What is a Cob House? Are there Cob Houses in Scotland?

Cob is an ancient construction method that utilises a mixture of subsoil, sand, straw and water. It is has been used all around the world for centuries. As much as a third of the global population, in fact, currently lives in modern or traditional houses made from earth.

In the UK the most common locations of cob houses are the South West of England, but cob houses in Scotland have also been popular. Some of the buildings have been standing for over 500 years and are still going strong.

Cob houses

Until the eighteenth century cob houses in Scotland were the norm as most of the houses were built using earth. The use of more natural, local building materials started dying out with the Industrial Revolution and the standardisation of resources.

Cob is seeing a resurgence in recent years due the fact that it is very cheap, easy to source and use and is one of the most environmentally friendly sustainable methods of construction around.

The reasons why cob is so eco-friendly are basically these:

  1. The kind of suitable soil is widely available, meaning it won’t have to travel far.
  2. A lot less timber is required in comparison to conventional houses.
  3. Cob is non-toxic and biodegradable.
  4. Cob builds are extremely flexible in shape allowing for the most efficient use of space.
  5. The structure of the house can be less uniform as cob is pliable and so can be moulded around cheap reclaimed materials and products.


So, you are interested in the potential for cob houses in Scotland and to possibly building your own cob house or paying someone to build it for you. What next?

There are lots of great books and courses from which you can learn how to construct your own cob house and the raw materials you will require are easily at hand in Scotland.

You need land of course. And you will need to get the necessary planning permission, following building regulations.

When all of this is in hand, you have the potential to build yourself a great little home that will more than likely finish up very cheap, be uniquely charming, extremely solid yet flexible, and very easy to repair.


First photo by Gerry Thomasen / CC BY 2.0
Second photo by Elliott Brown / CC BY 2.0
Third photo by Bosque Village / CC BY 2.0