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A Senior Housing Duplex Under Construction (Part 3)


We collaborated with Ben Graham who lent us the seminal book, The Natural Building Companion, published by Chelsea Green Publishing, co-authored by Jacob Deva Racusin and Ace McCarleton, in which Ben also provided drawings and insight. The book along with Ben provided great help in learning how to detail strawbale walls, integrating with timber frame and roof framing. The authors also collaborated in various ways with the builder, Lee Cooper, during the construction assisting Back 2 Basic Builders, the owner and architect helping ensure proper air-sealing details and related strawbale construction.

Interior view showing strawbales next to
door opening resting on 18″ pony walls. The
pony walls will be filled up with dense pack
cellulose insulation.

Since we’re in the middle of the process, Efficiency Vermont will soon be on site to conduct preliminary blower door test to test success so far with air-sealing gaps in construction helpful in reducing energy loss from inside to outside and interior comfort helping to reduce drafts. This initial test will assist Lee the builder and his team in understanding their success so far with air-sealing, especially important with strawbale with multiple coats of plasters, bales, air-fins and timber frame, windows and doors and other wall penetrations proving challenging to air-seal. Efficiency Vermont will return later in the project to conduct final testing.  We’ll let you know more as the project progresses how the final air-sealing turns out.

Lee will also be applying final finish exterior coats of plaster in the coming weeks, hand tinting the plaster. He will also be doing interior plaster work on the strawbales and drywall and painting interior surfaces with clay based non-toxic paints. The building is solar ready with large conduits roughed into the floor slab leading to the mechanical/electrical room for the day when solar electric or hot water panels, whether ground mounted or solar trackers are installed on the site to help create further energy independence and up the self-reliant nature of the project.

Filed under: construction

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