Welcome to StrawBale.com
My name is Andrew Morrison and welcome to my straw bale building site dedicated to anyone interested in building their own straw bale house. If you are brand new to straw bale or are a straw bale construction specialist there's something for you at StrawBale.com.
Click here if you are NEW TO STRAW BALE BUILDING and want to know the basics about straw bale construction.
I have a ton of information for you including: photo gallery, step-by-step instructional videos, information about straw bale workshops around the world, free straw bale articles, free straw bale social network, and a full straw bale building blog.
Be sure to sign up for my e-mail updates and my free 16 day straw bale e-course so we can keep you posted of the latest developments in the ever-changing world of straw bale.
p.s. If you are eager to fast track your education in straw bale construction, click here.
World, meet Rebecca…
Rebecca is a Colorado native who currently resides in Carbondale, Colorado. Her wide-ranging administrative support roles in education recently led her to a 9-12 experiential learning based boarding school in Carbondale, where she serves as the Executive Assistant to the Headmaster.
She became captivated with straw bale home construction after visiting and staying in one in southwest Colorado when she was in her 30’s. Further interest developed after visiting a retreat center in California and doing volunteer work on a structure for four days.
Rebecca stated, “For as long as I can remember, I’ve always been happiest and most fulfilled when working with my hands and building things; whether that was a garden, a stone patio, or a dinner for 20. Being part of a workshop team will be my next step in putting the puzzle pieces together for a new career I’m building for myself. The opportunity could not have come at a better time, and I’m thrilled to be this month’s winner.”
CONGRATULATIONS REBECCA! WE ARE SO EXCITED TO GET TO MEET YOU AT A WORKSHOP!
If you have ever wondered why you don’t see a lot of steel framed straw bale homes, the answer can be summed up in one word: condensation. That does not mean that a bale house cannot be built with steel framing; however, it does mean that special care must be taken to protect the bales from condensation. I have outlined the easiest way to accomplish this below.
I spent last week on the piece of land that my wife and I purchased this past February. This is the first raw piece of land that we have ever owned together with the intention of creating our forever homestead. My intention was to meet with county officials, engineers, the power company, and two of my friends: Roarke (my excavator) and Chris (my designer) to get the ball rolling. What I discovered in that process was much more profound than any permit approval, road grade conversation, or home site location search.
Over the years I have spoken many times about the importance of a quality plastering job. That importance has not waned, and I am unfortunately hearing more and more stories about failed plaster jobs around the world. A large percentage of the consulting work I do is helping clients deal with these plastering issues. There are two common themes, or dare I say causes for the failures. If you avoid these two approaches to plastering your home, your plaster should provide you with a very long life.
Failure #1: Mixing earthen and lime plasters on a wall surface. This is perhaps the most common mistake that I see over and over again. People choosing to use earthen plaster for the scratch and brown coats and a final, “durability coat” of lime. The problem here is that what you have is stronger plaster over weaker plaster when in reality, you want it the other way around: weaker plaster over stronger plaster.
If you consider all plaster work over the last say…thousand years, one thing holds true no matter what material you use. The second coat has more sand in it than the first coat and the third has more than the second. That makes the coats “weaker” as they move away from the wall. This is important because plaster moves, as do homes. If the weaker plaster beneath a strong lime finish coat can move more than the finish coat, you will ultimately get delamination between the two coats which will lead to eventual plaster failure. By laying weaker plaster over a stronger finish coat, it will always be able to move at least as much as the coat beneath it. This keeps the plasters well bonded and eliminates the high risks seen in the opposite application. Read the rest or post a comment »
I hope that you find a way to experience this wonderful planet we call home today, if not everyday. We chose to experience the mountains of Colorado by taking a trip out to Rocky Mountain National Park. It was beautiful and inspiring. Herds of elk, mountain peaks, rivers flowing beneath a thin cap of ice, and snow blowing down hard made the day incredible.
Remember the potential for beauty around you, no matter where you live. Give back to this planet that gives so much for you. Strive to leave every environment you visit in better health than you found it.
Happy Earth Day everyone.
Andrew and Gabriella
Just a quick note to let you know that
I only have one spot left in the class. Scratch that…the class is now full.
Space in Remaining Classes:
July in Taos, New Mexico: FULL (You Can Sign Up For The Wait List)
Congratulations to Kevin! His name was picked as the April, 2013 free 7 day workshop winner. Though we have had several aviators attend our workshops, he will be the first Army pilot (that we know of at least!). We are delighted that he will be joining us at a workshop soon! World, meet Kevin:
Thank you much for the opportunity to attend your workshop. I am a 24 year Army veteran and would be retired but for a break in service after Desert Storm. My wife and I both went to Portland State University before I went back in the Army for the opportunity to fly helicopters. We now have two daughters and are stationed at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.
It’s not everyday that people come together and build with each other. Not in these “modern times” at least; however, that is precisely what happened this last week outside of Little Rock, Arkansas. More than 40 people came together to learn, connect, have fun, and share in the experience of building a 5,300 SF Eco Solar Learning Center at the Ferncliff Camp and Conference Center. With a common goal in mind (to bale and plaster the Eco Solar Learning Center), the group put out an amazing effort to bale a space that will help teach both adults and children about living green, getting power from the sun, and the effects of our actions and inactions on the earth we all walk on together.
People from different walks of life and different countries came together to work side by side. What we received was far more than an education in straw bale construction. We connected with each other and gained friendships that span across borders to Mexico and across the seas to the UK. We learned about different religions from Prespatarian Christians to Buddhists. We worked side by side with young adults volunteering their service through Americorps, as well as with retired men and women, architects, builders, and many other individuals: again, all inspired by a common goal.
You have likely heard me say this before, but it is worth saying again: keep your plumbing out of your bales. Of course, it’s not as simple as that when it comes to adding plumbing to a straw bale house. There are obviously more details to consider in order to ensure that the straw bale walls are not damaged by water infiltration. The good news is that there are a limited number of locations to consider in terms of potential water damage from plumbing in a straw bale home so managing the installation is easier than you may think. Let’s look at the major areas of concern and I’ll show you my preferred solution for each location.
This incredible piece of property is where I used to live and where I raised my kids for 11 years. It is one of the most incredible pieces of land I know of. I am sad to see it go; however, I understand that it is too much for one person (my mother-in-law) to manage on her own. It is time for the next adventure for her and so the land must find a new partner to inspire. Maybe it will be you. I could talk about how amazing this land is for hours with its year round natural creeks, springs and ponds which yield a bounty of water for the property, among other amazing traits. It also boasts excellent solar gain, beautiful views, and a magic within the land that I could never describe to you in a blog entry. I’ll do my best within this article to expand on what the Realtor has written on her website about the property. Just know that this truly is a piece of heaven. I should also say that I would not be surprised if my daughter comes knocking on your door one day looking to buy it back from you. She always dreamed (and still does) of living there herself when she is older, with her own family. I hope that dream comes true for her.
This is a one-of-a-kind Applegate Valley Retreat located 15 minutes outside of Southern Oregon’s national historic landmark town of Jacksonville. It’s a 90 acre paradise with multiple dwellings which offer a variety of living possibilities. The remodeled main home comes with complete separate living on each level of over 1700 sq.ft.
The remodeled single level 3 bedroom caretaker’s home on a knoll setting has incredible views of the pastures to the North and mountains to the South (and North for that matter). This used to be our house when we lived on the land and I must say that the views are incredible. There is also a detached 3 car garage with a private studio and bathroom down by the horse pastures.
There’s even a straw bale village with 3 separate sleeping units, sauna/bath house & central kitchen. These cabins were all built by workshop participants over the years. They are truly special and they can be and have been used as rental cabins to generate extra income for the property owner. There is also a cute mobile cottage (fully remodeled in recent years and quite charming) with a private deck overlooking a small meadow. Up above our old house there are two more structures in a private treed setting that open to another private pasture. One is a load bearing straw bale and the other, known as the Strawberry House (when my kids were little, they thought I was saying “strawberry” when I said straw bale), was originally straw and then remodeled to the structure you see today.
This property offers approx. 20 acres of pasture with irrigation rights, 3 large ponds; one designated as an irrigation pond which is fed by a natural creek, spring and well. There is a beautiful 4 stall horse barn with its own living quarters, tack room, feed stall, hot and cold washing facility, horse shower, and drying rack. The floor is fully matted and there is a large, open-air, fenced riding arena off to the side.
There’s more… A custom greenhouse, fenced organic gardens (have been organic for over 13 years), apple orchards, rose garden, irrigated and fenced horse pastures, and irrigated landscaping throughout the property. There is even a waterfall to visit on one of your many hikes or rides through this secluded heaven. The whole property is surrounded by thousands of acres of BLM land and the adventures and explorations are endless from your back door.
As much as it makes me sad to see this property leave the family, I have hope that it will inspire someone else and hold them with the same love it has offered us. If that person is you, please contact Jeanne Schattler (a friend of ours who is the listing agent…actually, I think she was the first friend we ever made when we moved to Southern Oregon, so it is somewhat full circle for her to be selling the land for us) through her website. You can see lots more photos of the property there as well.
Click here to visit the Real Estate Agent’s page.