Wylie Strawbale house in central Austin

mid July to mid August…

Wylie strawbale home – 3500 sqft multi-generational residence designed by architect Ben Obregon of the Sustainable Design Center (http://sustainabledesigncenter.com/)   Fully permitted under Austin’s own strawbale code!

July 14th – After some normal construction delays (rain, rain and more rain 🙂  we had our first bale delivery to the future home of Tom and Mari Wylie in central Austin.

Baling team (LtoR) Kyle Vurrow, John and Twinks, Jess, Brenden, Tom and Mari, Jami, Aaron, Kinny, Alan, Sara and Kindra(photographer)

Almost a dozen of us worked to pull 315 bales from the trailer and stash them under the roof.  A week later we took the second delivery from farmer Ron Stehling of Fredericksburg, TX.

Stacking bales is fast work!  Getting the fluffy walls straight, trimmed and ready for plaster is where the real time comes in.  Our team of eight or so was composed of four experienced balers… Kindra, Sara, John and Aaron, and four paid “apprentices” Jamie, Brenden, Alan and Kinny.

The method here is “bale-infill” meaning the bales are not structural.  They are stacked vertically between studs 3′ on center. This reduces the ‘top plate’ to a double 2×6 instead of the double 2×12 more typical in post and beam framing.  Other advantages incude: solid anchoring for windows and doors (floating bucks can be tricky), the whole system looks more familiar to building inspectors,  and its easier to replace bales if anything needs repair in the future.

Bales between studs 3' o.c.

The big picture of this project is a bit unique for us: we are one subcontractor among many.  It was interesting for us having to work with various standards of quality and safety.  We often had to remind each other that we were there just for the bales.  Many times we had to turn over minor carpentry fixes that we could have solved quickest by just knocking it out ourselves.

We loved working for owner-builders Tom and Mari Wylie!  Besides managing the day to day process of a busy construction site Mari spoiled us with breakfast tacos on Fridays and a little swimming pool to help baby Twinks enjoy the heat!

Construction site swimming hole

we finished bales and stucco preparation Aug 14th.

On to New Mexico 🙂

so long Texas heat and humidity…crisp mountain air here we come !!


~ by Kindra on September 4, 2010.

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