Monday, June 30, 2008

Documenting Strawbale Addition - 1

We mentioned earlier in this blog that we are planning to build a small strawbale addition to the back and side of our existing house this summer. We are interested in building this addition to:

a) learn more about this sustainable energy-efficient building technique
b) use low impact, mainly locally sourced and reclaimed materials where possible
c) build a healthy space to live in, using natural plasters, paints and finishes on both exterior and interior of the building
d) offer a learning opportunity for the community, and plan to host workbees and involve volunteers every step of the way where possible
e) this is the second strawbale home to be built in our city, so it's also an opportunity to push the building envelope a little and encourage our local building department to become familiar with strawbale and other alternative building materials
f) allow us to continue our eco bed & breakfast business, while our own family grows (our new baby is coming in a few weeks!). One portion of the back addition will include a rooftop patio/garden which our B&B guests will have access to.

So, with all these hopes and dreams in mind we've been planning our addition for more than a year, and now are finally nearing the approval stage (which has taken much much longer than we anticipated). We plan to document the building process here on this blog, and hope others can be inspired or learn from our experience. In future we'll add more technical detail to our website, but this will largely be photos and a few lines of notes as time allows.

At this point, we've gotten a demolition permit and taken down the old summer kitchen (circa 1940s?) which was attached to the back of our exisiting 100-year old brick house. This area will become the transition space from brick to strawbale, and will house a new full bathroom plus mainfloor laundry area, with access through a breezeway to both the back garden and front door.

Materials that have been sourced so far:

- 175 clean strawbales from a local Mennonite farm
- strawbale mesh which was ordered through Ontario Strawbale Building Coalition (
- foundation blocks (Durisol product) formed using portion wood fibre mix to reduce concrete
- clay for earthen plaster sourced from area near Elora/Conestogo
- reclaimed styrofoam insulation from local building site to be used for foundation
- reclaimed marble sink and clawfoot bathtub (both in great shape!) for the new bathroom
- reclaimed doors from Habitat for Humanity Re-Store
- reclaimed energy efficient windows from local kijiji site

- Whiting Design (Waterloo - has worked with variety of green projects)
- Burnside (Guelph - have worked with a variety of strawbale projects in the area)
- Ben Polley (Hillsburg - from Home Alive!)

Helpful Books:
- Building Green (Clark Snell & Tim Callahan)
- Building with Cob (Adam Weismann & Katy Bryce)
- Strawbale Building (Chris Magwood & Peter Mack)
- More Strawbale Building (Chris Magwood, Peter Mack & Tina Therrien)
- Serious Strawbale (Paul Lacinski & Michel Bergeron)
- Small Strawbale (Bill & Athena Steen)
- The Beauty of Strawbale Homes (Bill & Athena Steen)

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