When running a one day bale raising workshop on a load bearing structure last weekend, we encountered the problem of complete walls with no box beam to compress them with. The owners had prepared for the workshop, but had not yet built the box beam for the top of the wall as requested. This meant that we would have all of the bales standing, no internal pinning since we would be using external pinning once the box beam was installed, and no box beam.
In other words, there is nothing holding the building up except for the bales themselves and some corner staples. This is certainly not an ideal situation. To make things worse, no one will be able to work on the structure again until this coming weekend and we were forecast to have high winds on Monday and Tuesday.
To remedy the situation, the home owner used long wood braces from the top of one wall to the top of the other and then braced each wall diagonally to the ground. We used 1/2 rebar as “nails” to attach the bracing to the bales. With this simple solution, the walls felt 100 times stronger and have survived the strong winds of the last two days. For a potential disaster, the end result has been quite cool. The box beam will go up this weekend and then the external pinning will be installed along with any corner wire mesh. The space will be sweet when finished and all the troubles we had during the workshop will soon be forgotten and lost in the beauty of the space.