Sunday, September 07, 2008

Documenting Strawbale Addition - 3

Here is a series of photos to catch up on where things are at with our strawbale construction. We are building a small addition to our existing 100 year old brick home. The strawbale section will consist of a living room and bedroom for us to live in, while the rest of the house remains our bed & breakfast space. We are basically creating our "one room cabin" that we have always dreamed of building (and of course we may still build another cabin someday if we decide to go rural). The space will include many of the features we have loved over years of looking at cabins, cottages and eco-homes, and has been a lot of fun to design. Even though it's a small space, Greg has spent hours pouring over books and drawing and re-drawing sketches of what might be possible, then talking this over with our architect and engineers. Now the end result is that this includes:

for heating -
the strawbale and plaster itself which creates incredible warmth, insulative value and an earthy feel, radiant floor heating, passive solar gain, and a wood stove;

for aesthetic -
green "living roof" on board & baton section, 15 foot ceiling for one length of strawbale section, a deep window seat (built on the thick strawbale wall), large windows over looking our pond/garden, door from bedroom opening into garden, board & baton detail on the wood framed section, sleeping loft, earthen floor and natural paints/plastering on inside.

We have had some set backs due to the vast amount of heavy rain this summer, foundation problems which resulted in a much larger excavation than planned, as well as delays with our permit. Last Friday (Aug 29) we finally officially received our complete permit after negotiating for almost 5 months! We have had a "half permit" for the past month or so, which allowed us to build the foundation but not raise any walls or strawbales yet. We did have other work to do, including preparing the new board & baton back room which will attach from brick house to strawbale (not to mention tending the garden, and spending time with new baby Maya!) The board & baton section is featured in the photo above and will house our laundry area and new full bathroom (with reclaimed clawfoot tub donated by Liz, and marble sink donated by Alfred)!

Part of our design principle includes limiting the amount of concrete that is used as this is so energy-intensive to produce. We used Durisol blocks (made of a composite wood fibre and concrete) as our foundation blocks. It comes to about the same price as using concrete but many more "green" builders are using this material. The blocks are made locally, near Stratford, and we picked them up ourselves with a rental truck rather than having the pay the shipping.

Photos here include the new board & baton back room, foundation and raising of first walls. We hope to start strawbale in the next two weeks, and plastering by the end of the month if possible.

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