Straw Bale Utility Building: Step Two on the Desert Homestead

| 4/26/2011 5:50:17 PM

Dave L HeadshotBut we just got done with the Bear Cave…  

Barbara and I had finished work on our adobe Bear Cave and were comfortably sheltered from heat, cold, and wind for eating, sleeping, and relaxing. However, we were still doing laundry in a five gallon bucket and scrubbing adobe-stained socks with a scrub brush.

Our showers came from a 55-gallon barrel on an elevated frame of 2x4s with a piece of hose and a sprinkler head. Trust me when I say that our January showers were brief. 


Our toilet was a bamboo booth with a plywood platform supporting a toilet seat over a 5-gallon bucket of peat moss and sawdust. We referred to it as our toilet model JJJCBCT/5-gal. That translates as a “Joe Jenkins Joint Compound Bucket Composting Toilet / 5 gallon.”  It worked great and contributed to our compost system, but winter visits were short and only marginally comfortable.

So, it looked like we needed another building. The thought made my back hurt.  After all, we had just spent 18 months on the Bear Cave. But out came the books, the pencils, straight edge, and calculator. It was time to build again: inside laundry, inside toilet, sink, and a truly HOT shower coming up.  A straw bale utility building was born.

Dave Larson
4/28/2011 12:03:03 PM

Nebraska Dave, Thanks for your kind words. While I won't argue that a lot of work is involved,the personal satisfaction of doing it ourselves makes it well worth while. Not to mention the financial savings. In our three buildings, (I will blog the main house next - also straw bale) we have paid only for materials. Total outlay for the buildings is about what a new pickup might run. I will have a good building day. Putting in flagstone around the main house today (and tomorrow...)

Nebraska Dave
4/27/2011 6:41:52 PM

Dave, once again I'm impressed with your ingenuity and courage to step out in faith that the end building would be livable. I'm sure you researched quite a bit but still these are way beyond conventional building techniques. I read about this kind of building but never really witnessed anyone who actually used the techniques to build a house they intended to live in. You are a brave hard working man and my hat is off to you. I'm looking forward to reading about the finishing of the houses. Have a great building day.