[GSBN] Question for you
klerner at one-world-design.com
Mon Oct 18 03:31:59 CDT 2010
Well said, Chris!
Yes, too much fiddle-factor to appeal to the average builder or make much profit. Just the right amount of fiddle-factor to appeal to an owner-builder or DIY geek or one who just loves thick walls, curves and hand finishes.
Kelly (currently enjoying the thick walls, curves and hand finishes of old European buildings in Sweden)
On Oct 17, 2010, at 6:55 PM, Chris Magwood wrote:
> That same question can be asked about all too many systems that are significant improvements on their mainstream counterparts, not just straw bale. So there's a meta-answer to that question, and then there are straw bale specific answers.
> The meta-answer has to do with our natural human tendency to keep doing what we've always done and improve it in small, measurable ways rather than change to new systems. To sum it all up: Humans are good at doing things better, but lousy at doing better things. We'd rather tinker with slightly improved cars than figure out a new transportation system. Etc.
> The straw bale specific answer is one I've thought lots about. The bottom line is it's just too messy and inexact a technique to be put into widespread, mainstream use. It's next to impossible to train people to do straw bale without lots and lots of on-site experience. There are too many ways to do it, too many variables and inconsistencies. From getting the bales (which are always differently shaped, sized, weighted and priced) to the different kinds of framing, plastering, etc, the whole process is well suited to owner-builders or committed professionals, but no so friendly to the guy (and yes, I'm being gender specific here!) who just wants to build some houses for a living, or the developers who want to hire him to do that. We all love these parts of straw bale building because we're attracted to innovation, creativity and community involvement in building. We are a minority. And if you're not one of us, the whole thing is just too much to bother with. And having spent a long time making a living as a builder, I know that it was only because my clients were highly predisposed to want a bale building and were willing to put up with all the hiccups a bale building entails (tarps, mess, plaster finishes...) for all the advantages we know and love. But for most builders and homeowners, the scales just don't tip in that direction.
> This is the reason I've been so keen to develop the prefab strategy I've been working on. This year, we built walls for our Habitat for Humanity build that were cheaper than their conventionally framed option and still had all the benefits of bale building. They are now interested in buying bale walls for future projects. But this is only because they show up pre-plastered, and fit perfectly according to the plans. There's no way the same organization would consider using site baled walls.
> So I think the honest answer you need to give your questioner is that there are too many disadvantages to bale walls. They don't detract from all the things we see as advantages... those advantages are real and should be weighted heavily. But everybody has to weigh up their options, and from a mainstream point of view, the scale still tips towards bale's disadvantages.
> On 10-10-17 12:15 PM, Joyce Coppinger wrote:
>> The other day I was asked this question:
>> If strawbale is such a good building method and material, can pass codes,
>> can be insured, can be funded through mortgage or other lending, uses a crop
>> residue that is annually renewable and might otherwise go to waste, has a
>> high energy-efficiency value, can be built in most climates, if not all, can
>> be built rather easily by owner/builders or professional builders, why
>> aren't there more straw-bale buildings being constructed?
>> Joyce Coppinger
>> Managing Editor/Publisher
>> The Last Straw, the international journal
>> of strawbale and natural building
>> PO Box 22706, Lincoln NE 68542-2706
>> Phone 402.483.5135
>> <thelaststraw at thelaststraw.org>
>> web site: www.thelaststraw.org
>> and our new blog at http://thelaststrawblog.org
>> GSBN mailing list
>> GSBN at greenbuilder.com
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Kelly Lerner, Architect
One World Design Architecture
Have you read Natural Remodeling for the Not-So-Green House? Available in Bookstores across the Universe.
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