[GSBN] Bayside Strawbale Hurricane Damage strategy

Kindra Welch kindra at claysandstraw.com
Thu Sep 28 17:02:36 CDT 2017

Hi Folks,   We had the privilege several weeks ago of having a project we baled and plastered in 2015 sit through a direct hit from a Category 5 hurricane, Harvey, as it made landfall on the Texas coast.  The project belongs to Sarah Robbins and sits near Bayside, TX on a little corner of land between Mission Bay and Copano Bay.  Design by Ben Obregon, Engineering by REG.

The bales and their lime plaster did great.  The plaster on the windward walls looks sandblasted with a few dings from projectiles.  A few minor cracks on corners.  

However a section of the roof peeled off:  the dark side of the wrap around porch? lightly nailed roof plywood?  … And some bales were soaked from above.

So I drove down and poked it with a moisture meter.  Most readings at the top of the walls maxed out the meter, about half way down the wall we started getting 30-40% readings. “normal” walls that kept their roof read about 20-24%.  The owner, Sarah, has kept the meter and will re-evaluate every week to see if there are any changes.  

Besides the missing section of roof, the interior was completely soaked and the cork floor ruined, but thats it for damages.  The solar and rainwater were up a running the whole time, so she had power and water when everyone else had none.

The homeowners insurance is not expected to cover damages, but FEMA might come through with a little something.  Therefore we are trying to keep repair costs to a minimum.

So my thought is to wait a few weeks, maybe a few months, and see if the walls dry out.  If they start to smell we will have to take action. In which case I would like to remove the exterior plaster and bales, leaving interior plaster (re-inforced lime 1” thick - still in perfect condition) intact. And replace bales from the exterior, then replaster the exterior.  
What do you think, will it work?  What implications will I have from new bales having no connection to interior plaster?

I have pics if anyone is interested.

Clay Sand Straw
Austin, TX

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