Thursday, December 20, 2012

Happy Holidays!

The holidays are upon us and along with them comes cold, snowy weather.  The good news is that all the plastic that we put up around the outside of the house is working.  It keeps most of the wind and snow out and makes for a decent space in which to work so the work is continuing.  All be it more slowly.  It's still cold so afternoons are just about the only time comfortable enough to get out there and work.

We have started on phase 2 of the walls.  In order to continue stacking bales, boxes have to be built to go over the doors and windows.  That's what we are currently working on.

First we attached chicken wire from the bond beam to the soffits.  This will help hold the straw in place as a lot of it at this stage will be flakes. (This was subsequently covered with plastic. We found that the wind - and some snow - was being blown in and the sound of the wind through the chicken wire made it sound like a hurricane was blowing outside.  The plastic stopped that!)

This is one of the boxes ready for instillation.

Here it is installed over the bedroom window.

While we are doing that, our electrician, Samuel, has started running the wiring.

Pretty exciting!

This time last year all we had up was the large adobe wall.  It looked more like an adobe ruin than the beginning of a house.
It's looking more like a house now!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Straw Bale Walls - Phase 1 - Done

During the last week we have continued stacking bales and the first phase of the walls is done.  Bales are stacked up to the bond beam throughout the whole house and plastic has been stapled to the rest of the exposed outside walls.  We are ready for winter!

One of the things I wanted to incorporate into at least one wall was colored bottles.  I have been saving square olive oil bottles for a while.  They're a lovely dark green and I thought they would look cool in the straw bale wall next to the big adobe wall.
First I taped two bottles together with duct tape.

Then, to give them some rigidity I taped flashing around them.

They were then placed between two bales.
You can see their placement in the photo below. I'm not sure how much light will shine through as they are so dark, but I like the way they look and I think they will be lovely once the walls are plastered.

This is a panorama.  I'm standing in the NW corner of the living room.  Bedroom, kitchen, bath to left. Studio and office on the right.

Here's a view from the attic above the garage.


A few things need to happen next. First we need to construct boxes to go above all the windows and doors on which bales will rest.

Second we need to decide just how and where the internal walls and ceilings will go. Since the footings for the internal walls have not been dug (a winter project) we will lay them out so that we know where they are going. Once we make those decisions, we can start stuffing bales between the roof trusses and above the bond beam. We will leave the areas where there will be ceiling joists attached open. Once the internals walls are framed and up, we can then finish those areas.

The other thing that needs to be done is the wall between the house and garage needs bales all the way up as does the gable end.

In addition to establishing the internal walls and digging footings for them, we also must dig trenches for the plumbing. Tasks that can be done while the winter snows fly.

And - oh yes - the electrician is scheduled to start wiring the house next week!