Andrew MorrisonWelcome 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.

Happy Baling!
Andrew

p.s. If you are eager to fast track your education in straw bale construction, click here.

My Latest Blog Entries Are Below

Trivia Contest: Winner Receives $200 Off 2015 Workshop

Walsenburg Group Photo**THE SUBMISSION PERIOD FOR THIS CONTEST IS NOW CLOSED. TO READ THE ANSWERS PLEASE REFER TO EACH QUESTION BELOW**

Gabriella and I have been busy the last couple of weeks preparing for the upcoming launch of our 2015 Straw Bale Workshop reveal (9am PST, Fri. Nov. 28). Just this morning as we were finalizing some formatting on our workshop pages, we both commented almost at the same time, ” We have AMAZING workshop hosts and locations this year!”

To share our excitement and to have a little fun, we have put together a trivia contest. Here’s how it will run:

The first person that emails me (andrew@strawbale.com) the correct answers to the following trivia questions will receive a special discountcode for $200 off the workshop sale price. If you are one of the very few people that we have given the location list to (because you wrote and requested it to plan your vacation time far in advance), I’m very sorry to say that your answers won’t be accepted. Got to keep it fair right!?

If you answer these trivia questions properly, you will be one step closer towards knowing exactly where we will be holding our workshops in 2015!

Here are the trivia questions.

1. This state has more ghost towns in it than any other state: OREGON

2. This state claims to home the “live music capital of the world”: TEXAS

3. In ratio of cows to people, this state has the greatest number of dairy

  cows in the nation: VERMONT

4. This state has more miles of river than any other state: NEBRASKA

5. The world’s largest solar telescope is located in this state: ARIZONA

6. A law in this state forbids a citizen to give another citizen a box of

   candy that weighs more than 50 pounds: IDAHO

7. This COUNTRY is as wide as the distance between London and Moscow: AUSTRALIA

Good luck! Again, the very first person to email me (andrew@strawbale.com) the right answers to these questions will receive their own $200 off the already discounted workshop tuition. **THE SUBMISSION PERIOD FOR THIS CONTEST IS NOW CLOSED**

Talk to you all again in just a few short days  (Friday, November 28th at 9am PST) when we reveal our VERY exciting 2015 workshop schedule!!

Happy Baling!

The Impact of Design Details

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Wind Prairie Architecture. Photo credit Lois Shelden.

There is always a balance that needs to be struck between the desire to have an architecturally pleasing house and the impact of design details on the cost and difficulty of actually building that house. For most home owners, the desire to have something other than a rectangle as their forever home comes into play early in the design process followed swiftly by the reality check of finances. There is no question that the more elaborate your design, the more expensive it will be to build; however, there are ways to find that sought after balance that will please both your senses and your finances.

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Inspiring Straw Bale Workshop Video and 2015 Schedule (coming soon)

This is a must watch video if you are interested in attending a straw bale workshop in 2015. In fact, even if you are not planning on attending, this inspiring straw bale workshop video is worth watching anyway. It showcases beautiful images of both straw bale homes under construction and finished products, as well as groups of friends coming together and growing lasting friendships. If you are a graduate, make sure to watch the video as there is a good chance that there are images from your workshop in it.

This video was created to help spread the word about the overall experience of our straw bale workshops. For those of you who have already attended, you know what I mean when I say it is hard to express what an experience it is, above and beyond the straw bale education part. I have been told again and again that it is an “experience of a lifetime,” “the best week of my life,” and “worth every penny just to meet the people and build life long friendships.” Make sure to leave your own comments on the YouTube page or in the comments fields below…we love hearing from old and new friends!

The release date for the 2015 workshop schedule is November 28th at 9am (Pacific time). Mark your calendar! Keep in mind that the Colorado workshop sold out last year in just a few days after its release, so it’s best to have a sense of what dates could work for you before the schedule is shared. That way, you can be sure to secure your spot once the schedule is announced. Also, in keeping with our yearly tradition, we will have a week long sale starting November 28th so if you want to secure your spot at a discount, this really will be the best time to sign up.

Happy Baling and I hope to see you at a workshop in 2015.

The Benefits of Using a Commercial Plaster Sprayer

Most of us don’t have a commercial plaster spraying machine lying around, so we can’t just run out to the garage and turn it on. That said, the benefits of using a commercial plaster sprayer are well worth investigating the availability of one in your area either to rent or to hire out (the entire job). If you have access to a commercial sprayer, it’s an incredible machine that will speed your process up dramatically. You have seen me post in the past about sprayers that we as consumers can use with great effectivity. I am still a big fan of these sprayers and highly recommend them; however, the commercial sprayer shown here, and others like it, is a big step up in power and production.

These machines have the mortar mixer built right in so you can literally mix the material and dump it straight into the pumper. The pump then drives the material down the hose and provides a constant stream of plaster. Because we have to mix the scratch and brown coats of natural hydraulic lime plaster for a minimum of 20 minutes, it’s best to have a secondary mixer on site as well so that you can work between the two to keep the flow going.

I have included some video footage of the sprayer in action on the Flathead Lake, Montana straw bale workshop from this past year. Rather than tell you about the benefits, I figured I would just show you. If you have ever plastered, you will see the advantage right away. If you have never plastered, let me tell you that the main advantage is the speed and ease of application. It still takes several people to do the work, but less than a hand applied crew.

The first video is of the scratch coat application on the interior of an exposed timber frame. The ability to quickly “cut in” around the timbers and ceiling line is immediately apparent.

The second video shows plastering on the tall gable ends. If nothing else, not having to transport the mud to the top of the scaffolding makes this machine well worth having on site. Keep in mind that even with the other sprayer I use, one would still have to transport the mud to the point of application.

The final video is of the finish coat application. Note that there are two trowel finishers in addition to the two men running the sprayer. It is also necessary to have someone making the mud. That means you are looking at at least 5 people for the crew. That’s better than the 15 people I used to have on my plaster crew that did everything by hand application.

 

Repairing Water Damaged Straw Bale Walls

Drying WallsRepairing water damage in straw bale walls is a skill that is not required very often, especially in well built homes; however, even with the best construction practices, water damage can happen. If it does, it’s important to know how to recognize it and how to fix it. Below is a series of steps to consider wen dealing with water damaged walls.

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Article In Green Builder Magazine Online

Green Builder MagHere’s a short article about straw bale construction in the most recent version of the on line Green Builder magazine. Short but sweet. The article starts on page 44 and can be viewed at this link.

For Sale 1.4 Acres With Active Building Permit for a Straw Bale House in Colorado

St. Vrain RiverFor those of you interested in purchasing land in Colorado and building a straw bale house, here’s an incredible property that has the ball already rolling towards your success. Check out the information below about this amazing piece of land. Here’s a quick summary: 1.4 acres; Active building permit & plans for 1200 square foot straw bale, passive solar house. The photo is at the St. Vrain trailhead, 1/4 mile from the land.

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Straw Bale Home is Cover of Fine Homebuilding

Fine HomebuildingFor those of you who have been wondering what it will take to help straw bale homes become more mainstream, this may be a part of the answer. David Arkin and Annie Tilt (Arkin-Tilt Architects) are well known for their beautiful and functional designs. They have received many awards over the years and their straw bale homes have at least twice graced the covers of Fine Homebuilding Magazine, this time in the fall 2014 edition of Small Homes Cabins and Cottages.

I have said for many years that we as a group of individuals, a community of straw bale fans, really need to focus on bringing straw bale construction into the light of everyday people. One way to do that is to start with inspiring design. As an example, when I would walk prospective clients through a home of mine, I would leave out the words “straw bale” and focus on the beauty, energy efficiency and overall design of the home. Once the prospective clients were drawn into those details, the words straw bale had much less scare factor to them.

Let’s keep building on this exposure that Arkin-Tilt Architects, and others with a similar passion for straw bale construction are sharing with the world. Getting the word out to the masses will take time and effort. Every time a beautiful straw bale home is shared with the world, that steep mountain we seem to be climbing gets a little smaller. Keep it positive. Keep it beautiful.

And of course, way to go David and Annie! Feel free to congratulate them yourselves…

Upcoming Workshops

Flathead Lake Straw BaleI just returned from Flathead Lake, Montana where a group of 35 people put together an incredibly beautiful straw bale home in 7 days. I continue to be amazed at how much fun these workshops are and at how incredibly quickly a random sampling of people become a community of friends and how those friends can work together to create something special.

This was the last workshop of the year for me and I am now focussing my efforts on finalizing the workshop schedule for 2015. We will be announcing next year’s schedule over Thanksgiving weekend, so stay tuned, and get excited!

By the way, if you are interested in hosting, I am still looking for one or two more locations for next year. Click here and fill out the application on line ASAP if you want to be considered as a host for 2015.

In the meantime, I want to share a couple opportunities to learn about straw bale construction with CASBA (the California Straw Building Association). They have two upcoming events that would be a good introduction to working with bales. They are listed below along with links to learn more about each event.

Fri September 19 2014 9:00 am – Sun September 21 2014 1:00 pm
Fri October 3 2014 9:00 am – Sun October 5 2014 1:00 pm

Brand New Plaster Sprayer For Sale

Plaster SprayerHi everyone. I have a brand new, never used plaster sprayer for sale. I bought it a while back but have not used it. I guess I don’t need two after all! If you are interested in buying it, let me know. It is a great little sprayer and the same kind I have used on many jobs in the past. It sells for $265.00 plus shipping. I’m hoping for something close since it is literally out of the box. I’m open to offers. :)

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