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Thread: Our straw house

  1. #1
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    Our straw house

    We are of course further along than these pictures show, just starting out with a bit of background. The first three show some of the foundation work. Most of our site is on bedrock, but I did have to trench down to bedrock in several places and put in concrete stemwalls to get back up to grade.

    Above grade the foundation consists of two parallel stone walls with concrete poured between them and leveled off. The foundation took a total of 6 months, just the two of us working on it.

    The last two pictures are a bit of the floor work. Its a pretty conventional joist floor with sills on the stemwall and a central beam reducing the span. We insulated the floor as we sheathed it, which made the insulating easy, but gave us some headaches later on.
    Last edited by John Dow; 07-11-2008 at 02:21 AM.

  2. #2
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    John, thanks for starting your thread on this. I've seen a tv show on straw bale houses, and it is fascinating! Anxious to see how yours evolves. Jim.
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  3. #3
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    I'll second what Jim said, I've seen some stuff on it, and I know a guy that did one a long while back, but I'm also real interested in seeing what you are doing or have done.

    Cheers!
    The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.
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  4. #4
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    Nice foundation John. The clean bedrock shows you pay attention to details.

    Looking forward to seeing the windows in the half circle… etc.

    Thanks for posting this.

    Frank

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by John Downey View Post
    Above grade the foundation consists of two parallel stone walls with concrete poured between them and leveled off. The foundation took a total of 6 months, just the two of us working on it.
    John, I echo what everyone else has said. I think straw bale houses are a cool idea, especially in the arid regions.

    But I'm puzzled about your foundation wall... It looks really nice on the outside. But why did you go to all that work for the inside? The inside of your foundation is a crawlspace, which you'll never see. Why didn't you skip the inner wall of rock, just put up a plywood form and pour the concrete?

    what am I missing.

  6. #6
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    I bet he made it look nice for guys like me that come along some day and inspect it.

  7. #7
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    John, I recognize that sky! Beautiful view, where about in Central New Mexico are you at?

    Looking forward to the build
    "I am enclosing two tickets to the first night of my new play; bring a
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  8. #8
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    The next installment...

    First though, to answer Art's question, time is cheap, concrete isn't. Or at least it didn't seem cheap at the time as I hadn't started buying all that lumber yet
    About 3/4 of the stones we used came from our site, the rest we picked up locally where ever there's been road work.

    First photo is loading strawbales up in Colorado last march. Man was it windy, well you can tell. My truck normally gets between 5 and 8 mpg, depending on the load, we got about 3 until we got back into New Mexico and the wind dropped to a mere 40 mph.

    First course of bales on the floor shows a bit of how its put together, bales are notched to fit the posts that will hold the roof up. There's a beam of 2x10's on the top of the wall, and we tried a method of strengthening the wall where the posts are about an inch shorter than the stacked bales. The bales are compressed using a load strap from the truck, and once the beam is on the posts, the whole thing is fixed together with 1/2" steel pallet strapping so the load strap can be removed. Even so, the bale walls settled enough on their own over the next six months that there are gaps between the top course and the beam. I think if I built about 5 more of these, the last one would have all the bugs worked out

    Finally got to do some regular framing! Last pic is the curved wall that we decided to frame up, due mainly to its height (12'), and also to make that room a bit larger.

    Next installment will be adventures in roofing. I'm headed out to Tucson for a few days next week so it'll be next weekend before I get to it.

    Just saw Bruce's post, we're in Corona, just a little southeast of the center of the state.
    Last edited by John Dow; 07-11-2008 at 02:21 AM.

  9. #9
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    We have a solar assisted straw house in our neighborhood.
    I works very well for this climat according to the owners.
    Thanks for sharing.
    Kind of a shame to cover that beautiful foundation.
    More pictures please
    Live Like You Mean It!!

  10. #10
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    Thanks for starting this thread, John. I have a nephew who's worked on a few straw houses, and from his descrition it sounds like a great concept. This will be a fun thread to watch, so keep the pics and descriptions coming.

    Like Bruce, I also recognized the sky in your pics. (Ex-ABQ native) I've been through Corona several times...you're out in the land of wide open spaces for sure.
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