Sunday, January 20, 2013

The Camper

(Our "roommate," Kaleb)

Ah, the camper.  We're on the hunt to find one that will house us and the dog while we're building the house.  It's actually kind of tricky because we have absolutely no frame of reference for which brands are reputable or which ones say, leak like a sieve.  And what is a decent price and what is a ripoff.  We won't be travelling anywhere in it as we don't plan to keep it after we've moved into the house, but it still needs to be decent enough that we won't worry about putting our feet through the floor boards.  We looked at a bunch yesterday and I'm already overwhelmed!

Living in this thing will definitely be a lesson in learning to live with less, which is something I truly do need to learn.  I am a product of the 21st century, no doubt about it.  I tend to collect things that I shouldn't and it's sometimes hard for me to part with things even though I don't have an immediate need for them.  We'll be keeping most of our things in a storage unit so the camper will house the barest of essentials.  I'm planning to do a giant clean out when we move so that we don't move things to the storage unit, and ultimately the house, that aren't needed.  When I moved back and forth from college, I was really good about doing a clean out every time, but since we've lived in the same place for four years, this hasn't happened on a house-wide scale.

Camper living won't be easy at first and there will definitely be a period of adjustment, but I know in the end it will be really good for us.  I mean, isn't it a part of what this whole endeavor is about?  Creating a better, more healthy space from the inside and out?  Living a sustainable life, keeping only what we truly need and what fulfills us?

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Straw Bale

A little over a year ago, John and I attended a straw bale construction workshop taught by Andrew Morrison of where we learned to build an actual straw bale home by . . . well . . . building one!  We spent a week raising walls, prepping for utilities, installing windows, and plastering.  It was an amazing experience that really got us excited about straw bale.  We had pretty much decided before we went that this was the route we wanted to take, but after actually participating in the building process, we decided that this was definitely what we wanted to pursue.

We get a lot of strange looks when we tell people we are building a straw bale house.  People probably assume you are going to be living in a big pile of straw, which is obviously not the case!  Our house will be timber frame with straw bale as the insulation (similar to the photo below).   You can build a load-bearing straw bale home (where there is no other structural system besides the bales), but that's not the route that we're taking. Once the straw has been installed, it will be plastered to seal everything, creating a stucco-like look.

(image via Mother Earth News)

Straw bale homes are not only beautiful, but their construction is better for the building's inhabitants.  Because straw is a natural material, it doesn't contain the harmful substances that fiberglass insulation, for example, contains. Straw is a great insulator, which will make our house far more energy efficient than a conventional home. And it's just downright beautiful! You can check out more photos and a plethera of additional information on straw bale here.