My Strawbale Workshop Building

If you are interested in building with straw to promote sustainability of the planet, this building is a poor example of sustainable practices. See web sites on load-bearing straw construction, earthen floors, rubble trench foundations and using recycled lumber. All those practices are much more sustainable.

These are pictures of my 1200 square foot workshop building as it is going up. It is a post and beam design which I designed. I used the services of an architect to keep me from doing anything stupid and to do the engineering calculations of what size posts and beams to use. His name is Robert Gay of Radius Associates and can be contacted by Email. He is very knowldegeable about strawbale, having designed quite a few strawbale structures.

I took over 1200 pictures of the construction, needless to say, I don't have room on my website to put anywhere near all of them, so I have picked a few that are spaced out along the construction. I did not put up many pictures of the standard construction part, mostly the strawbale part.

Inside of the building there is a main room of 631 square feet which is the workshop. There is a utility room with the boiler for domestic hot water and radiant floor heat. This boiler will service both the workshop and the house. This is one of the reasons to build the workshop first. Also, the workshop could have been "functional but funky" and it would have been OK. Not true for the house. Having all the utilities out in the workshop means that there is no noise or excess heat in the house. All water coming into both buildings comes in through the workshop and is treated, for now that is just carbon filtration to remove the high chlorine in our rural water. The utility room is about 100 square feet and also has a toilet.

The next room in the workshop is an unheated storage room of about 100 square feet. This is for foodstuffs that cannot afford to be frozen or baked. It also stores much of the overflow tools and materials that I use to make things with.

The last room is the brewery. It is also about 100 square feet, has a 4"x36" floor drain, piped in propane, 800 cfm exhaust fan and a huge laundry sink. It can also be used for canning and other "kitchen" type things that are too large to do in a household kitchen.

Click on the thumbnails to see larger pictures.

Radiant heat in slab

This is a picture of the radiant heat tubing in the slab before we poured the concrete.

Pad for workshop

This is a picture of the pad we carved out for the workshop. The dirt went onto the homesite to build up the pad there.

Roof on

This is a picture of the post and beam with the roof up. This is not too long before we started putting up bales.

Bale corners

This is a picture of a corner bale intersection detail. We put a large rebar staple between the bales and connect the bales to the post with expanded metal. The expanded metal is held into the bales with landscape staples.

Stiffy details

This is a picture of the stiffeneres we used at the top of the third and sixth courses of bales. These tied the bales together, tied the bales to the posts, and provided wood that divided the wall in thirds. This allowed us to staple stucco wire to the stiffeners.

Inside ready for stucco

This is a picture of the inside of the main workshop room just before blowing on the stucco.

Outside ready for stucco

This is a picture of the outside ready for stucco.

Stucco application

This is a picture of the stucco being blown on and troweled smooth to level it out. This is the scratch coat.

Inside with stucco on and paint

This is a picture of the inside after two coats of stucco and a coat of paint. It is ready for the christening party.

Outside stucco on

This is a picture of the outside with all three coats of stucco, scratch, brown and color. The rollup door has been installed, sewer and water are connected. During the next week we got the propane boiler going and the radiant floor heating and domestic hot water working.

Inside wiremold in

This is a picture of the inside after the wiremold was installed around the main workshop room and many of my tools were brought in.

Click here to see a directory of many images taken during the construction