ProVillage


ECO-BUILDING – PART 12 – Electrics in a Straw Bale House

When having electrics in a straw bale home, one will need to know how to install it, as it might might be so that electricians will not necessarily have earlier experience with straw bale structures.

All of the wiring is to be hidden behind the plastered wall, or made to run in required places behind a special panel, so it is better to get it done right the first time. The panel solution also makes it easier to fix faulty wiring, if the need arises.

The wiring can also be placed to run in a tube which makes the installation easier.
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The idea in a nutshell

village layout sample

A description of the project in a nutshell can be downloaded from the following address:
https://provillage.files.wordpress.com/2010/01/concept-description-eng.pdf
The material has also been presented to some local decision-makers, and is pending for a decision.
We are naturally also interested in having cooperation with people and instances interested in similar ventures and ideas.
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Projektin kuvaus pähkinäkuoressa löytyy allaolevasta linkistä:
https://provillage.files.wordpress.com/2010/01/konseptin-kuvaus-20100112.pdf
Materiaali on myös lähetetty joillekin kunnallisille päättäjille, odotellessamme päätöksiä.
Olemme luonnollisesti myös kiinnostuneita yhteistyöstä eri ihmisten ja osapuolten kanssa, jotka ovat kiinnostuneita samanlaisista hankkeista ja ideoista.

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ECO-BUILDING – PART 11 – Preparations for Plastering a Straw Bale House

A job well planned and prepared is a job half done. A quality plaster job starts before the plaster is brought to the site. The condition of the substrate, or the base surface to be worked with, is very important – as the plaster can only be as strong as the substrate it is attached to. Straw generally makes a great substrate for a plaster, as so does a mesh – if any mesh is to be used.

The transition points of bale to wood must also be detailed, because they have their own rate of expansion. Because these two materials expand and contract at a varying rate, many cracks will appear if the transition points are not properly detailed with a plaster lath.
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plaster and wood transition points

One method is to cover all wood with roofing felt to isolate the wood from the plaster. One can also use a plaster lath to give the plaster something to hang on to. The plaster should always have some surface to hang onto, and hang on its own without any structural support. This is even more important around doors and windows as well as at the intersections with the ceiling.

burlapOn exterior surfaces, all wood needs to be covered as described above and any large gaps need to be filled.
Materials used for doing the filling are cob, light straw clay, burlap, spray foam (PU-foam) or other suitable materials.

When the plaster is to be applied, the walls should be tight and solid. All wooden parts should be covered and the mesh should be attached firmly to the wood structures and/or sewn through the straw bale walls.

All holes and gaps should be filled firmly so that no deflation occurs. It is also good to keep the site clean of straw and other debris, so one can walk safely around the structure.

The floors should also be covered so that dropped plaster will not have the possibility to mar it.

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ECO-BUILDING – PART 10 – Working the Bales into Shape (continued…)

As an addition to the previous post: The nooks and niches in the walls can be made into various forms and for various purposes.

Nooks and niches are possibilities to remember, when you build straw bale houses

In this case too, only the imagination sets the limit.

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ECO-BUILDING – PART 10 – Working the Bales into Shape

Cats loves to live in straw bale houses with smooth and beautifully curved windows and elements

A straw bale house is commonly equipped with soft curves. The advantage of having softer curves around the windows is that they allow more direct light to filter into the rooms while also acting as reflectors for indirect light. These curves are easy to make and have an additional effect on the aesthetics of the house.

Mesh

When a mesh is used for the engineering of a building, the creation of curves becomes quite easy. The mesh provides a form for the straw. The desired shape is created when the loose straw is placed behind the mesh, which is then nailed to the framing. For some shapes, such as curve around a window or door, additional plaster may be needed.

When using a metal mesh however, there is always the risk of creating a Faraday’s cage.

Niches and nooks

The characteristic of the walls being relatively thick makes it possible to create niches and/or nooks, if one desires. The spaces can be carved into the walls after the bales of straw have been stacked. They act as a decorative addition to on the walls, and can also be used to highlight an item in your home. These nooks can also be made into an ideal feature if a light fixture is attached to them.

These are a number of different options available as for the mesh – welded wire mesh, plastic mesh, chicken wire. It is worthwhile to experiment with various methods regarding to various usages.

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ECO-BUILDING – PART 9 – Custom bales

A lot of custom trimmed bales are required in any straw bale home. The areas with windows serve as good examples. The task is to make a rectangular bale to fit. During the process one needs to know how to cut and retie bales, and how to notch and shape them.

Re-tying

The tip of a baling needleCutting the bales is not as easy as one would think. A bale of straw cannot be worked on as one would work wood. The bales have a tendency of breaking apart if not worked on in the correct manner. When working with bales one has to mark the bale where one wants a cut to be made and then proceed cutting the bale while incorporating a tool called a baling needle to retie the bale in parts where one will not be cutting the bale.

With a good baling needle you can retie a bale and create two custom bales from one in a short amount of time. The most important knot to know here is the Miller’s knot.

Notching and shaping

Notching and shaping require the use of a chainsaw and a can of spray paint to make the markings of where you need to cut. Notches might be needed to fit the posts and other framing components. A time-saving method is to slightly over-cut the needed part for the posts and then stuff the space with straw if needed. Be careful not to cut the string of the bales while notching. Some notches can be more intricate than others.

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ECO-BUILDING – PART 7: THE BEST BALES FOR THE JOB

Once you have gathered some knowledge of the land and a design which you have found appropriate, the origin of the bales is to be found out.

It would be helpful to know exactly how big the bales are, and which kind you are going to supplied with – and at least their approximate dimensions. This is crucial during the design and engineering of the framing.
There are many farmers with available bales, so there is also a lot to choose from. Do meticulous research on the quality aspects of the bales. The difference in price does not vary that much, and this little extra effort is worth its while it in the end.

Visual inspection

strawbalesThe colour of the bales tell a lot of the history of the bales: If they have seen weather or not? Have they been stored properly? If there is a lot of white powder coming from the bales when they are agitated, it can be considered as interior mold. This can also be judged by smell; in the case of mold, the smell is unmistakably musty.
If the the visual inspection reveals that the bales damaged by water, moldy or otherwise not in good condition, it is advisable not to use the bales in the construction because then the whole construction would be placed into jeopardy.

Bale density

One important factor when choosing the bales is the density of the bales. Most building codes which recognize straw bale construction commonly require a specific density for the bales.
Calculating the density in some regions is usually calculated by the dry density of pounds per cubic foot (1.10 kN/m³).
It is essential to know the density of the bales in order to guarantee the building inspector of the quality of the bales.
A field test can be conducted in order to make sure of the density of the bales.

Moisture content

moistureThis might be most important factor when choosing bales. If the moisture content reaches over 20% , this level is enough to give a habitat for mold and decay. It is difficult to reverse the process of mold and the process produces two things the bales need to rot: moisture and warmth.
When measuring the moisture of the bales, keep in mind that the bales take and lose moisture in relation to the ambient moisture. When reading the moisture content, the reading should come from the bales and not the atmosphere.
It is not recommended to measure the moisture content in the early morning, when the dew may affect the reading.

straw baleQuestions such as what science do the local codes require in making the decision also have to be answered. And furthermore, it is much more desirable to have the straw bales from the local area for the building to have a lower impact towards the environment.

After you have found a suitable supplier concerning the bales you can move on to the next phase of designing and construction.





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