[GSBN] Low-cost Strawbale

Min Hall minhall at xnet.co.nz
Tue Feb 23 12:28:21 CST 2016

So do the blokes always end up with the house in Oz Lance? 



From: Gsbn [mailto:gsbn-bounces at sustainablesources.com] On Behalf Of Lance Kairl
Sent: Tuesday, 23 February 2016 9:04 p.m.
To: 'Global Straw Building Network' <gsbn at sustainablesources.com>
Subject: Re: [GSBN] Low-cost Strawbale


HI John, and all on the list.

These sort of disasters  present  great opportunities to encourage a community to build.

Community rebuilds,( USA)   are showing the way with  designs and a system,

Woof , and other volunteer schemes supply the people.

Some how we need to marry the two into an organization with a straw soul  at its core.


I’m Looking into something similar for our middle aged women,  found homeless due to divorce.

Collectively it can be done.


Looking forward to extending this conversation at ISBC NZ 2016-02-23 

Hopefully we will see some of  you there.


Regards Lance Kairl

House of Bales.



From: Gsbn [mailto:gsbn-bounces at sustainablesources.com] On Behalf Of John Swearingen
Sent: Tuesday, 23 February 2016 2:30 PM
To: Gsbn at sustainablesources.com <mailto:Gsbn at sustainablesources.com> 
Subject: [GSBN] Low-cost Strawbale


This weekend Jenna Yu and I, attended the Rebuild Expo, a building expo geared toward people who had lost their homes in the Valley Fire--1200 homes burned in less than a day.  The area is not wealthy.

It was definitely a good place for us to be. Saturday morning began with a long, long line of registered people who lost their homes and who were given early access to the event.  Usually at these sorts of events there are people toying with building their own house, or remodeling their kitchen. This was different-- a mass of people desperately trying to figure out how to put themselves in housing once again.  They're highly motivated. Many, probably most, face serious obstacles--insurance settlements (if they had insurance) and property values, but also things like county requirements to bring infrastructure up to code (water, septic, electrical)--many people had older buildings with grandfathered systems. Our table was next to the County's, so we overheard a lot of discussions.  The County is doing its best, and will stretch regulations whenever they can for people's benefit, but.... 

Jenna & I, representing Skillful Means, were the ones there identified with straw, so I think we got most of the questions. There was a lot of interest. Perhaps "longing" is a better word, because people want to choose a natural home but are on limited means. We introduced strawbale to the many people who had little familiarity with it, and were pleased at how open they were to new ideas. And there was a LOT of interest from everyone in the possibilities of low-cost construction and the panel system we're developing (with help from "upside down" John). They really want to be able to afford it, and not be condemned to buy a toxic manufactured box.

We're offering free house plans of  completed projects, and most people felt they couldn't afford what we normally design. Folks have been hammered with every conceivable building method--promising very low bottom lines--but definitely were interested in something natural and healthy, and were excited that it was being presented to them. We need to do more outreach to these communities. They are working hard to sort out their futures, and the future of their communities. 

There's also a number of people who have heard of strawbale and dismissed it, but they're often happy to tell us about it; "rodents!! they're everywhere!".  I'm always happy to chat with them. 

Strawbale has been fueled and financed in California by the well-off, and that's allowed us to learn a lot about how to design with straw. The folks this weekend don't have a lot of money to spend on housing, and having the opportunity to work with people who fled from the woods with only the shirts on their backs, was personally very satisfying. 

The thousands of people of modest means who are now homeless can inspire us to use our knowledge and experience to make good housing available to average people. I’m inspired by their determination to make it work, and I would urge the strawbale community to respond to their needs.

John (don't flame me!) Swearingen

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