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Re: GSBN:Ask the Experts


The answer has many angles ie the build ability of SB versus high mass building methods like adobe, the building physics angle, the sustainability angle, aesthetics and finally the SB community. The last aspect is to me a matter which is not appreciated very much if you look at it as just choosing a building technology like Dave is doing. Having the resources of the international SB network at hand is quite something. Although Dave gives the impression that he is quite confident he should do a little less reading and go to a workshop to get first hand experience with the SB community.

To me SB is more then just another building technology it is an attitude fueled by "straw power". Tapping into this resource is an empowering experience if you judge by the amount of successfully completed SB self build projects. Ok there are some failures but compare that to other self build techniques. In other fields like kit cars/aircraft nearly everyone will tell you that the community around a certain kit/manufacturer determines success or failure rate.

I could also just answer Daves question directly and say SB is most probably, given sufficient supply of building quality bales in Baja, the most efficient and sustainable building technique to create an energy efficient house. (I presume the use of earth/clay stucco)

At 07:45 PM 6/24/03, you wrote:
Hello All,

Here's a question that arrived in the TLS mailbox. It's a common question to field at TLS, but this time it's been put quite succinctly and I was wondering if anybody out there (expecially any of you SW'murricans want to take a stab at answering publicly in TLS.

Let me know!


Dear Editor,
In February of 2001, after thinking about building a natural building for several years, I ordered 20 past subscriptions to the Last Straw as well as a new membership which I continue to receive. I read them all and was totally sold on building a load bearing straw bale home. Then I decided to read about other types of natural construction and have since read 20 plus, (every) book on the subject, including stone houses, adobe, rammed earth,cob, earthship, etc.etc. PS. The best book I've read most recently, "The Natural Plaster Book" by Cedar Rose Guelberth & Dan Chiras is a detailed description on how to finish any and all of the above natural homes which brings me to this e-mail today. Because of my extensive reading, I feel that I could build any of these style homes or even a combination thereof (in my sleep). The problem is, which one or combination there of would be best for me? I live in Southern Arizona but am looking to build in Mexico's Baja Norte which is of similar climate. Do I use straw bale because of the insulation abilities, or adobe earth for thermal mass, or a combination thereof? The more I read the more I get confused and the longer it takes for me to begin the actual project. Does Last Straw have any writers that can help answer this question with my region in mind, with explanations of why?

Sincere Regards,
Dave Adams


Chris Magwood / Camel's Back Straw Bale Construction

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Rene Dalmeijer