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RE: Straw House structural values

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I'll try and go for the serious now. I've attempted to design a
Strawbale home and ran into a great many problems. The client was an
architect and he was so convinced that it was the best building material
to use, that I had a great deal of difficulty explaining to him just why
I was taking so long to complete the work.
First off, we need to get the terminology straight. Are we talking about
a Strawbale home or are we discussing, basically, an Adobe structure? My
experience is with Strawbale which are essentially compacted straw that
is used to create the walls and is covered with stucco or other exterior
finish.  
There are a number of organizations supporting Strawbale construction,
but almost no testing for load carrying and lateral load resisting
capacities. This was one of the biggest problems I faced in the design
of a two story custom home. 
What I ended up with is a post and beam structure that is in-filled with
Strawbale bundles. The lateral supporting system was designed to be
proprietary shear walls such as Hardy Frames that I had cut into the
straw and which connected to the foundation (conventional) and the beam
(post and beam) above. 
The big problem came when the architect offset the load bearing
partitions and tried to use the Strawbale for load bearing and also
offset the walls which created problems in shear transfer.
Essentially, the Strawbale home is a nice looking Southwest style home
with very good insulating values. However, it is not proven by testing
to provide adequate lateral support against wind and earthquakes. It is
difficult to make a solid connection to, but it allows for installation
of plumbing and electrical in much the same manner as SIPS (which also
have a problem lacking adequate testing for lateral restraint).

I am in favor of alternative building materials, but not when the
builder or architect wishes to circumvent the standards of testing that
we have established for other materials. The only thing that Strawbale
and SIPs have to offer is the enthusiasm of their supporters. When the
industry supporting these alternative styles invests in appropriate
testing that complies with the same standards we expect of other
materials, I will be one of the first to invest my time in learning and
establishing details needed to design these materials. Until then, I
wouldn't waste my time - Again!

Dennis S. Wish, PE
California Professional Engineer
Administrator - The Structuralist.Net
Website: 
http://www.structuralist.net
 
Professional Forum: 
http://www.structuralist.net/cgi-local/yabb/YaBB.cgi
 
Public Forum on Housing: 
http://www.structuralist.net/cgi-local/yabb2/YaBB.cgi
 


-----Original Message-----
From: T. Eric Gillham PE [mailto:teric(--nospam--at)gk2guam.com] 
Sent: Monday, December 03, 2001 2:31 PM
To: seaoc list
Subject: FW: Straw House structural values

OK, now who is going to post a question about design values for multi
storied, high occupancy shoe structures for that old woman with all the
children?

T. Eric R. Gillham PE
PO Box 3207 Hagatna, Guam 96932
Ph:   (671) 477-9224
Fax: (671) 477-3456
Cel  (671) 687-7115

teric(--nospam--at)gk2guam.com <mailto:eteric(--nospam--at)gk2guam.com>


-----Original Message-----
From: Rick.Drake(--nospam--at)Fluor.com [mailto:Rick.Drake(--nospam--at)Fluor.com]
Sent: Tuesday, December 04, 2001 1:42 AM
To: seaint(--nospam--at)seaint.org
Subject: Re: Straw House structural values



I recall an incident involving a straw house, three pigs and a wolf.
Make
sure that the house is designed for unusual wind loads.  :)

Rick Drake, SE
Fluor Daniel, Aliso Viejo, CA

****************************





                    "Glenn Otto"
                    <glenn@libertye      To:     <seaint(--nospam--at)seaint.org>
                    ng.net>
                    12/03/01 07:09       cc:
                    AM
                    Please respond       Subject:     Straw House
structural
values.
                    to seaint

.







I am designing a house made out of straw.  I was wondering if ICBO has
done
any testing on these structures. What kind of clay is best to use?  Is
there a minimum amount of straw required?  What kind of diaphragm shear
values are obtainable?  I was thinking of using clay for the foundation
but
then I thought sand might have better drainage properties.  What kind of
waterproofing and fireproofing is good?  The fee is real small on this
one,
so I don't want to spend too much time on calcs.



Thanks,



Glenn C. Otto, PE

LIBERTY ENGINEERING, P.C.

Virginia Beach, VA





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