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Re: GSBN: re Ecohouse

G ' day Martin

I agree with your comments 100%.

Long time ago we helped build the Buddhist accommodation for the
Buddhists of Whyalla South Australia.  There was an arson attempt on
the building which had been rendered both sides.

There was not much damage until the fire department broke through the
render to extinguish the hot bales then woosh I believe 25 bales had
to be replaced.

What occurred was that a venturi effect was created and the fire was
drawn up through the  top plates.  Even though the top plates were
"sealed" with an earth mix there was enough draught for the venturi
effect to take place.  I hope that is a correct description.

So at no stage would I advise or be part of any straw bale walls that
were not fully rendered and all gaps sealed around penetrations such
as windows and doors.  Also shaggy bales will take fire and may appear
to go out but hot spots occur and they smoulder and eventually find a
way to set the lot up in blazes.  Apart from the look I see no reason
to leave bales naked.

Same problem with parapet roofs re moisture once bitten forever shy
but that is another story where the Architect would not listen and we
were keen to get a start in building a load bearing straw bale.

Also if people want to sheet the walls with fibre panels or other
materials I would advise two coats of render before any sheeting is

I had a look at the Russian work and apart from the mice problem I
feel they will go up in flames pretty quick smart if a fire got going.
Now if you extend the bottom and top plates 40-50mm. past the edge of
the naked bales then you have a way of getting the render straight as
well as an anchor for any sheeting that you may want to use, expensive

1. Straw bale parapets:  Prohibited  Agree

2. Unfinished straw bale walls (or ceilings):  Prohibited (except for truth
windows of a limited size (to be specified, or left vague) smaller the better or why have a truth window at all?

3. Straw bale walls with an airspace between "naked" straw, and the wall's
finish:  Prohibited period no compromise.

There have been far too many fires unplastered straw bale walls over
the years I can name at least 5 down under and apart from the Whyalla
place these buildings had zero render applied.

Kind regards
John Glassford
Huff 'n' Puff Constructions
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Mount Kilimanjaro Climb 28/8/07
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