Straw Bale Building: DIY Wrap-Around Porch


| 7/9/2011 1:57:54 PM


Tags: DIY porch, wrap-around porch, straw bale house, straw bale home, adobe plaster, vigas, felt roofing paper, tar paper, rafters, Dave Larson,

Dave L HeadshotClimate and weather in the high desert of Arizona are harsh. Granted, we don’t have the severe cold of northern states, but monsoonal rains driven by 50 mph winds and intense sun that will burn skin through a long sleeved shirt can be tough on a building made of straw and adobe clay.

To counter the effects of the wind, we built our house with its back to the prevailing winds from the west and put only one window in the back wall. For rain and sun, we opted for a 360 degree porch or patio. Choose the name you like. Basically it’s an extension of our roof 8’ past the outer wall and floored with flagstone. With this overhang, our adobe plaster walls were protected from all but the most severe driving rains and our windows were shaded from the intense Arizona sun. The overhang also gave us a shady spot out of the wind to enjoy our mountain views any time of day. All good things!

 Porch Framing Start 

Our porch began once the trusses were installed on the house. We completed the sides of the porch completely before starting on the main house roof to allow access under what was to be a shallow, 12 inch overhang from house to porch as well as making work on the main roof accessible without ladders.

 Porch Post Anchors 

We had dug out and poured 12”x12” blocks of concrete with 6” post anchors to accommodate our porch posts when we poured our footings. Out here, peeled logs called vigas are often used as visible supports in roofs and ceilings. We used them as vertical porch posts for Southwest aesthetics and the price was not too bad.

Dave Larson
7/18/2011 7:14:01 PM

Hi Cindy, Thank you for your kind words. As a matter of fact, I am in the process of putting together an ebook of the process. A variety of folk, certainly including Nebraska Dave, have encouraged this. Hope to have it out by the first part of September. Barring the "oft gang agley" of the best laid plans, it will be on my website with more detail. I really enjoy your comments on the blog. Have a wonderful day!!


Dave Larson
7/18/2011 6:45:26 PM

Hey N Dave, Thanks for the words on planning. I probably haven't mentioned the things that had to be tweaked or adjusted along the way. So it goes. On the metal roof, we put OSB and felt paper over the trusses and installed batts of R-38 insulation above a knotty spruce ceiling. We have to listen very closely to hear the rain unless it is pounding, a rarity in the desert - but it does happen. Then the noise from the porch metal roof can be heard. We are still doing some projects. Right now we are laying flagstone under the porch roof. We still enjoy the work and appreciate being able to do it. Have a great day!!!


Nebraska Dave
7/14/2011 8:47:24 AM

Dave, I'm always so impressed at how well planned out your house construction was. Double miter cuts? I am impressed. I haven't even thought about doing that let alone attempting it. You have done a great job of building for someone that's not done this before. Does the rain cause a loud sound in the house. My experience has been that the noise level on a tin roof can be quite loud. Of course here in the midwest a tin roof is usually on a machine shed with nothing between the tin roof and my ear. Is your construction completely finished now? Have a great Arizonia straw bale house day.


Cindy Murphy
7/12/2011 7:01:25 AM

Hi, Dave. I've been following your blog here since the beginning, and just have to say I'm amazed. First, that building a house out of straw bales is possible; I admit that images of the unfortunate little pig whose straw house was huffed and puffed upon came to mind when I first started reading. Second, that you took it on as a do-it-yourself project! It's beautiful, and so, so very cool! Enjoy the day!





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