Help us build a cob house and learn about traditional techniques in Piatra, Romania

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  • Last activity: 15 Feb 2024



 Min stay requested: at least a week



  • Description


    We are Oana and Adrian and are currently building a cob house in a village in southern Romania called Piatra, in the county of Teleorman, where Adrian's mother is currently living. It is a small family house (2 rooms and one large kitchen/living space, plus bathroom).

    Earth used to be the main material for building in the area, but nowadays almost no one is doing it, and even repairs at old earth houses are done with cement - earth is viewed as an inferior material, and the knowledge and craft of building with it are gone.

    We love it though and remember the marvelous smell of the old house of our childhood and want to build a house that takes advantage of the many exquisite qualities of the material. We will use the cob technique for the walls, to be plastered with lime, sitting on a concrete foundation and a wooden structure (chosen for permit purposes, as well as a lack of stone supply and craftsmen in our area).

    We have built the foundation and the wooden structure, as well as the tiled roof, and started building the cob walls in 2022, and are continuing in 2023 and plan to finalise the walls this year.

  • Types of help and learning opportunities

    Types of help and learning opportunities

    Help with Eco Projects
    DIY and building projects
  • UN sustainability goals this host is trying to achieve

    UN sustainability goals this host is trying to achieve

    UN goals
    No poverty
    Zero hunger
    Good health and well-being
    Quality education
    Gender equality
    Clean water and sanitation
    Affordable and clean energy
    Decent work and economic growth
    Industries, innovation and infrastructure
    Reduce inequality
    Sustainable cities and communities
    Responsible consumption and production
    Climate action
    Life below water
    Life on land
    Peace, justice and strong institutions
    Partnerships for the goals
  • Cultural exchange and learning opportunities

    Cultural exchange and learning opportunities

    Interacting with people who have chosen to downscale and build a healthy house(hold) from natural materials and learning by applying traditional techniques is the main benefit of this exchange (mainly building the cob walls and lime plastering).

    This is very much a family project and hope you will feel among family. You will interact on a daily basis with us (working on the building), as well as with Adrian's mother (who is preparing the meals), and Adrian's brother and his family (living in the house nearby the accommodation). We are also living on the construction site.

    We also want to learn from those which have done similar projects with natural materials and traditional building techniques. We have been involved in other volunteer initiatives in Romania aiming for heritage preservation and a return to traditional materials and techniques and aim for this house project to be the starting point of a deeper involvement in this field in our region in southern Romania, which has seen fewer such initiatives.

    You can also see first hand how current way of life is changing the rural landscape in Southern Romania.

    We are also the co-founding members of a initiative group in the village aiming for community development projects and are currently preparing a local heritage awareness project, in which you could also get involved.

    If you are interested to travel and explore beyond our village, Bucharest is 2-hour drive away and we can also help with accommodation in the city for a few days. The nearby town of Turnu Magurele, a 30-min drive away, hosts remnants of the Frontier of the Roman Empire, part of the long empire's frontier along the Danube, currently in review for UNESCO World Heritage listing.

    If interested, we can also guide you more in the Romanian arts and culture, including contemporary arts (Oana is a cultural manager developing various international cultural projects in the fields of cinema, visual arts and more).

  • Projects involving children

    Projects involving children

    This project could involve children. For more information see our guidelines and tips here.

  • Help


    We are looking for help starting May/June through September 2023 mainly with the construction of the cob walls, but also other work related to the construction (cleaning older wooden doors and furniture for reuse, dismounting older animal sheds, building a terrace etc.).

    The cob building technique involves thoroughly mixing clay, sand, straw and water either by foot or with a small machine (we plan to do both), making cob balls and compacting them in the wall forms. Finished wall thickness will be 60cm, height of approx. 275cm. Doors and windows will be incorporated as the wall is getting up from the ground, and small details (alcoves, window borders and benches) will also be constructed as the wall goes up or at the end. The technique is not difficult and is forgiving (as eventual mistakes can be rather easily corrected), but it requires a lot of manual help and attention (particularly keeping the wall thickness even as the wall goes up). It is also very satisfying working with earth and seeing the walls growing and moulding the various elements.

    Plastering indoors and outdoors will be done with lime, most probably in 2024.

  • Languages

    Languages spoken
    Bulgarian: Fluent
    English: Fluent
    Spanish: Fluent
    French: Fluent
    Romanian: Fluent

    This host offers a language exchange
    This host has indicated that they are interested in sharing their own language or learning a new language.
    You can contact them directly for more information.

  • Accommodation


    We offer accommodation in the village in an older family house waiting to be renovated (which belonged to Adrian's great aunts), on the main street of the village, 10-minute walk from the new construction lot (two bedrooms and one large closed veranda functioning as a living area). Conditions are basic, with a sofa bed, table and chairs inside, and outside compost toilet and shower.

    My brother and his family live next door and can help with necessities.

    Wireless internet is available in the accommodation as well.

    We will offer three meals per day, using mostly home-grown vegetables and poultry. We like to prepare local dishes and our favourite meals, so that you can sample a variety of local food. We are also providing a fridge, electric kettle and induction cooktop top in the accommodation.

    We can also accommodate campervans in the courtyard of the construction lot.

    Accommodation in tents in the two lots is also an option.

  • A little more information

    A little more information

    • Internet access

    • Limited internet access

      Limited internet access

    • We have pets

    • We are smokers

    • Can host families

  • Can host digital nomads

    Can host digital nomads

    We have good internet connection at the construction site as well as in the accommodation house.

  • Space for parking camper vans

    Space for parking camper vans

    Depending on their size, we can accommodate campervans in the courtyard of the construction lot, which is larger, or in the courtyard of the old house where indoor accommodation is provided (for smaller campervans). Access to water and outdoor toilet/shower is available in both locations, as is internet.

  • Can possibly accept pets

    Can possibly accept pets

    Yes. Please note we have dogs, but they are leashed.

  • How many Workawayers can stay?

    How many Workawayers can stay?

    More than two

  • ...

    Hours expected

    Maximum 4-5 hours a day, 5 days a week

Host ref number: 333775669899

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