Monday, November 29, 1999 5:01:24 PM
GSBN Item
From: GSBN@...,Txinfinet Incoming
Subject: Digest for 11/29/99
To: GSBN
-> More thoughts, reponses
by jc10508@...

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Date: 29 Nov 1999 00:09:18 -0600
From: jc10508@...
Subject: More thoughts, reponses

> Well, it seems to me that most of our existing orgs are about building...
> not about living in a straw bale. I'm certainly not suggesting that this
> replace any of the excellent orgs already out there - in fact, I'm thinking
> that it could add another dimension. Orgs like CASBA, SBAT, and SBAN could
> be could be state chapters or something (retaining their autonomy, of
> course), but a national or international homeowners assn could help bridge
> the gap in some of the places where there is no org in place.

- -----I think GSBN and the state, regional, national organizations are
already set up to do just what you are considering. I have very few builders
as members of SBAN, it's mostly owner/builders who deal with mortgages,
insurance, codes, structural issues, stucco questions and the full array of
considerations in building alternatively including environmental siting and
design, building with salvage and indigenous materials, recycled
products, passive solar, interior space use, landscaping, berms, mixes of
materials (concrete block with framing with sb), water systems, heating
and cooling issues, moisture. How would a homeowners association be different
than this?

>
>
> Perhaps GSBN should just step into that role, or it could be a sub topic or
> focus group of GSBN. As I understand the general role of GSBN at the
> present time, it's to coordinate the various local orgs, support R&D, etc
> etc... all the stuff I was thinking about for a SB Homeowner's org. With
> the membership being only a couple of folks from each local org. But we
> hadn't really mentioned a homeowners aspect of it before (or if we did, it
> was in the background and I missed it). That's a whole different aspect,
> and a potentially much wider membership base.

My understanding of GSBN is as a coordinating organization for existing local
orgs, support for R&D, codes and other issues -- lending professional
and expert advice and guidance to all the many owner/builders or homeowners
who exist out there. If a homeowners association is developed
internationally for that specific target group, won't they be missing out or
have to pay extra dues for the expertise and professional advice that
many of us rely on -- and most often get for free! What a bargain. As I said
before, I'd rather see homeowners put their annual dues toward
supporting DCAT, TLS, and every group which is now in place. I have
reciprocal agreements with SBAT and TLS that they can use anything which is
written for SBAN's newsletter and SBAN quite often cites or includes articles
from SBAT and TLS. Some months I draw heavily on what's already been
published that SBAN members don't otherwise have access to without paying
another fee. Seems that sharing is valuable amongst all of us.

>
>
> In a lot of ways, I think we have enough organizations as it is. The thing
> is, this would address an aspect that is not covered yet. I'm sure that
> the focus of TLS will eventually move more in the direction of homeowners
> issues, as the numbers of completed homes grows. But I'm suggesting that
> we put a support structure in place now, so that we don't lose the existing
> SB owners.

- ----TLS already covers homeowner issues -- insurance, structure and design,
moisture and mortgages and many other topics. I don't think we're
losing existing sb owners -- if they are tuned in and want help, they seem to
find us.

> >What would the members get for their $50-75 fee?
>
> Hey, that was one of *my* questions! It's an important one - why do we
> join any organization? I think in the case of SB, there are a fair number
> of folks who would join just to support the SB "movement". But there
> should be some benefits that we could point to also. Many of us can't
> afford to join orgs just out of the goodness of our hearts - we need to
> receive some value. I don't have the answer to that.

- -----The SBAN members except to get something for their hard-earned dollars.
They're interested in sb because it can be owner/built and they most
often are financing the project themselves on a pay-as-you-go or build on
their own land and borrow only what they need as they work through the
various stages. Most of the builders in Nebraska are in the $20-40 s.f. range
for housing and that's because of owners doing the labor, building
on their land, using salvaged and indigenous materials, building simply, and
fairly small (1,000 to 2500 s.f. so far). They want to network with
people in their immediate area, and gain from experience of people who are
building nearby or who have built similarly in terms of materials and
methods. That could be someone in another country, another county, another
state -- and that's available to existing organizations through GSBN,
TLS and state, regional or country-specific organizations.

> >Who would head up the group?
>
> Round up the usual suspects ;-)

- ------Well, I think the usual suspects are already overworked and underpaid
and need some additional support -- contribution of articles and
information from regions, states, countries; contributions of funding;
contributions of time and efforts of people like you.

> Perhaps more than anything I'm just expressing my perception that some of
> those aspects are not being handled by the existing orgs. Some are, some
> aren't, actually. I think we could stand a little more public awareness
> among the SB world as to just what IS being done in these areas. I'll bet
> that 3/4 of the SB list doesn't even know that GSBN exists.

- -----Public awareness comes from individual efforts as well as group
activities. GSBN wasn't intended to be the public awareness arm of sb
community, if I understand it correctly. I think TLS and all of the publicity
from activities planned by groups, businesses, and individuals as
well as state, regional and country-specific organizations does a great deal
of work toward garnering public awareness. There are tours, meetings,
conferences, newsletters, videotapes, books, newspaper and magazine articles,
TV coverage. What else do you think we should all be doing or how
would a homeowners association bring more public awareness??

> I'm suggesting that the monetary support could come from many small
> memberships.

Seems to me that a homeowners assn would keep more people involved. The
model we're using now, as I said above, leans heavily toward the building
aspect. Nothing wrong with that, of course. But we do need to think
beyond that, to what happens once the owners have moved in. What are the
issues then? They've already decided what foundation and what plaster to
use. Their issues revolve more around things like mortgages, insurance
rates, and resale values. I think that it's important to address thoseissues
too.

And by keeping the existing owners involved, we'll have a larger base to
work with to be able to keep all those orgs afloat.--------SBAN garnered 156
memberships in its first year from 17 states and 1 foreign country and
is at nearly the same level in its second year. Seems to me that the
homeonwers are already involved in SBAN, if they are aware and involved from
the beginning. Many of our members have been referred from TLS, DAWN, or
other organizations, and are glad to find a more local contact point.

- --------People are interested in networking and getting information in the
planning, design and construction phases. What would a homeowners
associaton cover as issues which aren't now being covered by existing
organizations??? Insurance, mortgages and resale values are upfront
concerns, things considered before the actual work begins -- at least in my
experience. Would a homeowners association offer advice on
maintenance, long-term and short-term cost savings for utilities, moisture
study data in year one and year three and year five, things the
owner/builder would do better the next time they built with sb??? What after
the construction is done issues would the homeowners association
cover?

- -------Owner-builders in Nebraska are now contributing columns, articles,
series of articles on the owner/builder experience through SBAN's
newsletter. We plan to expand and continue this in future issues. Our
webpage is going to be linked to owner/builder and homeowners webpages with
further sharing beyond our newletter. What more could a homeowners
association do???

> >I don't disagree with involving homeowners along with the professionals,
> >but the owners/builders and future owner/builders I work with would
> >probably not have $50-75/annual fee to contribute unless they had major
> >benefits from the association.
> >
> Well, I was just throwing out some numbers as a place to start. We could
> have various levels based on income or whatever, or just do it the Matts
> and Judy way - "more if you can, less if you can't".
>
> Maybe that is too much money for some. But $5 a month is $60. That's not
> really much, in the big picture. If such an org could save you $10 a month
> on your homeowners insurance, you'd be getting a deal, right?

- ---Homeowners insurance hasn't been an issue in Nebraska; sb buildings are
being insured at standard homeowners rates as it is. The issue is
mortgages and second mortgages, establishing market value and comparables, not
insurance. At least that's the situation in Nebraska and
surrounding states in which I work. What's the situation in other parts of
the world???

Just some additional thoughts and input for everyone's consideration.

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



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