California Straw Building Association’s 20th Anniversary Gathering

Bales of Straw in the Field

The California Straw Building Association (CASBA) has done amazing work in the field of straw bale construction for the last twenty years. This year’s annual meeting will celebrate those achievements and look to the future to see how CASBA can continue to build positive relationships in the field.

Acid Staining Floors While Protecting Plaster Walls

Acid Staining Floors While Protecting Plaster Walls

When acid staining concrete floors, it is very important to properly mask off walls and doors so that none of the stain gets onto places where you don’t want it. One of the hardest surfaces to protect is unsealed plaster.

Finish Plaster Texture Options

woman applying finish plaster

There are a lot of finish plaster texture options available for your straw bale home and knowing which one is best for you can be difficult. The best decisions are based on understanding the combination of application-technical difficulty, personal aesthetics, durability, crack hiding ability, and material availability.

The Importance of Tool Organization

Tool Organization

I don’t think that the importance of tool organization on a job site can be overstated. This is true for owner builders and professionals alike.

Simplify the Installation of Roofing Felt Behind Your Plaster

Installing Roofing Flet

I wanted to share a few great tips as a means of simplifying the installation of the roofing felt needed on wood that lies behind your plaster. As you know (or may be learning…right now…) you have to cover all wood that will end up behind plaster with roofing felt or an equivalent product.

Hardwood Floors in a Straw Bale House

Hardwood Floors in a Straw Bale House

Hardwood floors in a straw bale house may not be the most common of floors, but they sure are beautiful. The reason they are not the most common is that most people want to couple the thermal mass values of concrete or earthen slab floors with the thermal insulation values of the bale wall assemblies. This makes sense, but is not always applicable. For example, some homes are built on raised floor foundations and as such, are better suited for lightweight floors like hardwood or engineered wood floors. Some owners simply prefer the look of wood over slab products, while others find that their physical and/or financial limitations require them to work with wood floors over slab materials. No matter what your reason for choosing hardwood or engineered wood floors, you will run into an issue that folks who build with slab floors won’t have: edge gaps.

Getting Ready for the 2016 Straw Bale Workshop Season

La Grande straw bale Workshop Group Photo

Ever wonder what one of my straw bale workshops is like? This video will give you a taste. For starters, we have a ton of fun, learn mountains of information, build someone’s dream, and make friendships that last.

Share Your Straw Bale House Experience

Wine Creek straw bale residence

If you have a straw bale house and are willing to share your experience with an international master program, then please fill out the following questionnaire.

Free Arkin Tilt Architects Plans Now Available

Chalk Hill straw bale house

As a follow up to last week’s announcement by Arkin Tilt Architects (ATA) that they intend to offer a selection of their plans for free to California wildfire victims, I am happy to announce that those plans are now available for viewing.

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.

Wire Ties or Poly Twine Bales?

Baling Twine Colors

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.

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.

The Cost of Straw Bale Construction

Energy Efficiency

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.

When a Straw Bale House Isn’t Green

straw bale house interior

I wonder if any of you knows why a straw bale house isn’t green. A straw bale house isn’t green because the wall system is only one part of a bigger system, and a small part at that.

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.

Another Amazing Straw Bale Workshop

entry doors on timber frame straw bale house

I recently returned home from another amazing straw bale workshop in Arlington, Vermont. This was truly one of the most fun workshops I have had in years. The building will be used as woodworking shop, home brew facility, pottery studio and forge. It will certainly provide years of fun and creativity for the hosts: Tara and Tyler.

Another Great Week of Hard Work and Fun

La Grande straw bale Workshop Group Photo

I’m happy to announce that we recently completed another great week of hard work and fun at the La Grande, Oregon straw bale workshop. With a large group of dynamic and fun people, the week of work felt like anything but work. (This is pretty much always true, of course!)

Land Development Process Revealed

dream house image

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.

Strengthen Your Walls

straw bale Wall Compression

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.

A Great Use for Leftover NHL

straw bale house window seat

Here’s a great use for any left over bags of natural hydraulic lime you may have from your straw bale plastering job.