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What approval do I need to build a cob house?

Auriel sent in the following interesting question, which we thought other readers might be keen to know.

How do I get Municipal approval for a cob house? And the NHBRC?  Must I use an engineer?

Les has responded as follows:

All building work which is not covered by the National Building Regulations or by Agrément Certificate, falls under "Rational Design" and a registered engineer is required to submit his drawing details and his design details to the local authority along with the normal architects drawings of the dwelling for approval. As far as I can ascertain, there is no Agrément Certificate issued for Cob building so it will fall under Rational Design.
As far as the NHBRC goes..... All new houses must be enrolled with the NHBRC. In the case where alternative building systems are being used, the full engineer's rational design details and calculations will need to be submitted to them for deliberation and approval. This may end up being a fairly lengthy process and you need to take this into consideration in your planning and timing of the project.

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A further route that you may consider is that if you are planning to build yourselves and it is to be your primary dwelling, then you should investigate the possibility with the NHBRC, of applying for "Owner Builder" status and if successful, apply for exemption from enrolling the house with them. The only issue here is that you will not be able to obtain bank financing for any part of the build (apart from a personal loan) and you will also not be able to sell the house to anyone requiring bank financing for a period of 5 years.

I hope this helps.


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