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Country Discussion Topics
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Straw house
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DeadCarp    Posted 12-21-2002 at 08:54:43       [Reply]  [No Email]
Been looking into paper/concrete walls for a house, even cast a 2-foot statue from the stuff to see how it would work. Only for a really big project like house walls, there's lots more spare straw around here than paper. Anybody ever fiddle around with straw/sand.concrete? I'd want to run it all thru a mixer and maybe use slip-forms ....

Lynch    Posted 12-24-2002 at 14:59:52       [Reply]  [Send Email]
I know they use straw bales covered with stucco in places like Arizona for has to be a super dry climate.

Daphne    Posted 12-23-2002 at 22:38:26       [Reply]  [No Email]
Lotsa hippies up in Northern California building homes with straw bale and rammed earth construction.
Contact Real Goods Company in Hopland, Ca., they could point you in the right direction.

Cordwood Links Here...    Posted 12-22-2002 at 08:53:20       [Reply]  [Send Email]
Here is a link I check once a week to follow this guys progress on his cordwood house...

Dennis    Posted 12-21-2002 at 17:15:26       [Reply]  [No Email]
Dead Carp,
Try to do a search for papercrete. I know it is being used and is successful.
Also strawbale building construction has been around for over 100 years and is being done on a grand scale throughout the US and Europe. Once again search will provide a lot of information and workshops.

Cordwood construction is another old/new form of construction and there are examples over 500 years old. once again, search.

kraig WY    Posted 12-21-2002 at 12:06:27       [Reply]  [Send Email]
RFD-TV has a show called Pririe Farm Report. They had a show a while back on building out of straw bales. Looked pretty good. I think if you go to and check the Pririe Farm section you can get vidios about building building out of straw.

Burrhead    Posted 12-21-2002 at 11:37:40       [Reply]  [No Email]
DC here's a link to some pix of a straw house.

I was outside San Antonio and saw where some herbalist yuppies were building with rice straw concreted bales.

They were rolling the bales in concrete then stacking them.

I saw it again after they had finished it and the house was beautiful, inside and out.

The lead yuppie claimed the electric bills and heating bills were less than 1/2 what the bill would run on a conventional stick built house.

Ron/PA    Posted 12-21-2002 at 11:34:56       [Reply]  [No Email]
DC, did you used chopped straw, or did you just add it to the mix?
Do you have any idea as to the value of straw for insulation?
What kind of ratio did you use? I think this is a novel Idea, however every time I come up with one it is a century old. ????
Keep me informed, and mebbe I can steal your idea!

DeadCarp    Posted 12-21-2002 at 13:37:38       [Reply]  [No Email]
Ron, i haven't made any yet, outside of the paper statue - was considering the easiest route, which would seem like adding chopped straw to sand/concrete. That way i wouldn't have to lift bales and skewer threaded rods and have to fight those lumpy ones, just line up conduit, fill the form, let that set a little and move it up. I have an auger to feed slip-forms and a mixer and that, so kinda wanting to go with what i'm used to. I would like to experiment & develop a kinda dry mix, might be pretty porous even (basically coated straw) once it's cured it will get stuccoed in&out with a gun anyway. Won't be hard to determine R vales and strength once i get a few sample blocks. Reckon maybe 10 inches thick :)

TB    Posted 12-21-2002 at 18:49:17       [Reply]  [No Email]
Sounds interesting. I would think it would work unless maybe if you are in a damp climent? Keep us posted.

Ludwig    Posted 12-21-2002 at 14:51:54       [Reply]  [No Email]
I think 10 inches isn't going to be good enough. The straw bale houses are usually like 20 inches.
Have you looked at cordwood at all?
If I continue to be unemployed that could be the onliest kind of house we could afford.

DeadCarp - cordwood    Posted 12-21-2002 at 18:50:13       [Reply]  [No Email]
Well i have another place i'd like to try cordwood - a triangular entryway on a dome - i can scrounge enough that's dry enough for the entry. (another iron in another old fire :)

But the split wood takes a year's drying time and i'm not young or patient enough for that anymore. Don't care if it takes a year to complete, mind you, i just ain't gonna twiddle thumbs waiting to START a project. :)

Spence    Posted 12-22-2002 at 10:38:55       [Reply]  [No Email]
You can check out :

Cordwood houses or barns are massive things when complete and have a terrific "R" value.
Close the door on a cordwood barn and you can't hear anything outside either. Cordwood buildings are all over here and some date to before 1900.

Most suggestions I read was to dig a pit and
fill with packed crushed stone for a footing before building. They even recommend this for
frost areas. I'd pass on that and use a standard concrete foundation. The old ones seem sound in construction, but it was the foundation that settled eventually. You have to use lime between the logs to discourage insects. Your grout should be mixed with a bit of straw, but can't remember why, something to do with balancing wood shrinkage and cement drying I think. You'll need maintenance in the second year as the cement will pull away from around the log a little due to the wood drying a bit, this even when it's well seasoned. The maint is to caulk around each log. A large job, but the only one you will have to do. After this is done it can be left alone indeff.

Another thing too is that they look great and made of cheap white cedar won't be too heavy on the pocket. Like you say it take year for the cordwood to dry out but it's worth it.

check with 3 little pigs    Posted 12-21-2002 at 09:46:52       [Reply]  [No Email]

on huffng and puffing wind for various building materials .

cowgirlj    Posted 12-21-2002 at 09:52:16       [Reply]  [No Email]
Dang! You took the words right outta' my mouth!
Sorry Deadcarp :)

There is a house down the road from here that has walls made from recycled tires. The house is built into the ground, the walls are plastered over on the outside with stucco. You would never know it from lookin' at it. The top part of the house that sticks out of the ground is all solar pannels.
Good Luck findin' info on this project.

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