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Re: GSBN:Leaving bales bare

Greetings all:

There is a beginning of a bale producer network throughout the provinces of
British Columbia and Alberta and Washington state producing high quality
building grade bales. The bales are made from wheat, barley, Timothy, oats
and flax. Our two primary producers sell bales with a density of 9 lbs/cuft,
well above the Pima County/Tucson code. All are aware for the need to keep
their fibre dry at all stages of production but we still find the odd mouldy
bale during construction.

When ordering bales our clients are encouraged to ask how the bales are
stored and the weather conditions at the time of harvest. They also know to
take care when storing their bales over winter for an early start to their
building project in the spring.

Having taken these precautions, everyone at the wall raisings is advised to
check the bales they are stacking or customizing for visible mould and
moisture. An digital moisture probe is in constant use randomly checking the
bale stack and the walls until all the walls are built.

This November a BC native women's organization sponsored a wall raising
class for local members. The daily temperatures were too cold for plastering
so the students hung tarps from the fascia of the studio leaving a generous
air space between the walls and the tarps. The client explained the project
had to proceed at this time due the need to use the training budget before
the end of the year.

Five years ago, a family built a three story bed and breakfast on a well
known ski hill in eastern BC in the late fall. They wanted to get their
business running as soon as possible. We stacked the walls as the first
snows fell and they plastered the interior walls over the winter. The
following spring we had another workparty to spray stucco the exterior
walls. The outside walls were also protected by tarps hung from the eaves
which allowed for the movement of air between the bales and the tarps. No
apparent mold or moisture problems were found the following spring.

Not far from my home, friends built a two story 4,000 sqft post and beam
home and only managed to plaster an exterior scratch coat before winter. The
family moved in and finished the interior plaster over the next two years.
The owners carefully observed their bales during that time and checked the
walls regularly with one of my probes. The bales remained dry and no
indications of mold were detected, either visually or by smell.

To make a long story longer, it is safest to assume that bales can easily
contain potentially damaging moulds despite our best efforts to keep them
safe and circumstances may dictate that bale walls be all or partially
unplastered for any given length of time. Our clients' experiences show this
is not automatically a disastrous situation.

all the best,


Sustainable Works
Habib John Gonzalez
615 Cedar Street, Nelson, B.C.
Canada V1L 2C4
tel/fax 250.352.3731
"Better the kindness of imperfection than perfection without kindness."