Tell Me What To Do…An Opportunity To Get YOUR Questions Answered

Written by Andrew Morrison

Tell me what you want to learn aboutIt’s not every day that I suggest that tens of thousands of people tell me what to do. After all, I try hard to stay ahead of the game and get valuable information out to you via the blog and our newsletter; however, sometimes, it’s best to ask YOU, the readers, exactly what you’re looking for. This is one of those times.

I’m heading out to the first workshop of the 2019 season later this afternoon (we start tomorrow morning!) in Medford, Oregon (sorry, it’s sold out). I’ll have a week of opportunity to take pictures and video of specific aspects of the job site. So… there something specific that you would like me to capture and share with you? Are you interested in different ways of running electrical? How about details on framing options? Maybe your thing of specific interest is around how plastering comes together. Whatever it is that you’re interested in, please let me know in the comments below and I’ll do my best to capture some footage for you and to draft up a blog post once the workshop is done.

So what is it that you want to see and read about? Chances are I’ve already got some details about your interest on the blog, but it never hurts to ask. After all, there may be a new way to do something that hasn’t been updated on the blog for a while. Or maybe there is a different way of accomplishing the same results that I’ve not written about before. There are lots of details out there to discuss, and you have the opportunity to ask directly for personal results. So…go ahead, tell me what to do…


27 Responses

  1. Plastering please, since we didn’t get to experience it ourselves at Sunny Hollow in W.Virginia <3

  2. I would like to have some more detail on stuffing the bales to prep the surface for mesh & plaster. What volume of loose straw is okay to stuff? When should you switch to using the a straw/clay slip mixture? How exactly does the clay slip work? Where do you get the clay from?

    Also, really detailed video and photos on the finish coat would be helpful, as well as a segment on crack repair.

    Details on how to assess sand are hard to come by. A basic method for determining the composition of a sample would be great.

  3. How about a wall tha will receive often rain ( from one side)

    What are plastering tips for this.


    Francisco Sage

  4. These are great ideas Ami. I won’t have the opportunity this week to get photos or video of the finish plaster as we won’t get that far (you need to wait ten days in between each coat of plaster for curing). I will work on the other details for you and can talk finish plaster in a later post when I have the images I want to share for you.

  5. Hi Andrew, I have found your Informational materials to be Excellent! Your website is great…

    My question is: What Can we do to achieve a minimal Submission of Plans for a Strawbale Home?

    In my jurisdiction (San Diego County) it’s possible for instance to move up to 200 Cubic Yards – without needing a Grading Permit (and so am taking advantage of that, great!).
    And i can use mostly Permeable materials like DG (Decomposed Granite) to also help minimize on Plans.

    Any other ideas? Like can I avoid say, a Site Survey? I am doing this as an Owner Builder…

    Rob W.

  6. Hi Andrew. Maybe an update on the cost of materials and supplies? How to source straw bales in different areas. I know the cost of hay for feed has gone up and we had a shortage here in Arizona and I heard recently straw bales went up also. So maybe you could talk about that.

  7. I’m in the planing stage of my straw bale home now and was looking for alternative ways of finishing your straw bale walls? Do you have to use lime plaster or is there a different method that uses less labor man hours?

  8. Andrew, I know from following you for years now that plastered bale walls are highly fireproof, I would be interested in seeing more specifics about the detailing important to continuing to make a wildland fireproof home. From other research I’ve done, I know that reducing fuels and things like fences, decks and trees adjacent to a structure are the first to address for their radiance or directly transferring fire to a structure. But what about the embers in vents or collecting in other cavities. I suppose this topic may be more outside the scope of strawbale; any resources you can point a finger at would be appreciated. Anyone interested in building their own home is also likely very interested in protecting that investment from the pervasive and ever increasing wildland fire danger. We tend to be the types who love the wildland-urban interface.

  9. I’m not sure if this is a question for this forum; however, our family is interested in mitigating 5G as it rolls into communities in the near future. We are thinking that the sheer thickness of the straw bale construction would lend itself to an environment that is more conducive to a safer interior to have as a foundation to begin with. What are your thoughts? Is anyone building bale structures with emf shielding materials integrated into the build yet? Just curious. And, if anyone is, what are they doing and how are they doing it? Thank you.

  10. If being used I’d love to see info about a rain catchment system on a straw bale house as well as geo thermal cooling.

  11. I have attended one of your workshops before but the design of the house was different then the design of the house displayed in the picture above. The workshop I attended in Arizona, the roof met the wall parallel to the ground in all arras. In the picture above, an A-frame roof; where the gutters go on the roof, the roof meet the wall parallel (a straight edge) to the ground, I know how those walls are made by attending the workshop. On the sloped edge of the roof, How do you get square bales to meet a sloped or triangular shaped edge like that, do you cut the string of the bales and then cut the bales to fit? Thank you for your time.

  12. Thanks Andrew. Love, hugs, and blessings to you and Gabriella too.
    Still hoping and praying that one day I’m in the position to build my SB home, and that I’ll see you here for it! <3

  13. Thanks Sheila. Can you let me know what part is confusing for you so that I can better answer you? I want to make sure you get the information you’re looking for. I don’t think I’ll write a new article since I have the recent one about bale stops on the site already, but I can add to it or clarify things as needed.

  14. Hi Jean. We didn’t have those systems in place on this workshop, but I will keep that in mind moving forward. I can tell you that rain catchment is a relatively easy thing to employ and is very satisfying to have in place. That said, some communities and states are banning the practice of harvesting your own water from rain. Crazy? Yes, but still something you’ll need to consider.

  15. Hi Ben. Straw bale homes are covered in Appendix S of the 2018 International Residential Code (IRC) which is the model code for the entire US (not including Wisconsin, which uses the IBC in place of the IRC). It’s rare that you’ll find a state where you can’t point to that code as a means to approval. Cheers.

  16. Hi Mike. You can use all kinds of siding options. Each has their advantages and disadvantages. Although some save time and effort, they often require work in other parts of the process that plastering would not. Nothing with building is “easy”, but there are at least lots of options available.

  17. Andrew : have enjoyed cruising your site and gleaning ideas and suggestions. We began a strawbale building 13 years ago. My wife enjoyed it as a studio once we got it 90% complete. That was in year 3 of the build. As you know the devil is in the details. I am still picking away at it. Doing repairs and remedial plastering to walls that were not covered with mesh. We are satisfied with how it has stood the test of time. But I want to look more at what the strawbale state of the art is now and will likely buy your book.

    I believe the plastering aspect was the least well understood part of what we did. It was grossly glossed over in the books of the day. Does your book have a comprehensive section on hydrated lime plaster technique and materials? Who knows some day I might want to try my (and others) hands at another building. I’m only 67. Cheers and best of luck. You are doing great service

  18. Hi Brenda. I have seen homeowners create a faraday cage by means of the rebar in the slab, the wire mesh in the walls, and the metal roof. All of those have to be tied together in order for it to work. That, coupled with the thickness of the bale walls, seems to be useful in minimizing the impacts of EMFs. Hope that helps.

  19. Hi Rob. Sorry for the late response. That question is really hard for me to answer as it will depend on the building department you are working with. Some places require lots of details while others are okay with minimal inclusions. Sorry I can’t help more with your question.

  20. Hi Christian. I typically use regularly shaped bales and then stuff the small triangular areas that are left after the bales are all placed. Cutting triangular bales is slow and doesn’t provide a better solution than the stack and stuff approach.

  21. Hi William. Thanks for your message. The book does not cover plastering at all. I left it out because it is something that needs its own dedication. I would recommend the video series I have as the best option. You can see it HERE. It includes everything from concrete foundation through plastering.

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