Building with Straw Bale or Adobe: Three Options for Footings and Stem Walls

| 5/19/2011 12:10:01 PM

Tags: homestead, straw bale building, adobe block, stem wall, footings, asphalt emulsion, owner/builders, Dave Larson,

A photo of Dave LarsonIn keeping with our goal of creating a pay-as-you-build desert homestead, we used our own labor and, as much as we could, hand tools. This included digging out the trenches for the footings and stem walls of our first two buildings with a pick and shovel.

 By the time we were ready to build our main house, however, my age (the wrong side of 65) and the magnitude of the task at hand dictated acquiring something heavier than pick and shovel for moving dirt.  Buying a used mini-backhoe, dubbed the Tonka Toy, solved our problem. It was powerful enough for our tasks, while small enough to maneuver among our desert plants without too much damage.

       Tonka Toy

Building #1 – The Adobe Bear Cave 

When we built our three buildings here on the desert homestead, we had three different sets of conditions for our foundations. Our first building had the heaviest walls by far, being solid adobe. But it was also the thinnest wall, about half of our two-foot plus plaster straw bale walls.

       Bear Cave Stem Wall
5/15/2018 9:41:52 PM

I used the plans at WWW.EASYWOODWORK.ORG to build my own – I highly recommend you visit that website and check their plans out too. They are detailed and super easy to read and understand unlike several others I found online. The amount of plans there is mind-boggling… there’s like 16,000 plans or something like that for tons of different projects. Definitely enough to keep me busy with projects for many more years to come haha Go to WWW.EASYWOODWORK.ORG if you want some additional plans :)

jim simpkins
7/11/2011 3:13:57 PM

How can I get a complete copy of this article? Great looking home.

Jacqueline Ryckman
5/25/2011 7:28:49 PM

Great article and an amazing job! Being a single person I do not think that I would attempt to do this by myself, as far as the house goes anyway. What caught my attention is that I am planning on building my own home in the Southwestern / Adobe style as I live is a desert area. I might attempt it on some very small out buildings though. Great pictures too!

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