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What is Straw Bale Building?

Well, a straw bale structure is just like any building but instead of using wood, sheet rock, insulation, and siding, (or whatever else used in typical building), you simply use stacked straw bales covered inside and out with earth plaster. Straw bales are stagger stacked like bricks on top of the foundation. They are the walls…yes that means 2ft thick walls. A roof plate hat is built and placed on top of the straw bale walls to connect and stabilize the walls. The roof is then attached to the plate on top of the walls. The straw bale walls are then covered in plaster inside and out, smoothed with some flat handled plaster tools, and left to dry. Add another layer plaster…Pour a floor… And you have a durable, energy efficient, economically, and environmentally sustainable straw bale building.

How am I going to do this?

With help! haha. There are several different construction steps involved. I will need the most people for  mixing the earth plaster and covering the bale walls thoroughly with the plaster. Other things that I will be building and will need help with include digging and pouring the trench for the packed rubble footing — building the lime stone foundation — building the roof plate — building the shed roof — building door frame — mixing and pouring adobe floor.

Where am I getting my materials?

So, as I understand well-rounded sustainable building is about building affordable and practical, using natural, local, and recycled products….in other words using the resources most free and readily available. This is NOT Green building. Sustainable building is naturally disposed to being “green”, but green building is based on energy sufficiency, striving to protect the environment by not producing toxins or depending on oil, electrical lines, etc. This is good, but not my motivation for building this way, it is the bonus. Therefore Green building is not necessarily geared to using all natural nor affordable materials. Sustainable building is about being sustainable…able to be built and maintained overtime easily and practically in a given environment, while serving one’s purpose most efficiently as possible.

Now, all that to say, I am buying many of my materials at Habitat Restore, Landscaping store, and even good ol’ Home Depot on an optimistic budget. I’m happy to buy what I need to buy BUT if any of you would be or know of people who would be interested/willing to donate, get rid of, or could sell at low cost any of the following materials to my project who are relatively close to Lawrence, please let me know!
1) tin roof sheeting
2) big plastic water jugs (like office water jugs)…or other durable plastic jugs…or big glass jugs/bottles

NEED TO BORROW FROM SOMEONE
3) large tarps…old tarps…any tarps, need tarps 🙂

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One response

10 03 2009
Sheila Johnson

Jana,
If I had realized that you needed tarps, I have one! Sorry I didn’t pay attention to that fact. How did your Grandpa’s truck work out for you?

Aunt Sheila

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