September 11, 2015 at 9:39 pm #43752
Well, my original BOL was where I lived. 1,750 acres, lake, river, cabins etc etc. Since I had to move to BOL B I am now working on making a BOL C. This will be in south central Oklahoma on a piece of ground that has barn, a single cabin, greenhouse and outbuildings. The owner will be living in the cabin as their BOL. I started thinking of a cabin I could construct. I currently have a 14×24 building I am converting into movable living quarters. I would like also to have something in Oklahoma if the conversion does not get completed by SHTF.
So, I am thinking of straw bale construction. I can get the small square bales cheaply (currently $5 each but if we have another drought who knows.) Found a site with many plans. The plan I like is called the “Courtyard.” Actually 6 small structures of about 80 sq.ft. each. I could build as I have the time/money. Gaining knowledge as I progress from one structure to the next.
Any straw bale builders out there?
(plan menu on right side, click Courtyard.)September 11, 2015 at 11:52 pm #43757
It sounds neat but I don’t really know anything about them. I assume they must be just a dry climate option?September 11, 2015 at 11:56 pm #43758
Not really. The bales get covered with material like adobe or plaster. Does work best if you have a concrete pad or footers (a concrete pad outline under just the bales themselves.)
RobinSeptember 12, 2015 at 12:22 am #43760
What about cold weather, not from an insulation standpoint, but rather the freeze/thaw expansion/contraction of the surface covering? I don’t know whether it is cultural or structural but nothing gets built here using adobe or plaster.September 12, 2015 at 12:50 am #43761
Many different ways other than adobe or plaster. Many straw bale builds are in the Southwest but there are lots more throughout the US. Inside plastering/adobe is mainly for looks. Outside is where you want to really waterproof. Nothing lasts if it is directly on the ground. So you get your bales up. If your area is prone to flooding then put the entire thing on stilts. Think of straw bale as being like Rigid Foam Panels. No wood/metal studs.
What I am planning: Pour a foundation. Build a cinderblock safe room (This is Tornado Alley!). Walls straw bale. Roof is used tin panels.
As long as the bales are off the ground, dry when laid and waterproofed they will last forever. Each outside wall will have a major overhang except the south wall. The south wall I plan to use as many windows as possible (you use wood to frame for windows/doors) and turn the place into solar everything. I will use both passive and active solar for heat, power and interior lighting.
RobinSeptember 12, 2015 at 2:45 am #43762
best way in cold is 12 inch insulated footer for foundation stainless steel venting ( for bales water ingress from melting and to stop rodents)…if you have the $$ do a steel i beam frame… if you want fast then go container home.instead.
dont do plaster do spray concrete with fiberglass or elastic polymers it last longer and you can have the colour impregnated
make sure you do a slanted roof metal is best tile is too heavy will cause walls to fail.
do it when dry or you have problems remember wet straw bales can spontaneously combustion.
check all bales for moisture content wet stuff is garbage.
there are lots more things about bale houses for northern wet climates with snow better for dryer arid placesSeptember 12, 2015 at 1:17 pm #43765
I looked briefly at the site and I see the author mentioned use of stick or post & beam framing. Because compression of the bales will occur over time I would use as much framing as possible to endure structural stability. The weight of the roof combined with the weight of the upper bale walls will crush the bottom of the walls. Every year there will be more and more compression.
I would stud floor to ceiling around my doors, windows and corners, plus add intermediate wall studs. The framing will make it easier to secure exterior sheathing and interior finishes as well as support the roof.September 12, 2015 at 1:58 pm #43766
Done properly, you pre compress the bales in place, not just stack them.September 12, 2015 at 5:06 pm #43770
the bales are left overs from a grain harvest make sure you know which pesticide they used some of it is very toxic and if in contact with humans breathing or skin before the expiry date from last application can cause problems.
hay bales also have treatments applied so dont think that is safeSeptember 12, 2015 at 9:44 pm #43778
I think you will find both of these links below helpful. The prime concern when building with bales is compression and stability. Use of wood framing in conjunction with bales allows larger room size and a larger structure. Window and door openings weaken the wall in any construction material and consequently frequently show shifting and instability if not properly supported. So again I suggest commonly accepted framing techniques in these areas.September 15, 2015 at 2:01 am #43805
They tried that in Arizona , didnt catch on , stucco is bad enough , but that was a little too 3rd world ……even for the southwest . Worries about rodents , insects , strength , mold , etc .September 15, 2015 at 1:41 pm #43813
Its a long proven technique in the sandhill areas of Colorado and Nebraska.
Near where we used to live there are bale homes that are over a hundred years old.
Less problems with bugs and vermin than conventional builds.
Also less problems with fire and weather.September 16, 2015 at 10:25 am #43825
I think this page on that web site is particularly informative. Very few buildings have no design maintenance issues that develop over time. Either from aging of the construction material, from the effects of weather or a combination of poor design and poor construction techniques. Will straw bale buildings last? http://thesustainablehome.net/?cat=9
From this article it would seen that wall stability is a problem and creates a maintenance issue sealing and painting cracks in the exterior stucco. “Cracks must be filled. I’ve seen a house that went maybe 8 years without crack filling and painting, and it was fine! But I’ve also seen disastrous results from unfilled cracks. Again, the site seems to make all the difference, but there’s no sense pushing your luck. Fill your cracks within a few months, or if you plaster in the fall, wait until the following spring or early summer – but not years.”
Rail Road style buildings with large overhangs on each wall to protect the building from rain sounds like the way to go. “Driving rain is the enemy of straw bale houses, and gable ends are particularly susceptible. If you’re thinking of building a straw bale house on an exposed site – a hill or a lakeshore, or any site where you might consider using a wind turbine – your design must be impeccable. You might want to consider a bungalow with good overhangs all the way around, you should certainly avoid a large gable end on a windward side of the house. Gable ends in general should have some kind of skirt roof, and you may want to consider siding the upper part if it’s large or particularly exposed.”
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