Owner/Builder

Strawbale

Building with bales of straw has become almost mainstream in some parts of the country, especially in the Southwestern United States. Many localities have specific codes for strawbale construction, and some banks are willing to lend on this technique. Straw is a renewable resource that acts as excellent insulation and is fairly easy to build with. Care must be taken to assure that the straw is kept dry, or it will eventually rot. For this reason it is generally best to allow a strawbale wall to remain breathable; any moisture barrier will invite condensation to collect and undermine the structure. Other possible concerns with strawbale walls are infestation of rodents or insects, so the skin on the straw should resist these critters.

There are two major categories of building with strawbales: load-bearing and non-load bearing. A post and beam framework that supports the basic structure of the building, with the bales of straw used as infill, is the most common non-load bearing approach. This is also the only way that many building authorities will allow. While there are many load- bearing strawbale buildings that are standing just fine, care must be taken to consider the possible settling of the strawbales as the weight of the roof, etc. compresses them.

Erecting bale walls can go amazingly quickly, and does not take a lot of skill, but then the rest of the creation of the building is similar to any other wood framed house. In fact strawbale houses typically only save about 15% of the wood used in a conventionally framed house. The cost of finishing a strawbale house can often exceed that of standard construction, because of the specialized work that goes into plastering both sides of the walls. The result is often worth it though, because of the superior insulation and wall depth that is achieved.

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Media

The Comprehensive Guide to Building with Straw Bales- Post and Beam Infill (2 hours 50minutes on 2 DVDs) This comprehensive DVD set contains invaluable information to help you save time and money on your straw bale building projects. The latest research in the field of straw bale design and construction is presented. The DVD includes:
* Innovative Tips and Techniques on all phases of wall building from design to finish.
* Details on the latest straw bale engineering, window flashing, electrical wiring, and much more.
* Comprehensive explanation of how to actually build a straw bale structure from foundation to final baling.
*A complete list of recommended tools for each stage of the baling project.
*All of the necessary safety features for building with straw bales
*Tips for preparing for the local building codes before you begin construction
*Foundation Details and Tips
*Tips and Techniques for Framing Your Straw Bale StructureTips and Techniques for Preparing to Build Your *Straw Bale Walls- How to Build Your Toe-Ups
*A Primer for Working with Straw Bales
*All You Need to Know About Box Beam Construction
*Electrical Details
*Cleaning Up the Straw Bale Walls Prior to Putting Up Your Wire Mesh
*How to Put Windows Into A Straw Bale Building
*All the Tips and Techniques for Applying Wire Mesh to Your Straw Bale Walls
*The Interior: Windows, Corners, and Rounded Details to Your Straw Bale Walls
*Plumbing, Cabinet Hanging, Interior Wall Partitions, High Rain Environments, and Other Considerations
*Introduction to Lime Plaster
*The Scratch Coat- Your Initial Coat of Plaster
*The Brown Coat Application- Your Second Coat of Plaster
*We Will Demonstrate All the Techniques to Use to Get a Smooth Finish on Different Aspects of Your Structure:
*The Finish Coat- Your Final Plaster Application

The How-To Guide to Building With Straw Bales -- Load Bearing

Each chapter of the DVD represents a day of work so you can properly allocate the time you will need to build the exact structure, which is a perfect practice structure to hone your skills prior to tackling a large project.
Day 1 is all about getting the foundation or decking in place.
Day 2 is getting ready for the bale raising.
Day 3 is all about raising the bales. This can be a lot of fun, especially when you see the fruits of your labor appearing so quickly before your eyes!
Day 4 is cleaning up the bale walls and getting the roof in place.
Day 5 is finishing up the roof, adding the final fascia boards and attaching the roofing felt.
Day 6 is the final day before you begin plastering. Install your doors and windows and get the welded wire mesh and the plastering lath in place.

How-To Plaster With Natural Hydraulic Lime Plaster  includes nearly a full hour of information, sourced from professionals, that you need to know in order to plaster your straw bale structure successfully with natural hydraulic lime. This is a good material to plaster your bales with due to its durability, breathability, natural ingredients, and user-friendly application. The techniques taught in this DVD can be used with just about any plaster you choose. The technical details transfer to such finishes as earthen plaster, cement/lime mixes, and more. No matter what plaster you choose, the information in this DVD will help you create a beautiful and durable finish.


The How-To Guide to Building a Monolithic Concrete Slab Foundation DVD provides the latest information you need to know to build your own concrete slab foundation. Every stage of the concrete foundation building process is shown. By implementing these simple, how-to techniques you will be able to effectively build your own concrete foundation with no prior foundation or concrete experience. Using this DVD, you can build a structurally sound foundation as well as any builder. There is a list of all tools you need to build your project and dozens of time saving tips and techniques that will not only save your body from wear and tear, but also protect your pocket book.

BuyDVD

The books shown below are arranged according to when they were published, with the most recent ones at the top. If you click on one of the images you will be taken to a page at Amazon.com where you can find out more about the book. If you end up buying one of them, greenhomebuilding.com will receive a small commission that will help cover the cost of maintaining this website. Thanks for your patronage.

Plans
Eco Nest 1200
Touson Saryon, Designer

This 1434 sf home was designed specifically for an off grid building site. It's floorplan allows all spaces to be easily heated by the solar gain or by the woodstove at night. The main bedroom has its own bathroom and there is a cozy sleeping loft above the dining area for guests. The screened porch expands the living area to encompass the outdoors and the storage room will hold the bikes and garden tools. A 'living roof' completes the greening of this unique eco-nest!  Great plan for a remote vacation getaway or full-time rural home.

For more information about this plan, and many others, visit our sister site www.dreamgreenhomes.com, where you will find a wide range of plans for sustainable homes, greenhouses, small buildings, garages, and food storage space for sale. Dream Green Homes is a consortium of outstanding architects and designers, who have pooled their talent and expertise for your benefit.

Actual Homes

sbregistry.greenbuilder.com is a registry of strawbale homes across the U.S., orgainzed by state, with an indication of whether the owners are open to visitors or not.

lamaisonenpaille.com extensive site devoted to straw bale projects in Europe and India.

strawbale-building mostly links to other SB sites, but does have a database of SB houses in the UK.

quietwater.net some good, detailed information about a particular non-load-bearing strawbale project.

EcoNest.com features light straw/clay construction.

This Crestone Bed and Breakfast is a very nicely done two-story strawbale.

Directories

Surfin' Strawbale Links List

strawbale-building mostly links to other SB sites, but does have a database of SB houses in the UK.

Discussions

earthnstraw.com features news, workshop listings, and a forum on strawbale building.

Products

ferrocement.net sells a very clever and well made plaster sprayer that will handle a wide range of plaster types, from earthen to ferrocement.

Codes

dcat.net lists Strawbale Codes specifically for Texas, California, Colorado, and Arizona.

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