[Strawbale] Brilliance is subjective

Catherine Wanek blackrange at zianet...
Fri Jun 1 03:16:48 CEST 2007

RE recent discussion about strawbale book resources  --  Small 
Strawbale, and the Building with Awareness DVD and Guidebook (BWA).

I am a fan of both of these resources.  While I agree with Rob Tom 
that there are improvements that could be make in the BWA building, I 
personally feel that this DVD is the best how-to video I have seen on 
strawbale -(including my own, and some broadcast TV programs).  And 
the accompanying Guidebook shows in step-by-step detail many aspects 
of construction I have not seen anywhere else.  The last chapter of 
the Guidebook in fact does mention several things that the 
owner/builder/filmmaker Ted Owens would do differently.

To be fair, Ted was building to New Mexico code, which was written in 
the mid 1990's -- and the worldwide knowledge of SB has advanced much 
since then.  But the code has not.  Thus Ted had to use rebar pins, 
wire mesh, etc., which many experienced straw-bale builders now would 
choose to avoid.  Therein (I believe) lie Rob Tom's criticisms.

But Ted did build a small house that incorporates strawbale exterior 
walls, an adobe interior wall, earth plasters, clay  paints, 
cellulose ceiling insulation, a rubble trench foundation, radiant 
floor heat, salvaged oak flooring, double-pane low-e windows, 
900-watt photovoltaic solar panels, rainwater catchment and cistern 
storage, and a greywater system.  His 830 square-foot hybrid home is 
powered by the sun and collects and stores its own water supply.

Small Strawbale, by Athena and Bill Steen & Wayne Bingham shows many 
inspiring examples of completed small strawbale homes, with some, but 
not a lot of "how-to" information.  The Steens work in a region 
(southern Arizona) that has little or no building code 
requirements.  Thus they can experiment, and have come up with some 
excellent ideas, which bear repeating.

Of course, there are many ways to build, and it is smart to research 
many ways before deciding on one path, with details appropriate to 
your climate.  Most contractors and owner-builders will face 
construction codes, and will not be allowed to build in the same way 
that the Steens do in Arizona.  Most Europeans will probably also 
choose a different approach than Ted Owens, who is also building in a 
dry climate in the US Southwest.  Rob Tom, a Canadian engineer, would 
clearly do things differently.

Still I think that there is much inspiration and value in Ted's 
step-by-step how-to DVD and Guidebook.  And the price is a bargain - 
just $42 (U.S.) for both the 5 hr DVD and 152 page Guidebook (with 
over 300 color photos).  The package is also distributed by New 
Society Publishers.

Catherine Wanek
Black Range Films

At 03:56 PM 5/16/2007, you wrote:
>On Wed, 16 May 2007 15:56:06 -0400, Iskon <aunkovic at inet...> wrote:
>>Regarding that book "Small Strawbale" it is a really good book
>>But I advise you to take a look at a small guide book "Building with
>>awareness",which is absolutely brilliant, full of tehnicalials,
>>practical guides... a DVD is included
>I've only seen the "Building With Awareness" DVD and I've have to say that
>while it is nice to look at, many of the techniques and details espoused
>therein exhibit a great deal of un-awareness as to how to make a good
>building, never mind a Green building.
>In short, many of the ideas *seem* to be good ones on paper but when those
>ideas confronted the Real World at the building site, too often they ended
>up being unsatisfactory and in most instances, it could be chalked up to
>inexperience or ignorance.
>Nothing wrong with either of those of course, but to suggest that BWA is a
>guide to building well is simmply erronious. What it really should have
>been called is :
>     "This is how I made my first building and some of the things that I
>learned not to do the next time."
>=== * ===
>Rob Tom
>Kanata, Ontario, Canada
>< A r c h i L o g i c  at   C h a f f Y a h o o  dot  C a  >
>(winnow the chaff from my edress in your reply)
>    European strawbale building discussion list
>Send all messages to:
>Strawbale at amper....muni.cz
>Archives, subscription options, etc:
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