Ben Stallings wrote:Hi, Harlan. You need to visit Fairfield, Iowa. There are dozens of natural buildings in and surrounding the town, ranging from strawbale to rammed-earth brick to hemp/concrete composite brick to timber frame to cob to modified conventional stick frame with recycled insulation, and many of them have been in use for 15 years or more, so you can get frank answers about what works well and what doesn't in Iowa's climate. Your best contact is probably Mark Stimson, whose bio and contact info you can find here: http://www.mum.edu/sustainable-living/people/faculty
Enjoy, and happy building!
S Haze wrote:Hi Harlan!
I hope your move works out. My area is so de-populated yet more land than ever is plowed and sprayed every year. To turn things around we absolutely need more able-bodied, conscientious, free-thinking people here.
You could check out the clay-straw technique for walls. I'm not sure how it compares to straw bale in cost but it seems appropriate in this climate (cold winters, warm humid summers) The house I'm building utilizes local round wood timbers for much of the structural support but beyond that isn't so natural or locally sourced, but the cement blocks were rescued from someone's pasture!
Watch out for heavy clay soil too. It's a bit challenging because it doesn't drain well and can hold a ton of water meaning it can move a lot due to frost or shrink if it does dry out.
As for the building codes you probably need to know exactly where you're building. Here in southern MN, I can do whatever I want (well, maybe it has to be to "code" but there's no inspection) but a mile away inside city limits I think you need to get permission/inspection to nail a picture on your wall in the same township as I am.
I hope the beer bribe trick works well for you, very limited success here!
ps what region of Iowa are you going to? I'm not sure exactly where Fairfax is without looking at a map.
Jeff Reiland wrote:Did you ever get to Iowa?