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The Straw Bale House (A Real Goods Independent Living Book) Paperback – December 1, 1994


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The Straw Bale House (A Real Goods Independent Living Book) + Serious Straw Bale: A Home Construction Guide for All Climates (Real Goods Solar Living Book) + More Straw Bale Building: A Complete Guide to Designing and Building with Straw (Mother Earth News Wiser Living Series)
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Product Details

  • Series: A Real Goods Independent Living Book
  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Chelsea Green Publishing; 1 edition (December 1, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0930031717
  • ISBN-13: 978-0930031718
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 0.8 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #63,187 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Get a leg up on the first Little Pig with The Straw Bale House, your guide to inexpensive, durable, earth-friendly construction that will stand up to much more than the Big Bad Wolf. Authors Athena Swentzell Steen and Bill Steen founded the Canelo Project, which promotes innovative building; David Bainbridge is a California restoration ecologist; and David Eisenberg is an alternative-materials builder who pioneered straw bale wall testing. Between them, they have encyclopedic knowledge of their subject. The book is comprehensive, broadly covering why and how to build with straw and then focusing on the details, which are both intellectually and aesthetically delightful.

Beside being cheap, clean, and lightweight, straw also provides advantages like energy efficiency and resistance to seismic stresses. For the nervous Martha Stewart types, there are scads of black-and-white and color plates of strikingly beautiful interiors and exteriors from New Mexico to southern France. Both new and experienced builders will appreciate the clear, simple instructions and diagrams, as well as practical explanations for dealing with building codes and insurers. The Straw Bale House shows us advantages so numerous and dramatic that you'll wonder why we ever moved on to sticks and bricks. --Rob Lightner

Review

"Using plastered straw bales as building materials for a home may not sound stable or long-lasting, but these can be used for a variety of purposes from adjacent buildings to entire houses, can be used with relatively little experience, and have many attributes; from super-insulation to cheap construction. Applications are more useful for the Southwest region but ideas may transfer to other U. S. locales. The book's price tag seems high for a paperback, but this goes in great detail on a subject which is fairly understated in most construction or homeowner's guides."--Midwest Book Review


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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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If you want to build a straw bale house.
Booper
Just about every angle is covered in depth without being overly technical.
Paul Davies
I thought this was a great book with great information.
S. Williams

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

97 of 97 people found the following review helpful By Leon Ghougasian (lanaleon@aol.com on March 2, 1999
Format: Paperback
This book was directly responsible for our decision, two years ago, to build the straw house featured in the photo album. My wife, daughter (9mos.) and I are now living in the 3,600 sq ft home that cost @ $20/sq ft to build. That includes radient floor heat, high quality windows and a 1000 sq ft great room with a 15' high cathedral ceiling. Most of the labor was done by myself, friends and family. If you are considering building with straw, buy THE book and go to Arizona to take a workshop given by the authors. Both are well worth the money.
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26 of 26 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 22, 1998
Format: Paperback
The Straw Bale House is not a "how to" although it gives enough detailed info that it could be used that way. There is an excellent balance between environmental concerns, and human habitational needs. It doesn't fall into the guilt inducing that Build It With Bales does, ie that construction of human dwellings is destruction of of nature and should always be kept to the bare minimum. The straw bale House seeks to encourage non-builders to give building their own homes a reasonable try, and takes into account many possible variables such as materials availability, costs, skill level required, code requirements. Excellent book. I loved the short section on life-cycle cost comparisons between owner-built straw homes and contractor built framed homes. The author is so right when he or she says that we want that savings for our children's children.
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 18, 1999
Format: Paperback
I first heard of straw bale construction about 6 years ago, and it captured my fancy immediately. However, my interest sparked many questions (i.e., how to finish interiors, roof styles, durability, moisture, etc.). This book reads very easily, with a good combination of history, how-to, and research, and answered virtually all my questions. I now have a clear picture of what is involved in building a straw bale home. A great resource and a great read!
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 8, 2000
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book would seem to be an indispensible starting point for anyone looking into the straw bale home concept. If the thought of a poorly-insulated, energy-guzzling, expensive, bland, mass-produced, contractor-built home doesn't quite appeal to you, this book is essential, for it shows that inexpensive doesn't have to mean low quality nor unattractive. In fact, bales and other "natural", low-cost building materials can yield attractively individual results in part because they are easy and fun to work with, enfranchising the future owner to be his or her own designer and builder. The inspiring photos included in the book help make the case for the aesthetic advantages. Of course, the most important function is to show how to build the straw bale home. In this respect, the book succeeds admirably, giving diagrams to illustrate the major techniques being used and showing how simple straw bale building is. Incidentally, this would make an attractive book for your coffee table even if you are just mildly interested in the subject. One warning though: even including the index and other back-of-the-book sections, there are only 297 pages, not 336!
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful By A. Burchfield on February 3, 2001
Format: Paperback
The Steens have written two books on this subject, this one from 1994, is the most informative as far as actual construction information goes. I would say that if you think you might want to actually build a straw home get this book and their second book,The Beauty of Straw Bale Homes(from 2000). After reading these books you'll need more information both about straw bale work and other construction and carpentry books, Amazon has a selection of those.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Paul Davies on May 9, 2000
Format: Paperback
I must admit being fairly sceptical about straw bale construction until I read this book...
The style is very assessible and the content is thorough, interesting and informative. Just about every angle is covered in depth without being overly technical.
Includes useful covereage of many associated areas, such as rammed earth, adobe and passive solar issues.
An inspirational read for whether you are a dreamer or seriously intent on buiding your own house!
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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 8, 2001
Format: Paperback
For someone who knew nothing about straw bale construction this book was not only informative, but also inspiring. The Straw Bale House contains a lot of good information about the specifics of straw bale construction. I found that because it covered information about straw bale construction from start to finish it couldn't go into as much detail about any one aspect as much as I would have liked. However, my feeling is that this book was designed to get you interested and then send you out to gather the more specific information for yourself. It has proven effective at inspiring me.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By C. Clemens on March 6, 2000
Format: Paperback
This is an EXCELLENT starting point for those of us interested in SB construction. It offers multiple methods of construction, from the foundation to the roof, which gives me (living in climatically & seismically fickle So-Cal) many options to choose from. It also gives good strategies for approcahing permits & financing. The examples they use end at about 1995, though, so there have been many more examples built since then - you SHOULD do additional research yourself. This book is a great confidence builder, and has lots of nice examples of beautiful SB houses that i could never afford to build but are quite inspirational nonetheless.
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