[GSBN] Prefab hoe-down

Derek Stearns Roff derek at unm.edu
Wed Feb 24 19:11:18 CST 2016

I, too, would be thrilled to see video of the round table on prefab options.

And to add to Chris’s comments, I’d like to emphasize that a true crane is unlikely to be needed on single story residential projects.  A boom truck, as Chris mentions, a high-lift forklift, a backhoe, and other cheap-to-rent kinds of construction equipment may all be sufficient to lift and place the plastered strawbale panels, especially on level sites.


Derek Roff
derek at unm.edu<mailto:derek at unm.edu>

On Feb 24, 2016, at 2:18 PM, Lars Keller <larskeller at gmail.com<mailto:larskeller at gmail.com>> wrote:

Hi Chris,
Thank you for sharing this.
This sounds very interesting.
I will not be sttending the CASBA, but maybe an eventual prefab summit could be videotaped ?

Den onsdag den 24. februar 2016 skrev Chris Magwood <chris at endeavourcentre.org<mailto:chris at endeavourcentre.org>>:
Hi John,

We've approached building panels in every conceivable way... on-site tilt-up plastered horizontal, on-site tilt-up plastered vertical; built off-site unplastered, built off-site preplastered; built off-site with mag-board finish; and currently we're working on built off site system with no plaster, using wood fiber board sheathing on both sides. We've framed them with lumber, with Durisol sheets, with TJIs, with Tectum... I feel like there aren't very many versions we haven't built with. In total, we've been involved with about 35 prefab bale buildings now.

I made the tilt-up suggestion for the fire victims because we have found that to be the fastest and least expensive approach (by far), and so for bringing the most affordable form of straw bale construction to people, I think this can't be beat, whether it's done by a professional crew or the home owners, or some hybrid of the two. I'm sure this could be adapted to California requirements (do the interior coat of plaster horizontal, stand the panels up and apply full mesh wrap to the exterior and plaster vertical?). Built on site in tilt-up form, the walls can also be built as continuous panels between door and window openings, so there needn't be seams other than the openings. This is one advantage of this approach... the panels don't have to be sized for transportation or handling.

However the prefabrication is done, we have found that it beat site bale construction times and costs hands down. We use the tilt up version when cost is the driving factor and when the off-site shop space isn't available or affordable. A reasonably sized one story house can be panelized in this form in two to three days, fully plastered, so it's not much of slow-down for the construction timeline. However, there are lots of advantages to building off site in advance... We have found that two people and a boom truck or small crane can install the pre-plastered panels so quickly that the cost for the equipment is negligible or less than having more bodies on site. Essentially, we've found that there's a prefab strategy for every scenario!

It would be amazing to have a prefab summit at the CASBA meeting. We've done so much work we'd be glad to share with everybody.


Chris Magwood
Director, Endeavour Centre

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