has the house held up?
It is Saturday morning and I'll be heading off to hike
with my son's dog, Poochini, soon. I love my Saturday
mornings when the world is sleepy, I play soft music,
get myself some coffee, good whole-grain bread and European
From the comments on the You Tube video, it seems the
most concerns are about fire, instability, and critters
munching on the straw. So, I'll address those issues
today. First, I want to say that this house is everything
I hoped for and more in it's earthy beauty and incredible
insulative qualities. It is very, very slow to change
temperature and I use very little electricity to cool
or heat it.
- my porch would burn and my house would stand strong.
The straw is so densely packed that is generally only
smolders in a fire. Also, it is covered on both sides
with thick earthen plasters (earth) and that doesn't
burn. There is no exposed straw. I do have fire sprinklers
inside my house, per the fire code, but I sure hope
they don't go off. They would be a mess on my interior
earthen plasters made of clay. So, I am not concerned
about fire and have had no issues.
- boy, is this house strong! I have two foot thick walls
with thick, strong plasters on both sides and it has
never shuddered in the strongest thunderstorms and highest
winds. Not only is it strong, but very, very quiet.
- Jon told me to be sure to seal all the straw with
plasters, even if I was going to put tile, kitchen cupboards
or plywood over it. I did that and so I have no exposed
straw that creatures can munch. I also have my floor
raised two feet above ground level, since I live in
an area that can get sheets of water during heavy storms
(sheetplain). This keeps it above the level of pack
rats and other critters in the desert (I have many).
I recommend doing this. I did get birds pecking holes
into the exterior earthen plasters and I think they
were eating these little flat spiders that made tiny
webs in the roughness of the plasters. I now have covered
them with a lime plaster and I have no more bird holes.
I have found that earthen plasters and earthen floors
are just more dirt to ants and termites, so were I doing
this again, I would put a thick plastic layer under
my floor to block moisture and then a thin layer of
concrete to block ants and ground termites. I happen
to have many ground termites on my land.
Plasters - I had some pitting of the exterior plasters
in our heavy monsoon thunderstorms during the first
years in the house. The storms would have high winds
and heavy rain, that would blast the walls like a hose.
I coated the plasters with Stucco waterproofing - Siloxase(sp?)-
and that helped, but as the weather has been changing,
the storms have lessened. With a seven foot overhang
from the porch around the house, my plasters held up
beautifully. Before I coated them with lime, I had to
rough their surface with a wire brush and the surface
felt almost as hard as concrete. I was very impressed.
have had no issues with this house in the ten years
I have lived here. I think this is somewhat due to my
wonderful consultant and friend, Jon Ruez, who gave
me great advice and who builds strong houses. Also,
to the many inspections I had to pass, so I built with
detail and care. We don't save materials or money if
we have to rebuild something.
a great day and be kind!