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.
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
Grab your favorite mug, fill it with delicious tea or coffee and enjoy this video interview we just created on the topic of “Living SMALL In A big World”. In it, a lot is covered from how we converted our closet into a master bedroom, to living in a 125 sqft pop up tent trailer in Baja with our 12 year old daughter, to designing your home to reflect your personal connection and love with nature, to the role of straw bale construction in the tiny house movement, and how to create your own off-grid forever home with your own two hands.
“A Modern Look at Straw Bale Construction”, our new book, is set to launch on November 23, 2012. If you’d like a free chapter from his book, please click here. You’ll also have the chance to enter your name to be one of the 25 people that receives the book for free.
Plastering is perhaps the hardest part of the entire process when building a straw bale house. Think about it, your framing, although difficult, is hidden within the walls nine times out of ten. As long as it is structurally sound, you will be fine. Furthermore, it is inspected (in many cases) so you end up with a “free” set of helpful eyes to make sure you are doing the work properly. The same is true for the other major systems of the house: plumbing, electrical, mechanical, and so on. As long as the systems are built properly and they meet or exceed codes, you are all set. What those systems actually look like is mostly irrelevant.
The same cannot be said about plaster. That’s a system that not only has to be structurally sound and function in a way that protects the bales, and ultimately your entire house, but it also has to look good. After all, when have you ever heard someone say “Wow, you really did a great job with the rough plumbing in this house. It sure is beautiful.”? Probably never. How about someone commenting on plaster? Now that’s one that you have likely heard or even uttered yourself. “Man, that plaster looks amazing!”
Last weekend in Denver, Colorado I held my first ever 2-day Straw Bale Design Seminar. The evening before the workshop began, I joined my friend Jim at the hotel bar for a beer. I met Jim last year at the Brownsville, Oregon straw bale workshop. While he and I caught up with each other another workshop graduate named Julie from the class in Crestone, Colorado, walked up and gave me a hug. She was too tired to hang out, but seeing her smiling face was enough to bring a smile to my own. Shortly after that, Susan (from the Missouri and North Dakota workshops) walked up and joined me and Jim at the bar. I realized in that moment just how much I truly love what I do. My job is one that allows me to meet amazing people from all over the world and to continually grow my circle of friends.
This article is reprinted with kind permission from the Oak Hill Homestead blog. They cut and bale their hay by hand. One could modify the size and application of the baler to bale straw by hand. This solution could work very well in areas where mechanical balers are not available.
We don’t own a tractor, so we cut and bale our hay by hand. Last year, we stored it loose in several sheds and anywhere we could find a few square feet of dry storage space. This year, we have a hand baler. A friend in Texas sent us a link and Hubby set to work on it. The baler in the plans is for use in making a bale of pine straw, but it works just fine baling our mixed-grass hay. Read the rest or post a comment »
Hi everyone! This is Gabriella writing. While Andrew is teaching our last 7 day workshop for this year in NY (which sounds like it’s going awesome), I wanted to let you all know about a truly amazing cohousing project that our friends at ModCell are working on in Bramley, England.
One of the common challenges in any cohousing project is how to build environmentally sustainable housing that is affordable. So, the folks at LILAC (Low Impact Living Affordably Community) have teamed up with ModCell (awesome company that creates straw bale pre-fab panels that has found huge approval and success in the UK) and created a new model for environmentally conscious cohousing. This is the UK’s first affordable green cohousing project.
Debbie, a reader of ours, has entered the Aviva Community Fund challenge with a great idea of creating a Straw Bale Tipi Village. In order for this project to win the challenge, it needs to receive the most votes. Below is a description of the project as well as a link for you to vote for it.
I have had more and more people ask me recently if I would review their construction drawings, or if I am available as a consultant for them during the construction of their home, and several other requests. The answer is yes. I am available for all kinds of consulting work and have simply remained somewhat quiet about it over the years. I really enjoy consulting with owner builders as I get to meet a lot of wonderful people and I get to share the expertise I have collected over the years.
Every month, during our workshop season, we have the very fun task of selecting a winner to receive one of our free 7 day straw bale workshops. The idea of the workshop giveaways sprung about four years ago and it’s been an enormous success since. We calculate that we have been able to provide free spots to at least 25 winners and each and every one of them has been a delight and a wonderful addition to our workshops.
Now, you might think that finding the winners for our free workshops would be a piece of cake. After all, each person that signs up on the list, we assume, has done so out of their own accord and in hopes of winning a free straw bale workshop. But, here’s the thing; for every person that responds to our email about winning the free workshop, there have been an average of 3 failed attempts to make contact with a selected winner. So, for the 25 or so people that have received a free workshop, we’ve attempted, with no success, to make contact with about 75. When I put on my marketing hat I can see that, realistically, despite our best attempts to select wording that doesn’t flag our emails as junk, most of the winning notifications most likely became jammed in spam filters.
When I arrived at the Perth workshop site in Calingiri, Western Australia last week, I was amazed. Before me stood our workshop home, a beautifully built, roughly 5,000 sqft structure, surrounded fully by 10’ verandas, and capped by perhaps the largest residential roof I’ve ever seen. What the hosts had been able to accomplish before the workshop, with some help, was extraordinary. And as though getting the structure ready for the workshop, organizing all of the materials, and preparing their land to host 35 people hadn’t been enough, Geoff and Sarah, the hosts, had decided to ad a couple extra items to their To-Do list:
1. Hand brew copious amounts of beer in several different flavors for the workshop.
2. Hunt and butcher several kangaroos for the menu.