Hands On Construction Topics
The seven day comprehensive workshop is designed to teach participants everything they need to know to build their own straw bale structure. We work with structures that enable the participants to learn, hands on, about many facets of straw bale construction. Specific topics covered in the construction of the structures are:
– Toe Up Installation
– Bale Stacking
– Bale Re-Tying and Alteration
– Window and Door Installation
– Box Beam Construction and Installation
– Framing Considerations
– Electrical Work as Required
– Plumbing Installations as Required
– Hanging Cabinets
– Tying in Interior Partition Walls
– Shaping Bales and Corners
– Creating Niches
– Wire Mesh
– Plaster Prep Work
– Natural Plastering
– Lectures and Q&A Sessions
The above list represents the basics of what is covered during the hands on phase of the workshop. These topics are also discussed in depth with “on the spot” lectures and question and answer sessions. Your questions on these topics or any other related topics are welcome and encouraged. The discussions are often full of rich information exchanges. Specific topics covered in the lectures are typically inspired by the work taking place on the building; however, additional topics are often raised as well which include:
– Design Criteria
– Engineering Options
– Foundation Options
– Running a Job Site Efficiently
– Scheduling Sub Contractors
– Acting as the General Contractor
– Complete Owner Builder Techniques
– Straw Bale Construction Details
– Plastering Techniques and Materials
– Green Building Materials
– Other Aspects of Green Construction in Your Home
Again, questions are encouraged and open discussions often spring forth with valuable information for all.
The days are full and long. We work hard on the job site in the morning and then break for a leisurely lunch. Our afternoons continue the hard work of the morning. Our dinner and evening break is full of fun and play. I encourage people to bring instruments and their willingness to play together. Although physical work is involved in building the structure, participants are encouraged to work at their own pace. You know your limits and those limits are respected. Our goal is to get as far as possible in the construction of the building. In most cases, we will not get beyond the scratch (first) coat of plaster.
Three hearty meals a day are provided as part of the tuition. The meals are delicious and filling. Workshop participants always seem amazed at the great food prepared by the hosts and make a point of thanking the kitchen crew for a wonderful week!
Camping is available on site for free and bathroom facilities are provided. A shower is available; however, the amount of hot water may be limited and the number of participants is high. We ask that showers be kept to a minimum in both duration and frequency. Some workshop locations may have other accommodations available such as bed and breakfast rooms, cabins, or tipis. Those accommodations are issued on a first come first served basis and may or may not cost extra based on the workshop host/site.
I focus on education in regards to all aspects of the home construction process. My education does not stop at straw bale construction. We discuss other aspects of the home that can be built Green. Flooring, cabinets, construction adhesives, and other items all play a part in the health of the home. Most importantly, we have fun while we explore the concepts of green construction. After all, for me, building without fun is like living without breathing. I love what I do and that is what makes the difference. In fact, I often get the feedback that the friendships created during the week are a huge part of the success of the workshop.
You can email me directly at Andrew@StrawBale.com with questions about the workshops.
What gear and tools do I need to bring with me?
That depends on what you feel like bringing. I send out a tool list once you have signed up for a workshop that covers everything from the essentials like safety gear (glass, hearing protection and gloves) to bale elevators and power tools! The list of required tools and gear is small; however, if you think it would benefit the class, you are welcome to bring any tools and gear you like.
What happens if I need to cancel my attendance?
Deposits and tuitions are not refundable. Because organizing these events is a major undertaking with a lot of moving pieces, we need to maintain this policy.
What happens if not enough participants sign up for the workshop?
This pretty much never happens, but I’m asked the question a lot nonetheless. If that were to happen then I would cancel the workshop and would refund your deposit. This is the one situation in which the “non-refundable deposit” becomes refundable. It should be noted that we reserve the right to cancel a workshop without any prior notification. Of course, that doesn’t benefit anyone, so our goal is never to do that. To give you an idea, the average number of participants in each workshop in 2011 was 24 and 20 is technically “full.”
I want to buy my airline ticket, at what point does it make sense for me to do so?
Airline tickets are less expensive, in most cases, the earlier you buy them so I understand the desire to buy early. That said, I recommend that people buy their tickets no earlier than 30 days prior to the start of the workshop.
In most cases. The hosts work really hard to provide delicious and healthy meals for us, so the easier we can make their job, the better; however, we are able to accommodate special dietary needs in most cases (Celiac Disease, lactose intolerance, peanut allergy, etc…). As I recently said to a class, this doesn’t mean things like: “I don’t like Brussel Sprouts.” Be sure to let me and/or the host know as soon as possible what requirements you have.
I have mobility challenges. Can I still come?
Absolutely. The level of work performed on the site is entirely up to you. I have had people come and limit their physical work to sweeping up the site and tidying up. That plays a very important role in the workshop and is more helpful than you might imagine. What’s more, I’ve had participants who were only able to watch the entire process, without any hands-on work. They learned a ton and had a great time.
I’d like to bring my dog. Is that okay?
That depends on the individual hosts and the site location. In most cases, we ask that dogs stay at home.
Kids are welcome to join us! We ask that no more than two children accompany each paying adult. If you have more than two children per each attending workshop participant, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to work out arrangements. I ask that the parents/guardians pay for the kids’ food (assuming they will be eating with us) so that it’s not an extra financial burden for the hosts. The fee is $50 for kids under 10, $100 for 10-14, and $150 for 15+. I do require that the parents/guardians take full responsibility for the kids and their safety. Keep in mind, it is a construction site and therefore inherently dangerous. I trust parents/guardians will make the choice appropriate for their kids.
Do I have to stay on site and camp? I’d prefer to stay in a local hotel.
You are welcome to stay on site or at a hotel. It’s up to you.
I want to bring a friend or family member who won’t participate in the class. Is that okay?
In most cases, that’s fine. Once again, I ask that the non participating person pay for their food: $150 (see above for kids’ food prices). In some cases, there will not be enough space in the class for the person to attend as the hosts sometimes “max out” in terms of food preparation numbers so please ask me ahead of time.
Can I arrive a day early to get set up before the class starts?
You are most welcome to arrive the day prior to the workshop and stay a day after if that helps your travel plans.