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Would you consider living in a straw bale house?

Asked at Massachusetts Street on March 28, 2006

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Photo of Nick Givech

“I would. The building materials would be a lot cheaper. As long as there’s a roof over my head, I don’t care where I live.”

Photo of Laura Moriarty

“Why yes, I would. I’ve only been in one straw bale structure, and it was very comfortable and beautiful.”

Photo of Wes Sternberg

“Yeah, definitely. If it’s cheaper and more energy efficient, why not. As long as it’s durable and suited for the area and climate.”

Photo of Emily Metzger

“I wouldn’t. Probably just because I don’t know enough about it. If something happened, I would have no idea how to fix it.”

Comments

bearded_gnome 8 years ago

'night ceallach.


yes, MD, some of us quiet conservative types do have lives of passion, too. now, just where's that video... "cealach girls gone wild, spring break, IN MEXICO without the Mom along!

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Multidisciplinary 8 years ago

GASP, glasses fall to keyboard

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Ceallach 8 years ago

All y'all have a good night.

Manana

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Ceallach 8 years ago

gnome: I see you are still your bad self!! Tell the Rose that she wouldn't have wanted fish after two days on the road we stopped at Sea World in San Antonio on our way home.

I'm not sayin nuthin bout no trists ----- but my sisters and I did not take Mom with us to Mexico :):):)

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bearded_gnome 8 years ago

"just another bozo" also known as "bonzo" and "bonzoid" knows ignorants when he/she/it sees them, st starts the day lookin' the mirror!


yes, CEAl, missed you, and yellowrose wrote you and she says she's mad you didn't bring her any fish back!
you deserved a good vacation. have a hot trist there while on spring break too?


new videdo [video] ceallach girls gone wild, on spring break! just $19.95, plus $465.00 shipping and handling.

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Ceallach 8 years ago

MD-I can see I have a lot to learn about roofing! I have 1 layer, the old ones were removed several years ago when the current roof was placed. This adjuster named 225 lb. 20 year (3-tab) fiberglass composition shingles. What did you use to replace the (3-tab) shingles?

Scarecrow? Who is that?

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Multidisciplinary 8 years ago

militant..you have hannibal's attention.Or do you have hannibal?

ceal..roofing. Depends on how many layers you have on there! And if you had damage inside too. May want to go for heavier shingles to save you future damage. When I had damage in 99, I replaced the original three tabs that were put on all the houses out here, and now with the tornado and the gustnado, I haven't had any more, but all my neighbors around me have. Now that doesn't mean they are impervious. But it must help.

You can alway use the funds to buy the shingles and get a bunch of friends to help, just be damned sure they are intelligent and serious friends, on a dry time frame.A lot of them so it gets done quick. Rip it off fast, put it on fast. (Can you tell, I've been through a few, and one time was a bad experience? LOL)

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militant 8 years ago

Straw bale walls are great for that indoor bow & handgun range. Also, they really supress the screaming from the neighbor's ears

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hitme 8 years ago

Well, I guess the scarecrow has spoken!

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Ceallach 8 years ago

Hi MD, it never occurred to me that you guys might be behaving yourselves! Now we've stirred up the strawbale faction (who knew there was one :)

I may need a strawbale roof -- can't seem to figure out what the heck the insurance adjustor's report says!!! It seems to say I need a new roof but they have found ways to only pay for about half of it -- gggggrrrrrrrrrrr!!!

Hi Gootsie, was your building among those damaged at KU?

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Gootsie 8 years ago

Hi everyone! Fun stuff today, even from us ignorants!

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years ago

There certainly is a good deal of ignorance exhibited about strawbale construction on this thread.

Tornado proof? Likely not, but only a pretty serious concrete bunker would be. Unless it takes a direct hit by an F-5, a well-built strawbale house will certainly hold up better than any standard stick-built house to severe weather.

If it's built correctly, the amount of rain/humidity shouldn't matter at all. The straw bales are completely encased in plaster and stucco. As far as longevity goes, if it's well-built and well-maintained, it could (and they have) last for centuries.

As far as the stucco and plaster cracking, sure that will happen, but you just fix it. When the paint on your standard house wears out, don't you have to repaint if you want your house to last?

Well, you can go back to chit-chat now. But get used to seeing strawbale. There'll be more and more of them, and other alternatively constructed structures as energy prices go through the roof, and forests continue to disappear.

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Multidisciplinary 8 years ago

sgt "wolve"rine... I don't know if everyone just chuckled at this and went on....

"I wonder if Missouri's new coach would live in a straw house."

But I keep enjoying that you wrote this a lot. This was good..very good. You had one up on the chinny chin chin gang LOL. Of course, the fact that the kitten deliberately goes and steals my son's seat everytime he gets out of it, and then LOOKS at him tonight, is pretty funny too. I swear, if he could put his little kitten paw up in the air and chalk up another tally mark, he would.

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Multidisciplinary 8 years ago

I believe this is sort of like those tornado proof rooms that are offered now...problem is...none of them have actually ever been IN a tornado.

Similar to that plane with the parachute..the first one to be involved in a crash, the chute deployed but the plane still crashed, I don't have the details, they were going to investigate.

Not as easy to test as hang over proof alcohol. Or the morning after pill.

Hi Ceall, welcome back! We haven't been behaving while you were gone, but it hasn't been the same without you!

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Ceallach 8 years ago

Can there really be data confirming the "tornado proof" advantage of a straw dwelling? How many have been hit by a tornado and escaped undamaged? If people want the novelty of it, fine, it may be the greenest way to build -- that statement could also use some backup infomation.

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kansas_prairieland 8 years ago

Okay, kansasdaughter, I wanna know how them straw homes are "tornado proof"!!

Since the rest of us here are soooo ignorant......please explain!

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Multidisciplinary 8 years ago

Just call your insurance agent and mention a straw home. If he doesn't just hang up..wait until he stops laughing....perhaps the next day. Then write us and tell us what he says.

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sunflower_sue 8 years ago

Wow, MD, that's truly sad. For the record, me and my sibs had all the usual sibling hatefulness growing up, but luckily, that has grown into practical jokes with extreme fondness and love. Guess I'm one of the lucky ones.

On the straw bale houses: Yes, I think they are nifty, but how can anyone seriously say that anything is "tornado proof?" That is soooooo absurd!

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Jay_Z 8 years ago

Wow, straw homes are tornado proof?!! I guess we don't need basements, lets just build straw homes to protect us from the twisters! Thanks for the laugh!

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Multidisciplinary 8 years ago

My 5 yr older sister used to sit on me and tickle me meanly until I screamed and cried for a long time. (This was before her career of beating me when I wouldn't do whatever she said when my parents were gone....and they kept letting her babysit me, alone.)

And they wondered how I could come back to school in 9th grade after her funeral without batting an eye.

Yes, siblings are great fun.

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kansasdaughter 8 years ago

I am very suprised at the ignorance displayed here about straw bale homes. They are perhaps the greenest way to build, are tornado-proof, virtually fireproof, and highly energy efficient. They are quiet, cozy, and very beautiful. Stop hatin on the straw bale home.

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Ceallach 8 years ago

enoch: The trip and the fact that I had the get sick before you leave syndrome the week prior to driving 1100 miles :)

Although, I would have been one of the "crashed and burned" brackets that went with UCONN :( I always have one with KU taking it all :) then another more realistic set. Chances are the only ones who had GM going so far are that school's students and staff. We listened to the Texas - LSU game coming back, I did have hopes that at least one Big 12 team would make the Final Four. C'est la vie!

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enochville 8 years ago

Ceallach, wb.

I had wondered why you never made any picks on your NCAA Tourney entry.

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Ceallach 8 years ago

I would like to add that it is just a coincidence that the head was found about the same time I was touring Texas!!

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Ceallach 8 years ago

At least here I can post an opinion -- for the last week I've been surrounded by Ceallaighs -- had a hard time getting a word in edgewise!! It's not just a stereotype -- them there Ersemen love to talk :):)

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Hannibal_Lecter 8 years ago

Everybody needs a little....excuse me while I bite my tongue

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sunflower_sue 8 years ago

gnome, indeed!

Cea, welcome back! (Even if you are a tad boastful!);)

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bearded_gnome 8 years ago

hey, he was just trying to get ahead!


Ceallach, I have missed your graciousness. glad you're back, all shrimped up and fished up.
good for you!


must run, back in a while. but first, SS: yes, the nut never falls far from the tree but the shell is often very cracked!

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The_Original_Bob 8 years ago

We know Inmate hasn't been in Amarillo lately.

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one_more_bob 8 years ago

Hannibal, have you been in Amarillo lately? "(3/28/06 - AMARILLO, TX) - Amarillo solid-waste workers discovered a human head in a garbage truck Monday." http://abclocal.go.com/ktrk/story?section=state&id=4030831

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Ceallach 8 years ago

Glad to see all y'all haven't started taking life too seriously while I was gone :) I had forgotten how good it is to sit in the sun while bay fishing sigh. Did I mention lunching on fresh shrimp stuffed with crab? So nice, so brief!! Now I'm back in the frigid North!!

I thought mankind supposedly made great strides when we moved out of straw houses -- now we should go back? No thanks.

btw, I've learned one of the most dangerous places a person can be is between fueding siblings. At any given moment they will both turn on you :)

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sunflower_sue 8 years ago

OK, being the youngest of 4 is certainly not going to win me any sympathy...et tu wolverine?

Gnome, doppleganger...ha! If you saw me and my sibs you would swear we all had different daddies. A very good friend of mine honestly thought that. Then she hung around us for awhile and changed her mind. Guess the nuts don't fall too far from the tree.

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Hannibal_Lecter 8 years ago

Sue, You sound like stuffing you in the toybox was a bad thing?

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bearded_gnome 8 years ago

and, SS, that stuffing you in the toybox... that was last week?


I am relieved that ol' mossy is still with us, or is he a doppleganger?


living in a hay house...don't keep horses then.

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Ray March 8 years ago

didn't these guys learn anything from the 3 little pigs!?

you don't build your house out of straw!

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avhjmlk 8 years ago

I didn't say that right. I didn't ask them to sit on me, they pinned me to the floor with their butts.

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avhjmlk 8 years ago

I clearly remember having my sister and her best friend sit on me, then tickle me until I peed my pants as a kid. Then, naturally, they mercilessly made fun of me for wetting my pants like a toddler.

Cruelty!

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sgtwolverine 8 years ago

Well, Sue, I think that sort of action is actually a brother's prerogative. It just sounds like he was trying to be the best brother he could possibly be.

(How does my being the youngest of six affect my perspective on this?)

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sunflower_sue 8 years ago

Hey ya'll, don't go baggin' on mossy. In fact, I do appreciate having a kind, caring, considerate, loving brother. He's mossy's brother, too...and he's not the one that used to stuff me into the toybox and sit on the lid! tear hits keyboard ;o)

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ljreader 8 years ago

I know if one lives in a glass house, they shouldn't cast stones. Can this be done from a straw house? BTW, a tornado will huff and puff and blow a straw house down.

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sgtwolverine 8 years ago

That would be an interesting hire. And here I thought they were all primed to go for an Indiana grad (Sampson isn't, is he?). All I know is that they need someone who isn't going to get mad and speak out at the fan base like Davis did.

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Das_Ubermime 8 years ago

No. I don't trust it to stand the test of time. You can coat it with all of the plaster you want, but even concrete breaks and cracks when the earth moves. When the house settles and moves over the course of 20-50 years, that plaster is going to crack and when it does, you will be left with either a giant tinderbox, a molding house which will be difficult to treat, or both. In fact, if a crack, even a miniscule one, does occur and moisture does get in, the breakdown of the hay could lead to undermining the structural integrity of the house. I don't care what you coat it with, it is still hay underneath.

Kelvin Sampson to Indiana? Big 12 coaching carousel is certainly in high gear this year, isn't it?

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sgtwolverine 8 years ago

Wait, TOB, is that a news item, or are you suggesting a trade-in?

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The_Original_Bob 8 years ago

Badger - hahaha.


Kelvin Sampson to Indiana.

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badger 8 years ago

mossyoak64 - I bet she would appreciate having a kind, caring, considerate, loving brother.

Do you know where she can get one cheap? I don't know if she has much in the way of a trade-in, though...

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bangaranggerg 8 years ago

Home owners insurance on a straw structure would be terrible.

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The_Original_Bob 8 years ago

Can't trust them Mizzou folk.

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Gootsie 8 years ago

Hi brother! Good to "hear" from you!

However, I believe Sue. Sorry...

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mossyoak64 8 years ago

I wouldn't recommend a straw house. They don't stand up very well to big, bad wolves.

I would also like to clear my fine name. I think SS is trying to tarnish my reputation. You think she would appreciate having a kind, caring, considerate, loving brother.

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sgtwolverine 8 years ago

See, now, I was under the impression the tornado would just pick up the whole structure and plop it down in another location.

That would certainly make moving easy.

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kansas_prairieland 8 years ago

Yeah, macon, good point!

Didn't these folks do their homework before they built this "unique home"........to see what it would be worth when it came time to sell it?

Doesn't sound like it.

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macon47 8 years ago

if i did i wouldnt whine about the appraisal when i got ready to peddle it

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The_Original_Bob 8 years ago

ACG and KP

...but you'll have the benefit of landing on hay when the tornado is done with the destruction. That is, unless several tons of clay don't whop you upside the head.

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kansas_prairieland 8 years ago

acg....

So you mean that this thing will not stand up to a tornado?!

Oh, okay.

Now I'm confused.

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acg 8 years ago

I don't think anyone was judging, per se, so much as stating that for some of the OTS posters, the straw bale house wasn't for them. BTW, there is no such thing as a tornado proof house. Virtual or otherwise. If a tornado can rip up highways, trees by the roots, entire metal structures that were built with thick metal studs, etc. it can certainly destroy a house made of straw bales, several tons of clay on it or not.

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kansas_prairieland 8 years ago

Wheaties...

So you mean that this thing will, in fact, stand up to tornados?

Oh, okay.

Thanks!

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wheaties 8 years ago

I have had the pleasure to work in the Garrette's studio for a number of months. It is quiet, clean, toasty warm, non-allergenic, vermin-free, and extraordinarily beautiful. It is plastered with several tons of clay, so it is virtually tornado proof. Educate yourselves on straw bale construction before you judge.

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The_Original_Bob 8 years ago

I can only imagine those poor Quakers chanting... F... U ... C .... and so forth. Comedy.

Back when I was young and dumber, my friends and I would climb up the Joy grain elevator. It was far enough off 54 that passing traffic couldn't see us at night(as opposed to Brenham). I drive by there now and just shake my head. Somewhere along the line I developed an intense fear of heights that I didn't have back then.

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Gootsie 8 years ago

TOB, I tell that story about Friends University of Central Kansas, and people think I'm making it up. Thank you for the verification! That was just when t-shirts with words on them were becoming popular (early 70s) and that's when they discovered the, er, error of their thoughts.

I also forgot Joy. How could someone forget Joy. Plains. Kismet. Cunningham. Kingman. I must have been sleeping while driving.

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sunflower_sue 8 years ago

If Katie "wereallgonnadie" Horner cuts into my CBS Thursday night lineup...she may end up with my bro. On second thought, he got rid of his constantly nagging control freak X, and me being a good person, I could never wish that on him again! (Even if he deserves it just a little bit) ;o) NO, seriously, nobody deserves THAT!

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one_more_bob 8 years ago

badger, I think that's all heading this way. Be safe up there, keep your powder (or whatever) dry.

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badger 8 years ago

Like you would NOT believe, omb.

Last half of my drive to work, I couldn't even see the road or the lines, just had to trust in the taillights. For about fifteen minutes, there wasn't even enough visibility to find the shoulder. MoPac already had standing water on it at 7:50, and the whole of the Republic is under flash flood warnings till a time that keeps changing depending on who you listen to...

We got hippies floating around in little hemp kayaks, and a pair of deer just went by asking if I've seen a guy with a really big boat...

I'm not complaining, though. We really need the rain.

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The_Original_Bob 8 years ago

Gootsie -

Remember... these happen to be the same people that predicted 6-10 inches of snow one week ago. I'd just roll with the punches and keep an eye to the sky on Thursday. www.weather.gov is a good source if thy eyes are deficient.

Also, you forgot Haviland. Interesting tidbit... Barclay College is located there. It is a college for Quakers. They wanted to call it Friends University but that was already taken by the college in Wichita. So they wanted to make it different and thus Friends University of Central Kansas was suggested. It didn't fly after the cheerleaders started coming up with cheers.

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one_more_bob 8 years ago

badger, you getting rain up there in the People's Republic this morning?

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angelofmine 8 years ago

derf beat me to it....not by the hair of my chinny-chin-chin!

Not in Kansas, anyway. I won't live in a trailer here either. It still baffles me that they are building homes on slabs here....with no basements. Hellooo! Dorothy.....Oz.....TORNADO?!?!

I grew up in an earth contact home, so we never really had to hide in the basement. We were already IN one. Similarly, the county does not know how to appraise the value of an earth contact home, as they are not the norm. Instead of pricing them at a reasonable value, they're appraising them too high, therefore raising property taxes every year. (make up for cheaper energy costs apparently)

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badger 8 years ago

I think the roundabouts should be made of straw-bale construction.

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sunflower_sue 8 years ago

Here's a great site for seeing pics of the actual construction of the straw house that went up out in my territiory. After doing a little research, it seems that there are quite a few of these homes around Lawrence.

http://www.chrysalisfarm.com/straw_bale_home.html

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sgtwolverine 8 years ago

I wonder if Missouri's new coach would live in a straw house.

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Gootsie 8 years ago

haha Jonas!

I'm going to head home early today from KC to avoid the storm. Thanks TOB!

Oh yes - I drove by the Big Well Sunday. I did the Liberal-Meade-Fowler-Minneola-Bloom-Bucklin-Mullinville-Greensburg-Pratt-Wichita-turnpike thing. I was in a hurry so I didn't throw in a quarter for you, but I did blow a kiss to the water tower next to it!

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The_Original_Bob 8 years ago

Yes, Bob. Death is breathing down our neck as we speak. It'll catch up one day... just probably not Thursday.

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kansas_prairieland 8 years ago

I mean, if these things are anything at all like trailers/trailer parks..........then forget it!!

I don't want one!

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sunflower_sue 8 years ago

Hannibal, Did you get that package I sent you this morning? ;o) Gnome has a great recipe for roasts.

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kansas_prairieland 8 years ago

How do these things stand up to tornados? This is Kansas, you know!!

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one_more_bob 8 years ago

TOB, better head for the storm cellar right now & get settled in. No point waiting until the twister is on the next block over to panic. WE'RE ALL GONNA DIE!!!!

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sgtwolverine 8 years ago

Cookie-cutter houses drive me crazy. One of my friends lives in a subdivision, and it took me a good long while of going to his house before I could remember exactly where to go. Everywhere I look, the houses are all similar! Sometimes I still have trouble, and then I have to look for his car in the driveway.

But I'm coming from the perspective of growing up in an old farmhouse. There may have been some houses like it back when it was built, but it gets pretty unique after 120 years.

To pair that with TOB's comment: when I walk into modern cookie-cutter homes, sometimes I just get the feeling they weren't really built to last 100+ years.

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The_Original_Bob 8 years ago

As a quick aside here. Just so no one that peruses the OTS board gets surprised...

"The Storm Prediction Center has already highlighted our area for a possible severe thunderstorm event on Thursday. We're expected a storm system to make it's way onto the Pacific Coast in the next couple of days. By the time arrives in the Plains, we will have tapped into some gulf moisture and moistened up our atmosphere. Look for high humidity starting Wednesday. Most of the computer models are in pretty good agreement, so far. Conditions do look favorable for a severe weather outbreak in the Central and Southern Plains late in the day on Thursday."

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enochville 8 years ago

The only straw bale house I have ever seen is the studio apartment on the front page of the paper, and I don't care for the way it looks. So, I would not live in that one, but I can't speak for other ones.

My dream house would be a log home. The really nice ones are simply gorgeous in my estimation. They are also very energy efficient.

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craigers 8 years ago

I don't really think I would want to live in a straw house. Doesn't sound like my ideal home.

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one_more_bob 8 years ago

Long as there's a brick house next door, I'd give it a try.

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The_Original_Bob 8 years ago

No one has heard from him since yesterday afternoon, MD. His friends are worried.

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sunflower_sue 8 years ago

There is a straw bale house out in my neck of the woods. I have not been in it but have seen pics and read up on it. I had actually read up on straw bale houses years before this one went up and thought it was an interesting idea. I thought maybe our KS climate was too humid for the straw. I'll keep an eye on the neighbor's house and see how it holds up. So far, so good and I'll admit I do love the deep set windows and the energy efficiency. Don't know how well it keeps out mice. But then again, traditional construction certainly doesn't keep the critters out!

Advice for all: When using a sibling's computer, don't forget to log out!!!

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Multidisciplinary 8 years ago

Anyone heard from sue's brother?

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Sigmund 8 years ago

One wonders if straw homes meet current City-O-Lawrence building codes? I'd hate to find out I couldn't get a building permit to make additions. I also wonder how many banks will lend money to buyers of straw homes? What are the rates to insure such construction? If I were to buy it and rent to illegal immigrant students with in state tuition, I wonder if the City-O-Lawrence would make me update the sprinkler system?

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The_Original_Bob 8 years ago

I can only assume this straw house is stronger, more energy efficient, and will be around much longer than the cookie cutter houses that are spreading like a plague.

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Marion Lynn 8 years ago

If properly constructed an adobe/straw house has plenty of strength, is non-al;lergenic and very fireproof.

Bugs don't like straw as it contains substances which keep out the bugs.

The straw should be treated with borax, Epsom Salts or a similar substance prior to use for fireproofing and if the vapour barriers are properly installed, the straw will not mould or deteriorate and faster than cellulose insulation.

The bales are not simply stacked but rather tied together in a manner which results in very strong and stable walls.

This area of Kansas is on the borderline of the latitudes in which straw construction should be used however.

Rammed earth and concrete construction is a much better choice for this area than straw.

Thanks.

Marion.

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years ago

Straw bale houses can be built any size you want, and the bales themselves are completely protected, and isolated from the living space-- so no need to worry about hay fever or bug infestation.

But they are not cheaper than standard construction. As a matter of fact, it's more expensive. But if done correctly, it's a higher quality method than 99.9% of anything being built in Lawrence these days. You might pay extra, but added comfort and energy efficiency make it worth the effort and expense.

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jonas 8 years ago

If the pigs had had the concealed carry law enacted in their state, they would have been able to protect themselves from the wolf and we would never have had a problem.

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derf 8 years ago

Not by the hair on my chiny-chin-chin! Is a cartographer the guy who tries to find all the shopping carts in the parking lot at the Wal-Mart and bring them back?

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lori 8 years ago

The stuido is not for sale for 160,000; the house and studio are for sale.

They are no more difficult to maintain than a house of wood and sheet rock, are extremely energy efficient, and yes, there are people in the area who have built larger ones and live in them. Very comfortably, I might add. One or two are usually included on the annual tour of area homes that highlights those that use innovative and energy efficient building methods. If you are honestly interested or have questions, you can check them out then.

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neopolss 8 years ago

Is the LJW the new seller's agent for this house or what? Hope you guys get a nice commission from the sale. Wanna do an article on my house next? It has a very "unique" foundation crack. You call it unsound, I call it art. We'll settle at $208,000.

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Aileen Dingus 8 years ago

I'd love to live in a straw bale house. When properly constructed they are more fuel efficient, fire safe, wind safe and bug free than many "traditionally" built homes.

Read up on it before you scoff at it...

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Sigmund 8 years ago

$160,000 for a smallish straw house in North Lawrence? Umm, no thanks. Doesn't sound all that economical, comfortable, or easy to maintain. But I am sure some neo-hippie will think it's just perfect. BTW, what is it appraised at for tax purposes?

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sgtwolverine 8 years ago

Oh, and by the way, I nominate Wes as a candidate for OTS job of the year.

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sgtwolverine 8 years ago

I'm kind of curious as to the size of the largest straw structure. I'm wondering if any of the listed straw bale structures is actually a house, or if they're smaller and built for a specific purpose, like the studio.

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Kathleen Christian 8 years ago

Heck NO not very practical - I can just imagine all sorts of bugs infesting it and what IF you had Hay-Fever, that would be uncomfortable.

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blue73harley 8 years ago

If a straw house won't stand up to the Big Bad Wolf, how would it do against a tornado?

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Gootsie 8 years ago

Oh - that's right!

I actually read the article now! It seems intriguing!

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classclown 8 years ago

Not all of them Gootsie. Only one did.

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Gootsie 8 years ago

I'm not sure. I have friends that smoke, and "staw" just doesn't seem like it would be good idea.

And didn't the three pigs have a bad experience with it?

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Richard Heckler 8 years ago

These structures are far more energy efficient than most new structures in Lawrence,Kansas for that is their purpose. If the Energy Hog put his test to so many new or almost new structures, no matter what the cost, in Lawrence it would reveal several leaks where heat and AC are escaping. That is due to poor installation of insulation and/or not the best choice of windows.

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