Subject: [Strawbale] Round Homes

chug. chug at
Mon Apr 14 11:14:04 CEST 2003

Dear Mary
I have forwarded this reply from Keith Rowe keithrowe at EZPOST...COM
it was posted to the REPP strawbale list, and I didn't know if it was cc'd
to you, if so please ignore.

Dear Mary,

Well, first of all everyone knows you can't build a house out of straw bale,
and that only primitive cultures build round buildings, but having said
that, I sort of did both.

I was seduced by the RP's (rectangular people)  to build a rectangular
building, but part of me wanted to join the ranks of the CP's (circular
people)  so I waffled, and did both in order to please everyone. Anyway, I
have a normal rectangular building, as done by NP's (normal people) and I
placed a curved wall on the front of it, thus including myself with the AP's
(abnormal people).

It seemed to work reasonably well, and I'd certainly not try to discourage
you, but there are a few considerations to...consider. First of all, we need
to be reminded that, as the RP's and NP's will tell you, while bales are
easily curved(in fact, usually easier than straight bales) other building
materials are not. Unless you're one of the AP's, you will likely encounter,
wood, soffit, fascia, window glass, doors, wood...oh, and wood.

All of these are designed by RP's and NP's to be used by RP's and NP's, in
fact if wood, for example, comes out anything but straight, they send the RP
police out to the mill, give the offending inspector an AP sticker for his
hard hat, and make him stand in the corner of the rectangular building.

The long and the short of this is that unless you are the type with a
considerable amount of experience (an NP) in making that which is not round,
into a round thing, you add a lot of head scratching and thinking.(And
believe me, there's nothing to bring a bale project to a grinding halt like
thinking) You can end up adding a lot of time to your project.

If you are an AP like me, and do it yourself, you just put in more time,
head scratching and swearing. if you are having RP's and NP's do the work
you will add huge amounts to the cost.

You will likely need to make a rounded concrete form, have windows and doors
that aren't too big, so they can make the curve, build the wagon wheel roof
system, and have it strong enough to hold the added weight of a living roof.
If you have a wood top plate and bottom plate, they will likely have to be
of plywood and glued together, instead of the standard techniques. If you
are using any plywood, soffit, fascia or eaves trough, it can get tricky
enough that your head may explode. Then you have to grow a new head and that
slows you down even more than thinking.

I could include specific details on how to do these things, but then I run
the real danger of being actually helpful. Also you would fall asleep in the
middle of it and your skull would hit the space bar for an hour, whereapon
you'd wake to an empty screen and hit delete, not realizing the wealth of
information you had just axed.

Ultimately, go for it. My motto when building this white elephant was:
"Build it once, live in it forever" so I advocate taking the extra time to
do what it is you really want to live in, instead of what is easiest to

If, and when, you go ahead with this CP way of thinking, and if you have
troubles, you can e-mail me and I'll give you specifics on how I addressed
these rounded issues. Then at the end of it you can write a book, call it:
"How I built a round straw bale house in ten years, with no money down, and
how you can do it too as long as you don't take advice from those windbags
on the straw bale list." You'll sell millions.


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