I’m often asked if using bales that are tied with wire is a bad idea or a good idea. The reality is that there are advantages and disadvantages on both sides of the question. I do have a preference though, and that is for poly twine over wire.
In general, the detailing of a timber frame straw bale home is very much like that of a regular post an dream straw bale home; however, the differences are important to discuss. How the bales attach to the frame and how to best seal the air gap at the transition from plaster to frame are among the important details we will discuss in this article.
When people talk about the cost of straw bale construction, they often get things a bit muddled up. They either come in way too low or way too high. I’m here to set the record straight, hopefully once and for all.
It was immediately obvious while working on the exposed timber frame in Arlington, Vermont that the natural cut timbers would not line up perfectly with the plane of the bale wall once complete. What we did ended up working really well and created a beautiful and STRAIGHT wall.
For years you have heard me say that there is no “perfect bale,” rather only bales that meet the criteria for construction: tight, uniform in shape, dry, good color, long straw, etc.
Allow me to share with you what I have learned over my 20 years as a professional builder and land developer. All tweaks and adjustments aside, this will be a good footing to start out on for anyone interested in the start to finish process of finding, developing, and building on raw land.
Whether you are an accomplished builder or just starting out, this book will help define the myriad of details that define a quality builder, contractor, sub contractor, consultant or any other professional working within the building industry.
For me, the extra work of compressing your straw bale walls is more than worth it in the end and the quality of the overall job you will get as a result of this step is measurably better than working with soft or loose walls.
Here’s a great use for any left over bags of natural hydraulic lime you may have from your straw bale plastering job.
Keep these simple bullet points in mind when looking for building permit approvals for your straw bale house.
I know that the topic of metal in straw bale wall assemblies is a contentious one, and that is precisely why I want to bring it up and talk about it with you all. I have been saying for years that the use of welded wire mesh and plaster lath is essential to a quality bale house, and that sentiment has not changed. I want to quickly share my thoughts about using metal mesh and lath, and then hear from those of you who either agree or disagree with the practice.
There is no question that the more elaborate your design, the more expensive it will be to build; however, there are ways to find that sought after balance that will please both your senses and your finances.
Water damage in straw bale walls is something that does not happen very often, especially in well built homes; however, even with the best construction practices, it can happen. When it does, it’s important to know how to recognize it and how to fix it.
Plastering straw bale window and door wells can be difficult, but the end result is beautiful. Learn some important tips on how to do it in this article.
When designing a custom home, it’s important to know you can actually afford to build what you design. These seven tips will help you hit your target and successfully build the home you have dreamed about without breaking the budget.
Whether you’ve ever tried to talk through a straw bale wall during construction or not, you’ll immediately see the value in this quick tip for simple and clear communication.
Baling with jumbo bales, by which I mean the REALLY large bales that require pretty substantial machinery to place, is possible. However, there are multiple considerations that need to be addressed to determine if the extra cost in foundation materials, plaster and roofing materials make it worthwhile. In this Straw Bale Minute, I address each […]
Last year’s straw bale construction workshop season started with a huge project: the 5300 SF Eco Learning Center at Ferncliff outside of Little Rock, Arkansas. In this article you can check out some mind-numbing facts of some of the “behind the scenes” numbers that go into building a house. Some of them are truly amazing.
If you plan to build your straw bale house with angular walls, instead of using common right angle intersections, this post will give you a simple, fast, and effective way to build strong, structural corners.
Water is enemy number 1 in straw bale construction. The good news is that with proper design and construction details, your straw bale house will stay dry and moisture issue free. The key to installing plumbing in a bale house is to create ‘water isolation walls’. I describe the best plumbing practices in straw bale […]
A myth lurks still that somehow running electrical wiring through straw bale walls is more dangerous than running it through a conventional wall system. That is complete nonsense and I’ll tell you why and how to install wiring in a bale wall in this latest issue of “The Straw Bale Minute”. Click on the image […]
One of the most artistic expressions of a straw bale wall are the niches that are carved into it. I have laid out a step-by-step process for the most common niche I see in straw bale homes: the arch top.
One of the most stunning aspects of a straw bale home is the shape that window and door openings take. The gentle curves flood light across the room and lend a sense of calm and peace to the occupants. These very same curves that bring so much joy and serenity can also drive home owners crazy. That sounds unlikely; however, when the curves are not properly built, they can cause all kinds of problems as the home is finished.
A consulting client recently asked me what the best practice is for removing rotten straw from an existing straw bale house. Whether you need to replace a small amount of straw or an entire section of bales, the process is pretty much the same. Below are the steps to replacing rotten straw in an existing house. Although each specific location may have subtle differences, the basic steps are still the same.