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Surfin' StrawBale Surfin' Pig; art by Sara Mock. Thanks, Sara! - MJ

Surfin' StrawBale started on June 4, 1996 in St Paul, Minnesota, on M J Epko's used-gum-and-cellophane-tape computer. MJ Epko is now a memory, relegated "back into the recesses from whence he came" by his evil twin Mark Piepkorn. Over the last few years this compendium has undergone significant updates and excellent facelifts, thanks principally to the artistic skills and loving guidance of Sara Mock, who spent more time and effort shepherding this thing than the guy who started it. Also, for its entire life, Surfin' StrawBale has been co-hosted at the excellent Masonry Heater Association's website, thanks to the goodness of Norbert Senf.

In early 2002, MJ Epko came back from the grave bitchin' and swingin' to do another update: the first significant overhaul this site had since 1999 - and it was a retrogressive overhaul, at that. (Wherein the classifications were removed, and everything put back on one huge page. Why? "Because it's so very much easier for me to do it that way.") And furthermore, that was probably the last significant overhaul this site's ever
going to have - unless you volunteer to do it yourself.

That said, minor updates are likely to happen from time to time with or without a gung-ho volunteer webster to do amazing things with Surfin'. Everyone's encouraged to suggest links, which will appear in Igor's Surfin' Supplement until somebody can get to 'em.



The complete, unexpurgated, alphabetical, annotated compendium, presented for your pleasure in its entirety on one gargantuan page:

Igor's Surfin' Supplement
A user-defined supplement to Surfin' StrawBale, courtesy of hard-workin' Igor (who hides deep in the bowels of the MHA server). Igor gets all goosebumpy and giggly when people write to him to suggest a link.

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A-Number-1 Surfin' StrawBale Rant
Surfin's poppa 'splains Surfin', and speaks his mind about strawbale generally.

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Agriboard Industries
Non-toxic, cost-competitive, soundproof, high fire rating, environmentally-friendly insulation material... sounds like straw bales, doesn't it? But for those places where bales can be a bit too big (like in interior walls), there's Agriboard. They compress straw to make "durable and highly insulated" panels for inside and out.

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Alta Goldboard
Another strawboard-maker, this one an Alberta, Canada, company supported with regional investments. Really terrific stuff in their "Straw Botany" primer; smart baleheads like you will revel in this important info, having inspired insights and drawing appropriate conclusions.

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Amazon Nails
This UK-based company combines vernacular techniques with SB construction, offering courses, talks and demonstrations to empower owner-builders. Todmorden is a ways from Nebraska, but it looks like they're adapting SB to the local bioregions, and keeping an eye on moisture and such with ongoing testing. Lots of great graphics. Be sure to download the comprehensive - and FREE - Guide to Straw Bale Building (Adobe Acrobat pdf format) while you look around their site. I met founder and principal Barbara Jones back around '99 or so and was much impressed with her experience and heart.

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Aura Borealis
Gallery of cold climate strawbale houses (Mar 01/02)

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Build a house in two days, using straw
In 27 short sentences, syndicated columnist James T. Dulley answers the question, "Exactly how is a house built with straw bales and is this type of construction very energy efficient?" (Of course, you can't really build a SB house in two days that meets contemporary 'American-suburbs' expectations.)

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Builders Without Borders
BWB is an international network of ecological builders working together for a sustainable future
Good strawbale resources (Mar 11/03)

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Building a House of Straw
Read a little about how a Pennsylvania couple built their SB house in the captions of these nicely-exploding thumbnails. This page sits on an interesting commercial website pitched toward large custom homes (their sample contractor schedule is for a [gasp!] 6,000 sf home!), both contractor- and owner-built. Some practical stuff, though, including the article How to Qualify a Contractor and a great kid's page on a couple of master (beaver) builders. Stop by and give 'em your own stories and pet peeves.

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Building A Straw Bale Garage In Edmonton
They built a garage. They built it in Edmonton. They built it with straw bales. And they have pictures to prove it.

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Building innovation for homeownership - award winners, AZ
The US federal government likes SB; they like it so much that they even gave it an award. I've seen this house in its context, and know or have met a good number of the designing and building and administrating people behind it. Believe me when I say that it deserves an award.

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Building Straw Houses on a Firm Foundation
Not all SBers are tree-hugging leftist vegetarian queer commie luddite pagans. Laura Horne writes in Christianity Today about an award-winning Habitat For Humanity SB project.

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Buildings of Earth and Straw
This is little more than a simple notice about the very existence of the valuable and thought-provoking book by Bruce King, Buildings of Earth and Straw (Structural Design for Rammed Earth and Straw-Bale Architecture). The author took great pains to present the engineer's perspective in a way that the layperson can understand. There were sections that I had to read through a couple times, but it's significant that even innumerate I managed to understand his points. (I think.) I've met Bruce a few times at both "official" and social functions; his knowledge, passion, and demeanor are all top-notch.

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Burbophobia: Strawbale Construction in the Colorado Rockies
Burbophobia is one of the best SB sites going, steeped in grounded wisdom and put together with love and humor by owner-builder Sara Mock (who just happens to have been a co-administrator and mirror host of Surfin' StrawBale for damn near ever). Check out The House Diary and the Colorado Straw Balers home tour for sure.

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CASBA
You wouldn't really be able to guess it from their website, but the California Straw Building Association unquestionably has the highest concentration of big giant baleheads of any regional SB organization. Builders, engineers, architects, authors, innovators... after a point, it's just scary. I sat in on one of their meetings (in Angel's Camp, where Mark Twain started writing his story about that Celebrated Jumping Frog), and was blown away. And they know how to party.

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CalMax Helps "Bale" Out Rice Grower
The story of Ron Kampschmidt, a California rice grower, and how he's marketed 240 tons of rice straw through the California Materials Exchange. Even if you don't live in California, check out all the other recycled materials they're making available there.

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Camel's Back Construction
An Ontario, Canada, builder's site; also the authors of the book Straw Bale Building: How to Plan, Design and Build with Straw. Unless you're thinking about hiring them, there's not much here for you except the Photos page. I met Chris Magwood in 2000 at an international SB conference in Nebraska; he's a smart and very likable guy, and his book is well worth having in your library of SB material. (The blurb on the book's cover attributed to The Last Straw is from a review I wrote when I was editor of that publication.)

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The Canelo Project
Ever wonder what Athena and Bill Steen, of The Straw Bale House book fame, do? Well, they do a lot of SB and other stuff with heart, unquenchable spirit, beauty and compassion. And now you can B&B at their place, too! I've been out there a few times, auditing workshops and visitin' with those dear folks. It's one of the best-feeling places I know.

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Casas Que Cantan - Houses That Sing
An effort of the Canelo Project that totally deserves its own listing here. "Eight women in a community called Xochitl ('Flower' in Nauhuatl) on the outskirts of Cuidad Obregon, Mexico, have been working together to build each other's houses." (Here's a more thorough text-only explanation of what it's about.)

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Casting a Straw Vote - The First Straw
From the Austin Chronicle's 1994 Green Building issue. It has a journalistically weird lead, but it ain't a bad article. The issue's index is a four-prong thrust: Building Materials, Water Conservation, Energy Efficiency, and Organizations That Can Help.

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The Center for Resourceful Building Technology
It's a thoughtful site which speaks to the concerns of Housing and The Environment. They offer a booklet for sale under their Publications link called Strawbales As A Building Element which "provides general background information on building with straw bales, including discussion of advantages and disadvantages of building with baled straw. This overview includes methods of load-bearing and non-loadbearing applications, roofing and finish work." I've never seen a copy of it, so I'll take them at their word. Also check out the article about "Northside Strawbale," a two-home development in Missoula, Montana, under the Demonstration link.

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Claiborne & Churchill Winery
California vintners whose vintry is built of bales; there are a couple shots of it under the About The Winery link.

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Cob Websites
Not SB, but a complementary straw-utilizing method with great allure and plenty of potential for hybrid structures. The technique can be modified for earthen-plaster applications as well.

I was very happy when the Cob-Web site came up; then they added a bunch of pictures and I was even more happy! Have a look at the work of the Cob Cottage Company (and others). Co-founders and principals Ianto Evans and Linda Smiley balance each other better than perhaps any other couple I've ever met; it can be quite charming to behold.

CobCrew Home Page... Texans getting dirty and sharing their floor plans and a host of Very Large Pictures; a nice cob recipe and details on their foundation system for expansive clay.

Cobworks has inspiring photos from British Columbia. And workshops and stuff, too.

Groundworks is a cob-building school owned and operated by Becky Bee, author of The Cob Builder's Handbook. Well-made pages with inspiring photos; this was a Starting Point Hot Site.

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Complete Owner Builder Systems (COBS)
Recycled steel and strawbale packages including financing. (Oct 28/00)

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Composting Greenhouse with Straw Bale Foundation
"Our household of 2 adults and three children obtained all our household hot water from a composting greenhouse we constructed in Portland, Oregon in 1994. It provided hot water at a temperature of 90-130 degrees (Fahrenheit) continuously until it was dismantled 18 months later." A thorough article written by the people who built it, with high-quality illustrative pictures.

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Couple gets the first permit in King County to build a straw-bale house
This story by Luke Timmerman from the Seattle Times tells the tale of Jane Bakken and Jack Fecker, who fought their county officials for two years to get a permit to build their SB house. There's one thing in this article that really bugs me, and that's where an official is quoted as saying "We were curious about how you measure moisture content in the bales, and they basically said you just stick your hand in the bales and see if it's moist. We didn't think that was good enough." That kind of condescending remark, particularly in the face of the studies presented by the owner-builders which detail several methods of determining moisture content, makes me think that the accusation that the officials are guilty of "abuse of process" are probably right. Particularly in light of the fact that the mission statements of CABO (The Council of American Building Officials) and ICBO (International Conference of Building Officials) both contain this identical language: "dedicated to ... facilitating acceptance of innovative building products and systems." Building officials can fulfill an important need, and most of them are decent, balanced people... as with anything, it's the few bad apples that inspire people throw the whole bunch out the window with the bath water into the mixed-metaphor patch. And, conversely, we need to do our homework and build our SB houses right - otherwise we'll be the bad apples screwing it up for the people coming behind us. (Um, was I ranting? Sorry about that.)

Also from the Seattle Times: Homes with straw-filled walls are snug, cheap and environmentally friendly

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CREST's Strawbale Mailing List Archive
Don't miss these real life discussions by folks like you and me, out there hashin' out just how this strawbale stuff works. After you've checked out these archives a bit (or for months and months), if you decide that you'd like to join the email list (sponsored by REPP/CREST), send an email to: strawbale-subscribe@crest.org.

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Daniel Smith and Associates, Architects
"
DSA has been involved with SB since about the beginning
(or earlier), consistently developing and contributing important
information and understandings (and soulful buildings) to the movement" - Mark Piepkorn

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DAWN
Sustainable living systems consultant Joelee Joyce, former co-director of DCAT (below), is now helping others in Developing an Alliance With Nature. DAWN (formerly Out On Bale - By Mail), has expanded from a SB-only resource to include educational materials, training, and info and referral services. If you're in or near southeast Arizona, you'll want to check the calendar. Joelee has excellent intentions and contacts, offers valuable workshops, and has two great little dogs. I don't know how DAWN has managed to stay such an obscure organization.

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Design Guide For Frost-Protected Shallow Foundations
Something good from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development... a must-read for anybody in a deep-frost climate. (Many thanks to John Cropper for the download, conversion, & web posting!)

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Developing and Proof-Testing the "Prestressed Nebraska" Method for Improved Production of Baled Fibre Housing
Fibrehouse Limited, outta Ontario, has developed their own way to precompress walls for load-bearing SB houses. This is the TOC, Abstract and Executive Summary of the report, and it's in Adobe Acrobat format. Which means you'll have to download Acrobat (it's free) to read it, if you don't already have it. While it may not be an approach you could do line-by-line on your one-off owner-built home, there's some very handy gleanings to be had here. (Credit where it's due: This file and other nutritious and tasty goodies can be found in the Masonry Heater Association Library's Special Collections.)

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DSA Architects
DSA has been involved with SB since about the beginning (or earlier), consistently developing and contributing important information and understandings (and soulful buildings) to the movement. Their FAQ on strawbale is the best we've seen, and the list of renderings of their SB projects is large (and growing). The site also describes the Prototyping and Testing they've been involved with. Besides being one of the kindest people I've ever met, Daniel Smith's knowledge, experience, and professionalism are also top-notch. And I wouldn't hesitate to recommend one of his associates, Bob Theis, either.

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EREN link sites
Egad! - it's the U.S. Department Of Energy's Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Network's extensive set of links. This is included as just one example of a starting point to the phenomenal number of appropriate-technology and sustainability sites available on the web. There are a couple straw bale links here, of course, but so very much more. Try out their search engine, too.
Here's the document about strawbale homes.

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50 Straw Bale House Plans
HFH designer Robert Andrew's total is up past 50 intriguing plans now. We fancy the cut of his jib: "Notice that the average size of these plans (about 1000sf inside) is small by North American standards. My initial interest was in designing small, efficient, strawbale houses that are easy to build (owner/builder friendly), do not require a mortgage (pay as you go), are expandable (as you have the money), and are fun to build and live in." I've met this guy; he's a lot smart and a little crazy - in a good way. Kind of like his website.

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Growing Your Own Home: Natural Buildings for Natural Gardeners
Kirby Fry, program director of the Cross Timbers Permaculture Institute, is quoted as saying, "If you had asked me a year ago whether or not I could turn a field of grass into comfortable and safe home I would have chuckled and asked if you knew the tale of the three little pigs. Today I live in a straw bale house built from a pasture of klein grass grown less than a mile away." Oddly enough, he says the exact same thing in New Renaissance Magazine, too.

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Harvest Homes
A Canadian builder's site aiming to create a Canada-centric place on the web for SB. That's cool. And the online estimator will be cool, too, when it gets up and going. But so far, like so many other builders' sites, there's just not terribly much new or different to recommend it except for the Project Photos. I met Harvest Home's founder and nice guy Ben Polley at the 2000 international strawbale conference in Nebraska. He's a nice guy, and founded something called Harvest Homes.

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High Performance Building Systems, LLC
This is a lovely-looking site that sells steel-framed SB kits. I was a little iffie about this concept at first, but when I finally met founder Tony Perry (one of the early SB resurgence pioneers), he was able to give me a satisfactory answer for every question I threw at him. So there it is. I still don't plan on buying one, but I'm a lot more comfortable about it than I used to be if you want to.

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A House of Straw
Carolyn and her two teenage sons have built a small, load-bearing straw bale house in the Sonoran desert near Tucson with earthen plasters and an earthen floor.

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House of Straw - Straw Bale Construction Comes of Age
This really good site is a U.S. Department Of Energy report. Take THAT to your pissy little local bureaucratic naysayer (don't tell 'em I called 'em that...) The article also touches on other building systems, mostly in comparison to straw bale construction. It's got pictures, it's got charts. Read this. Read this. Read this. I mean it. Want it in .pdf (Acrobat) format?

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Huff And Puff-Proof Homes
An itty-bitty newsbrief from Mother Jones magazine. Like most articles about strawbale construction from mass-appeal periodicals (Gasp! How could you say something like that about Mother Jones!), this is as positive as it is short. It won't tell you how to build your house, but it will make you feel good about doing it.

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Huff 'N' Puff Constructions
Owner-builder advocates on the Oz side of the planet. I think John Glassford's the David Eisenberg of Australia, working tirelessly to convince the local officials of the viability of SB, and all the while promoting sustainable building in that part of the world. There's a great page with hard data on why we need to be doing things differently worldwide; I'm very proud to consider John Glassford my friend (and "friend" isn't a term I use lightly).

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Igor's Surfin' Supplement
A user-defined supplement to Surfin' StrawBale, courtesy of hard-workin' Igor (who hides deep in the bowels of the MHA server). Igor gets all goosebumpy and giggly when people write to him to suggest a link.


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Imagine Strawbale Constructions
Another Australian connection, this time an architecture and building firm out of Victoria. Basic SB info & nice pics, in one of the most elegant-looking SB pages around, warm and sumptuous. I met Per Bernard at the 1997 International Straw Bale Conference: he's a good guy, and knows his bales. Drop him a line.

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International Straw Bale Building Registry
Support this initiative by registering your structure. Why? Because it's important. "The aggregate numbers will be useful in such things as lobbying insurance companies, mortgage companies, building officials, and other such stick-in-the-muds, and will also be useful in further popularizing SB to the general public world wide. Reading in a magazine article that 'over $xxx million in strawbale construction already exists in North America' can have a strong effect on our credibility. The Registry will also act as a contact list for future research and performance testing."

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Internet Hay Exchange - Hay For Sale
Straw too. Bale providers listed by state.

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IronStraw Group
This one will be of particular interest to U.S. Northwesterners, but even if you're not one of those you'd be doing yourself a favor to look this one over. One of IronStraw's beauties is their support of owner-builders through consulting and workshops.

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La Maison R-40
Documentation of a small SB house in downtown Montreal, built with bales hung on a stick frame (like this one). Following the thorough expository page, everything else consists of photo galleries. Nice stuff.

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The Last Straw
THIS IS THE MOTHER-LODE. TLS JOURNAL IS THE STRAWBALE CONSTRUCTION PERIODICAL. I ain't kiddin' ya, if you're at all interested in this stuff, these folks are IT. Go. Go now and join.

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The Last 18 Years Of Straw Bale Design & Construction For Northern Climates
This article is growing old gracefully. It's still one of the best and most detailed articles I've read. Thanks to Jorg Ostrowski and EcoDesign.

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Lighthook's Strawbale House Page
Another oldie-but-goodie. Their links page is almost a complete washout these days, but most of the other info still rocks. Tour the whole thing, particularly their Strawbale Structural Components page. (A couple of the techniques described have fallen from favor, supplanted by different means of accomplishing the same thing - but overall, it's still one of the most thorough overviews on the 'net.) Also take a look at the STRAP page - a great idea in need of nurture.

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Living Shelter Design - Architects
"We design,consult, and give workshops in the pacific northwest." (Jan 7/03)

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Living Sol
Consultation, Design and Building
Killaloe, Ontario

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LX&R Design
Architect R. F. Alexander of Espanola NM has combined his experience with adobe and passive solar to create hybrid as well as regular straw bale construction. This site has floorplans and photos to inspire you.

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Masonry Heater Association - links page
The MHA site maintained by Norbert Senf has some pretty great stuff tucked in its various corners, and it's not all about masonry heaters. Spend some time hangin' out at the mall (it's not what you think), and you'll find info that will change your life for the better. Be sure to hit their Library - check out the Articles and Technical Papers there. (All that and they host a mirror of Surfin' StrawBale - a sure sign of a quality website.) Wait, there's something else:
Masonry Stove Builders - links page
The MSB links are similar to, but different than, the MHA links - and being as how you enjoyed those so much, it would be foolish not to browse these. Right?

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Mehr Connstruction
Specializing in strawbale construction. Currently building a strawbale village in Oregon.(Apr 24/03)

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Moisture Properties of Plaster and Stucco for Strawbale Buildings
This pdf (Acrobat) file is the kind of thing that makes smart people go "ahh, ooh." I'm absolutely serious. Even if you're not smart (and I have a hard time believing that you aren't), read this. (From the MHA Library's Special Collections.)

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Moisture Sensor Study
From Don Fugler and the good folks at the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (by way of the Masonry Heater Association Library's Special Collections). They developed an inexpensive way to monitor SB houses for moisture content in the walls, and studied a few over time. More data on moisture is always a Good Thing, so contact them if you'd like to help out. (Seems to me that the best moisture peace of mind you could get would be installing a few inexpensive meters in your walls so that you'll know if you've sprung a leak or something.)

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Natural Building Resources
A good introduction to all types of alternative building, this site also includes a large photo gallery and a selection of book & videos for sale. (More good stuff from these folks: NetWorks Productions, the Black Range Lodge, Geronimo Disc Golf, Builders Without Borders...)

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New Shelters
Design/build of strawbale and timberframe homes in Western Wisconsin (Nov 17/00)

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Newton House
The Newton House explores the decision of sustainable building, and provides options for housing design, building materials and household utilities. Updates can be viewed of this strawbale house through the journal and data monitoring pages.

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Of Earthships and Straw Bales
"We are building two Non-Load Bearing 1800+ exterior square foot Straw Bale houses, modified post and beam using box columns, and are posting photos of our progress as we go." Lots of photos! (And lots of javascript errors, too.) Don't let the flat-roof-with-parapets fool you; it's still not a good idea for SB, even in the desert.

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One World Design
Whew - check out the resume on Kelly Lerner! SB projects in the US, China, Mongolia, and Argentina. Lots of photos. It's been my fortune to meet Kelly a number of times. Her intelligence and passion make her one of my favorite people in SB.

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Ortech Industries Pty Ltd
"Easiboard combines desirable properties of strength, thermal and sound insulation together with fire resistance. 100% natural building panels manufactured from rice straw or wheaten straw or a combination of both raw materials."

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Pacific Gold Board
"PGB is a rigid gypsum drywall alternative requiring no studs. Covered with linerboard, this strawboard comes in 2-1/4" thick by 4'x8' panels. It stands alone and is taped and floated just like regular gypsum board. PGB has internal electrical chases for convenient wiring. It absorbs sound, saves up to 7% of floor space, and can be re-used and composted. PGB has an inner core of straw, compressed and bonded under extreme heat and pressure, and covered with 69# recycled content Kraft linerboard paper that will take paint or any appropriate wall covering."

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Patrick Marcotte
Interesting strawbale house (Mar 27/02)

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Patterson Straw Bale Cottage, Maine
Nice site, worth a visit (Nov 20/02)

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Pima County Prescriptive Building Code for Load Bearing and Non-Load-Bearing Straw Bale Construction
The first adopted straw bale building code in the U.S. (June 15/03)

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Plastered straw bale construction: A waste to a resource
Hop on the way-back machine and read a 1993 article by David Bainbridge written for Sustainable Agriculture Newsletter. David Bainbridge, co-author of The Straw Bale House.

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Portland Community College's Straw Bale Construction Project
Building A House of Straw (November 1998) - "How durable are straw-bale buildings in the wet northwest climate? In hopes of finding out, students and staff at PCC's engineering department constructed a small straw bale structure in the Summer of 1996."
Straw Bale Hut Update (March, 1999) - "The Straw Bale hut is thriving. Neither wind, nor rain, nor snow has lessened its ability to survive."
The Straw Bale Hut Turns Five (December, 2000) - "The hut has two different solar systems that power the 40 sensors taking readings on moisture, humidity, and temperature..."

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Post and Beam Frame, Multi-story, Hillside, Straw Bale Home
An Oregon family lets us in on their house plans by way of Experiments in Sustainable Urban Living. Lots of thought on display here. Are you this prepared?

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Red Feather Development Group
They were on Oprah, they're in her Angel Network. They're nice people. They do good things.

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Richard & Robin's Straw Bale Cabin
When I lived in Minnesota, I knew people who would have looked at this page and actually said, "Oh, for cute!" Lots and lots of captioned photos of a gorgeous little peaked-roof cabin. And it clocked in at only nine bucks per square foot, US dollars. You can do this.

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The Robin's Nest
A handful of uncaptioned shots of the making of what is claimed to be the world's largest loadbearing strawbale building: a bed-and-breakfast in Canada.

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SBAT - Straw Bale Association of Texas
"The Straw Bale Association of Texas is dedicated to promoting straw bale construction in Texas. The group is based in Austin, but is a focal point for straw bale building activity across the state." Biggest draw for non-Texans to this site would be these magic pics that start huge, but then shrink to fit your screen.

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Santa Fe Straw Bale Home
Good-lookin' posh place. It's stick-frame, with bales hung off the frame (like this one)... who knows why, but there you have it. See them parapets and that flat roof? Listen: straw is not adobe. Don't tempt fate.

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SBBA (WISE)
The Straw Bale Building Association for Wales, Ireland, Scotland and England. If you're in any of those countries, these are the people to see.

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Shannon's Web Page on Straw Bale Construction
Despite typos and some dated information, this is a reasonably alright introduction to SB construction, covering more territory than most webpages.

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Skillful Means Builders
This is a good one. Got questions? Want pictures? Take a look. John Swearingen and the gang have a friendly and thorough site going.

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SMITHY: Our Strawbale Blacksmith Shop
This article comes from the June 1996 EcoDesign Bulletin. It's a level-headed first-person account of building a shop with strawbale in snowy British Columbia; included are thorough cost-breakdowns & frank admissions of mistakes and misdirections. Gotta respect that. A coupla nice photos, too.

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Solar Living Center
Real Goods, "the world's most complete source for knowledge, products, and tools for renewable energy and sustainable living," (and which swallowed up Jade Mountain not long ago - not sure yet how I feel about that) shows off its somewhat startling grounds. The 5000-sq-ft showroom was constructed with over 800 rice straw bales.

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Solstice... er, CREST... er, REPP
Everything seems to link to this - whatever it's called this year. So there must be a good reason for it, eh? Go see.

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Sourcebook Straw Bale
From the Sustainable Building Sourcebook: "Definition, Considerations, Commercial Status, Implementation Issues, Guidelines, Resources, Professional Assistance, Components / Materials / Systems, General Assistance, Internet Resources." The Sourcebook is hosted by Sustainable Sources, true friends of natural building. Check 'em out.

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Straw Bale Cabin
in Alberta, Canada (Oct 15/01)

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State of California Guidelines for Straw-bale Structures
The good folks at Skillful Means Builders have put up them wunnerful guidelines in one big hunk. If you're hankering to see California's own copy (with URLs longer than the code), here's part 1, part 2, and part 3.

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Straw Bale Construction: an Update
Three articles about SB from the San Diego Earth Times. The first one's an overview; the second one, "Straw Bale Evangelism Takes Off", is about the American-Mexican building partnership of (good guy and good pal) Bob Bolles with Roberto Valdez; and the last one, " Habitat for Humanity Goes for Straw", is about a Habitat for Humanity project, a day care center in Rosarito. Did I mention that these were published in 1996? Yep, right there on the cutting edge. But what's this? They already were writing about it in 1994: "Straw bale construction: try huffing and puffing these houses down".

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Straw Bale Construction: Beautiful Sustainable Buildings
It's Kim Thompson's pioneering Straw House Herbals house in Nova Scotia. This site links to excellent articles that appeared in The Last Straw about the construction and wall monitoring (temperature and moisture) that took place. A videotape is also available which "documents the construction stage by stage in order to give potential straw bale builders as much information as possible to aid them in their own projects" - very cool. (And now, every bit as cool as that, go see about this!) I met Kim at a Natural Building Colloquium in Maryland in 1998. I also met my future wife there, but didn't realize it at the time.

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Strawbale Details
This site offers for sale 47 drawings ranging from straw bale specifications to a complete example wall with door and window openings. Ten drawings show different methods for footings and tiedowns. Different ways of strapping walls and handling tops of walls are provided. (Feb 20/00)

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Strawbalecentral.com
Natural and alternative building photos by Mark Piepkorn

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Strawbale Cottage
Accomodations near Hepburn Springs, Australia
(Mar 05/02)

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Straw Bale Home Construction
In a site from El Paso, Texas, dedicated to solar energy, Catherine Wanek of Black Range Films fame talks about building with straw. Good solar and alternative building links too.

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Straw Bale House at Swarthmore College
Wow - palpitations, pitter-pat, my valve! - a SB structure built in 1994 that was measured continuously for temperature, humidity, moisture content, etc... and then dismantled in 1998 and carefully examined. The folks at Swarthmore College tried some techniques that bear more looking into: a FPSF, bales used as concrete forms, and a mostly sand and lime stucco with whitewash finish. Good details, good pics; sure hope they eventually upload all the monitored results!

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Strawbale Plaster Report
draft report on research conducted by John Straube
80 kB PDF file (Aug 10/00)

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Straw Specialties
Northwest's largest supplier of certified noxious weed-free straw (Mar 11/02)

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Straw Bale Trading Post
What most endears me to this site is the giant photo of a rotting 2x6.

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The Straw Coffin
Funny? Alarming? Touching? Stupid? Hey, it's your funeral.

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Straw Houses and Other Uses for Straw
A brief article from the UK, culled from other articles written in 1992 - nineteen-ninety-two! - about this odd new idea of straw houses. It's from the Global Ideas Bank, "an international suggestion box for socially innovative non-technological ideas and projects."

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Straw: The Next Great Building Material?
Reprint of an excellent introductive article published in Environmental Building News; pictures, charts, drawings... a good thing to visit. Links to associated material as well, including the sounds-worse-than-it-is article R-Value of Straw Bales Lower Than Previously Reported.

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Strawbale Information Centre
"You CAN Build Your Own Home!! Thanks to the efforts of a few practical-minded zealots, building with strawbale has not only been preserved as a valuable technology, it's being recognized as an increasingly popular alternative housing option... This site is a brief introduction to the field. There's no substitute for hands-on experience, so have a look around, then turn off the computer and start stacking!"

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Strawbale Studio Natural Building Site
A great example of sustainability, this building in Michigan was started in 1997 on an experimental permit. It has a fieldstone foundation of stones from their own field, earthen floors and exterior, and a thatched roof from locally-harvested reeds (phragmites). Beauty! This place is a place I've been wanting to visit for what can now officially be described as "years." I've met Deanne, and I've met Carolyn; and having got to know them, I'm certain that the pictures are only hinting at just how cool this place is.

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StrawBaleHousePlans.com
An enthusiastic site out of California's Sacramento Valley. Ardent. Passionate. Much colorful type, plentiful photos. And they sell stuff: plans, bales, building and teaching services... if you want it, I'm sure they'll find it for you. (FWIW, they seem to be the same people as the more-demure ricestraw.com.)

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Sven's Strohballenseite
SB and passive solar designer Sven put up this German site to translate some of the better-known SB resources for his building community. He covers the basics of SB and takes his inspiration from David Eisenberg's code work to include the development of German-European building standards and details. Danke Sven!

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System Gripple
Fencing? No. Think "tensioning." Think "connecting the top plate to the foundation." Think "manual compression of the Nebraska-style bale wall." Think sideways.

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Taylor Marketing and Publishing
Plenty of people like this mail-order place. Word is that Charmaine tries hard to make sure people are satisfied, and it seems that the customers appreciate it. Me, I've never purchased anything there, so I can't say one way or another.

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Terrasol Design and Building
An enlightened builder's site with the usual enlightened builder's content. (How foolish that I should be so blasť about it!... "the usual enlightened builder's content"!) Some nice little pics in the Stock Plans area. Lots of good words everywhere else, with occasional photos sprinkled in.


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Tom's First Straw Bale Structure
The commentary you're reading here used to say, "Tom talks about it, and gives us a couple good pictures and twice as many links. (Click on the pics, they explode nicely.)" Now, however, the commentary you're reading here says, "There isn't a lot to recommend this page other than the two photos, which don't really seem all that good anymore. The links are all dead or redirected. But it's been here since almost the beginning, and I just can't bear to delete it - so enjoy."

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UW Strawbale Research and Courses
"The studio focuses on the application of an alternative building method in an effort to address the need for housing in the poorest regions of the United States. The purpose of this collaborative project between the Departments of Construction Management and Architecture is to execute two strawbale demonstration projects."

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http://uzutekis.voriukai.net/
First Lithuanian strawbale house (May 9/03)

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Vernacular Architecture Internet Sites
A good list of links to all sorts of alternative building sites from Homestead.org. Plenty of techniques to ponder, several of which would work well in a hybrid strawbale approach. (I'm not sure, but I think the magnificent treehouse shown in the photo is in St Louis Park, Minnesota. There was a big furor about it several years ago when it came to light that the guy who had it built was a slumlord. Using rents collected from people living in squalorous conditions to finance a treehouse like that. Keen.)

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Villa Millenium
4,500 sq. ft. strawbale house for sale in Texas. (May 4/03)

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Women Build Houses
I'll say they do. Y'know, I have to admit (being a sensitive new-age guy and all), that I kinda thought that women-only workshops and clubs and stuff were actually counter-productive to ending sexism... until I met Shay Salomon and some of the other women involved in this organization, and they 'splained some things. Then, to drive the point home, a couple years later I happened to be at the Lama Foundation when there was a concurrent WBH workshop, and I saw (when there was shared time, at meals and things) how powerful and transformative it was for the participants. Yeah. While I'm still suspicious of anything that's exclusive of anybody based on gender (or anything else, real or imagined), these people are doing something good in just that framework.

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Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?
Pretty big graphics, but worth the wait in a small article on the Huff 'n' Puff Inn and the Kelleher residence, both in Arizona.

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Wood chip and Light-clay Infill Systems
There isn't anything about strawbale in this article. And yet I want you to read it anyway. Why do you suppose that is?


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Igor's Surfin' Supplement
It's placement here isn't alphabetically correct, but it is appropriate. Igor's Surfin' Supplement is a user-defined supplement to Surfin' StrawBale, courtesy of hard-workin' Igor (who hides deep in the bowels of the MHA server). Igor gets all goosebumpy and giggly when people write to him to suggest a link.


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Surfin' StrawBale Mirror Sites reside at:
Masonry Heater Association
Straw Bale Homes

The last, final - ever, unless you volunteer to do it yourself - overhaul of this site by its creator happened in February 2002. Minor updates are likely to occur sporadically in any case, however.

Content and web formattin' by duckchow and chizz

Igor transferred a bunch of links from Igor's Supplement to this page on August 14, 2003

This page was last updated on December 24, 2003 .

If you find any broken links, please report them to Igor:
email Igor@mha-net.org