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"Straw bale" construction

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Dave Smith

Thread Starter
Senior Member
Joined
Jan 14, 2002
Professional Status
Certified Residential Appraiser
State
Wisconsin
Hay, all you people out there in "Appraiserland", are any of you familiar with a construction technique incorporating straw bales into the walls of a house instead of using the Pink Panther for insulation?

One of my LO's just called and said he had the opportunity to loan on a house under construction that is using straw bales as insulation, incorporated into a pole building. The bales are then plastered with a lime mix of some kind, both inside and out.

He asked me what it made me think of and I replied "The Big Bad Wolf." He told me it had made him think immediately of "The Three Little Pigs." Same wave lengths!!!

Any help, or wise acre comments you can provide will be greatly appreciated.

:?:
 

Mountain Man

Elite Member
Joined
Jan 15, 2002
Professional Status
Certified General Appraiser
State
Georgia
8O I hope they can fireproof it real good. Just imagine an electrical short in the wall, lighting strike, etc....POOF.

That also reminds me of the thatch roofs that are in vouge for the insanely rich in my area and Hot-lanta. Don't get that B-B-Q grill going too hot!

Another thought, straw is in the Emergency Response Guidebook under hazardous material number 1327. When transported or stored in large quantities, it is a hazardous material. :lol:
 

Richard Carlsen

Elite Member
Joined
Jan 15, 2002
Professional Status
Licensed Appraiser
State
Michigan
I'd like to see the building permit first. Then maybe I'd take on that assignment. But only if it is on an hourly basis. That could bust you P&L statement for the quarter.
 

Farm Gal

Elite Member
Joined
Jan 14, 2002
Professional Status
Licensed Appraiser
State
Nebraska
Dave:

This type of construction can be if properly constructed, a real energy efficient residence with no adverse reaction from most buyers in most markets (your market conditions can vary). As to structural soundness it is entirely dependant on the engineering: I would REQUIRE an engineers stamp on this one. There are several different methods and depending on wind and snow loads the necessary framing may vary considerably.

Visible external differences are non-existant, unlike many other forms of non-traditional construction, this place when completed will look like a house! The internal differences are minimal IF the finish folks and archetectural 'director' knows what they are doing, the deeper windows become window seats and features, doorways become statements etc.

Have fun, I had a blast learning about the form and seriously considered building one for myself! an I suspect you may know more about this than you are letting on :)

Regards, Lee Ann
 

Jo Ann Meyer Stratton

Elite Member
Joined
Jan 16, 2002
Professional Status
Certified Residential Appraiser
State
Arizona
I am just finishing up a report on a home constructed of straw bales. Third structure in the county to be constructed of straw bales. I did a search at yahoo.com for straw bale construction and found several sites. By the way, there are structures over 100 years old still standing and still in use in the sand hills of Nebraska originally constructed of straw bales (where it rains frequently and has high humidity). Before insulation was invented, homes in the midwest had straw packed inside the exterio walls for insulation. The first home here in my county was built about 8 years ago, has 1,000 square feet, two bedroom, one bath, no heating system, evaporative cooler for cooling system. Their total utility bill is $40 per month. Don't have the cooler on during the day while every one is gone, even when it is 110 degrees outside, turn it on when they get home and the house is completely cool in five minutes. Occasionally turn an electric space heater on for a few minutes in the winter. My subject is not complete, lacks a heating and cooling system, flooring in the living room and bedrooms, and lacks counter tops; so they haven't had a utility bill yet. Of course there are not any sales, so I am using homes constructed of other energy efficency materials like adobe, rasta/eterna block, etc. The web sites I found were:

http://www.eren.doe.gov/buildings/document.../strawbale.html
http://www.azstarnet.com/~dcat/QandA.htm
http://www.azstarnet.com~dcat/res2.htm
http://www.azstarnet.com/~dcat/appraise.htm
http://www.azstarnet.com/~dcat/codes.htm
be sure and check out: http://www.azstarnet.com/~dcat/slides.htm
http://www.strawhomes.com
http://[email protected]

My subject has concrete slab floor, telephone cross arm beams for the post and beam construction to support the roof structure, stuccoed exterior, drywall and wood paneled interior, insulated metal roof. The exterior walls are 2' thick, so their window wells and doorways are 1 1/2" deep.

I measured the exterior walls, the depth of the door ways and then on my sketch show two walls--the outer dimension and used the depth of the doorways to the exterior of the door jamb to place the interior wall, which I used to calculate the livable area. That method allow about 6" for wall depth that is included in the livable area. I have described in my addendum my method of calculating livable area and also that the adjustment per square foot to the comparables is slightly lower than typical due to the differances in calculating square footage for the subject and comparables. Something similar to my adjustments for manufactured housing, since typically the only thing I have to base the manufactured home comparables on includes the tongue and my subject does not include the tongue.

By the way several of the articles on the internet describe the home as being very safe regarding fires. If you ever watched a hay bale burn, you would understand why. A stack of hay bales can smolder for days and weeks before it actually burns. They can take as long or longer to burn than a heap of old tires.

So have fun! I did because it was a challenge and I do enjoy challenges.
 

Dee Dee

Elite Member
Joined
Jan 16, 2002
Professional Status
Certified Residential Appraiser
State
Colorado
About 7 years ago I did some extensive research on strawbale homes, and by the time I was finished I was pretty well convinced that if constructed properly they are every bit as habitable as homes which are stick built, and in many ways more energy efficient and fire resistant.
They are also considerably less expensive to build than with traditional materials, and maintenance costs tend to be cheaper in the long run.

Most are post and beam construction and built on a concrete slab with radiant hot water heat in the flooring. Considering the walls are as thick as a strawbale, they are extremely energy efficient. Because the exterior is a thick stucco or similar type of material, they'll hold up as well as brick homes in a wildfire.

I was all set to look in to building one until I checked on building permits with the county where my land was located. The building dept. had never seen a strawbale home (they were skeptical, to say the least), nor could I find an architect/engineer who had experience enough with that type of construction to get the paperwork together to submit to the powers-that-be. I threw in the towell and opted for a stick-built, simply because I didn't have the time or patience to deal with the county.

Since then there have been several strawbale homes going up around the area, so I'm revving up to start research again.

Keep in touch on your progress!
 

Judy Whitehead (Florida)

Senior Member
Joined
Jan 20, 2002
Professional Status
Certified Residential Appraiser
State
Florida
I guess my first question would be.......does it cost any different that conventionally constructed homes. My second would be.....does it meet the building codes of the area. My third (assuming the answers to the first two were "OK") would be, is anyone willing to pay a different price for this residence than a conventionally constructed one....in other words, does it matter to the average consumer/house buyer?....and is there any way to "prove" that in order to comment on it in your report?
 
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