Bale Stops Strengthen and Simplify Your Build

Having built hundreds of straw bale houses over the years, I’ve learned that bale stops do an incredible job of both strengthening and simplifying a build. I use them in every bale structure I work on. The most common placement for bale stops is at the top of the wall so that I can compress […]

A Glossary of Terms for Straw Bale Framing

Roof Frame and Carpenter Performing Framing

It’s important to understand the glossary of terms for straw bale construction framing. If you don’t know what something is called, you’ll have a harder time ordering the right materials from your suppliers. In addition, if you don’t know the right terms, you’ll have a harder time discussing things with your contractors, even if you’re […]

Scheduling Subcontractors and Inspections on a Straw Bale House

straw bale house Dining Room

It’s pretty obvious that they are differences between a straw bale house and conventional homes. What is not so apparent are the differences encountered during the construction process. For example, the order of operations and thus inspections is different for a straw bale house.

Timber Framing and Straw Bale Construction

straw bale house kitchen

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.

Creating Straight Bale Walls On a Crooked Frame

welded wire mesh on straw bale wall

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.

Straw Bale and Steel Framing

steel framing straw bale house

Special care must be taken to protect straw bales from condensation when using steel framing in a straw bale house. Without isolating the steel from the bales, the risk of long term damage to the structure is high. Don’t take that risk. Instead, follow some simple work arounds to protect your bales and your investment.

Tiny House/Straw Bale Framing Video

Tiny House straw bale cabin from framing video

If you’ve been wanting a How-To guide to Framing Video to add to your collection, the wait is over! Straw bale construction is a wonderful building technique whether you are building a tiny house or standard size home.  It offers walls that are not only three times more fire resistant than standard construction but also […]

Water Isolation Walls

hose bib for straw bale wall

Water is the biggest enemy of straw bale construction. It comes in many forms from humidity to broken plumbing lines, but the results are the same: damage to the bales. Because water is such a major player in the construction of any home, we have to be careful how we intertie the two systems of bales and plumbing. One way is through the use of water isolation walls.

How-To Guide to Framing Video Preview

Roof Frame and Carpenter Performing Framing

Hey everyone!  This is Gabriella, Andrew’s wife writing. I wanted to share a preview of our brand new video, The How-To Guide To Framing For Straw Bale Construction.  The video is nearly 3 hours long and part of our How-To Video Series. You can get high quality instructional videos on foundations, framing, baling (load bearing […]

Framing Details for Partition Walls in a Straw Bale House

straw bale house ready for plaster

Below is a section from my upcoming book. The focus of the section is on planning for and installing partition walls in straw bale homes. I have also included a detailed description of how to properly layout framed walls. When framing interior partition walls, there are only a couple of differences from conventional construction to keep track of. I hope you enjoy this chapter on framing partition walls. You may find it a bit technical, since it is just a section from within the book, but it will all make more sense in the overall context of the book.

Run Your Rafter Tails Wild (Trusses Too!)

Straw Bale House Under Construction

When framing your roof, don’t waste time lining up your rafter tails. Instead, run your rafter tails wild and cut them all at once when the frame is complete. Decide where you want the ends of the rafters to be and then snap a chalk line from one end of the house to the other. […]

The Importance of a Good Hat

Roof Frame and Carpenter Performing Framing

You may have heard the phrase “Build a House with a Good Hat and Good Boots.” It means pay attention to your roof and your foundation. These two areas are very important; however, because they are relatively boring in the grand scheme of things, they often get less attention than they should. People building a […]

Timber Frame and Straw Bale

straw bale timber frame

There may be no more beautiful look than a timber frame house wrapped with straw bales and plaster. It’s as if the two were made for each other. Although the look is fantastic, the actuality of creating that look can be a bit troublesome if you don’t approach the project from the right angles. There […]

Attaching Interior Partition Walls to Bale Walls

Partition Wall Detail

  If you have interior partition walls in the straw bale structure you’re building, you’ll need to attach them to the structure before you install your drywall on the interior walls. Keep in mind, I’m not talking about drywall over the bales, just on the interior framed walls. The two biggest problems with interior partition […]

Building a Living Roof Insulated with Bales

Living Roof

I’m not a big fan of bales in the roof as you likely already know. They are so heavy and there are several areas of concern in regards to using them above head. 1. The frame needs to be drastically increased in size and/or spacing to support the extra load. 2. Plastering over head is […]

Safe Flashing and Detailing for Inset Windows in a Straw Bale House

window flashing details

Lots of people want the look of adobe homes when they build with bales.  The biggest risk to that is in the inset window details.  If this detail is not properly constructed, there’s a good chance, not just a small chance, but a good chance, that you’ll end up with water damage beneath your windows. […]

Retrofit: Using Straw Bales to Insulate a House

tall stack of straw bales

I recently received the following question from a visitor to my blog named Pat. I get questions on using straw bales to insulate a house quite often. Here is what Pat wrote: I have a house built in 1911, the wood frame is 2×10 and 2×4 pine construction the wood is now so strong that […]

Steel Framed Kit Buildings and Straw Bale Construction

steel framing straw bale house

My mother in law is currently having a barn built for her horses. I have been very impressed with the speed in which the structure has gone up. Three to four men have been working on the site for a bout a day and a half and the entire frame is up and most of […]

Removing Braces and Installing Structural Mesh in a Straw Bale House

welded wire mesh on straw bale wall

Where welded wire mesh is used as the structural shear of a building, it is very important that temporary braces be used to secure the building before the mesh is applied. This is a common practice with conventional construction as well. 2×4 braces are used to support the walls and maintain a plumb line until […]

Using Engineered Shear Panels in Your Straw Bale House

straw bale shear bracing

I have spoken before about the use of engineered shear panels and I want to once again speak in favor of them. Shear panels are engineered and thus easily accepted by almost any building official. Their installation is relatively simple and speeds the construction of the home considerably. Be sure you know exactly where they […]

Stick Frame or Trusses on Your Roof Framing?

Roof Frame and Carpenter Performing Framing

Although manufactured trusses are more expensive than stick frame roofs when it comes to materials, the labor savings are significant. In addition, if you have a flat ceiling in the home, you can install the ceiling joists and the rafters at the same time, again cutting back on labor. The advantage of stick frame roofs […]

Exposed Timber Frame in Straw Bale Houses

straw bale timber frame

I posted this exact message as a response to a question on the Podcast blog entry. For those of you who read it there, sorry for the duplication. After receiving a couple more questions about how to bale with exposed posts and beams I thought it was worth publishing this under its own heading. Timber […]