[GSBN] vaulted straw bale house

carolatkn at aol.com carolatkn at aol.com
Tue May 19 03:14:22 CDT 2015

Hi ej
Have you seen Brian Waite's vaulted straw bale house - www.strawbalehouse.co.uk 
best wishes
-----Original Message-----
From: ejgeorge <ejgeorge at riseup.net>
To: Global Straw Building Network <GSBN at sustainablesources.com>
Sent: Tue, 19 May 2015 6:25
Subject: [GSBN] vaulted straw bale house

Hello all,

Some local (northeast US) farmer friends have approached us
about trying 
to build a vaulted straw bale house this summer. They aren't set
on it, 
but the concept has some potential advantages for them -- mainly, they

can build it inside a very large greenhouse on site so would only need 
balework completed by fall to have an insulated workspace over the 
winter. The
greenhouse would provide protection for the structure til 
they resume work in
the spring (and possibly even allow some work to 
continue over winter); they
also like the aesthetics.

Things are very vague at this point but based on
their preliminary 
drawings from various things they found on the web and some
ideas of 
their own, they're suggesting:
-- I think it was about 20' wide, 24'
long; 2 story with full downstairs 
& an upstairs loft
-- mostly exterior
timber frame, but with interior posts extending 
through the peak of the vault
to hold a ridge pole. Ridge pole & 
exterior frame then support a ~conventional
roof above the vaulted 
bales. (One possibility: the rafter cavity could then
be blown with 
cellulose to create a super-insulated roof and decrease the need
perfectly modified bales or significant stuffing of gaps between bales

in the vaulted section). Likely only the vaulted roof would be in place 
the winter, conventional one added after greenhouse is dissembled 
in the

While we find the vault idea intriguing, it's certainly out of our
of expertise - and while it would be fun to experiment, our availability

will be rather limited and they've got a farm to run. We're leaning 
recommending something more conventional to cut down on unknowns 
that could
turn into significant complications to the cost & schedule, 
but it's clear
they'd definitely like to go for it if it were 
possible...so, our main
questions on their behalf:

1. is this even feasible for two full time farmers
to pull off? Our 
schedule will only allow limited assistance. He has carpentry
& a wee 
bit of straw bale experience and hopes to dedicate himself about

half-time to building; they're both pretty sharp; there is the 
of some work parties and farmhand help, but otherwise a 
limited budget for
hired help. They're hoping for enclosure by winter & 
occupancy by next
2. with mostly owner-builder work, is there any benefit to this

cost-wise? time-wise?
3. general tips, suggestions, etc for building vaults?
and particularly 
for a cold & wet climate?
4. any comments on the their
design ideas?

They've already run across some projects by some of you (Bob
Mikal Jakubal), but other resources would be appreciated. Oh, and they

found a really cool free standing dome in Slovenia:
http://minke-strawbaledome.blogspot.com/ , www.createrra.sk
My kids are very
keen to ski off that roof!!

Thanks for any input!


ej George &
Aaron Dennis
Tugley Wood Timberframing
6301 Searsburg Road
Trumansburg, NY

Gsbn at sustainablesources.com

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