Straw bale Workshop Day 4

straw bales all in

I’m running late with this post. I was just to warn out last night and my computer was running on fumes as well so I put off the post till this morning. Day 4 here at Common Kettle Farm. We had quite a day yesterday. Who would have thought putting in the last row of bales would be such a challenge. We are using rice bales from the central valley near Williams, California. These bales are extremely dense and very dusty. One of the disadvantages of using rices bales is all the dust that comes along with them. It was there denseness that caused us the most problem though. We had to strap and jack down the bales to get them to fit tightly into the wall. Sometimes this involved laying down and kicking them into place. We ended up getting all but one bale in yesterday. We also started weed wacking the bales to prepare them for the wire mesh and the plaster. This is done on both the inside and out. Alll the walls need to be tamped into place as well and be as level as possible. We also started placing the windows, which involved flashing them to keep the moisture out. Straw bale is very labor intensive but rewarding as well. To learn how you can be involved in one of these workshops visit strawbale.com. last row install tony jacking the bales pushing the bales in strapping the bales cutting the window opening rice dust flying installing the windows upper level bales trimming the bales flashing the windows installing the windows

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D. Whit - October 4, 2013 Reply

I still do not see the benefit and added labor expense of using straw bales when sprayin foam and maunfactured and glued strand board was used on the project.

Are there tax credits particular to this type build ?

Andrew Morrison - October 4, 2013 Reply

Keep in mind that the OSB is used only minimally and where required by code. The foam was a choice the owners made and is completely separate from straw bale construction. In other words, a bale home could be insulated with cotton, wool, or any other material in the roof. The bale portion of the home is separate from those details and should not be judged in regards to them (in terms if the usefulness of straw bale construction as a building technique).

The benefits of straw bale construction are many. If nothing else, imagine paying at least 75% less on your heating and cooling bills for the life of your home. There are others, but that’s a sizable one.

Kurt - October 4, 2013 Reply

I would like to see pictures of the interior of the shed dormer because I am thinking about a similar design with a shed dormer as part of a bedroom.

chase - October 5, 2013 Reply

I comend you guys for the use of alternative materials for building.

I know straw bales are a old technique but…

I’m reminded of the story of the Three Little Pigs when viewing this post.

Perhaps I just don’t know enough about using straw bales, but I see issues with such words coming to mind as “Fire” “Decomposition” “Mold” “Fungus” “Pests” “Heat build up due to decomposition”
for starters.

I do see the benifits of the insulating factors. But the work in trying to prevent the other cautions/conserns I’d have using bales I’d have to ask myself – In reality – and the long run – is it worth it?

A Mix using straw – I’d be more inclined to use. And even there you get decomposition and degredation over a realitively short period of time.

It’s definitly note worthy and holds my in

    chase - October 5, 2013 Reply

    To answer some of my own conserns – I found this on the web and if true – well… what can I say. Straw bales seem to be a viable building material alternative.

    “Paloma The Oopsed answered 4 years ago:

    There are two building styles for straw bale houses: load-bearing, and non-load-bearing. The non-load-bearing method uses a range of traditional building techniques such as post and beam, portal or frame construction, with straw bales as infill. Because the structure is built using common building practices, this method is easier to construct and easier to get approved by local councils. In load-bearing construction, bales are usually stacked one on another and secured with reinforcement rods. Then the bales are either left to settle under the roof load or mechanically compressed before being trimmed with a whipper snipper and covered inside and out with small gauge chicken wire. In both methods the stacked bales are then given three coats of render (3 parts sand: 1 part cement) or plaster.
    The pros and the cons

    Strength: it is claimed straw bale houses can be designed to withstand hurricanes, so it’s no wonder there are straw bale houses in Europe and America that have been standing for more than 200 years. The key to durability is keeping the straw dry.

    Damp: bales used in construction have low moisture levels, and strict precautions are carried out during transportation and building to ensure the straw remains dry.

    Insulation: computer simulations by Energy Efficiency Victoria show that straw bale houses can be up to 20% more temperature efficient than traditional homes.

    Fire risk: straw bales are so tightly packed they don’t hold enough air to permit combustion. Rendering makes them even more fire resistant.

    Pests and vermin: bales provide fewer spaces for pests than do conventional wood-framed houses, and straw is not attractive as a food source. However, straw bale houses should be treated for termites in the same way as conventional houses are, to protect timber framing members, timber fittings or furniture. Control methods include – chemical barriers (Chlorpyrifos, Bifenthron or Premise, as approved by your local council) physical barriers (Termimesh or Granite Guard, as approved by your local council) annual inspections.

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