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.
For 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…
I 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.
Hi 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.
There is no question that plastered window wells look beautiful; however, the skill it takes to get them to that point may seem out of reach to a novice plasterer. The good news is, it’s not. With a little practice and a good serving of patience, anyone can learn to plaster their window wells to look magnificent.
Perhaps the hardest part of the entire process is getting the plaster to stay put. Gravity has a large say in this process and whenever a novice plasterer tries to apply mud to the top of a window well, often called “the lid” in the industry, gravity usually wins. Below are some tips to beat gravity and create your own beautiful window well.
Perhaps the most commonly asked question about straw bale construction is: “How do I finance it?” Unfortunately, the answer hasn’t gotten much easier over the years as straw bale construction is still considered alternative to the mainstream and, as we all know, banks are not big fans of taking risks on alternative construction techniques. That said, there are some things that you can do to improve your efforts and increase your chance of receiving funding.
I recently met a bale broker during the New York straw bale workshop. He delivered the bales for our project in Montgomery, and I was very happy with the bale quality. In fact, they were the best bales I have seen all season. I assumed he was a local farmer until he visited the site. That’s when I learned that he is actually a bale broker and that he can arrange for bale deliveries all over the United States. He works with over 120 different farms across the country and many different trucking companies. They not only deliver the bales but stack them on site as well. He is definitely worth the call if you are looking for quality bales.
Here’s his contact information:
I recently wrote to a host of one of the 2015 straw bale workshops about how to minimize her construction costs. She is concerned that she will end up with a beautiful design that she cannot afford to actually build. Having heard this concern many times over the years, I thought I would share my response with you all as I believe it is helpful information to have on hand before you start designing. Below are seven things to keep in mind when getting started.
- Keep roof lines simple. The more intricate the roof design, the more expensive it is to build. Intersections, pitch variations, and other details make construction harder and labor more expensive.
- Taller is less expensive than wider. If you are looking for square footage, it’s often less expensive to build up than it is to build out. This increases square footage without adding additional materials for the foundation and roof.
- Consider finish materials. Everything from roofing (metal versus composition shingles, for example) to flooring, plumbing and electrical fixtures, and cabinetry can have a big impact on budget. Find affordable options that still meet your aesthetic requirements.
- Get a good plan. Saving money by working with a less than qualified designer will cost you money in the end as the construction details won’t be as well laid out. That means more time head scratching for the builder and more mistakes during construction.
- Simplify the overall design. As with the roof, the wall layout also impacts cost. The more turns, corners, and angles you have in your design, the more expensive it will be to build. Keep in mind that all of those details mean more foundation work, wall framing, baling and plastering details, and roof structure detailing.
- Know your budget ahead of time. If you share your budget with your designer and builder, then you can discuss how to design/build TO that number rather than design and build with hopes of hitting an unknown. The more up front and honest you are with yourself and your team, the more successful you will be.
- Have a contingency plan. Regardless of what number and design you settle into, make sure you have a contingency fund in your loan or extra cash set aside (if you are building out of pocket) for the unknowns. There are ALWAYS unknowns and being blindsided by them can ruin your project.
Check out this beautiful, artisan-owner designed straw bale home located in rural Lake County, California. The home is located on 13 acres of pastoral valley land that provides serenity and beauty around the home. This one bedroom/one bath home has over 1900 sq. ft. of living space with a gourmet kitchen and lots of privacy. The interior has an open feel to it and the barrel ceiling/roof line is as original as it is beautiful. The interior woodwork, in the form of exposed beams and loft framing, adds contrast to the soft curves of the bales and plaster details throughout the home. Read the rest or post a comment »
Please click on the flier below to learn about an upcoming natural building workshop for women to be held in Southern Oregon June 12-22. The instructors will be Lydia Doleman and Carey Lien and the class will be held at my friend’s beautiful land: Full Bloom Farm and Community. Should be an amazing time!
If you’ve ever tried to talk through a straw bale wall during construction, you’ll immediately see the value in this quick tip. For those of you who have not yet experienced attempting to share information across an 18″ thick wall of straw bales, I suspect you will understand the value in this tip as well.
As many of us may have heard over the years, in all walks of life: “keep it simple.” This idea, born at the Middletown, Rhode Island straw bale workshop by my new friend Tara, represents that mantra perfectly. On the site we had 31 participants all working in different areas of the home. As if it’s not hard enough to hear through 18″ of densely packed straw, we had chainsaws running, weed whackers flying, nail guns shooting and other additions to the soundscape hindering our ability to hear each other as we tried to straighten our walls. By placing a 1.5″ piece of PVC pipe through the wall (next to windows and doors, or in between bales where applicable), we were able to communicate with the outside tamping crew with ease.
You can learn more about Tara and her inspiring life journeys on the website she and her husband Tyler share with the world. Way to go Tara!
On another note, the Newport Daily News ran a nice, front page article about our build in Rhode Island. You can click here to read it and even leave a comment!