Natural Building: Choosing A Site for Our Passive Solar Straw Bale Home!

in dtube •  2 months ago  (edited)

The major project this year has in store for us is building a passive solar post and beam straw bale home.

Today we are laying out the footprint, an exciting step towards getting our house built!

We're been sitting with this decision for years now, "Where will we build our house?"

We have long considered this area the site of our primary forest garden and main living space due to rich soil, gently sloping topography, proximity to the creek, prime views and prime solar gain potential.


Quite a beautiful view- house sits just north of the Orchard (where we planted willow yesterday if you’re following along!)

Today we are getting a more clarified idea of where the house will be.

The decision to build a passive solar house is a shoe in for us. We can get free heat from the sun- why wouldn't we design our home to capture, store and radiated the magnificent heat of the sun?

This means we will do best to orient our house on a long East/West axis and have the a large expanse of glazing on the south side coupled with great insulation and substantial thermal mass to store the heat.

Needs to be between:



Being in the northern hemisphere, the south wall should face within 15 degrees of true south (at our latitude, the different between true south and magnetic south is less than 5 degrees) for maximum gain. We're using a compass to get a bearing for our southern walls.

The first steps of the design process have been completed, a foundation plan has been made and we have a few measurements to work with.

We have the outside dimensions of the foundation as well as a diagonal between corners. Using trigonometry (one of the ONLY time high school match comes in handy), we can ensure the layout is square and all corners are where they need to be before inviting a backhoe to move some earth.

This rough marking is going to allow us to get a better feel for the site, as we can now visit it and go through the motions of daily activities. We've already been watching and tracking the sun in the area, and now we can hone in on details. It is a very exciting moment to say the least!

Using flags and a 100 foot tape, we're starting to nail down where our house will lie.

We're aware of what a big disturbance the foundation will make on the land. Digging a 2 foot by 2 foot deep trench will make a big impact on the land, so we're planning carefully and sitting with our lay out before moving ahead.

Stay tuned as we make head way on our passive solar straw bale house.

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Oh my god.. that must have been so exciting putting in the first flags!!!! Hey on the web site you are offering apprencships... is that for the build too? (I'm about to read that page!)

Unfortunately I won't be able to join you to help but I will be there in spirit... way too many things on my plate this year. I was asking because I'm coming up with some questions for that Vendor Feature on HSCO for you!

What an amazing journey you're on 😁😁😁!

Thanks for sharing


hey cool! so so exciting! yeah the apprenticeship this year is mainly for the build! mondo exciting :) good to see you senor!


Very tempted to help out on the build! Gonna have to see how long a drive this is, not promising anything though! I really should stay home and work on ours...

Cool i helped build a straw bale house as a kid, what kind of plaster are you coating it with? I also used to build rammed earth homes.

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Cool! We’ll be using lime plaster and clay in various parts of the build! Where did you grow up?

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I grew up in arizona so rammed earth and passive solar was really effective there.

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Awesome! Yes an ideal climate!


I knew a guy who built a house out of old tires filled with dirt, though i wouldn't trust the chemicals in the rubber as part of one's home.

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Never even heard of this before. Sounds a little too crazy for me. Glad you are both on board. Hope you know what you are doing.


Haha I hope we know what we’re doing too 😂😉 Ini is more experienced than I and this will be our third building project on the land. We’ve practiced in order to be able to handle a project this big. Read a lot and interned at places doing it! Stay tuned to see how it unfolds.... 👍🏼💙

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Thanks!! I’ll look more into your project. Appreciate the good vibes and the hard work y’all are doing.

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This is cool, following you as you build, while we are also preparing to build. Not straw bale, a conventional passive solar like the rest of the house. I am enjoying the differences!

Ah!! I can feel the bubbling excitement coming from @mountainjewel! How very fun! It's awesome to be part of your journey as your dream comes to life! It's wonderful you are sharing these steps with us. 💗☀️🌳

Thank you so much for participating in the Partiko Delegation Plan Round 1! We really appreciate your support! As part of the delegation benefits, we just gave you a 3.00% upvote! Together, let’s change the world!

I’m so excited for you! I’ve also decided passive solar is a must have. My builder suggested light straw clay for my location, but as cold as it is where you are I guess strawbales provide better insulation. Nice to see things continue to develop on the homestead there.

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thanks dear! yes a must have indeed--- and esp in your climate as well. so you're considering building there again? thanks for stopping by :)


I'm leaving it to the Divine. It's up for sale for about $20k more than I paid for it. So whichever happens first is what I will do. Either it sells at that price, or crypto gains allow me to build 3 units on it the way I want, so I do and rent them all out, making one short term so I can visit when I want. I am clear that I intend to make NC my main home though, near my family.


wow, that's pretty special - near your family! a good choice. i like your up-in-the-divine-air decision making style too :)