/white glue combination. After 3 or 4 coats, it sparkled like an Greek village on a sunny day. For the serpent on the fireplace, I mixed the limewater with pigment and created a brilliant green/red collage. There is no electricity at the site and Tracy and I were plastering by candle light on winter  evenings with the fireplace blazing. After working through 3 or 4 evenings in the dark, we checked out our handiwork on Saturday morning in the natural light. Neither of us were impressed, but realized under the conditions, it was just fine. Let go and move on. Plastering is definitely a fine art that takes much patience and practice and we just got our first taste of both. On the exterior plaster, I used a clay/cow manure/ mineral pigment mixture. The manure gave it a slippery texture which was a dream to apply and hardened to a leathery water resistant finish. It also contains a great deal of fibre, for strength. Most of these recipes were trial and error; so when mixing plasters and earthen floors, make lots and lots of samples and remember, in natural building, everything kind of works.
     It was a simple task installing the curved cedar door frame into the cob, but building the door was another matter. When logs are milled into beams, the offcuts are called slabs. The local portable  bandsaw mill always has a mountain of them that are free for the taking. Great for firewood or building a door. I had some old strap hinges from a garage door and made a wooden door latch called a sneck. Those Scots.  I added a table and bench made from 4″ thick arbutus with driftwood legs. It completed the decor.
      I actually used these cedar slabs to build a 12’x20′ cabin with a loft and living roof. It was called “The $1000 Home Workshop” and was competed in 7 days. I take a bottle of fine Scotch and pay a visit to the sawmill guy every year just after Christmas. He has a years worth of offcuts, odd sizes and general unmarketable lumber that he wants to clear out before the new year. He once delivered 4 truck loads [5 ton flatdeck with a crane] for $800. Enough lumber to build 2 cabins. I visit lumberyards off island on a regular basis, looking to see  what they have laying around and getting to know the staff on first name basis. Sometimes they will even let you go through the dumpsters. Oh joy! I once found 4 pallets of 8″X48″ OSB [oriented strand board]. There was no charge but you had to take all of it. I realized that OSB in not exactly a natural material but I was keeping it out of the landfill and it was free.
     When a tradesperson delivers building materials to your site, always slide a case of beer into the cab of his truck. It does not matter if he is delivering sand, clay, stone or lumber. Do it for the electrician, plumber or your buddy giving you a hand. It is cheap insurance, especially if you need that extra load of sand delivered on a Sunday to keep the workshop rolling. They never ever forget a case of beer.
     Well, that’s the story of my first cob cabin. There is no greater learning curve, than by just doing it.  Participants that take a cob workshop and go on to construct their own home, usually build just that one house. You learn so much that first cob undertaking, it seems a  shame  to just stop. When you take the time to look about and see how much material our society discards, you can begin to formulate a use for them in building your own home. I have a passion for building and creating spaces with a minimal footprint and am truly blessed by living in an area with an abundance of resources, natural materials and a perfect climate for cob. Since that first cob cabin, I have gone on to build over 20 cob homes. Every one is unique and was built specifically for the person who was to live in it. I have learned so much from every single project about people and a natural approach to building. During our workshops, we encourage young and old to join in; children are always present and most welcome. A barefoot building site with minimal power tools, machinery and noise is a safe site. The building process with cob is very ergonomic and fluid. It is wonderful to have the owners on site to make many of the small decisions and design changes that creep up during the building activity. This insures that each and every homeowner gets exactly what they envisioned.
                                                                                 Patrick Hennebery  November 2010
     Patrick moved to Mayne Island in 1983 and lives there with his wife Kit and twin boys, Ethan and Brody. The island has a population of 1000, on 8 square miles and is located midway between Vancouver and Victoria in the Gulf of Georgia; off the south west corner of British Columbia.

Joyce - August 31, 2015 Reply

I AM 63 YEARS young. Had a sickness (contracted a parasite that doctors couldnot find)that took away almost everything I had, over a year ago. Lost, my fun time with my grandkids since I was unable to keep the house I had been renting at the time near water, a golf course and just going exploring My oldest grandchild loved going golfball hunting. I had to go into a R.V ‘ which happened to be a real downsize for me. I have adjusted. But with not knowing a thing about R.Vs (of course); I bought a pure “LEMON” in my haste to find a home I could afford. I have since learned manythings about them.Leaking roofs, rotten floors from the leaking roofs.I am trying to go the reclaimed; recycling way of remolding my abode. Since not knowing a thing about how to do any of this. I have been researching sites to see different methods. I haven’t been able to research cob. But your story certainly intriqued me to do research on various things. Lumber wrap can cover my area of leakage, until I can get better. Also as far as offcuts at lumber mills is a wonderful way of siding my R.V. Since milled wood can be very costly. Looking forward on researching each of these suggestions brought out in your story.Would Love to see a finished Cob home. So many people are going to tiny homes, in their later years. I after living in my R.V would just love to purchase some land, and spend the rest of my days in a tiny home I built myself. However another thing I will need to do, is learn some carpentry skills. I am always willing to learn “New” things.Thanks for the inspiration.Suggestions are welcomed.

edward jefferson - November 24, 2015 Reply

Reclaiming materials is very difficult to find.

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