Steve Smyth

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since Jan 06, 2016
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Recent posts by Steve Smyth

Thank you Jim.

My reasoning behind taking extra steps to protect the lower portions is wind driven rain. Other structures at the building site tend to have wet exterior walls, up to about 36", when we have rain and moderate wind.  I am of a mind that if I run the eves out 3', with gutters, and protect the lower 42" of the exterior wall from direct moisture that I have a good chance at healthy walls.

Wind and rain have become significant concerns for me. When I moved here, I did not comprehend how much it rains. We beat Seattle by about 4 inches a year. And, it rains HARD.

I was not aware of a Straw code book with commentary. I need to get my hands on that.  

While I do have the flexibility of living in a place with no permitting or inspections, I really don't want to build a house that may fall on my head........

It will be some time before I start ordering straw but I have been poking around. I found a gent over in Arkansas that will sell me bales (2 string) @ $5.50 to my site. How does that compare to what you all have seen lately?

Thank you.


6 days ago
Thank you ALL for the replies!!

I am overwhelmed with good information. It is going to take me a bit to digest it all.  Thank you for such thoughtful and detailed repleis.

I do have a couple of random questions right off:

- Is there a practical limit to the thickness of the lime plaster on the outside wall?

- I am looking at two possibilities for protecting the lower portion of the exterior walls. either a stacked stone wall 42" tall in front of the bales with a small air gap and lime plaster on the bales. Kind of a "wainscot"  look. Or, building the first 42" of wall from rammed earth as a "base" for the bales. Do you see any issue with either of these?

- Regarding rainwater collection: Connecting a bunch of IBC's together to make an adequate storage tank is a PITA. I have done it. BUT... In my area used (not IBC) tanks bring around $1 a gallon. IBC totes are closer to $0.23 a gallon plus plumbing to connect them. Even with the plumbing, IBC's cost 1/3 what regular tanks do. As an alternative, I am considering an above ground swimming pool with a cover on it as a storage tank.  Any thoughts? Has anyone seen a swimming pool used for this before?

Thanks again!!

6 days ago

John C Daley wrote:40 inches of rain will not be an issue.
Good design of the structure and its exposure to driven rain will deal with that.
Lime plasters on the outside are important.
"rain. This is perhaps the easiest form of water to deal with in a straw bale home.
Large overhangs, preferably 2′ or more, will direct the majority of the rain away from the walls by protecting them from direct contact.
With the application of gutters on the eaves, you can virtually eliminate rain from contacting the walls.
The gutters also give you the opportunity to collect your rain water for future use. [ see my signature for rainfall collection ]
If you have a multiple story building, be sure to add roof lines at each story. "
From ;
"Liquid Moisture
Primary consideration needs to be given to preventing liquid moisture from finding a way into the bales:
-ensure appropriate overhangs, splash protection, window and door detailing, etc.,
- and don’t forget to remember adequate protection for the bales during the actual construction process.
- Taking care in detailing window and door openings by design and implementation is very important
—providing a drip edge at the tops and bottoms of the openings, making sure that any “ledges” (such as at the bottom of a window opening) are sloped appropriately, and installing a sheet-type Moisture
   Barrier such as tar paper, or felt, over areas above, beside, and below openings in the wall system before stuccoing
   in consideration of any potential water intrusion that might occur at junctions of dissimilar materials.
- Some straw-bale builders in wetter climates feel that tar,paper isn’t sufficient, that it’s too easily punctured by the building elements (or builders)
—in which condition the tar,paper can potentially create a bigger problem than it solves—and recommend more flexible and self-healing membranes such as Bituthene or Ice & Water Shield (which is not intended to be an endorsement for WR Grace, which happens to be the manufacturer of both of those products).

It should be pointed out here that there is a profound difference between vertical water and horizontal water where straw bales are concerned.
Vertical water—such as driving rain hitting the sides of a straw-bale wall—is shown by experience to not penetrate very far.
Horizontal water, on the other hand, will seep from above into the middle of the bale wall, which is precisely the worst place for it to be."

Drip ledges should stand proud of any plaster to ensure water does not dribble down the plaster causing erosion.
A wider veranda with an extra shield can be installed where the rain is particularly fierce.
Good luck with it.


Thank you for the fantastic reply!! So much good info!

I would be building the structure and roof first then infill with bales. I should be able stack/store the bales under the roof upon delivery.  That should address moisture concerns during construction.

Good tips on the window details and ice & water shield.

Rainwater collection is in the plan. I wish I could find affordable tanks....... They are bringing $1 a gallon or more here.  IBC totes may be my only option. Unfortunately 20+ IBCs and plumbing is an eyesore.......

Lime plaster is also in the plan.

Looking at my draft design, I do still have spots at the corners of the gable walls that may need to be addressed.  Let me see if I can post a picture,


1 week ago
Hey Everyone,

I have finally made the move to 40 acres in Eastern Oklahoma.

I had been considering straw bale construction for years but have a concern that the climate here may not be conducive. 40 inches of rain/year.

The rain can be pretty extreme and I know that moisture is a concern with straw bale.  

I can extend eves and gutters out 2'-3' from the walls but wind driven rain will still hit the walls.

What do you all think of building with straw bale in this climate?



2 weeks ago
I will be in Eastern Oklahoma. A.little hot and muggy in the Summer with 90+ common in July and August. Winters are relatively mild with an average of 15" annual snowfall. Total average precipitation is 45"-48" annually.

I want brush eaters that are relatively low maintenance and will stay put behind a 42" portable electric fence.

I have no interest in milking them but I may invite them to a BBQ once they are done clearing the brush.😁
9 months ago
Speaking to the picketing concerns:

Never picket an animal without a responsible human keeping tabs on them.

I am leaning towards portable electric fencing.

Do you all think than Nubians would be a good breed to start with?

9 months ago

Can goats live entirely on forage? Or mostly on forage?

If feed costs are low, I don't see any reason not to put 6-12 goats along my fence line contained by movable electric fence (Premier1?).

Maybe fence off a 20'x100' stretch and turn them loose. Moving the fencing every few days.
9 months ago

.......... I am gonna need a lot of goats.......... Two acres is in pretty good shape but the other 38 are kinda thick

I am really just looking at having them groom the fence line. About 3/4 mile.
9 months ago
Hello Everyone,

We are getting ready to dive into our new property. One of my first projects will be clearing and repairing perimeter fencing.

I know that, at times, goats will eat most anything. But, are they really effective at clearing brush?

Can I picket a few of them along the fence line and expect good results in a reasonable amount of time?


9 months ago

I can't be the only one considering this??
2 years ago