Like a lot of tinkerers I've been wanting the "Dream" shop for years. I tried several different shop ideas over the years and was never really happy. So I decided to build what I wanted and I had to figure out how to do it. This project is still in progress as it's being built as I get the money and the time.
This is a real basic overview on my solution

Step 1: getting the barebones up

After the site was selected and leveled, holes were dug for the posts. The first few were dug with a hand post hole digger, than I borrowed an auger for my old tractor.
The wood came from the property and was milled with a WoodMizer bandsaw sawmill. I had always heard that the fastest route to a roof was a post and beam structure...so that's what I did.
Beautiful and classic!
<p>Hello this is mike!!</p>
<p>I would like to do that except . . . I have a budget.</p>
very nice, would love to have a shop that size for welding, auto repair, woodworking and just tinkering
* The extra time you put into a strawbale structure to smooth the walls will pay you back many times over when you plaster.<br> <em>File under things I would do differently</em>
The pex used in the floor is 7/8's ID. It was installed in three 300 foot loops
Congratulations &acirc;€&brvbar; <br>Lucky man who has so much space available : would you like to know that your workshop is at least twice (if not more) the size of house ? <br>;D
all things are relative
Nonetheless, your project is great !
could you get free contre slabs from company's that are extras
Don't know about free labs...
I noticed that you made a HUGE mistake when you sited your structure. It is about 2,600 miles almost due east of where it should be.
Wow Very nice job. Would you say the labor involved is more or about the same as a stick built shop? <br>How much would you say it cost you to build this building as aposed to a stick built or a pole building? <br>
wow nice is the foundation safe and could i ask how do you power it
Safe? it's a 6 inch slab of concrete sitting on 4 to 5 inches of tamped rock. Yeah seems pretty safe. The shop is currently powered on the grid, but, I made sure the roof was aligned and fortified for the possibility of solar when the financial gods are in agreement. Thanks for your comment.<br>PS: today it's 95&ordm; outside and inside the shop is a cool 69&ordm;
&nbsp;I think it is great you are showing a&nbsp;straw-bale&nbsp;structure. &nbsp;They don't get enough exposure. &nbsp;Cheap and efficient homes and structures. &nbsp;Fire and pest&nbsp;resistant. &nbsp;They also breathe, so you don't feel stuffy like you can in a modern structure. &nbsp;Awesome. &nbsp;I really look forward to seeing your final product and layout of your workshop!
Straw is fire resistant? I was looking at this and thinking, &quot;Aw man, you're screwed if you drop a hot tool, have a sparks from a grinder or something, or anything like that.&quot;
That would be a problem if there were any exposed straw, but, there isn't . All straw is covered by at least 2 inches of plaster.
Thank you, you are correct :) The straw being tightly packed and completely sealed in by plaster or cob, this creates a fire resistant environment. Even if somehow fire were to get to the straw, with it being so dense in the wall, it would get snuffed out before damage would be done.
This is amazing. I am so jealous, though. You could have at least invited me for the spray plaster part! Seriously, I love what you've done so far. I look forward to getting the chance to see what fixtures are going inside. Hopefully as useful and efficient as the outside. You have my respect, sir.
Nice Job. Always wanted to do something like this. Really liked the radiant heating, it's a nice ecofriendly way of heating. Awesome design concepts. Is it the lack of oxygen that prevents the straw bales from rotting? What kind of shop are you building? If it where my shop I might have included in wall pneumatic lines. Great job your instructions where very clear. Sorry for asking to many questions. As far as fire goes ultimately it comes down to not being stupid and outfitting a space with adequate fire extinguishers. Most buildings will burn but with 2" of plaster on either side it would have to burn for a long time at high temperatures to penetrate the sides.(unless of course it finds another route. I.E Power Outlets or the posts) and by that time all of the stuff inside would be destroyed so theirs no point in making the structure any more fireproof. (sorry for this excessively long comment)
Hi Vestie It's not so much lack of oxygen that keeps them from rotting it's keeping them dry. The bales are sitting on raised bucks on the concrete pad and there are vapor barriers everywhere that bale touches wood to prevent wicking. Also, the NHL plaster tends to migrate any moisture out of the bales. The pneumatic lines are just going in now. Like the electrical, they are exposed in case I need to modify or add to them later. As to fire protection , Yes, extinguishers are in place for more on straw bale and fire read my comment on May 12 09 Thanks again
Yah I read the article. Cool stuff. Just wondering, where did you get all your info on this stuff because I'd like to learn more about it. Thanks, Vestie
Years of research, everything from yahoo groups "strawbale-r-us" to just about every book on the subject to talking to people who had built with straw. A good place to start are these books: Straw Bale Building: How to plan, design and build with straw by Chris Magwood and Peter Mack More Straw Bale Building: A Complete Guide to Designing and Building with Straw (Mother Earth News Wiser Living Series) by Chris Magwood Serious Straw Bale: A Home Construction Guide for All Climates (Real Goods Solar Living Book) by Paul Lacinski
Sweet Project! You must have put a lot of time in!
Thanks. Yes, and I still am putting in lots of time...
This is a great project, straw bale buildings have been around for centuries. As to the comments regarding whether it's fireproof, well, log cabins and wood frame houses are not fireproof either....even the World Trade Center burned, and that probably wasn't made from straw bales. Bugger the naysayers and their schadenfreude, if my dog had thumbs and an internet connection, he'd be an expert too :) Great job, Codini, I look forward to seeing the progress on this.
LOL! no kidding!
Did you spray the bales with Fire Retardant? This is usually a code requirement when using in construction. Check your local building regulations. Speaking of which were you not required to have a building permit in your area?
As I previously noted, codes vary by location. To say that a retardant is usually a requirement is misleading. Needless to say, I have researched the code situations for my area and type of structure. The big difference in fire resistance, obviously, is the plaster. Tightly-packed straw with two inches of plaster on the interior and exterior with little oxygen present inside the wall can provide at least a 2-hour firewall. Fire cannot exist without oxygen, so once again the bales have created a form of protection against flame spread. Which is far better than a stick built structure. A conventional stick framed home is nothing more than a series of chimneys behind a thin layer of fire protection. The majority of the fire protection required by code in a conventional home is in the form of drywall. Once that drywall barrier has been compromised, there is nothing to stop the fire from attacking the structural wood and/or steel framing in your home. Most straw bale homes lost to fire are lost during construction before the plaster has been applied. Extensive testing has been done on strawbales and fire resistance the Wall Street Journal reported on it in an article by ALEX FRANGOS on August 9, 2006 "Within minutes of being exposed to the 1,700-degree heat, cracks developed in the fire-resistant plaster covering the wall, and the straw inside began to char. But after two hours, the other side of the wall was unscathed. Then, it survived the second part of the industry-standard test for building-material safety, a high-pressure soaking from a fire hose."
Your forgetting the fact that it is the air gap that is the insulating factor, small pockets of air are what make up your R-Value not the medium that was used. The bales themselves have offered no protection, the plaster a little protection. Being a firefighter myself and witnessing several fires regarding straw storage and hay as well, I know that they can burn rapidly. Not to mention if there is even just a little water leaking into the straw it can spontaneously combust. A few gallons of fire retardant to spray down the bales would be considered cheap and good prevention measures.
This issue has been settled by independent testing labs that have proven the incredible fire resistance of these structures. They react the same as a phone book that someone is trying to burn -just not enough air to support construction.<br> However, during construction the bales are vulnerable especially if loose straw is left around. There have been cases during forest fires where the traditionally framed houses have been destroyed leaving the straw bale houses in the same area unscathed.
Thanks eowens, <br>you are absolutely correct .
Sorry, I'm not forgetting anything I've researched this for 15 years.. Comparing straw and hay storage to a compressed straw bale wall that is covered in plaster is apples to oranges. <br/> The plaster is little protection? Again I'll take the word of those who have been actually building these structures for the past 30 years any day.<br/>There is no water leaking on my bales either, I went to great lengths to prevent this.<br/> Do your research, read the article I mentioned . Have you ever <em>even</em> seen a strawbale building?<br/>let me quote this again in case you missed it the first time.<br/><br/><strong>Extensive testing has been done on strawbales and fire resistance the Wall Street Journal reported on it in an article by ALEX FRANGOS on August 9, 2006</strong><br/><br/><strong>Within minutes of being exposed to the 1,700-degree heat, cracks developed in the fire-resistant plaster covering the wall, and the straw inside began to char. But after two hours, the other side of the wall was unscathed. Then, it survived the second part of the industry-standard test for building-material safety, a high-pressure soaking from a fire hose.</strong><br/><strong></strong><br/>
Yes, I've actually fought two straw bale construction fires. One was a home the other a shop. First was was ignited when sparks entered the ventilation hole from welding, house was caused due to faulty electrical. I have done my research. Why don't you post articles done by industry recognized partners such as the International Association of Fire Fighters, National Fire Protection Association, or any of the laboratories that provide true information. I'm trying to provide people with the other side of the facts. I believe that Straw Bale Construction when done properly is a viable building alternative. But, if you don't take the precautions it can be catastrophic.
Sure you have. Thanks for your concern.
Don't you worry about mice or other critters chewing through the hay at some point down the line? What about water and the potential for mold and decay? Awesome building and wonderful job!
Hi,<br/>It's straw not hay, and as such there isn't very much edible stuff to attract the varmints . The bales are sealed behind 2 inches of plaster .<br/>The bales are up off the slab on pressure treated bucks and separated from the bucks by layers of barrier. The roof overhangs are very generous and lastly the lime plaster migrates any water out of the bales.<br/>See:http://www.instructables.com/id/Build-Your-Own-Workshop-Part-2-Lime-Plaster/<br/><br/>Thanks<br/>
Ah, ok. Thanks for the clarification. I always thought mice ate everything. Again, very nice shop!
Part 2 is now up<br/>How to: Natural Hydraulic Lime Plaster<br/><a href="http://www.instructables.com/id/Build-Your-Own-Workshop-Part-2-Lime-Plaster/">http://www.instructables.com/id/Build-Your-Own-Workshop-Part-2-Lime-Plaster/</a><br/>
all I can say is...........wow.......and freaking awsome.
This is awesome, It would probably win if it was finished with more details
Yeah, you may have something there. I'm spending too much time actually working on the shop to work on the instructable.I'll go into more detail soon...promise
the walls of this remind me of the walls at a house in this Ecovillage that I visited called Dancing Rabbit.<br/>(http://www.dancingrabbit.org/) they have some REALLY interesting building ideas there if that helps you at all.<br/>
Question about the radiant heating system. You have used plastic tubing, but wouldnt metallic tubes be better, as they conduct heat better. Im wondering how much that'll matter, given that I'm assuming that the plastic hoses are specially designed to be used for this reason. I cant see any heating upstairs. Could you tell us how well it worked? I want to install a diy under-concrete heating system in my garage that flooded and is a mess atm - thats why all the questions. Also, what heating engine/system did you use? (very nice work)
I've been in the building trades over 25 years, and only a lunatic would actually use metal. Please understand that my harsh remark is just a kind of knee jerk panic reaction to a bad idea, nothing personal at all. Metal would be more expensive, time consuming and harder to work with, and definitely not freeze proof. When PEX (the type of tube used in the picture) 1st came out, some contractors I know put a piece that they had filled with water and capped at each end in their deep freezer (well below zero). Once solid, they beat the Cr** out of it with big hammers. It didn't leak. And that was the 1st generation of PEX. All hydronic slab systems use PEX, as there ain't nothing better out there. Just FYI. I'm calmed down now, sorry.<br/>
Easy tiger. Im a n00b way over my head, shooting ideas around. Plex is the way to go, then 100% . Thank you. I'll update my mental database.
Sorry again, just spazzed out at the thought of metal - I've drilled into regular water lines that some **<sup>&amp;%$##*@@</sup>!!!'s have put into slabs for unknowable reasons. i did over react.+see last sentence of 1st reply<br/>
If I was rich and not fourteen, I would build myself one of these.

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