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Do adobe homes really work in all climates? – Book review

by LiveModern Webmaster last modified Jan 04, 2012 02:05 AM
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by Tristan Roberts last modified Oct 26, 2010

The weather is turning cold here in southern Vermont. A friend just got chased off the Long Trail (which she was hiking from the Massachusetts to the Canadian borders) by 18 inches of snow on Killington. While the leaves are still turning here in t... In short, the "for all climates" tagline, which drew me in, is a stretch. Yes, there is a suggestion to add a layer of insulation in colder climates (mentioned in the inspiring foreword by Bruce King, and in a subsequent paragraph in the book). Yes, there are nice pictures of snow-covered Rocky Mountain adobe (which may be cold--at times--but gets a lot more sun, making adobe a better choice). But building an adobe wall and adding insulation to it for this climate requires at least a whole chapter (more than the paragraph currently devoted to it), and perhaps a whole book. Here are some questions that this "missing" chapter might help answer: What kind of insulation works well with an adobe structure? How much is needed?   Should the insulation be interior of the adobe, exterior of it, or both? What are the benefits of building adobe and also a secondary insulation system? Why is it worth doing versus just using another construction system? What construction and moisture details are necessary for adobe to be durable through a cold, wet, winter? How does the addition of insulation affect the vapor profile of the adobe wall? Any issues to watch out for I hope these will be considered in future editions or articles by the author. In the meantime, this looks like a great resource for natural builders in climates where adobe makes more sense--most classically, the Southwest U.S. Correction: I realized after posting this article that Vince Ogletree passed away in 2005, well before this book was published. From the bio in the book, it sounds like he was a dedicated and generous natural builder. I had called for the "authors" to return to the points I outlined, but I feel that was insensitive to Vince's memory; I have changed this to the "author."





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