The Straw Bale House Plans Blog
Home of Organicforms Design, located in Southern Oregon specializing in Straw Bale House Design and Plans. We offer global straw bale design and consultation services to help you achieve your straw bale dreams!
Thursday, January 03, 2008
Tuesday, October 17, 2006
Post and Beam - Embed Posts in the Bales or Not?
I have been recieving quite a few emails lately about the relationship between the straw bales and the posts in a post and beam or timber framed design.
If doing a timber frame it is sometimes appealing to expose the posts on the inside in order to show the structure of the building. The bales in this case are just insulation and wall material. This could save time because you will not have to notch around the posts, you just stack them, prep them for plaster, and then plaster. If you choose this route be aware that since your bales will not be in the same plane as the structure you will still need to design a system that keeps them elevated above the grade and interior floor system.
I usually embed the posts inside the exterior face of the straw bales. My main reason for this is to simplify the foundation design and finsh of the the wall. Having the posts embedded gives you an unobstructed exterior and interior when plastering as opposed to having to work around the posts. Also if there are temperature changes, the posts, assuming that they are wood, will expand and contract, causing potential problems at the joint where it meets the plaster skin.
Hope this helps!
Thursday, September 14, 2006
Many of the potential clients that I work with are very interested in the idea of straw bale. It is incredibly energy efficient, warm and beautiful to experience, and reletively easy and fun to build. And with a good design in mild climates, it is reletively maintanence free. Although, many people who don't live in mild climates are very interested in the value and uniquness of straw bale as well. I have had many folks from Ohio, Oklahoma, and North Carolina to Central America and Mexico wanting me to design a straw bale home for them. All of these climates have various degrees of humidity. It is true humidity and straw bales do not exactly go hand in hand. In fact, in a continual humid environment the bales have a very good chance of rotting and possibly producing mold. The actual figure for a bale to rot is about 17-20% moisture for an extended period of time. Typically, bales when stored properly by a supplyer or farmer come in at around 8% moisture. So with that, bales can handle quite a bit of moisture. I would guess more than most people would expect.
Moisure inside the house results from taking hot showers and baths, boiling water in the kitchen, washing dishes, exercising, ect. I think it is safe to say that all people do these things in homes all over the world. Sometimes these activities will cause the windows to fog up, or after extended periods produce molds. So why is it that some people have this problem and others don't? The answer is ventilation. Ventilation is the key to handling moisture inside the house. The best kind of ventilation is natural ventilation. With good design, it is possible to situate windows and doors in places that take advantage of prevailing winds and currents to literally flush air in and out of your house. Now this is all and good in climates and months when leaving windows open is an option. In very cold environments it would not be very practical to leave windows open to ventilate the house. There are several ways to remedy this problem. First is a dehumidifier. A dehumidifier is simply an air conditioner that has both hot and cold coils in the same box. A fan draws the room's air over the cold coil of the air conditioner to condense the moisture (which normally drips into a bucket). The dry air then passes through the hot coil to heat it back up to its original temperature. This is a good way to keep the inside of your home free of moisture. You can find dehumidifiers at any home store. Another option is a air exchange system. Air Exchange Systems are kind of like a dehumidifier but they do much more. Essentially they bring air from the outside (cold or hot) and replace it with air from the inside (cold or hot). In cases where the air is humid inside, it pulls the air out of the house and replaces it with air that has been dehumidified from the outside. So not only does it dehumidify the interior air but it replaces stale air with fresh air. There are many systems out there, although I specify The LifeBreath System by Nutech Brands Inc.
That's it for Part 1. I hope this helped in some way. In Part 2 I will talk about moisture from the outside and things that can be done, or not done, to work with straw bale design and construction. Thank You!
Monday, September 11, 2006
The New Web Site is UP!
After months of working on the new web site for www.OrganicformsDesign.com, it is finally up! I launched it 2 weeks ago, and then went on a cross country drive to just get away and decompress. I am back now and will be devoting more time to this BLOG. New projects have surfaced for Organicforms Design and I will be blogging the progress of these new ones as well as the progress of the old and ongoing.
A New Organicforms Design
Organicforms Design is restructuring it seems as each day passes. After three years of strict focus on straw bale design and construction, I am branching into more systems of sustainable and green design. I will still be largely focusing and promoting straw bale, yet I have found that many potential clients are very interested in straw bale yet their climate presents a potential problem. More often than not it is humidity. Now there are many ways to remedy the potential problems posed by humidity. I will delve into those in this blog. So stay tuned. I will soon post some information on how to subscribe to my RSS feeds.
Thursday, July 20, 2006
Keeping the Spirit Alive in Design
Yesterday I was talking to a potential client who lives in the desert and we got to talking about the spirit that dwells in and around the landscape of a lot or property. It is that resounding voice that speaks to me as I prepare to design a house and unfortunately it's a very important part of the design process that more often than not is disregarded by most designers and architects. The site contains all of the secrets. It has been a while since I have thought about this. Spending hours each day in my office, mostly in front of my computer, can really make a guy forget about why I began on this path of eco-home designer. Really, it was my spirit that guided me to make those first steps. Running a business is not my forte and for the past several years the logistics involved in it have taken a toll on my spirit, BUT it is this awareness that will keep me on track.
I was also talking to a friend of mine who is still in architecture school and I was taken by his enthusiasm around design and construction methods. It was a raw idealism that bubbled up out of his soul because anything is possible and somebody has to do it. That is the spirit that I am refering to - Pure and unadulterated! If there is one thing I learned from reading and seeing Frank Lloyd Wrights works, it is that if something needs to get done, like a really amazing design or efficent building method, it will get done so why not strive to do it yourself. It is this kind of thinking that made Falling Water a reality.
Keep the Spirit Alive!
Bye for Now
Friday, July 14, 2006
Welcome to The Straw Bale House Plans Blog - Home of Organicforms Design
I would like to welcome you to my new blog, "The Straw Bale House Plans Blog" My name is Chris Keefe, a Southern Oregon home designer specializing in straw bale design. I will be documenting to you all of the happenings in the day of a straw bale designer and possibly some other interesting developments that unfold in my life. I welcome your comments, suggestions, praises. Welcome!