Building with friends for family

Here’s the original “Home With Soul”, built by Josh and his family after Josh completed his apprenticeship at the Heartwood School in the late 1990s. Josh feels this is probably still some of his best work. How many forks can you spot?

Straw Clay Walls

To build these walls, a mixture of loose straw and clay slip is stuffed into a formwork between studs (usually a double stud wall connected by plywood gussets to create a 12″ cavity), and packed down until it’s solid. The forms can then be removed if they’re not part of the finished wall system. It’s a fairly time consuming process, but is easy to do in stages, takes very little skill, and is fun for all ages.

Straw provides the insulation, and the clay glues the straw together, provides thermal mass which helps regulate temperature swings (ie, it can ‘hold heat’), and helps manage moisture in the walls. The walls in this house have radiant tubing running through them, taking advantage of said mass. Straw clay walls are typically finished with clay or lime plaster (as is the case on the inside of this house) but can also be finished in any number of more familiar ways, as in the board siding used on the exterior of this house.

A Home to Grow Old With

This is the oldest house shown on our website. All the photos below were taken twenty years after construction began. The siding has weathered, and the gardens have grown in. For the most part though, this house doesn’t looked aged so much as loved and lived in. The care that went into the handmade nature of this house has been matched by the care the owners have shown the house over time. May we all be so blessed to have such a nourishing home that continues to inspire over the years.