A Summary of the Tennesee Workshop

Written by Andrew Morrison

Tennessee straw bale workshop group photoWhat a great week we had at the Tennessee workshop. One of the participants said it perfectly: “I got everything I wanted from the workshop, and more.” I was so grateful to everyone in this workshop for all of their hard work and dedication. The host had some issues finding the right plastering tools and materials locally, but managed to get the entire 800 square foot structure plastered inside and out!

Man with leaf blower cleaning floorWhat was really helpful was having a vast array of professionals in the group. We had an electrician, a plasterer, a mechanic, and a landscape contractor all on site. Of course we also had folks whose work was outside the job specific arena, and they were super valuable too, but having professionals in the trade, on site, with their tools was super helpful.

We had some crazy weather a couple times during the week, but in general, it was perfect. I’ll tell you one thing for sure, Tennessee rain showers are nothing like Southern Oregon rain showers. Up here, they’re agentle mist and steady slow falling of rain. Down there, it came down at a 45 degree angle with huge winds and massive thunder and lightening. The locals called it a shower. I was gripping onto the building fearing I might blow away!

child holding handfuls of straw

We had an amazing helper in the form of a 5 year old boy. He was great at so many tasks on the site from clean up to stuffing to helping with sewing the walls. He also helped make the week fun with his energy and desire to play ball and catch toads and crickets. It was great having him around. We also had a 2 year old birthday party and a guy willing to eat bugs on demand. That’s a long story…!  🙂

In the end, we created a great building and managed to get a lot accomplished. Thanks everyone for a great week and I hope you all stay in touch and share your projects as they come to fruition.

Straw Bale House Before PlasteringIf you’re interested in really learning how to build with bales and you want to have perhaps one of the best weeks of your life in the process, then come to one of our workshops. We ALWAYS have a good time and you will gain the confidence to build your own house too. CLICK HERE to see what workshop locations and dates we have available this year!

7 Responses

  1. Indeed! He was a blast. In fact, it was another great group…as always! Looks like I may be coming back to Canada next year. I’m in touch with a man who just finished my Ottawa class and he’s excited about getting his project up and running. Good news. Hope you’re well Chad.

  2. Was the plaster professional from Tennessee? Am in for a fight with the County right now for adopting codes. Here is the email I just got: “Within the State of Tennessee, all communities had to adopt the International Code for residential building construction.  Therefore _______ County only recognizes the types of building methods identified in the 2006 IRC.  We have a very humid climate and straw molds within a week around here.  Maybe in Texas and more arid climates, straw construction would be suitable.
    Sorry we cannot accommodate your alternative building technique.”

    Am ready to fight but could sure use some help.

  3. He was not. He was from Florida. In terms of your fight, that can be a hard sell for sure. You might direct them to the fact that there are many straw bale houses in the south from Florida and Georgia to Tennessee and the Carolinas. I just finished another workshop here in Tennessee and with great success. You might check out the listings on http://www.green builder.com under the straw bale registry for tennessee and contact folks there to see what they did. Hope that helps. Good luck.

  4. Is it possible to contact the owners of the one you recently finished in TN to see if they will allow a tour & speak with someone about the codes & process they went through?

  5. Th estructure was very small and did not require a permit at all as far as I know. Not sure about tours, but I will ask them and let you know what they say. I’ll give them your address so they can contact you directly if they are open to it.

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