The Straw Bale House: A Real Goods Independent Living Book

Overview

Imagine building a house with superior seismic stability, fire resistance, and thermal insulation, using an annually renewable resource, for half the cost of a comparable conventional home. Welcome to the straw bale house! Whether you build an entire house or something more modest-a home office or studio, a retreat cabin or guest cottage-plastered straw bale construction is an exceptionally durable and inexpensive option. What's more, it's fun, because the technique is easy to learn and easy to do yourself. And ...

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Overview

Imagine building a house with superior seismic stability, fire resistance, and thermal insulation, using an annually renewable resource, for half the cost of a comparable conventional home. Welcome to the straw bale house! Whether you build an entire house or something more modest-a home office or studio, a retreat cabin or guest cottage-plastered straw bale construction is an exceptionally durable and inexpensive option. What's more, it's fun, because the technique is easy to learn and easy to do yourself. And the resulting living spaces are unusually quiet and comfortable.The Straw Bale Housedescribes the many benefits of building with straw bales:

  • super insulation, with R-values as high as R-50
  • good indoor air quality and noise reduction
  • a speedy construction process
  • construction costs as low as $10-per-square-foot
  • use of natural and abundant renewable resources
  • a better solution than burning agricultural waste straw, which creates tons of air pollutants

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Using plastered straw bales as building materials for a home may not sound stable or long-lasting, but these can be used for a variety of purposes from adjacent buildings to entire houses, can be used with relatively little experience, and have many attributes; from super-insulation to cheap construction. Applications are more useful for the Southwest region but ideas may transfer to other U. S. locales. The book's price tag seems high for a paperback, but this goes in great detail on a subject which is fairly understated in most construction or homeowner's guides."--Midwest Book Review

Booknews
An guide to building living structures with straw bales. Covers benefits of building with straw bales, safety concerns, building codes, and insurance, and offers techniques for building walls, windows, doors, foundations, roofs, floors, and plastering the straw walls. Includes b&w photos demonstrating building techniques, and color photos of finished homes and interiors. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780930031718
  • Publisher: Chelsea Green Publishing
  • Publication date: 12/28/1994
  • Series: Real Goods Independent Living Series
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 1,406,461
  • Product dimensions: 7.99 (w) x 9.87 (h) x 0.76 (d)

Meet the Author

Bill Steen is a photographer and collaborative builder who is especially interested in combining building techniques with community-enhancing approaches to design. Athena and Bill are co-founders of the Canelo Project, through which they conduct ecological design and construction workshops in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. They live in Canelo, Arizona. Visit Athena and Bill's Blog, The Canelo Chronicles at www.caneloproject.com.

David A. Bainbridge first worked on community design, passive solar heating and cooling, building codes, and solar rights at the innovative design firm Living Systems. He described his first water-wall solar home and the Village Homes solar subdivision in Solar House Designs in 1978. Founder of the Passive Solar Institute, and recipient of the ASES Passive Pioneer Award in 2004, Bainbridge consults on a wide range of residential and commercial projects and has completed several solar projects on his own homes, as well as co-authoring The Straw Bale House (with Athena Swentzell Steen and Bill Steen), and Passive Solar Architecture (with Ken Haggard). He is currently Associate Professor of Sustainable Management at the Marshall Goldsmith School of Management. He lives in San Diego, California.

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Table of Contents

1. A brief history
2. Benefits of straw-bale construction
3. Common concerns
4. Working with straw bales
5. Bale walls
6. Windows and doors
7. Foundations
8. Roofs
9. Floors
10. Interior elements
11. Finishing bale walls
12. Other uses for straw bales
13. Designing the straw bale house

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