on January 26, 2001
I have been designing and building straw houses for a decade now, as well as teaching others how to do it. Across that time there have been a small handful of books on straw construction, each a great contribution in its time. But now we have what I feel is the book we have been waiting for: solid information in a well written format.
The authors are experienced builders with a common sense, grounded approach. Where most of the earlier books were coming out of the desert South West, this book specifically looks at the detailing needed in the colder and wetter parts of the world.
A wonderful contribution to the growing field of natural building. I recommend this book highly.
on March 11, 2002
This book now rockets into the forefront as the most complete straw bale book. It seems pretty much to be all here: Interested in mud floors - got it; Interested in earth plaster - It's here too. All the main building subjects are covered, often exhaustively. Once one strays from the 2x4 and block foundation, into alternative building, there are by definition a lot of options. There isn't a standard set of details yet for bales, which partially accounts for the length of the book.
The authors come from the enviro alternatives camp, but they aren't romantic about it. Expect some well deserved skepticism about the virtues of Nebraska style load-bearing walls in cold climates. On the other hand they leave the decision up to you. After spending 12 pages telling you why you might not want to build load bearing walls, they spend 22 more pages telling you how to do it (not to mention the countless other pages devoted to related topics).
This book covers the subject of framed straw bale walls more completely than any other thus far. This is an important addition to the literature. While the authors are driven in this direction by the realities of snow loads that are not experienced by all, those who live in wet climates, or wish to build multi-story houses will find much of use here also.
on January 1, 2001
As someone who's been considering building straw bale in the Northeast for over a year now, I've never been been able to find a resource that deals in detail with the special considerations of construction in cold and wet climates.
Well, it's finally here. This book is as complete in its considerations, with a lot of updated details, as the original The Straw Bale Home by Athena and Bill Steen.
However, be forwarned, the authors admit that while successful buildings have been built (the oldest is the Hay House in CT - 25 years), there are risks and no one method is foolproof.
They talk about the specific construction detailing techniques required to avoid moisture problems and offer a number of case studies that point out both successes and pitfalls.
This book is a must read for anyone considering such a undertaking - it has made me think carefully about my intentions.
on January 15, 2001
This book goes beyond SERIOUS straw bale- I found it downright witty at times. The many aspects of designing a straw bale house are presented candidly in an easy to read format, even for the novice balehead. We know the look and feel of a straw bale home is unparelleled, but this book takes a closer look at the challenges and decisions the builders had to make in the designing of their houses and buildings. I found this book insightful and informative. The more I read, the more excited I became to build my own straw bale house. I'm sure this book will elicit the same excitement about straw bales in you as it did in me and my husband.
on December 6, 2001
This book introduced me to the techniques of straw bale building, and it was very informative and useful to me as a beginner. The authors' dedication shows through in every page. The book explores many variations on the straw bale theme, with honest evaluations of the pros and cons of each.
I don't have any training in home building, so I would definitely study more of the basic principles before buying my bales. The technical details didn't get too much in my way, and they were generally well explained.
on March 2, 2001
I am a construction manager (trained as an architect) working in more conventional styles of construction but I am itching to get more involved with alternative building systems. Straw bale has caught my attention and imagination for many years but the lack of information on damp climate straw bale construction has made me very hesitant to do more than read about it. This is a witty, candid look at the issues that must be considered if building with bales in a damp climate. My only complaint is that I would have liked to see more illustrations of building details- many concepts described could have been made clearer with more illustrations and many other concepts that I wanted to see clearly addressed were only skimmed over (such as what to do where the bale wall meets the roof and what are the recommended methods of firestopping). Overall, it is a very valuable resource but there is room for more information in a second edition!