Opinions needed on business idea - am I nuts?

Hi! I've had lupus since I was a child and have had to take this year off work (I'm a primary school teacher) due to bad reactions from medications. I'm much better now and have been thinking it's a bit crazy to go back to teaching full time so am considering starting my own business and I'd like to run the idea by you - not sure if I'm nuts or not!

I went on a cob house-building (making proper houses from a mix of clay, sand, water and straw) course during the summer and have been determined that I will build my own cob house as soon as I can get some land. The friend I went with also wants to build one and we've cooked up a business idea. We want to build teaching and therapy studios around our houses and teach people about sustainable building and how to use cob to create structures such as pizza ovens and small studios etc. My friend is an art therapist and she will run environmental art therapy sessions. We intend to build a bed and breakfast as well and want to make it fully accessible so everyone can come and be supported if need be as the benefits of working with nature are massive. I'm concerned that many people who have chronic illness, disabilities etc don't have access to the natural environment to do amazingly rewarding stuff like cob-building and so want to make it so everyone can come. We also intend to work with schools and I know that children love this kind of stuff! I was wondering if such a place existed near you (we're on the Isle of Man so we probably aren't!) would you be interested in learning about cob-building or having environmental art therapy (working through emotions through engagement with the natural world)? I'm not sure if just because I'm into these things that I assume others will be too! I highly recommend a google search for cob houses if you haven't seen any as they are beautiful!

8 Replies

  • It sounds fab - I am a Play Therapist and very keen on the therapeutic use of both construction activity and outdoor space for children. A friend of mine also has a smallholding where she has built timber (not cob!) lodges and where she runs various residential courses.

    The thing i know absolutely nothing about, though, is how such a thing can be made financially viable! Good luck with it, though Mx

  • Thanks so much for the reply! Yes the real trick will be getting it to make money. At least the building costs are relatively cheap! x

  • Kudos to you! I think it is a great idea. I have never heard of anything like it before.

    Before you two move forward, research research research! Have you researched how long it would take for your start up to be fully paid? Have you got an idea for location? Have you and your friend worked out who does what role in building this business? Do you guys have a mission statement? A bank proposal? Plan B? Have you guys talked with social agencies about the idea to work with them for clients or assured programs?

    I'm not trying to deter, just making sure your time and efforts are thoroughly though. I love the idea!

  • Hello! Thanks for the reply and great advice - I do have a lot to think about! We're currently in the research phase and have spoken to people in the Dept Economic Development out here about our ideas. They are very interested and have given us names of some further people to speak to who can help once we've found some suitable land and have encouraged us to apply for one of their start-up schemes. I'm lucky because out here there's a microbusiness start-up scheme which gives you business training and an advisor who can help you write your business plan. We're currently looking at how to structure the business and whether to run it as a social enterprise from the start or concentrate on more commercial educational and therapeutic offerings to bring in cash. There are some groups out here who we will probably be able to work with in order to make sure what we offer complements existing opportunities and to reduce our marketing costs and the schools I have spoken to are very interested in hosting or attending workshops. The thing I really need to do is make sure I don't get carried away as the more I look at it the more possibilities I see. That's one of the reasons for posting on here as I need all the grounding advice I can get!

    I reduced my steroids last week and so was stuck in bed for the most part making it seem crazy to even think about doing all this, it did give me a chance to learn more about business finance though - thank goodness for laptops!


  • I am really happy to hear that you guys are not being foolish about this :)

    Starting a business can be a fun venture but a long hard arduous venture! i love business and I love children (being a primary teacher was always my dream until a few years ago). I am stoked to hear of your idea and I hope and wish you the very best of luck with it!

  • Thanks! It really means a lot to get such good feedback! I'm new to business but realised while teaching that I really enjoy figuring out complicated stuff - of course, with the brain fog opening a packet of cereal qualifies as that sometimes!

  • Great idea, actually I watched an episode of grand designs this week all about cob building.

    I'd love to know how you get on.

  • Thanks! I'll put an update on here when things start to take shape!

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