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Strawbale Construction Resources

Sherwood Botsford | Posted in General Questions on

I used to know of CREST’s list,  Yahoo’s SB-R-Us.  There was a strawbale list on pipermail.

None of them seem to be around any more.

There’s one on Reddit, but last post was a year ago.

The Last Straw has a resource list.  None of the links to mailing lists work.

So I reach out to the hive mind.

***

Given the variety of responses, I will clarify my current quest.

I want to make an ice house for storing seedlings in spring.  This works.  I currently have a shed wrapped in small bales on edge.  Inside is lined with used roofing for 3 feet, then filled with 2 feet of snow.  This works, but it is not big enough, nor does it keep the snow long enough.

I have a nearby source of large square bales 4x3x8.  My plan is to make a 24′ x 24′ interior space (exterior wall 32×32, roof 40×40, or possibly 20 x 32 depending on final site choice, truss and foundation costs.

The problem I’ve not seen addressed is keeping my bales from turning into fetid goo.  The normal consensus is that the inside plaster should have a low permeability to water vapour than the outside one.  This allows water vapour to escape to the outside, driven by the thermal gradient.  But in my case, when in use, the thermal gradient goes in reverse, from the outside in.  But the inside during use is at close to 100% R.H. while the outside is typically 20-40% R.H.

During the other 10 months of the year, the room is left open.  This generally means during the summer the inside is somewhat cooler than the world, and in winter somewhat warmer.  (At present after several days of -25 ish weather, the inside is running 3 degrees warmer, despite a propped open door.  This is ground heat.

At this point I am giving serious consideration to not plastering the walls at all, putting in an extra support beam so that I can lift the entire roof up a foot and replace the bales as needed.

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Replies

  1. Kyle Bentley | | #1

    As a user of mail list in the past, they're just not it anymore. Kind of like IRC. Strawbale is a niche field, and when you take the union of that, and the community that still uses mail list, it's probably countable on both of your hands.

    The communication landscape seems to have diverged into too many different apps and sites to maintain any critical mass between them. Even on this site hearing about strawbale is rare.

    I wish you luck in finding the others!

  2. Expert Member
    Michael Maines | | #2

    I agree with Kyle that for better or worse, emailed newsletters may not be the best way to keep up on the latest developments in strawbale construction. That said, you could join the mailing list here: https://endeavourcentre.org/our-work/?v=e4b09f3f8402, subscribe to the blog here https://newframeworks.com/blog and/or keep up on the News section here: https://www.arkintilt.com/news-post--those are three of North America's leading straw bale construction designers and builders.

    These days it seems like Instagram has become the place to go (when you can't find what you want here on GBA). There you can follow tags such as #strawbale or #strawbaleconstruction. Not everyone tags their posts but if they do, they will show up on your feed. I don't love the Instagram format because I like to read, not just look at photos, but it's popular.

  3. Expert Member
  4. Sherwood Botsford | | #4

    To all: I've edited my initial post to show what I'm looking for.

  5. Tim R | | #5

    There are winery's in central California that have made barrel rooms to for aging wine. So, cool temps and high humidity. It was written up in several books. That would be a good place to start.
    The California Straw building Association has a resource list where you could find professional help.
    https://www.strawbuilding.org/

  6. Kent Thompson | | #6

    Here in California (dry climate) they build walk in coolers with strawbales on small farms. I built one with 3 string bales that used a coolbot controller to override a window ac unit and keep the cooler at the desired temperature. The coolers have quite a bit of moisture introduced from washed produce, but a combination of the ac removing moisture and the general low humidity make it work. Google strawbale cooler for more information.

    My understanding is that you want to use a high permeability plaster on both sides of the bales (lime, for instance) so that they can dry to either side when conditions allow. Whether this works for you in your special circumstances and climate I'm not sure. I know of people do build strawbale in wet climates (PNW), so it can be done in wet climates, but I'm sure it's riskier.

    Folks have already mentioned CASBA (check out their detail book). Also check out State of the Art by Bruce King.

    There might be better solutions like an sunken green house...not sure, I'm just spitballing here.

    Good luck.

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