I receive a ton of questions about building codes and whether or not a certain state covers straw bale construction in their building code. Here’s what I recommend you do to find out whether or not your State has a building code for alternative construction and what to do if they do not.

1. Buy the code book for your State. You will need the code book no matter what structure you build, so you may as well buy it now. Use the following site to research what code book is required in your area. http://www.reedfirstsource.com/codes/index.asp

2. Once you have the code book (make sure you get any local or state addendum to the code book when you order it), check for an alternative building section.

3. If there is nothing for alternative homes or straw bale in particular, then call your building department and let them know you plan to build an alternative home and that you intend to use approved building codes from another state or an engineer for the design.

4. You may need an engineer, but you may be able to simply use a state recognized code like the one in Oregon. Of course the code in Oregon is different than the details I show in my DVDs because it is outdated; however, you can use it as a base and then move forward from there.

I have added the Oregon code to the links section of my website http://www.strawbale.com/links.html. Just scroll down and you’ll see it. If you need an engineer I recommend that you check the Resource and Referral section of my site: http://www.strawbale.com/resources.html for the people I work with.

About the Author

Andrew Morison is a specialist in straw bale and green construction. He has shown thousands of people how to build their own straw bale projects through his comprehensive series of instructional straw bale, concrete foundation, and plastering DVDs, as well as his hands on workshops. You can check these out at www.StrawBale.com/store.

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