House for sale

STORY OF THE PROCESS

We began looking for land in the counties that surrounded the Northeast Kansas town we lived in, Lawrence. We looked at many different properties between 1995 and 1998, before finding the property on which we now live. After purchasing the land (which we named Chrysalis Farm) in 1998, we began to look into different forms of sustainable building techniques that would be well suited for not only our geographic location, but also our aesthetic tastes. We considered a wide variety of alternative building styles, including a passive-solar envelope home, an earth-rammed tire home (‘Earth Ships’), a home made of structural-insulated-panels, an earth-bermed home, a super-insulated passive-solar form of conventional construction, and a straw-bale home.

Given the proximity of straw to our building site, coupled with the “Old World European” look that is accomplished with the wide window-wells and rough stucco exterior, we decided to build a straw-bale/post-and-beam hybrid. Our home was to be the first straw bale home in the counties surrounding the city of Lawrence in Northeast Kansas.

We worked with local architect J. Steven Lane, who had previously designed a straw bale home on the prairie in central Kansas, and was interested in ‘Green Construction’. We also worked with interior designer and Feng Shui consultant, Laurie Bornstein, who not only helped us with the siting of the house on the land, but with the overall layout of the floor plan and the design of the cabinetry throughout the house. Rod Harms, of Manhattan (Kansas), had previously built several post-and-beam/straw bale hybrid homes, and agreed to act as our consultant in the construction of our home. Monika and I decided that we wanted to serve as the general contractors.

In researching different options for various facets of the building process, we decided to maximize on as many ‘green’ or environmentally-sustainable options that would also work within our budget. We have included pictures of many different stages of the building process online, so that you can get a better idea of the overall timeline it took to construct this house.

FEATURES
The Eichler’s strawbale home was featured in a story for Public Television’s KTWU Sunflower Journeys (episode 1506A)

The Eichler’s kitchen won the ‘Natural Kitchen of the Year’ award for 2003 by Natural Home magazine.

IMAGES OF THE PROCESS

This picture was taken on 5/1/01, about 5 weeks into the building process. At this point the house site has been excavated, the footings poured, and the EcoBlock insulated concrete forms (ICFs) have been delivered onto the site and the construction of the ICFs has begun.
This is a close-up view of the ICFs. There is an 8-inch space where the concrete is poured, with 2.5 inches of Styrofoam on either side. Rebar will provide extra support to the walls, and will be placed horizontally in the ICFs before the concrete is poured into the walls.
Taken on 5/13/01, the ICFs have been fully assembled and are ready for the concrete to be pumped into them.
Taken on 5/17/01, the concrete is pumped into the ICFs.
Taken on 5/22/01, the exterior of the ICFs has had a multi-level waterproofing process applied and drainpipe put down around the perimeter of the exterior.
Taken on 5/25/01, the backfilling process begins. Over 200 dumptruck loads will be required to complete this job. Our neighbor got the better part of a pond dug in exchange for the dirt.
Taken on 5/26/01, the backfilling process continued. This process lasted for several days.
Taken on 6/27/01, the beginning of the house begins to take shape as the trusses separating the lower level (basement) from the main level are now in place. On this day the slab was poured in the basement.
Taken on 6/27/01, from the Southwest corner of the basement, looking toward the Northeast.
Taken on 7/3/01, the trusses separating the main level from the upper level are beginning to go up.
Taken on 7/3/01, the concrete panels which will make the base of the garage are lowered into place. Four panels were delivered, two on the back of each of two semi trailers. The first crane that came to move them into place from the semi was too small.
Taken on 7/03/01, the concrete panels are now in place.
Taken on 7/10/01, the exposed ends of the concrete panels is viewed.
Taken on 7/10/01, this view of the south side of the house reflects the work that has been completed to date. The trusses and decking which separate the main level from the upper level are now in place.
Taken on 7/19/01, the pad for the garage was poured on top of the concrete slabs.
Taken on 7/19/01, the septic tank was installed and the lateral field is being constructed.
Taken on 7/19/01, this view of the south side of the house reflects the progress that continues to occur. Note that the straw has already been delivered on site (800 bales) and is stored in the center area of the house, sheltered behind the blue tarps.
This view, taken on 7/20/01, is of the house looking at its West side. The roof trusses have begun to be set and the straw-in-storage is visible from this angle.
This view, out toward the Southeast on 7/29/01, is taken from what will soon become under the screened-in porch.
In this picture, taken on 8/1/01, you can see the stuffing of the holes in the concrete slabs with fiberglass insulation.
This picture, taken on 8/3/01, is of the West sides of the garage and home. The window boxes have begun to be installed.
Taken on 8/13/01, Chad Bowen, excavator extraordinaire, places rocks which have been dug out of the house site around the south side of the house to create a retaining wall.
Taken on 8/13/01, the crew is putting the final touches on the straw before the stucco process begins.
Taken on 8/13/01, this is the first day that the stucco is applied to the house. The beginning of a multi-month process to apply three coats of stucco, by hand, to the entire exterior.
Taken on 8/14/01, the North side of the garage has received stucco. We make the decision that we want two windows in that wall in the space above the garage, and decide to hold off on continuing to put up bales of straw until we can make and secure the window boxes.
Taken on 8/20/01, with all window boxes now in place, more straw is added around the house.
Taken on 8/29/01, you can see that the areas of the house with exposed straw has to be covered by plastic or tarps every evening to protect it from possible moisture.
Also taken on 8/29/01, the crew has to drape plastic over the straw at the end of every work day.
Looking at the South side of the house (on 9/9/01), straw has been stacked on the first two levels.
Taken on 9/14/01, the majority of the straw is in place and the majority of the first coat of stucco is on.
Taken on 9/22/01, the front door is installed and the stucco is almost completed on the East side of the house.
Taken on 9/22/01, the first of the windows begin getting installed into the window boxes.
Taken on 9/26/01, this is a view of the Southwest bedroom. The horizontal 2x4’s, called ‘purlins’, are put in place to give the window boxes something to anchor to, as well as giving us an anchor for affixing pictures to the wall, once the plaster is on. The electrical switches and outlets are also installed to the purlins.
Taken on 9/30/01, we set about to photograph the location of all purlins in the house and their relative distance to the subfloor and/or location to other permanent objects (windows, doors, etc.).
Taken on 10/21/01 in the inside of the main level. The initial stucco has been completed and the walls are now ready for the three coats of plaster that will be applied over the stucco.
Taken 10/21/01. The first coat of stucco is now complete and all of the windows are in place.
Picture taken 10/27/01. We began the second coat of the stucco process by experimenting with the different colorants that will be added to the stucco. By the time the second coat was completed, the house was covered in lots of differently-colored stucco.
Another picture (taken 10/27/01) in which some of the different subtleties of the colors can be seen in the stucco.
Here is a look of the house taken on 1/13/02, shortly after we moved into it.
Another look at the house taken on 1/13/02.