[GSBN] vaulted straw bale house

ejgeorge at riseup.net ejgeorge at riseup.net
Thu Jul 2 16:40:21 CDT 2015

Thanks to everyone who replied on the vaulted bale farmhouse project - 
your comments were much appreciated!

As it turns out, the so-called 2FF's building project was delayed and in 
the interim they were able to do more research and meet with a local 
engineer.  The engineer was pretty enthusiastic that structurally at 
least they could make it happen, so after further discussion they're 
planning to work out bugs (as many of you identified) of the 
construction process and go for it.

On a side note, said engineer referenced the newly adopted SB code 
appendix in their meeting -- even though NY didn't adopt them itself, 
it's nice to know people have taken note - good work Martin & all!

On another side note -- we will be out west this September...any vaulted 
straw bale houses we could visit? Or any particularly spectacular though 
non-vaulted ones we should visit? (mostly NW, but may take some time to 
visit elsewheres while we're out there). You can reply offlist.

Thanks all!


On 2015-05-27 19:29, RT wrote:
> As an archisort, arches and vaults hold a special appeal but I've only
>  built them using masonry so have no real empirical knowledge to add
> to a  discussion about building a SB vault.
> Other than the challenges of building a structure which relies
> entirely  upon compression to work, using infinitely compressible SB
> building blocks  (which one assumes that the builders have already
> addressed by providing  some sort of integrated exo-skeletal or
> auxiliary structure in their  proposal) the other biggest issue is
> providing an effective strategy to  keep the bales dry ... both during
> and after erection of the vault.
> The two farmer friends (2FF) appear to have addressed at least one
> third  of the "keeping it dry" issue with the greenhouse over-roof and
> another  1/3 by proposing an additional timber-framed structure over
> the bale vault  with a conventional roof/cladding,
> While the greenhouse *may* do the job of keeping the bales dry if it
> doesn't leak (something which greenhouses are notorious at doing) I
> think  that it would be Hell for the people having to work inside of
> it during  the hot & humid NE US summer in the era of Changed Climate
> weather  extremes ... and I do mean the biblical Hell.
> There is also the issue of that period mentioned only in passing but a
>  critical one nonetheless --between dismantling of the greenhouse
> over-roof  shelter and installation of the cladding on the wood-framed
> structure over  the bale vault.
> As the former Albequirky Derelict mentioned about heart-ache always
> potentially just being ready to to strike with vaulted SB projects, I
> would imagine that even a pious monk who took an oath of silence would
>  loudly vocalise more than a few expletives if after having spent a
> torturous summer being broiled inside of a greenhouse while schlepping
>  bales awkwardly overhead ... and then all of one's winter working on
> finishing the interior ... only to have a sudden early Spring rain
> storm  thoroughly soak the bales in that brief period between
> greenhouse  deconstruction and roof cladding installation.
> Perhaps a better approach may be to simply focus on building the
> proposed  conventional wood-frame structure first, and then once it's
> weather-tight,  insert the bale vault as an infill afterwards. If a
> sheet metal roof  cladding over open purlins is used, it would be a
> relatively simple matter  to de-mount individual roofing panels as
> needed to accommodate any futzing  from overhead, if and when access
> to the top side of the bales is needed  and have the panels readily at
> hand to re-install if a sudden rain is  approaching.
> Better yet, the 2FF might consider ditching the redundant wood-frame
> structure altogether and use a pre-fab deep "Vee" rib corrugated
> galvanised steel arch shell as the combined permanent roof cladding
> and  structure, erected first, using it as the support from which an
> interior  bale vault can be suspended using the already existing
> suspension system  that are designed for conventional insulation and
> interior sheathing.
> The "Vee" ribs would also provide a built-in ventilation airspace over
> the  vaulted bale insulation to ensure that any bulk moisture
> intrusion into  the insulation as a result of a less-than-effective
> air barrier strategy,  would have a means to get out.
> If the quonset shed exterior aesthetic is less than appealing to the
> 2FF  (or their families (3FF) then I would imagine it wouldn't be too
> difficult  to simply tell the engineers (typically provided free by
> the steel arch  building manufacturer, in Canada at least) that the
> intention is to  install a Living Green Roof over top and they can
> design the steel vault  accordingly.
>   --
> === * ===
> Rob Tom            ADT1
> Kanata, Ontario, Canada
> [from GSBN Digest Vol 42, Issue 9]
>> On Apr 15, 2015, at 10:53 PM,  
>> ejgeorge at riseup.net<mailto:ejgeorge at riseup.net> wrote:
> [snipped & pasted  -full message available in GSBN archive somewhere
> on  the WWWeb, pester megamulti-ListMom Wild Bill-Bob Christensen for
> the URL ]
>> Some local (northeast US) farmer friends ... trying to build a vaulted 
>>  straw bale house this summer.
>> -- mostly exterior timber frame  ...conventional roof above the 
>> vaulted  bales
>> Likely only the vaulted roof would be in place over the winter, 
>> conventional one added after greenhouse is dissembled in the spring.
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