Archive for the ‘Books’ Category

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.

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…

2012: A Year in Review

As we draw towards the end of 2012, I have been reflecting on what an amazing year it has been. I’ve also been looking at my goals for 2013 and how I might set my self up properly to achieve them. Through all of this, I have  tried to live up to perhaps my most important life goal: staying present. My good friend Chris Keefe gave me a bumper sticker many years ago for my birthday. It reads “live in the present.” I never stuck it to anything because I figured that whatever I stuck it to would eventually, sooner or later, not be effectively in “my present life.” That seems to have been a good idea because it still sits here in front of me at my desk each day, reminding me to stay present to all that is around me and within me. A powerful gift, indeed. So as I sit here sharing the story of this birthday gift from years past and its influence on me today, I’d like to take a look back at 2012 and share with you a few stories from a fabulous year.

For those who like bullet points, I’ll layout the stories I plan to share with you here so you can decide if you want to read the entire year in review or simply jump ahead to a specific spot.

  • Living small in a big world: Our life changing trip to Mexico and the experience of living in a tiny home for 5 months.
  • 10 Amazing straw bale workshops: 2 trips to Australia, the first ever Design Seminar, and over 250 more people trained in the art of straw bale construction.
  • The release of our Framing DVD: The How to Guide to Framing a Straw Bale Structure.
  • The release of my book: A Modern Look at Straw Bale Construction.
  • Rediscovering my passion for inspiring others to greatness.


Want a Free Copy of My New Book?

My brand new book, “A Modern Look at Straw Bale Construction” is complete! We sent it off to the printing company this morning and printing is underway! If you want a chance to get a free copy, be sure to read this whole post (or skip to the end if you prefer!). The book rings in at 214 pages, contains 113 photographs to outline various points and steps, and has 22 professionally drawn architectural details created by Chris Keefe of Organicforms Design. I’ve written this book so that you can get a precise look at the details I recommend for building a high quality, long lasting straw bale home. These are the construction techniques I have used and fine-tuned over the years building, teaching, and consulting on hundreds of straw bale projects from Australia to Europe and Canada to the United States. The book discusses, in detail, many aspects of working with straw, including the following:

  • Advantages and debunking myths
  • Working with lenders and building departments so that they become your allies
  • Building your foundation (raised floor, rubble trench, concrete slab)
  • Finishing your floor (earthen floor, acid staining, radiant heat floor systems)
  • Engineering options (lateral, knee & X bracing, moment & brace frames)
  • Working with subcontractors (electrical, foundation, radiant heat, plumbing and cabinetry)
  • Framing (post & beam, timber frame, toe ups, openings, box beams, multiple stories, hose bibs, wall heights, humid climate considerations)
  • Solutions and strategies for challenging/extreme climates
  • Baling techniques including notching, re-tying, efficiency, and stacking bales
  • Truth windows and niches
  • Proper wall preparation for plaster
  • Window and door flashing to keep your home investment safe
  • Meshing and simple but super comfy window seats