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Sat, Jan 15
6:15 am

How 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 jam.

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.

Fire - 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.

Instability - 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.

Critters - 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.

Earthen 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.

I 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.

Have a great day and be kind!