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Old 14-07-2004, 10:06 AM
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Default Great ruin - hope to re-develop

Hi Janet

"Janet Baraclough.." wrote in message
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from "Pinky" contains these words:

Are there many strawbale houses in your area? snip They're
(strawbale houses) a fantastic, less expensive building option.

There are a few being built in Britain now. I bet like me David and
Graham have been hooked on a great TV series ongoing here, called Grand
Designs, following some ambitious alternative newbuilds from concept to
completion (or not, in some cases...). Don't miss it if it's syndicated
elsewhere; there's a book-of-the-series available too.

I'll keep an eye out for that one, most probably it will go to cable here,
we seem to get lots of dross american *reality* tv - and make way too much
of our own, but not alot from the UK on free to air - hopefully the abc will
show it.

So far as wet-climate/straw goes, a strawbale construction would need
similar care to cob, a very old traditional English construction system,
using (iirc) a mash of straw, mud, cow manure and smallish stones, with
a smoothed-over outer-face coated with lime. If cob walls are kept dry,
particularly at the top and bottom, they last centuries. The roofs were
low, steep and thatched with straw, (high insulation), rammed so tight
and thick that rain rolls off. Replacement straw-thatching is still
practised on those buildings today; as seen on many chocolate boxes and
jigsaws :-). Care has to be taken to keep out birds and rodents who are
attracted to straw and can find the tiniest gap or shrinkage and loosen
it for their own housing. I imagine they might be a future hassle with
strawbale buildings too.


Here they wrap strawbales in chicken wire (i imagine that would be universal
practise) partly to help hold the render on and partly to keep rats out -
what a p.i.t.a it would be to have your walls munched out from the inside.
They recommend here not to build in high rainfall or high humidity areas due
to rotting and mould respectively, but as you say, good care top and bottom
would probably elinate the wet/rotting problem.

I love the idea of cob building and would love to have a go at building an
outdoor kitchen from it. The quirky houses people are building from it in
america and parts of wales are amazing and it's load bearing! I know there
are houses in devon that have been there since the 1500's built from cob,
which says alot for the longevity of it as a building medium, but obviously
care has been taken to keep them in shape.
A great book for inspiration and dreaming over is 'The Hand Sculpted House'
by Ianto Evans, Michael G Smith & Linda Smiley, it's fantastic, and easy to
follow, which is always helpful. If anyone's interested in it, I really
recommend getting hold of a copy. Loads of pics on the net too if you're
into quirky cottages - google images, cob houses.


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