Wednesday, July 29, 1998 10:55:45 PM
From: GSBN@...,Txinfinet Incoming
Subject: Digest for 7/29/98
-> Insurance Info
by Joyce Coppinger <jc10508@...> (by way of M J Epko
-> Re: vive la paille!
by M J Epko <duckchow@...>
-> Re: Re: SB codes?
by M J Epko <duckchow@...>
-> Pesky Austin code info - yay!
by M J Epko <duckchow@...>


Date: 29 Jul 1998 02:00:10 -0500
From: Joyce Coppinger <jc10508@...> (by way of M J Epko
Subject: Insurance Info

Have had some local contacts from strawbale owner/builders trying to
find insurance coverage, so I've been talking with the underwriting
folks at American Family Insurance at their home office in Wisconsin.
Here's their position at the moment:

"In summary, Straw Bale construction is under review to determine if the
exposures are commensurate with the rate we charge. Currently straw bale
homes are not eligible with American Family. Please correct your
Strawbale Digest Internet List removing American Family as a company
that may write coverage for this type structure. We currently do not
have a rate filed to special styles of construction like strawbales

The good news is that they were very willing to listen and learn, were
reviewing a packet of information I'd sent (codes and such), and asked
that they continue to receive updates and information.

Just wanted to update everyone. If you have been insured by American
Family Insurance or have had different responses, please share them!

Joyce Coppinger
Re:Build Associates and The Straw Bale Association of Nebraska
(email address removed)or 1-800-910-3019


Date: 29 Jul 1998 02:01:00 -0500
From: M J Epko <duckchow@...>
Subject: Re: vive la paille!

"Vive la paille" - is that French? It looks French. I'll have to ask
Pascal to translate for me. :) But what's "Abrazos Grandes?" That's not
French, is it?...

Pascal, welcome on! Good to finally meet you (in a manner of speaking)
after having been so inspired and impressed by the photographs I've seen of
your work. I look forward to continuing to learn from your example, and am
pleased that you'll be a part of this knowledgeable and leading-edge group
of straw-bale people.

Martin, I didn't realize that you are sometimes away from your
address for extended periods; it's good to know that you and Pascal are
keeping an eye on each other and that you'll have access to the discussions
through his kindness... and ultimately through the kindness of Rene, whose
actions typify the highest virtue of straw-bale, which, in my opinion,
really has nothing to do with bales of straw.

On that subject, I'd like to also extend thanks to Lars Keller for all his
help in securing contact information for the European
country-representatives to print with that article. I've enjoyed our

And finally but not least, a big personal welcome to all the new European
representatives on this list, along with the recent US additions. I've
generally been making a rather terse announcement when people have been
added... which is due only to my fullness of schedule. My gratitude and
admiration goes out to each of you on this list, new and old, for your help
to further this building technique - and not by extension, but part and
parcel of that effort, making a better world. It may sound trite, grandiose
and even vainglorious to say something like that, but it's the level truth.
Each of you are messengers of hope.


On a more mundane note: posts to Tom Woolley, whose email address I had as
(email address removed), were being returned, necessitating a
removal from this list. Peter Butterfield confirmed the address for me a
couple days ago as accurate, but I haven't heard back from Mr Woolley
himself about it. If somebody else can also confirm that address for me,
I'll try adding him back on again with the assumption that there was a
temporary server glitch in Belfast. Thanks.


And finally, for those who may not know, it may be useful to know that MJ
Epko and Mark Piepkorn are in reality the same person. MJ Epko is a
pseudonym which I began using on the internet, never anticipating the
eventual deep involvement I'd have with the straw-bale movement. I continue
to use the pseudonym on the internet, except when acting in an official
capacity as Associate Editor for The Last Straw.

Mark Piepkorn, Associate Editor

mail The Last Straw:
The Journal of Straw Bale Construction
HC 66, Box 119
Hillsboro, NM 88042 USA
phone (505) 895-5400
fax (505) 895-3326
email thelaststraw@...


Freewheeling autonomous speculation - Think!
Personality #7 represents only itself.
M J Epko - duckchow@...
Kingston, New Mexico
We have to believe in free will. We've got no choice.
- Isaac Bashevis Singer, in The Times


Date: 29 Jul 1998 02:01:56 -0500
From: M J Epko <duckchow@...>
Subject: Re: Re: SB codes?

I've added a blurb about the Belarus code; thanks to Evgeny Shirokov. An
embarrassment of riches, you people are! I, and more importantly, the
readers of The Last Straw, are so very lucky...

Responding to David's post:

>the only code I know of that does not allow load-bearing sb is
>the State of New Mexico's.

I added a brief snipe in that entry to that effect.

>Pinal County in Arizona adopted the Tucson/Pima code

Added that entry. Strength in numbers.

[Quoting myself here:]
>>we've thought that TLS would benefit enormously from
>>having a board of advisors, like Environmental Building
>>News has. I'd welcome anybody's thoughts on the idea.

[Quoting David:]
>You mean I'm not already on it?'ll make plans
>for that spare time...

*laughing*... Well, I figure if you're an Official TLS Advisor instead of
just a REALLY nice guy who's excellent and seemingly bottomless
knowledgeable help is REALLY appreciated... I'm not sure where I was going
with that sentence. Something about the enormously important work you've
undertaken and are doing so well, or maybe it was something about that
astounding website. :)

>How about adding a little request that anyone knowing of other codes
>adopted, in progress or planned, as well as jurisdictions that are open
>to sb, send that info to DCAT or TLS so that we can make that info widely
>available on the web and in TLS? For one thing, one of the most
>effective tools for gaining acceptance in a new jurisdiction is to have
>the new building official talk with the building official in a
>jurisdiction that has experience with the method. And the more we know
>of and the closer the jurisdictions are to each other the better this
>typically works - the more the merrier! What do you think?

You're making this hard, pal! What you've outlined is extremely important
(and only slightly manipulative, but that's the game sometimes, eh?), and
I'm adding it to the introductory text, but I'm not sure it'll be able to
withstand space constraints. With scant days left before we send this off
to press, space is at a premium, and this last and still-too-brief section
has mushroomed beyond my expectations. We're including a generic note
indicating that we've already begun to set up next year's Resources issue,
and requesting that people take a moment to alert us to any resources they
notice that aren't represented. It may be worth considering running this
list again, or an abbreviated version of it bearing an expanded
introduction, in #24, which will have a Codes updater. I wonder who we
could get to write that?

>>Austin, TX

Thanks DE, Judy, and Bill for the pointers to helpful folks.

>Boulder... code for earthen materials as well as provisions
>relating to the reuse of wood in construction


>>California AB1314 (Mandate for S-B Codes in Cities and Counties)...
>>Municipalities that have adopted this code or a variant of it
>>include Napa and Butte counties.
>I'd reword it to read something like this (municipalities are cities and
>its mostly counties that have adopted this, I believe): "Technically,
>this establishes state construction guidelines which local code
>jurisdictions can adopt or use. Counties that have adopted it include
>Napa, Butte," that all there is?

I'm relying on John Swearingen for this info. Those are the two counties
he indicated had adopted the Guidelines, which seemed sparse to me too -
which is why I phrased it like I did. He also indicated that the
jurisdictions (those two, anyway) haven't adopted the Guidelines verbatim,
but with amendments.

>>Nevada Code mandate
>This was really just a sort of peculiar piece of legislation that Mike
>Schneider got passed, which said that local jurisdictions would have to
>develop local codes for straw bale construction. I don't think this
>one's ever been enforced...

AHA! That's why it's a mandate. I get it.

>I think I sent an updated version of the Working Paper Update

You did, but I haven't got to the cross-referencing of this section yet.
But just to be on the safe side, I dug out the updater you sent and put it
in there to be comfortably done with it.

>There were also two Washington State code additions that I recall
>(vaguely though); one being a straw bale code for Okanogan County,
>Washington, that it seems to me was adopted some time ago, and the other
>being a straw bale code developed for farm worker housing in the state.
>... Chris Stafford ... might have info about both.

Chris... paging Chris whose name isn't Tim...

Freewheeling autonomous speculation - Think!
Personality #7 represents only itself.
M J Epko - duckchow@...
Kingston, New Mexico
We have to believe in free will. We've got no choice.
- Isaac Bashevis Singer, in The Times


Date: 29 Jul 1998 13:35:28 -0500
From: M J Epko <duckchow@...>
Subject: Pesky Austin code info - yay!

I reached Stuart Hersh at David's suggestion - what a friendly and helpful
guy! He told me to run his personal contact info at the city in the
issue... outstanding. Governments need more like him.

The last remaining stumbling block in the codes section is about to
topple, so I'm feelin' pretty good. Thanks all for your help.

Last glance before press, here's the info as it stands:


The following jurisdictions have adopted specific straw-bale codes.
However, there are many locations that have been approving straw-bale
buildings - load-bearing and/or nonload-bearing - under the existing code
in that area (usually under a section named "Alternative Methods and
Materials"), even though it does not specifically include a straw-bale
amendment. For example, Santa Cruz County in Arizona regularly permits
straw-bale buildings which follow the Tucson/Pima code. So it is by no
means an all (codes are adopted) or nothing (can't build straw-bale)
situation. Some areas, in fact, enforce no building codes at all; check
with your local government.

If you know of any straw-bale codes that have been adopted, or are in
progress or planned, as well as jurisdictions that are open to straw-bale
though they haven't adopted a specific code, please let us and DCAT (see
Human Resources List) know, so that the information can be made widely
available in print and on the internet. One of the most effective tools for
gaining acceptance of straw-bale in a new jurisdiction is to have the new
building official talk with the building official in a jurisdiction that
has experience with the method. The more jurisdictions there are, and the
closer they are to each other, the better this typically works - the more
the merrier!

We're aware of one straw-bale code on the international scene, in Belarus;
however, there are a number of international locations that have
code-approved straw-bale buildings: Australia, New Zealand, Sweden,
Finland, Norway, Holland, France, England, Wales, and Scotland, to name
some of them.

Austin TX has an adopted code that David Eisenberg described as "the most
advanced version yet." Contact Stuart Hersh in the Development, Review &
Inspections office of the city of Austin; PO Box 1088, Austin TX 78767;
(512) 499-2994, fax (512) 499-2326. The text of this code is on the
internet at

Belarus Russia has straw-clay codes in place, and a straw-bale code coming
this year, reports Evgeny Shirokov, one of translators of "Build it with
Bales" into Russian. Nine straw-bale houses were finished last year, with
an estimated 50 more to be completed this year.

Boulder CO ... We spoke with a representative of the City of Boulder who
indicated that they would distribute copies of material to people who came
to their offices and requested them, but asked that we not publish their
contact information. We can respect that. Luckily for all of us, DCAT is on
the ball and has published this ordinance (which includes an earthen
materials code and provisions for the use of recycled wood) at their
website Straw Structures

California AB1314 (Mandate for S-B Codes in Cities and Counties) from: CA
Dept. of Housing & Community Dev., Div. of Codes & Standards, PO Box 1407,
Sacramento, CA 95812-1407, (916) 445-9471. Online at these URLs:, or, or, or
file=18944.30-18944.34 (part one, along with)
file=18944.35 (part two, along with)
file=18944.40 (part three). Technically, this is a code guideline that
California jurisdictions have been encouraged to adopt by the state
government. Jurisdictions that have adopted this code or a variant of it
include Napa and Butte counties.

Cortez CO
I have a call in to Jeff at the Cortez Building Inspector's office 210 E
Main St Cortez, CO (970) 565-3402. Jeff hasn't called back, so I emailed
private citizen Dion Hollenbeck, who is going to be building there.

Guadalupe AZ has adopted the Tucson/Pima code; see which.

Nevada Code mandate: AB171, Straw Bale Guidelines from State Legislature,
Rm 101, Legislative Bldg., 401 S. Carson St., Carson City, NV 89710. This
is in fact not a code, but a legislated mandate stating that local
jurisdictions are required to develop local codes for straw bale
construction. To the best of our knowledge, it hasn't yet been enforced.

New Mexico S-B Code: New Mexico CID, 725 Saint Michaels Dr., Santa Fe, NM
87504, (505) 827-7030. This is the only adopted code which requires
post-and-beam. It might be noted that 2-string bales generally do not meet
the density requirements of most SB codes to be used in a load-bearing
capacity, so this code may not be as restrictive as it appears. However,
having the option to build load-bearing structures with 2-string bales
(which is what the historic extant load-bearing Nebraska structures used)
would be nice. The text of this code is online at, or

Pinal County AZ has adopted the Tucson/Pima code; see which.

City of Tucson and Pima County Arizona Building Code, Appendix Chapter 72,
Straw Bale Structures from: City of Tucson, 201 N. Stone, Tucson, AZ 85701, or

The updated DCAT Working Paper: Straw Bale Construction and the Building
Codes should be complete and available soon. It will include information
about adopted and pending building codes, code organizations, information
resources, and the latest on the development of a national building code
in the U.S. For more information contact: DCAT, PO Box 27513, Tucson, AZ
85726-7513, (520) 624-6628, e-mail: <dcat@...>, phenomenally
comprehensive website

The DCAT code paper is also available from DAWN/Out On Bale-By Mail, 1039
E. Linden St., Tucson AZ 85719; 520-624-1673, <outonbale@...>, and from
Straw Bale Central, Star Rt 2 Box 119, Kingston NM 88042; 505-895-5652,


End of Digest

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