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Hiring an architect to produce working drawings

First, I am new to this site; thank you for your wonderful and extensive services! I am planning to construct an 800 sf strawbale house (post & beam with infill). I will contract the work myself, as well as do much of the work myself.

I do have some drafting experience, as well electrical and plumbing. I have the time and can do much of the working drawings myself; I have no problem with working with the state (I live in New Mexico) engineer getting everything right in order to obtain my permit.

But I am NOT a pro here; do you think I should be seriously considering hiring an architect who specializes in strawbale? I recently just got quoted a price of $3,000 + for drafting up drawings for my design.

Best regards,

Brad W
Magdalena, NM

Asked by Brad Welton
Posted Feb 4, 2011 12:08 PM ET
Edited Feb 4, 2011 12:50 PM ET


3 Answers

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You need to contact Catherine Wanek in Kingston, NM @ 575-895-5652.Her email is: blackrange@zianet.com. Catherine is associated with the NM Straw Bale Association and she can give you the right names to work with you.
You should know here in NM the Straw Bale State Code requires a licenced Engineer OR Architect to verify and stamp your drawings... might as well hire either one who has experience in straw bale design and construction.

Answered by Armando Cobo
Posted Feb 4, 2011 4:43 PM ET
Edited Feb 4, 2011 8:53 PM ET.


do you think I should be seriously considering hiring an architect who specializes in strawbale?

I was in your shoes about a year ago.

If you can afford the additional cost, I would suggest hiring an architect.
Like you I had all my own drawings that I wanted to make a reality. After several rounds of head-butting with drafts-people and building officials I decided it might be wise to consult with an architect - someone with an imagination and the power of the "code approved" and engineer's stamp that building departments have such a hard time arguing with.

I knew I had found the right person when he got excited about my envelope details instead of condescending - It really put me off being "told what I want".
Although he did have a chuckle at the expense of my floor plan and elevation drawings...

The result has been that I have gotten everything I wanted in terms of an envelope and at the same time I have gotten a better and more interesting house to boot.

Now I just have to put together all the pieces.

Answered by Lucas Durand - 7A
Posted Feb 4, 2011 7:06 PM ET


You might want to verify with your local code officials whether you'll need a structural engineer to sign off on your wall assemblies. If so keep that in mind if you are trying to keep down your professional fees.

I think it would be fair to ask any architect that you are considering working with to look at an example of their construction drawings of a straw bale project they did. Their drawing set should give you a good impression of what value you are going to get from their fee.

Have you had discussions about insuring your future straw bale home? I know one of the biggest hurdles to building straw bale up in Minnesota is finding an insurance agency willing to insure the home. I know of people who described their wall assembly as something like 'cellulostic based insulation' because insurers wouldn't touch anything that said 'strawbale'.

Answered by j chesnut
Posted Feb 4, 2011 8:49 PM ET

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