[GSBN] prefab strawbale

John Swearingen jswearingen at skillful-means.com
Thu Sep 17 19:55:06 CDT 2009

I'm just catching up on this thread and have much to think about but want to
make one comment.

On the subject of "mainstreaming" strawbale I'd repeat what I said
initially: the barrier is not really in the method but in the reliability
and predictability of the system.  Most builders are phobic about trying
anything that doesn't produce a guaranteed result.  When we can provide that
with straw then we can make inroads into the larger market.

John "Sure-thing" Swearingen

On Tue, Sep 15, 2009 at 2:24 PM, Jeff Ruppert <jeff at odiseanet.com> wrote:

> Hi all,
> We have worked with two clients in Colorado to develop panel systems.  One
> went through construction while the other never made it off the desk.  It
> was easy to see all of the merits of these systems and I believe they have
> value.
> The original motivation for this thread was that SB is not making much of a
> dent in mainstream activity.  This has been a frustration of mine for a long
> time.  Stacking bales is easy, but nobody wants to do it.  It is dirty,
> itchy and downright not fun after the 400th bale.  There is no industry, or
> should I say, bale-stackers, waiting for work because it is not a skilled
> task.  This alone makes it very difficult for a mainstream builder to find
> someone to do the work.
> I created a roaming wall-building crew and it lasted for a few years.  We
> stacked and plastered day after day.  Work was never close to home so we
> were always traveling.  It was tough keeping hired help on for longer than
> six months.  Who wants to live like that?  The pay for stacking bales is
> near nothing in todays market.  As most of you already know, labor costs for
> a built-in-place bale wall dwarf the material costs, and that needs to be
> brought more in-line with other comparable systems if it is to really
> compete.  It is time-consuming and messes up other subcontractors' schedules
> due to how long it takes.
> Straw bale construction has much merit and somehow needs to jump to the
> next level.  An owner-builder can always choose to stack their own bales, no
> one will stop them.  But if we really want to see it make a dent in resource
> productivity, prefab panels are the best idea yet.  If we don't care where
> it goes, let's just keep stacking one bale at a time vertically and hope for
> the best.
> Jeff
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John Swearingen

Skillful Means
blog: https://skillfulmeansdesign.wordpress.com
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