Win a copy of Compost Teas for the Organic Grower this week in the Composting forum!
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*Welcome Jim Reiland and Bob Theis, authors of Straw Bale Building Details!

 
master steward
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Please join me in welcoming Jim Reiland and Bob Theis, authors of Straw Bale Building Details



Read the book review here!

Jim Reiland and Bob Theis will be hanging out in the forums until May 24th, answering questions and sharing their experiences with you all.

At the end of the week, we'll make a draw for 4 lucky winners to win a copy of their book! (Physical books in North America, ebooks for International winners.) From now until Friday, all new posts in the Straw Bale House forum are eligible to win.

To win, you must use a name that follows our naming policy and you must have your email set up to receive the Daily-ish email.

The winners will be notified by Personal Moosage and must respond within 24 hours. Only the winners who respond within that timeframe will receive their book. Watch for a PM, and a notice in this thread announcing the winners!


Please remember that we favour perennial discussion.  The threads you start will last beyond the event.  You don't need to use Jim and Bob's names to get their attention. We like these threads to be accessible to everyone, and some people may not post their experiences if the thread is directed to the author alone.


Posts in this thread won't count as an entry to win the book, but please say "Hi!" to Jim and Bob and make them feel welcome!
 
master steward
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Welcome!  

So glad to have you visiting us this week!
 
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Howdy, welcome and thanks for the blessings you give
 
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Welcome!  I'm looking forward to learning something new this week about strawbale construction and, hopefully,  winning one of the four books.
 
Posts: 68
Location: NE Oklahoma
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Welcome and thank you for making yourselves available to the community.  I'm looking forward to learning something new.
 
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Location: zone 10 B, S. Florida
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Welcome!  I'm so excited to read these threads, as we are planning to build a straw bale home in AZ, finished with cob....we hope.  

Thank you for taking the time to do this!

Syrena
 
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Welcome! How exciting. I just joined this forum as well and we'll be building a house from straw bales in the next year. Perfect timing. Cheers!
 
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Location: Southern MN
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I look forward to finding a copy of this book.  I've been dreaming of Straw Bale construction for 30+ years.  It's finally legal in the Building Code in these parts!  
 
author
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Yes, New Mexico is one of a half-dozen states that have adopted the International Residential Code's Appendix-S Strawbale Construction!  The entire straw bale building code with summary is reprinted in Chapter 7 of the book for reference.  

Where code jurisdictions haven't adopted the code the book offers some guidelines on how to get a straw bale building project permitted through the building code's "Alternative Materials, Design, and Methods of Construction" section.
 
Jim Reiland
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I should say a few words about CASBA’s (California Straw Building Association) book Straw Bale Building Details: An Illustrated Guide for Design and Construction.  None of this would be obvious until you were reviewing a copy of the book.

The content of the book was drawn from the collective experience of over sixty contributors who have worked on hundreds, if not thousands of straw bale buildings over the past twenty plus years.  We all volunteered our time and expertise to this project.  Bob and I are among the twenty principal contributors who played a somewhat larger role in writing chapters, creating details and illustrations, and organizing and editing the project.  CASBA is a non-profit organization devoted to furthering the practice of straw building by facilitating the exchange of current information and practical experience, promoting and conducting research, and making that body of knowledge available to working professionals and the public at large.

All proceeds earned from book sales are earmarked to support research and development of straw as a building material.

As the book’s managing editor I believe I speak for Bob and the other contributors in saying that we made this effort because it’s important to build straw bale structures well.  Straw is non-toxic and easy to work with.  The plastered straw bale walls are beautiful and inspiring.  Thoughtfully designed and carefully built straw bale structures can be super energy efficient, requiring much less energy inputs to heat and cool.  In most of the world grain crops are abundant, so straw can an annually renewable building material. Straw has the lowest embodied energy of any building material--comparatively little fossil fuel goes into planting, growing, harvesting, and transporting straw to a building site.  Straw is about 40% carbon, so carefully stuffing straw into a building prevents it from decomposing, which would allow the carbon to bond with oxygen and become atmospheric carbon dioxide.  If we can use more annually renewable plant-based materials like straw in buildings it has the potential to become a significant carbon sink, so if you think humans have had something to do with increasing levels of green house gasses, building well with straw is something we can do to mitigate.

Talk about stacking functions!
 
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Thinking of using straw bale  when we build soon still getting our heads around the process.
 
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I have always been interested in alternative building techniques and have thought about straw bale construction but couldn't find much information on the subject.
This sounds like it is exactly what I have been looking for!
Hope I win.
 
gardener
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I merged your stuff with the following thread. I hope that is okay by you.
 
S. Carpenter
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Hello Jim and Bob!

I'd like to know more about considerations that should be taken when using cob over the straw bale walls?  We will be building in the Verde Valley of Arizona, in Yavapai County.  I would imagine that there are some people in that county that have straw bale homes, as there are so many alternative minded people in the Sedona area.  I understand that many people use plaster over the straw bales.  I'm not sure about the process of the finishing work, but I do know that we would like cob for many reasons.  We hope we can make it work.  

I look forward to reading all of the great questions and replies that will unfold over the next few days.  I didn't know that this forum existed until today!  So glad to find it!

Blessings!
Syrena
 
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Hello Jim and Bob!

We’re a family of four with two toddlers under 3 years who are seriously considering doing a strawbale/green build. Have you ever heard of anyone taking on a project like this while parenting small children?

It seems we’ve found ourselves (at last!) in a position where we might be able make our dream come true. This is with the understanding that we would need to find/hire some serious help. My wife and I do have some idea of the work involved having attended several strawbale workshops and having taken on past projects in a real fixer upper. Do you have any recommendations for design/build/construction resources in Montana?

Thanks guys!
 
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Thanks for all of your work on the book, Jim and Bob. What a full list of expert contributors to this book!
 
Posts: 69
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Hello Jim and Bob!

I wanted to chime in earlier, but couldn’t remember my password after a hard drive crash 🙄

I’ve lived in a straw bale home in Vermont for 9 years, with the bale/plaster work done by the authors of The Natural Building Companion — another great book in the trade.

I haven’t seen Bob in many years, but waaay back in the mid-sixties, we were next-door neighbors!  What are the chances that 2 random kids start life in a tight little neighborhood (Gerrymander Drive, if you can believe it 🤪), grow up, live on opposite coasts 3000 miles apart, and both end up involved in straw bale homes?

I’m no expert on the matter, but have learned s good deal working through design and implementation issues.  My involvement in solar energy systems led me to work on a team offering design, engineering, and construction management for clients looking to create zero energy buildings.  That partnership has dissolved, but I’m still working in solar electricity.

I wish you great success with your book, and many sunny days to come!
 
Brad Vietje
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Meant to attach a photo, but had trouble... maybe things will work this time

Our house was completed in 2010, a straw bale wrap with a reclaimed timber frame from an 1850 home that was dismantled about 35 miles away in New Hampshire.  Passive design (needs lots of active management in this climate!) with black stained radiant concrete slab.  We use roll-up thermal shades to manage heat loss through the large south windows.  Nothing hooked up to the radiant tubing at the moment; we’ve been heating with a small wood stove.  Fuel consumption is about 2 cords against about 8200 Heating degree days.
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pollinator
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Welcome Jim & Bob. I'm interested in building a straw bale garage around my live-in RV. I plan to build 3 or 4 of the walls, then drive the RV out & convert the structure into a tiny home.
 
pioneer
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I look forward to reading the book and getting new tips and techniques.

My first exposure to natural building was over 25 years ago and was strawbale via a very enthusiastic Ross  Burkhardt


I last used my " bale needle"  year before last to sew thru and reinforce a weak spot in a light straw clay retrofit wall

Straw bale, gateway drug leading to permaculture

A bale needle is a unique and useful tool
 
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Congratulations on your new book I’m sure it is going to be a great one and looking forward to getting my copy. Thanks 👍
 
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Nicole Alderman wrote:I am very excited to announce the FOUR WINNERS of this awesome book. Drum roll please....

Congratulations to:

Timothy Markus
Jennifer Paulson
Debi Baker
Ricky Chilcott


I'll be sending each of you a PM--please respond by Monday to claim your book!

Thank you so much, Jim Reiland and Bob Theis, for answering so many questions. You have really gifted all of us with your knowledge. Thank you again!!!



I dare say I am more excited! Thank you so much. I can't wait for this happy mail to arrive!
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This proved to be quite the workout.
 
Jim Reiland
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Hi Jack,

Sounds like you’ll have your hands full not just for the year or two you’re building but for at least the next fifteen!  

I have seen couples with small children play a very active role in building their own homes, whether straw bale or not.  I have also seen it not work, but if you go into this knowing how much you can take on and where you need help, you’ll be fine.  

Taking a straw bale building workshop is excellent preparation, at least for the straw bale stacking and plastering parts of the project (unless the workshop also covered foundations, framing, roofing, windows, doors, electrical, plumbing, VAC, etc.).  Probably less than 20% of a straw bale building, in terms of materials, time, and cost, has anything to do with the plastered straw bale wall assembly, even though that’s the defining part of the building.  The rest of it is a lot like any other construction project.

Twelve years years ago my wife and I worked evenings and weekends on our own straw bale house while we held down full-time jobs.  We supplied about 50% of the labor, and with the help of family, friends, and a handful of contractors to do those things we didn’t have much experience with we finished in eighteen months.  Although I’m still working on it (a contractor’s house is never really finished?) it was a deeply gratifying experience.  Like you, we had taken a few workshops and remodeled a previous home so had a pretty good idea of what we were in for.

Unless you have plenty of time, money, or skill, I recommend keeping the design simple, e.g. a rectangle with a gable roof, or something similar.  As we say in Chapter 2 of the book, the longer it takes to draw your house on paper, the more complicated and costly it will be to build, and the longer it will take.  

Montana Resources.  You might check with the folks at the Natural Building Alliance, until very recently known as the Colorado Straw Bale Building Association—they have members throughout the Rocky Mountain states.   I’d also contact two very talented folks from Idaho and Montana who attended recent CASBA conferences.  Lindsey Love is an architect with Love-Schack Architecture out of Driggs, Idaho, and has worked on straw bale building projects.  Also, Mark Jensen out of Bozeman, Montana has a lot of experience building with bales.

Good Luck!  
 
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