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Hybrid house in Clunes (Vic) – your thoughts…

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    Oh Andre I just adore it.

    Re Peter Lees. I have his plans and his knowledge is invaluable but I think he’s probably not the one for this project.

    The ABCB requires engineering certificates for this type of thing now and Peter isn’t an engineer sadly. You’ll probably find it better to find an engineer who can work in with a draughtsman. A cheaper alternative me thinks. I had a quote for $2,000 to get the F15 required by the ABCB and BSA for Peters plans. In hindsight I wouldn’t have got them had I realised that. That’s just my feeling but if you can afford to pay thousands for him to draw them up as well at least you know he knows his stuff hey!:shrug:


    It’s a great looking design Andre, should be a beautiful home :tup:

    the interior walls will all use the same form-work. The arc with a 5 m radius. The tower is a 2.5 m radius.

    You could try checking out concrete tank manufacturers, as they might be using a curved formwork for that. I’ve got a stack of I-beam that was used to make the huge municipal water tanks, all perfectly curved, though the radii are 12m+ so a bit big for what you’re looking to do.


    Aww man Geoff! That’s awesome. I’ve been trying to compare the country dream to city life lately and one of the things that strikes me is the availability of waste for recycling in cities as opposed to country areas where everything gets used to death. That’s a prime example.

    There is so much waste in cities today. Bad for the environment but great for the environmentalist so long as the councils don’t outlaw it. The one thing I’ve noticed is that country areas…contrary to what I expected…are not as environmentaly aware as city folk these days.

    Andre I forgot to tell you …. in a recent conversation with Peter he said he didn’t believe strawbale could ever be load bearing successfully. However I’m still a fan of his ethos I have to say.


    Andre I know absolutely nothing helpful and technical about building stuff and thingies but that house looks fantasmagorical to me. I would love to live in it.



    Thank you all .. I am glad everyone seems to like it. I had a sneaking suspicion that it was too outlandish .. for some at least.

    I’ll keep that in mind Geoff (re the concrete tank manufacturers).

    toosusie, I can’t understand Peter’s thinking when there are literally thousands of strawbale load-bearing houses around the world. Some of them have been standing for decades with-out any major problems.

    Several Australian companies run both load-bearing and in-fill courses, and I am sure if the loadbearing was faulty, they wouldn’t touch it (espicially with liability claims etc.)

    And as you also mentioned, he may not be the one for me after all .. It appears that his plans are less expensive simply because they are all squares / right angles, and are basically generic.

    My design, being totally ‘free form’ (shall we call it that?) would probably require more time for drafting than a standard box-type structure.



    Oh Andre…outlandish … I don’t think so. It would probably win an award of some kind being all environmentally sound etc. Peter also makes no secret of the fact he is an adobe fan and I agree with your summation. The thing I like most about his ethos though is, he is trying to provide a service teaching owner builders how to build affordably and think out side the box so to speak but your design needs an engineering touch IMHO. I personally adore strawbale as a medium and I’d have done a course up here if it had been more affordable and available more often as it is down south. Maybe now the flights are more affordable I’ll revisit this course and be the change I want to see in Queensland. Don’t be swayed by what others think and stick to your dream. In other words be true to yourself and your reality. I love all your ideas so far :tup: Plain sailing mate 😆


    Hi Andre !

    Looks great if you can get it through the council without too many alterations. Couple of points from a straw bale owner builder:

    1) You mentioned you have seen the bales in a paddock nearby. I really hope you are not hoping to store them for two years on your block, but that you will buy the next harvest instead. If you are planning to store them, do NOT EVEN ATTEMPT to have them under tarps and think they will stay dry – they don’t ! Well, that is if it rains. We had our stored for a number of months and many were wasted. Also, if you do store them, and during the construction process, use plenty of ratsack or similar as the mice and rats will find them very quickly and move in.

    2) We did a post and beam structure, but I do think a load bearing structure should work really well. Only problem is covering up all the walls during the construction period. It is not a big problem getting bales a bit wet on the side during construction, but if they get rain on top, it goes really badly. Again my own experience from an outside wall that didn’t get covered in time. Had to remove the top 2 layers of bales and re-do them.

    3) I hope your soil report won’t cause you disappointment when it comes to the foundations. We had originally hoped to do an earth floor, but with highly reactive clays, we ended up having to go with a waffle pod slab. We do have friends who did an earth floor in the second stage on their straw bale house and concluded that when the third stage is to be done, they will go for a slab. Reasons were both the time it took and the amount of cement they still had to use mixing it with the earth and for the extra strength they needed for the foundations.

    4) You could build some internal walls of in-situ adobe, but I do not think they necessarily would qualify as load bearing walls. You would have to check this out with an engineer.

    Anyway, good luck and hope all plans come to fruit !!! 😀




    toosusie – was booked in to a local strawbale workshop, but was postponed .. but have a couple of years to get it done. I might do a couple …

    Hi jodieandgeir

    umm.. nope .. not intending to organise any strawbale deliveries in the near future … planning on January 2011 – when I have left the Navy. I was ecstatic when I saw the bales in the field though; trying to keep costs down as well as minimising embodied energy in unnecessary transport. Not sure if I can get exactly what I want, but these were the jumbo bales. At first I thought great!.. then I thought, do I really need jumbos … then recent thinking is that to minimise the difficulty with the roofline, I could have the whole house being two storey – that being the case (and that normal strawbale walls aren’t supposed to be over 2.5 m in height) perhaps the jumbo bales WILL be the way to go… a tad heavier to shift though …

    … vary aware of the ramifications of wet strawbales, and will ensure I have plenty of tarps/covers at hand just in case. (perhaps I shoud consider the possibility of hiring a marquee …lol)

    and yes, the soil report is something I will be very keen to see

    Just between you and me (and considering the current design), I am going to make the house plan as simple as possible. What I might do to the house after all the building inspections are over is anyones guess … 😉


    Andre wrote:

    (and that normal strawbale walls aren’t supposed to be over 2.5 m in height)

    Well, I don’t know about that. We have straw bale walls on our souther and most exposed wall which are about 3.5 meters or so. But these are not load bearing so that may very well make the difference.

    As far as I remember from a book I looked at a long time ago a winery somewhere near Sydney was bulit with jumbo bales as a load bearing design. But you might then have to get a 4wd forklift inn to handle them for you.



    Ps. glad to hear you are not planning to store your bales for two years ! It would have given ME nightmares just thinking about it.


    Good on you, Andre, for daring to do something different. I like the look of your plans. I do have reservations about the distance from kitchen to pantry, though. Good luck with it, looking forward to seeing the pictures once you get started.



    I reckon your house plans are great Andre :tup:

    Don’t forget to invite all your cyber mates along to your house warming, so we can check it out when its a finished product :tongue:


    J&G .. once I do my strawbale workshop, I’ll be better informed, but from the literature (I generally only take note of the load-bearing style) the walls aren’t supposed to go over 7 courses of bales (standard) which makes it 2.8 m before compression.

    KD … I will review the pantry, but as mentioned, it is predominantly located in the mud-room as it can be where the bulk of the fresh produce can be stored. I will more than likely put in a ‘largish’ larder in the kitchen – perhaps that awkward corner in the laundry which joins onto the kitchen’s north-west wall.

    Humbug .. your on!

    Let it be known that in December 2011 you are all cordially invited to a house warming at Clunes!:metal: There may even be a tipi or two for the lucky ones. :tup:

    You might have to BYOE(bring your own everything) – depending on how the crops go …

    Revised house plans will be thrown up here for further discussion.

    A couple of other items I have yet to detail is the greenhouse/conservatory on the north wall and the shade-house on the southern side.

    Thanks for the comments people. :tup:

    I want you all to be totally critical though. I need to do this so that if/when I encounter resistance from the council, I will be prepared. (assuming your input hasn’t already made me reconsider certain aspects). :clap:


    Have you considered a design of your place yet ?>>?>?

    I’m going to be looking for a little land very soon, to use for my cert 4 in Permaculture…..


    It’s hard to be “totally critical” of such a design that’s both so practical and so gorgeous Andre. Why don’t you do a crappy one instead 😉

    I do have a couple of questions. One is about the dimensions. I know you said these drawings aren’t to scale, but what are the numbers along the side and bottom? If they’re metres, it’s a mighty big house. Do you have ideas for how to use all the downstairs space, especially that narrowish section of the living room. If they’re not… how big are the WCs and are you sure there’s space to clean their floors easily, especially the downstairs one. I think it all depends on where you put things?

    Also on the subject of dimensions, how big is the dining room (and spare bedroom) and how wide is the passageway? About 2 metres at the narrowest, which is about the dining room door? Have you thought much about how to use that area? Seems like a lot of space if it’s purely passageway. I went back for another look at the plans as I was writing that, and I’m thinking now that the space might be easier to use if the teardrop is a little fatter and a little shorter than in the sketch??? If you see what I mean.

    The other question is the mud room. I’m phosphorescent green with envy about this and about the gigantic pantry / store room. My dream houses always have a tub and running water in the mud room though, and a bench for trimming and sorting things before they go to the kitchen or the store room. Have you thought about that? Is there a way to get it without vastly extending the pipes?

    I have to say I’m just the teeniest bit skeptical about the laundry pulley system. Might be a failure of my imagination, but I have visions of 6’5″ of Andre draped in 6 metres of damp sheets and towels while a storm rages outside the window. Systems like this seem to work fine in Europe though… can we come and play with the finished version?

    Did you say what the roof will be?

    Hope this is helpful, even if it’s not criticism. I absolutely love the curving design and the layout.



    Hi Andre, I’ve only just seen this – still catching up. Wow! What a stunning design. I certainly don’t think it’s “way out” – it’s just outside the square. :tup:

    I think the pantry is really well located if its purpose is for storing bulk items, preserves, produce stored for winter etc. So long as you have some food storage in the kitchen for everyday stuff, the distance is not too great.

    The mudroom is fantastic, but I’d agree a tub would be a huge plus here, even if it only has cold water.

    I also really like the wide passageways. Circulation through a house is really important to how liveable it is. In the old days houses had really wide hallways so two servants could pass while carrying trays, or ladies in hoop skirts could move about without knocking over the console table, etc. These days hallways and transition areas are very skimpy and I think that’s a mistake. You end up impeded trying to pass in the hallway and so on. Stress-free living requires easy movement between spaces.

    One thing I did think might be an issue is the dimensions of the lounge, thinking in 3D. I’m not sure what kind of roofline you have in mind but it looks like that space could end up a lot taller than it is deep, which can feel uncomfortable when you’re sitting in it. I also thought that curved wall is just begging for a built-in seat piled with cushions overlooking the garden. 😀

    Oooh! I can’t wait to see it! Good on you. :clap:

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