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
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
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
Surfin's poppa 'splains Surfin', and speaks his mind about strawbale
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.
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.
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.
Gallery of cold climate strawbale houses (Mar 01/02)
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'
BWB is an international network of ecological builders working together
for a sustainable future
Good strawbale resources (Mar 11/03)
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.)
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
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.)
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.
The Center for Resourceful
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
Claiborne & Churchill Winery
California vintners whose vintry is built of bales; there are a couple
shots of it under the About The Winery link.
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.
Complete Owner Builder
Recycled steel and strawbale packages including financing.
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.
Couple gets the first permit in King County to build a
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
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
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
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: email@example.com
Daniel Smith and Associates,
"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
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.
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!)
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.)
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.
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
the document about strawbale homes.
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.
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.
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.
High Performance Building
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.
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.
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?
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.
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).
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
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.
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
Exchange - Hay For Sale
Straw too. Bale providers listed by state.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
page - a great idea in need of nurture.
Living Shelter Design -
"We design,consult, and give workshops in the pacific northwest."
Consultation, Design and Building
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.
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:
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?
Specializing in strawbale construction. Currently building a strawbale
village in Oregon.(Apr 24/03)
Moisture Properties of Plaster and Stucco for Strawbale
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.)
Moisture Sensor Study
From Don Fugler and the good folks at the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (by way of the
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.)
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
Design/build of strawbale and timberframe homes in Western
Wisconsin (Nov 17/00)
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.
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
you; it's still not a good idea for SB, even in the desert.
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.
Ortech Industries Pty
"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."
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."
Interesting strawbale house (Mar 27/02)
Patterson Straw Bale Cottage, Maine
Nice site, worth a visit (Nov 20/02)
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)
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.
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
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..."
Post and Beam Frame, Multi-story, Hillside, Straw Bale
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?
Red Feather Development
They were on Oprah, they're in her Angel Network. They're nice people.
They do good things.
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
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
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
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.
The Straw Bale Building Association for Wales, Ireland, Scotland and
England. If you're in any of those countries, these are the people to
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.
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
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.
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.
Solstice... er, CREST... er,
Everything seems to link to this - whatever it's called this year. So
there must be a good reason for it, eh? Go see.
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.
in Alberta, Canada (Oct 15/01)
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.
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
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.
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
Natural and alternative building photos by Mark Piepkorn
Accomodations near Hepburn Springs, Australia
Straw Bale Home
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.
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!
draft report on research conducted by John Straube
80 kB PDF file (Aug 10/00)
Northwest's largest supplier of certified noxious weed-free
straw (Mar 11/02)
Straw Bale Trading Post
What most endears me to this site is the giant photo of a rotting 2x6.
The Straw Coffin
Funny? Alarming? Touching? Stupid? Hey, it's your funeral.
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."
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.
"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!"
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.
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.)
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!
Fencing? No. Think "tensioning." Think "connecting the top plate to
the foundation." Think "manual compression of the Nebraska-style bale
wall." Think sideways.
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.
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
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."
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."
First Lithuanian strawbale house (May 9/03)
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.)
4,500 sq. ft. strawbale house for sale in Texas. (May 4/03)
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.
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.
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.
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?
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
Surfin' StrawBale Mirror Sites reside at:
Masonry Heater Association
Straw Bale Homes
Content and web formattin' by duckchow
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: