Summary New Society Publishing says "Straw bale buildings promise superior insulation and flexibility across a range of design aesthetics, while using a typically local and abundant low embodied-energy material that sequesters carbon—an important part of mitigating climate change...
Distilling two decades of site-built straw bale design and construction experience, Straw Bale Building Details is... the indispensable guide to current practice in straw bale design and construction."
About the Author New Society Publishing says "California Straw Building Association (CASBA) is a nonprofit dedicated to furthering the practice of straw building by exchanging current information and practical experience, promoting and conducting research and testing, and making that body of knowledge available to working professionals and the public at large."
I have to say that this newly revised and updated version of straw bale building is Pretty amazing.
A very thorough discussion of almost everything that you might have questions about when thinking about building your own straw bale home. From why to use bales to tools and weather. The saying of dressing your home with “a good hat, good, boots, and a breathable coat” are all explained here.
Very detailed illustrations are interspersed amongst the text, and inspiring photos of folks building their homes, make some extremely technical concepts easier to understand. I was a bit worried that people who have no experience with building a home, might find the jargon used a bit unfamiliar, but a good glossary and a thorough study of the concepts presented should help most dreamers bring their straw bale home to reality.
I have only been inside of one straw bale home in my life. I never realized how many things went into building one. This book writes about all of those little things that a builder should think about. Tools, plasters, getting help to build, installing electric wires, plumbing and your fireplace chimney are all covered.
Appendix -S also gives you a complete copy of the building codes that have already been accepted in some location in the U.S. Something for you to take to your local authorities for them to adopt.
If you are serious about building with straw bales, you should really add this book to your knowledge base.
Personally, as with many other instruction-manual type books, I can only stand to skim through such books, because the minute scrutinizing detail is information that I will probably only really read when I am actually doing said work.
As is typical with the things that catch my eye in books, I love it when things are well-organized, and the presentation of information in this book is great, as it helps to accomplish their goal of making a "new 'standard'... textbook for workshops, natural building programs, and green building courses taught in trade schools and universities." The book is organized as, "The first chapter explains why people are drawn to this building system and explains the building science behind it. The second chapter covers design considerations for building with bales. Chapter 3 discusses structural issues unique to straw bale structures. The next few chapters offer practical guidance on installing utilities, stacking the straw bale walls, and finally, applying protective coats of plaster. Conveniently, the final chapter includes the often- referenced straw bale building code." Each chapter contains many pictures and diagrams, along with copious notes on the diagrams, to explain what is going on.
I appreciated the illustrations a lot in the book, because visualizing stuff in three dimensions can be pretty hard, and this made it a lot easier to understand.
There were also plenty of sidebars in the book that assisted with further of explanations things that I found to be more confusing to understand- especially the new building jargon.
As far as I could get through with the book, I think it does a wonderful job of creating a new standard for straw bale housing. It reads a bit better than the textbooks I have read in my academic career, btu I would not consider this to be pleasure-reading.