Gary Zuker’s Hobbit House outside of Austin, Texas

Gary Zuker’s Hobbit House outside of Austin, Texas


Gary Zuker’s Hobbit House outside of Austin, Texas

Gary Zuker’s Hobbit House outside of Austin, Texas


I just posted a photo of this house yesterday, but I’m posting some more pics since it’s one of my favorite houses. Very few houses are so beautiful that you can turn in any direction from any point and get magazine quality shots like these. It has exquisite detailing. I’d like to walk alone barefoot through their house in silent, slow motion and really take it all in. Gary Zuker’s story about building the house is very inspiring as well. I hope you have time to read the full article and closely study all the photos.

You could build a similar house with earthbags instead of cob in a fraction of the time. Anyone can prove this on their own by building small samples of equal size. For instance, I could make a 2’ long by 1’ high section of wall in the time it takes just to mix the cob. Maybe I’ll do a YouTube earthbag/cob comparison video when our son gets home from college next week…

This house ranks up there with the Taos Art Museum and Fechin House in Taos, New Mexico, another of my favorites.

Source: Natural Home and Garden


Comments

A Hobbit House — 8 Comments

  1. If anyone’s interested, I have lots more photos, including construction photos at my website: http://www.psy.utexas.edu/zuker

    RE: floorplan: the original printed Natural Home magazine article included a floorplan. Here’s a copy: http://homepage.psy.utexas.edu/homepage/staff/Zuker/StrawHouse/NaturalHome.pdf

    RE: comparing earth-bag to Cob or Light Straw Clay. My house isn’t Cob, but Light Straw Clay, which I think is significantly less labor intensive than cob. How it compares to earth-bag, I couldn’t say. However straw-clay doesn’t require any chicken-wire lathing prior to plastering, saving labor. And straw-clay has about half the weight per cubic foot compared to Cob or earth-bag. This makes it easier to handle and gives it higher insulation value. A crew of 3 people can put up a 10ft-wide x 8ft-tall x 2 ft-think wall section of straw-clay in 2 day weekend. We spent 10 weekends doing the straw walls for the whole 900 SqFt house. How would than compare with earth-bag?

    RE: “You could build a similar house with earthbags instead of cob in a fraction of the time” misses a big point… The wall building was only a small part of the whole process. So even if you make the wall assembly stage faster via earth-bag you haven’t improved the total labor required by that much.

    Here’s a PDF describing the straw-clay process: http://homepage.psy.utexas.edu/homepage/staff/Zuker/StrawHouse/Light%20Straw.pdf

    Last point: I built my house in 1989, before Google and the internet. I had never heard of earth-bag back then. Who knows if I would have chosen it, but I think it’s safe to say that the house would probably look considerably different if I had.

    • That’s a great update, thanks. Straw clay is about the same speed as earthbag. You can use various fill materials to lighten the work and add insulation. Plaster mesh is not required unless you’re in an earthquake zone. Wall building is just one part of construction, that’s true. But it is a big part. All other steps are pretty much the same, so we tend to focus on wall building methods.

      • Mr. Zucker, I know this is an old thread, but any chance you can update the above links that contain construction photos, etc? I’d so love to build something similar. Your house is such a timeless, beautiful inspiration.

    • Mr. Zucker, I know this is an old thread, but any chance you can update the above links that contain construction photos, etc? I’d so love to build something similar. Your house is such a timeless, beautiful inspiration.

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