Building with Cob: The Permit Process

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My ambitions for using cob as a building material has been taken to the next phase, as I ave begun the process of trying to get a building permit to enclose my back porch. The permit will in and of itself be difficult, as cob is not a very common building material in the United States, let alone in Utah. The process of getting a building material approved can be complex in most cases, so I thought I would document this process should anyone wish to know what process they may need to go though.

I started by contacting the city building commission responsible for building permits. I have two problems: The first is zoning issues with the way the house was originally built (before the city's incorporation), and second is the use of cob itself. The first has been passed on to the planning and zoning commission, so that I can get more information on whether or not the addition can be made.

The second question was answered rather well, based on the fact that I surprised them with the request to build with cob. They were unaware of what cob is, and then stated that all building needs to be completed with approved building materials. Currently, that includes using masonry, stone, wood framing, and steel. The best answer is that they were willing to review information on using cob as a building system, to determine if it could be used as an approved building material.

So, the first step in planning has been done. The second, being the convincing of my wife, has pretty much been completed (that was the miracle in and of itself!), and now the third step has been begun.

Now, the question that begs to be asked is why I just didn't get on with it without looking for a building permit. Well, first, I like to do things legally, and structures over 140 square feet need a building permit. Secondly, it doesn't do any good to build under the counter for anyone else that may want to build with the same material. So, for the interest of anyone else looking to build within the boundaries of West Valley City, this will be quite the telling process.

I should have more information on Monday.