Straw Bale - Building with Awareness - Tiny House Blog

Straw Bale – Building with Awareness

Recently I have had the opportunity to review Ted Owens Guidebook and DVD – “Building With Awareness.

Green designer and filmmaker Ted Owens has spent much of his professional career in the field of energy and resource-efficient design. Award-winning filmmaker and designer Ted Owens guides you through the entire construction process of building his elegent and energy-efficient straw bale home. Building for efficiency requires more than just using straw bale for insulation in the walls.

It is the entire house design the will prevent overheating in the hot summer months and high energy bills in the winter. Building With Awareness shows you how to look at the big picture and choose the proper materials and design parameters to insure your home is both comfortable and beautiful.

Beautiful design is a green building principal that is just as important as energy-efficiency. This video and book looks at a home as an entire system – the layout of rooms and windows, the materials chosen for specific areas, and how the home relates to the angle of the sun. All have a dramatic impact on how well the home performs. This video is packed with green-design and construction techniques from professionals working in the cutting edge of home building and design. Many of these concepts add nothing to the construction cost of the home, yet can save the homeowner thousands of dollars in utility bills.

Housebuilding seems complex until you break it down into simple components. By breaking the design and construction into separate elements—each one flowing into the next—the process becomes easy to understand.


Straw bale walls are like working with the oversized blocks that you used as a kid. Once you see the step-by-step demonstration by straw bale expert Stefan Bell, you will know that building your own home is within your grasp. Stefan is not only a master at his craft of straw and mud, he is also engaging and entertaining. Ted’s enthusiasm for straw bale construction is contagious. Learn each step of code-approved techniques for straw bale construction—stacking, noching around posts, window installation, code-required proceedures, how to split straw bales, plaster and stucco preparation—the whole works.

In the adobe section, Ted shows you how to build walls out of mud bricks. Placing thermal mass walls (thick, heavy walls that can absorb and store heat) within your highly insulated exterior walls, is very important—and sometimes overlooked in green building. This will greatly improve the efficiency of any straw bale home. This home stays cool and comfortable inside, without the use of an air-conditioning system, even in the hundred-degree heat of New Mexico. It does this by taking advantage of the local climate and by using adobe thermal mass walls. If adobe is not available in your area, either stone or brick can be used.


This home generates 100% of its own electricity. Wiring and electrical work for straw bale and frame construction are demonstrated by solar energy expert Joe Yarkin. Joe, when he is not working on electrical wiring for straw bale homes, is installing large photovoltaic systems in anarctica for the National Science Foundation. He brings a passion and knowledge of alternative power systems to this video. Joe wires this straw bale and adobe home for both a conventional and photovoltaic electrical system.

Stefan Bell also hosts the sequence on using an all-volunteer crew to apply the first coat of mud to the home’s walls. He demonstrates mud mixtures, application techniques, the use of tools, and additional tips and tricks. Nothing will get you up to speed faster than by watching Stefan go through the entire earth plastering process. By the end, you will want to get your hands dirty yourself. It’s fun!

The finish coat of earth plaster is demonstrated by author and master-of-mud, Keely Meagan. She wrote the original book on earth plastering, “Earth Plasters for Straw Bale Homes”. Keely will show you how to obtain a beautiful white earth plaster finish in a variety of colors—even if you have never plastered a wall in your life. She will show you how to mix the earth plaster and what tools to use. When finished, you end up with a beautiful, paint-free surface on your walls.


In the Guidebook and DVD, you will learn how to install a rainwater cistern, how to construct a rubble trench foundation to conserve concrete, and how to place your windows to maximize solar gain. You will learn how to make small spaces appear larger, and how to make the best use of the space you have.

The purpose of the Guidebook and DVD is to educate, inspire, and give you the confidence to build your own home using a variety of green building materials. This video is an engaging journey through green-home design.The Guidebook and DVD will appeal to both the casually-interested and the professional builder. Whether you are ready to start building or are just interested in the concepts, this video will inspire you to create a living environment that is truly a pleasure to live in. It will be the least expensive tool you buy for saving money in the design and construction of your home.For those of you interested in building a tiny house using straw bales, I would hightly recommend this Guidebook and DVD. You owe it to yourself to at least look it over. Go to the Building with Awareness website now.

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Click Here to Leave a Comment Below

Christina Nellemann - July 22, 2008 Reply

I have the DVD as well and it is truly one of a kind. Extremely well documented and visually beautiful, it is so worth it to buy a copy if you are thinking of building green.

werutzb - October 7, 2008 Reply


I want to extend my SQL knowledge.
I red that many SQL books and would like to
read more about SQL for my occupation as mysql database manager.

What can you recommend?


BithexitlyKix - December 18, 2008 Reply

Hi people

As a fresh user i only want to say hi to everyone else who uses this site 😎

sheetsZoonfob - January 6, 2009 Reply

What is bumburbia?

Abramovicl - January 12, 2009 Reply

Hi , i have some questions about your design,
maybe you can give designer contacts?

Frank - June 24, 2014 Reply

This is by far the best dvd available for straw bale construction on the net
Order your copy if you’re serious about straw bale construction.
I personally talked to Ted for 30 minutes and was extremely motivated by our discution.

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