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Serious Straw Bale: A Home Construction Guide for All Climates (Real Goods Solar Living Book) Paperback – December 24, 2000

4.7 out of 5 stars 39 customer reviews

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  • Serious Straw Bale: A Home Construction Guide for All Climates (Real Goods Solar Living Book)
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Lacinski and Bergeron are strikingly thorough and forthright in presenting what it takes to make straw bale work in the toughest of climates."--Peter Yost, Senior Editor, Environmental Building News

About the Author

Paul Lacinski is a partner in Green Space Collaborative, an environmental consulting firm offering integrated project management and innovative design services. He lives in Ashfield, Massachusetts.



Architect Michel Bergeron is a founding member of Quebec's legendary ecological design-build firm, Archibio. He is an author, designer, and builder. He lives in Montreal.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 371 pages
  • Publisher: Chelsea Green Publishing; 1st edition (December 24, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1890132640
  • ISBN-13: 978-1890132644
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 0.9 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #343,483 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I have been designing and building straw houses for a decade now, as well as teaching others how to do it. Across that time there have been a small handful of books on straw construction, each a great contribution in its time. But now we have what I feel is the book we have been waiting for: solid information in a well written format.
The authors are experienced builders with a common sense, grounded approach. Where most of the earlier books were coming out of the desert South West, this book specifically looks at the detailing needed in the colder and wetter parts of the world.
A wonderful contribution to the growing field of natural building. I recommend this book highly.
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By A Customer on March 11, 2002
Format: Paperback
This book now rockets into the forefront as the most complete straw bale book. It seems pretty much to be all here: Interested in mud floors - got it; Interested in earth plaster - It's here too. All the main building subjects are covered, often exhaustively. Once one strays from the 2x4 and block foundation, into alternative building, there are by definition a lot of options. There isn't a standard set of details yet for bales, which partially accounts for the length of the book.
The authors come from the enviro alternatives camp, but they aren't romantic about it. Expect some well deserved skepticism about the virtues of Nebraska style load-bearing walls in cold climates. On the other hand they leave the decision up to you. After spending 12 pages telling you why you might not want to build load bearing walls, they spend 22 more pages telling you how to do it (not to mention the countless other pages devoted to related topics).
This book covers the subject of framed straw bale walls more completely than any other thus far. This is an important addition to the literature. While the authors are driven in this direction by the realities of snow loads that are not experienced by all, those who live in wet climates, or wish to build multi-story houses will find much of use here also.
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Format: Paperback
I am a construction manager (trained as an architect) working in more conventional styles of construction but I am itching to get more involved with alternative building systems. Straw bale has caught my attention and imagination for many years but the lack of information on damp climate straw bale construction has made me very hesitant to do more than read about it. This is a witty, candid look at the issues that must be considered if building with bales in a damp climate. My only complaint is that I would have liked to see more illustrations of building details- many concepts described could have been made clearer with more illustrations and many other concepts that I wanted to see clearly addressed were only skimmed over (such as what to do where the bale wall meets the roof and what are the recommended methods of firestopping). Overall, it is a very valuable resource but there is room for more information in a second edition!
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Format: Paperback
As someone who's been considering building straw bale in the Northeast for over a year now, I've never been been able to find a resource that deals in detail with the special considerations of construction in cold and wet climates.
Well, it's finally here. This book is as complete in its considerations, with a lot of updated details, as the original The Straw Bale Home by Athena and Bill Steen.
However, be forwarned, the authors admit that while successful buildings have been built (the oldest is the Hay House in CT - 25 years), there are risks and no one method is foolproof.
They talk about the specific construction detailing techniques required to avoid moisture problems and offer a number of case studies that point out both successes and pitfalls.
This book is a must read for anyone considering such a undertaking - it has made me think carefully about my intentions.
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Format: Paperback
As the other reviews say, this is a great read for those interested in straw baling. I especially liked how the authors are balanced with their approach to straw bale: they tell you the good and the bad, and are conservative about what straw can do given its limited history. I feel much more confident knowing that they're not just trying to sell the idea, but are really attempting to spread their knowledge and experience on the subject.
I was a bit disappointed with lack of information on climates other than the cold and wet Northeast. (I'm hoping to eventually build in the hot dry San Joaquin Valley of California.) The subtitle seems to be written by an editor in an attempt to sell more copies. Unlike other construction books I've seen which weigh different weather needs across the country or the continent with descriptions and maps, this focuses on New England and Eastern Canada. This focus is fine, of course, but only if the book is initially presented as such.
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Format: Paperback
Lots of information on many aspects of straw bale building but appears to be more of a book for a trained builder. At 373 pages it can get very technical at times so while you will learn a lot about building this book will be too deep for the casual reader just curious about the possibility of building. A casual reader would like more diagrams than he or she will find here.
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