Tuesday, August 17, 2010

straw bale raising pictorial

Here some pictures from this past weekend. The bale walls look  fairly wonky prior to the top plate going on. Once the top plate is installed and the tensioning takes place the walls are rock solid and level and plumb. Today, the guys are busy tensioning the walls and preparing the walls to accept the trusses.
Below, you can see Lorie busy tying custom length bale for the spaces in the walls that require off-sized bales.
Cousins Mike and Brett busy at the "Bale Raising".

Pounding 3' bamboo stakes...2 per bale. Holy Fred Flinstone impersonation!
Below shows the walls at the beginning of the tensioning stage. At only 10% tension, the walls were noticeably solid and much straighter. Full tension will make them rock solid and then 2" of concrete inside and out will make the house like a bunker.
I have skipped a lot of detail. If you have any questions, please post a comment. Thank you for reading my blog. Cheers!


  1. I am curious about how the build is going? I am planning to build a bale house and am interested in the construction of them. Living in the city and working for a Res. builder this practice is quite different than your standard practice, and i look forward to when I move forward to take the first step. If you have any info that would be useful it would be greatly appreciated as I am still in the very early stages of the design. Nathan Brisson @ brissonnathan@yahoo.ca

  2. The build is going great. I attribute that to the fact that we hired tremendous consultants with experience in straw bale construction and who actually live in a straw bale house. I cannot over emphasize that you need to hire a design/engineer team that knows straw bale construction. Your project will be doomed without that experience or at the very least your project will be much more difficult. It was nice when trying to answer questions for the permits to just refer the inspector to the engineer for instance. Overall, the project so far has been very smooth. We will continue to update as we go.

  3. We may be able to assist for the stucco weekend. We will be stuccoing next summer and would appreciate some hands on experience. Please send us any pertinent information we need to know such as accommodations; meals, fees etc.

    Paul and Irene

  4. Can you refer these consultants to be I'm looking to build a small straw bale home in Southern Alberta. I'm looking for some building consultants to help with the planning. I have an architect be he isn't to familiar with straw bale construction yet.

    Can you also explain a little of the building permit, foundation and inspections processes as it all seems so overwhelming.


  5. No, I am sorry I cannot make a referral for you for these consultants.

    I would find a different architect if he is not familiar with straw bale construction. We had one who was, and there was still some detail missing from the drawings and changes that I caught where we had to make changes post construction.

    It isn't rocket science, but it is new enough that there are not set-in-stone best practices. My suggestion would be to build post and beam and in-fill the bale walls. Lots of architects can design a post and beam easily enough. The top and bottom plates aren't terribly complicated either.

    We would be happy to review your plans to see if we can catch any details based on our experience.

    Check your referrences on any trade and/or consultants you hire! Cannot emphasize that enough. Our overall experience was good, but there are some trades that will try to take advantage of homeowners (ie our 1st septic guy).

  6. Biulding permits and inspections couldn't be simpler to be honest. Get your plans done, submit them to the county for your building permit and they will stay in touch with you on the inspections themselves. Really really easy. Our officer in Sturgeon County was super. They had seen some other straw bale construction in the county already so I am sure that helped.