May 27, 2013

Straw Bale Workshop

Seven Days of Learning By Doing

Teresa and I are mostly recovered from a seven day straw bale building workshop in Wheeling WV lead by Andrew Morrison of We learned so much, saw a few mistakes, saw how to correct some design issues, worked our butts off, had a ton of laughs, and made some great friends.

Wheeling Straw Bale Workshop Participants

The House that Jack (and Nancie) Built

The house that we helped build is the long-time dream of Jack and Nancie. It’s a post-and-beam that was nearly fully framed (except for a few windows and a door) when we showed up. We built bale walls on the main floor (about 1000 sq ft), tamped them straight, weedwackered them even straighter, ran rough electric, roof-felted all the wood that would come into contact with plaster, added lathe to wood where more than 4″ was exposed, put up mesh on both sides of the bales, tied them together, installed windows, and put a scratch-coat of plaster on one wall, and ate a ton of great food prepared by Jack and Nancie’s kids and friends.

The things that we learned will help us greatly with our own build and they’ve helped to put Teresa more at ease with all work we’ve got to do. I’ll have an update soon on our plans as well as some photos of the land and news about when we might be able to get started.

Participate in a Workshop

If you’re planning to build a straw bale home I highly recommend taking a professional workshop. They are not cheap and they’re not easy but the information you’ll come away with is incredible. Andrew has a long history in construction and building trades and he really knows his stuff.

I know a lot of folks that read this are in or around Pittsburgh and the good news is that Andrew will be swinging back near here for a workshop in Sept. He’ll be up in Meadville leading a workshop from the 9th to the 15th. There are spots open so register here:

To see a video of the house we helped build visit this link:

May 27, 2013 | W.D.Orkoskey
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alternative building techniques
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