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Hand-sculptured house in Wilby

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June 01, 2017

Wilby community members enjoyed a visit to the unique hand-crafted home.

A house crafted from a mixture of clay, sand, straw and water has become quite the attraction in Wilby.

Members of the community were fascinated to visit the home of Rhys Dyer in Martins Road recently.

Mr Dyer, who is very keen to reduce his impact on the environment, has built the house totally attuned to its surroundings by using readily available materials.  

The house is constructed from an eco-friendly cob mixture of clay, sand, straw and water.  

Mr Dyer spoke with the visiting group about the process involved with the planning and construction of his house.

Building with cob requires no forms, no cement and no machinery.  

It is actually sculptured by hand while the cob is still pliable. It then dries to a hard, weather resistant finish.

To start, Mr Dyer had to comply with Moira Shire guidelines to lay a slab and a damp course.  

Then rocks were positioned to form the wall bases and the cob was built up from there and moulded layer by layer to the ceiling.

Cobbing has been a traditional building process for thousands of years around the world.  

Homes made this way can endure extremes of climate and last for hundreds of years.

Mr Dyer said he found the design of the house provided efficient insulation keeping him comfortably cool in summer and warm in winter without the aid of air conditioning.  

The home is totally solar powered and has a composting toilet.  

Mr Dyer chose the shape and size of the home to limit the impact on the natural environment.

It has two storeys with the lounge, kitchen, bathroom, laundry and toilet downstairs and the sleeping area upstairs reached by a spiral staircase.  

It is very neat and provides an adequate living space.

During the community visit, Mr Dyer demonstrated how to make a batch of cob which he will use to make a planter.

This involved mixing the raw materials on a large tarpaulin then foot stomping, turning and adding more water several times until a good malleable consistency is achieved.  

The cob is then ready to form into handfuls which are then patted and shaped on the structure - easy as making mud pies.

There will be another opportunity for people to view the house as it will be open for inspection on Sustainable House Day on September 17 from 10am to 4pm.  

Anyone wishing to visit can register for free on the Sustainable House Day website or by calling 03 96315405.

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