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A Straw-Bale Home in Vermont

The builder of this home specified triple-glazed windows and paid close attention to airtightness

Posted on Jun 10 2015 by GBA Team

The owner of Vermont Natural Homes, Chad Mathrani, is building his own home near Brattleboro, Vermont. The walls of the house are built using several different construction methods, including timber frame, straw-bale, and double-stud framing insulated with cellulose.

This video of Mathrani's project was produced by a distributor of building products, 475 High Performance Building Products in Brooklyn, New York.

Yes, this looks like an ad. But is not being paid for publishing this video. The builder profiled here, Chad Mathrani, is genuinely enthusiastic about the products he mentions. We are publishing this video so that readers can learn about the techniques used by a conscientious builder committed to using natural materials. By sharing this video, GBA is neither endorsing nor discouraging the use of products sold by 475.

Now that the disclaimer is out of the way, we can focus on Mathrani's methods. His use of natural materials is inspiring, and his attention to detail and focus on airtightness are admirable.

Mathrani's house has nice, clean lines and a generous roof overhang. The west, north, and east walls are timber-framed walls with straw-bale infill, while the south wall is an 8-inch-thick double-stud wallConstruction system in which two layers of studs are used to provide a thicker-than-normal wall system so that a lot of insulation can be installed; the two walls are often separated by several inches to reduce thermal bridging through the studs and to provide additional space for insulation. insulated with dense-packed cellulose insulationThermal insulation made from recycled newspaper or other wastepaper; often treated with borates for fire and insect protection.. The wall's air barrierBuilding assembly components that work as a system to restrict air flow through the building envelope. Air barriers may or may not act as a vapor barrier. The air barrier can be on the exterior, the interior of the assembly, or both. is lime-stabilized clay plaster.

Windows are triple-glazed. Electrical wiring in exterior walls is located in a service chase behind the baseboard. The mechanical ventilation system consists of four Lunos fans.

In the video, Mathrani clearly explains how he maintained a continuous air barrier at several tricky transition areas.

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  1. Carly Chickering

Apr 21, 2017 8:22 AM ET

Any concern about using Mento as your exterior "sheath"?
by Ethan T ; Climate Zone 5A ; ~6000HDD

You mention your reservations about a "sheathing-less" wall assembly on your south side double stud wall. How have you felt about this assembly as time has progressed? Any concerns about the long term viability of this? Any worries about little animals chewing through it?

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