Andrew and Gabriella Morrison
Name of Plan
1 plus additional sleeping loft
Concrete Slab on Grade
643 sf (+200 sf loft)
34′ 0” x 25’ 0”
Turn Key: $90,000+
The Applegate Cottage design is about getting back to the basics. Back to when housing was about life and living, and not so much about the status quo. That said, this home isn’t rustic or primitive and incorporates all the conveniences one could want. It’s a perfect fit for a modern and environmentally conscious family.
At 643 sf (plus 200sf in lofts) this is a whole lot of home-sweet-home for the family that needs just a bit more space than a tiny. The simplicity in the design, including the open loft and common spaces, makes it comfortable while keeping the budget in control. We know people who have built this home from start to finish for around $30,000!
The entry to the Applegate Cottage leads you into a spacious living area. The high vaulted ceilings make the space feel open, yet comfortable. The wood burning stove in the corner makes the home feel even more perfect, especially on chilly fall and winter afternoons. During hot summer months, the sun will be shielded by passive solar design elements. One of the beauties about straw bale construction is that no matter the season, the super insulated wall systems will keep your home climatized.
From the living area turning to the right is a private bedroom, large enough for a queen size bed as well as floor space for moving around. The kitchen and bath are placed next to each other so as to keep your plumbing costs down. To the left in the kitchen is a cozy breakfast nook. The small bump-out adds all the space you’ll need for a comfortable dining area. Above the kitchen and bathroom is the sleeping loft. It’s perfect for kids or guests, and has legal ceiling heights for conventional construction. In fact, the entire cottage is IRC code compliant.
This cottage has been built around the world in many locations by many happy owners. The common thread is that the home was not only inexpensive to build, but remains incredibly inexpensive to operate; the energy efficiency is amazing! If you’re interested in seeing another straw bale tiny house, click on THIS link.
Fully Dimensioned Floor Plans
Building (Exterior & Interior) Elevations
Door and Window Schedules
Building Sections with Detail Call Outs and Elevations
Roof Framing Plan
Multiple Framing Detailed Sections
Upon checkout receive download links for a full suite of step-by-step instruction on how to build a straw bale house. Everything from How to Build a Concrete Slab Foundation, How to Frame a Straw Bale House, How to Build a Post & Beam Straw Bale House, and How to Plaster a Straw Bale House.
Bungalow; Minimalist; Traditional
over 600 sf
Concrete Slab on Grade
Full Ceiling Height and Storage
Apartment Size Appliances
Full Sized Lavatory
Composting or Flushing Toilet
Secondary Shed Roof
Straw Bale Walls
High Density Batt Insulation
Gas Fireplace or Wood Stove
Straw Bale Construction
Solar Ready (battery storage space, etc.)
Then welcome! A little about it… Straw bale construction is three times more efficient than a conventionally framed wall, three times more fire resistant, and uses a ‘waste’ material that is typically burned in the fields, creating an environmentally friendly solution. It is a construction technology which has been tried and true (there are homes built out of straw bales well over 100 years old) and which is building code compliant in nearly all areas. Straw bale construction is easy to learn (think stacking giant lego blocks), cost effective, and environmentally pretty much as friendly as it gets. Electrical wiring runs through the straw bale walls safely and plumbing is designed to stay out of the bales by building isolations within the walls to ensure that should there be a water leak in the plumbing it doesn’t ruin the inner bales.
Beautiful!!! Upon first seeing a straw bale home people typically fall in love with the thickness of the walls, the deep window seats, the warmth and coziness that the walls exude, and the calm they feel in the space. There is a softness to the walls that we are not used to in western culture because we have typically grown up in homes comprised of sharp angles. Very often, once someone comes and spends a little time in a straw bale home, they are ‘hooked’ on the idea of straw bale and have a hard time going back to their conventionally framed homes. For loads more photos and information, please click here.
Are you frustrated by how much time you have to spend working to pay for your large, inefficient home? Do you crave a life where your expenses are significantly lower so that you can have more time to do the things you love to do? Do you look around your home and see how inefficient the design is and how much space has no use or purpose? You are paying for that wasted space! Are you amazed each time your utility bills comes in at how much it costs to heat and cool your large home? Do you dream of living in a home in which every nook and cranny has a purpose? In conjunction with Chris Keefe of Organicforms Design, we created the Applegate as a real solution for anyone looking for a viable and more positive alternative to the current epidemic of large home living mentality.
Yes. A typical straw bale wall is roughly three times as efficient as conventional framing. Over the life of a typical thirty year mortgage, this superior insulation can reduce energy costs by up to 75%, saving money and vital natural resources.
No. Canadian and U.S. materials laboratories have found that: “The straw bale/mortar structure wall has proven to be exceptionally resistant to fire.” In these tests, the flames took more than two hours to penetrate the plastered bale walls. Conventional framing built to commercial standards took only 30 minutes to one hour to burn. Due to their tight compaction, bales contain very little oxygen and thus resist combustion. It’s like trying to burn a phone book. Loose straw; however, is at risk for fire and should be cleaned from the job site daily. Walls should be plastered as early as possible to increase their fire resistance.
Pests are more of an imagined concern than a real threat. Once the walls are properly plastered or sided, there is no way for bugs or rodents to get into the bales. If pests were to get inside, they would find it almost impossible to move in the densely packed bales. Termites and other pests pose more of a problem to conventional construction than they do to straw bale structures.
Straw bale homes provide superior sound absorption compared with conventional houses. This will be especially important in the town homes. The sound absorption between units will help create separation between common wall homes.
There are a number of things to keep in mind when shopping for bales. Know the size you are designing to (two string, three string, etc…). The straw should be golden in color. Darker straw is often an indication of water damage. Check the density of the bales. The bale should not deform dramatically when lifted by one string. Use a hand held moisture meter to check moisture content. Bales have to be below 20% MC for construction. Finally, check for uniform shape. If the bales are all shaped properly, the baling machine was most likely set well, producing consistent bales.
The best way to learn the art of straw bale construction is by taking a workshop. We offer 7 day comprehensive hands-on workshops in several locations each year. These events are not only highly instructional, but also a ton of fun and often a life changing experience for those in attendance. You can find the list of current workshops here. If you are unable to take time off work and attend, consider purchasing one of our instructional Straw Bale DVDs. We cover all aspects of Straw Bale construction from foundation tips to finish plaster and everything in between.
This takes experience. You might want to build a small structure yourself, start to finish, like the one shown in our straw bale DVDs and instant download videos. The techniques described in the videos will help you fully understand the needs of the subcontractor. Scheduling is a little different that conventional homes because the inclusion of bales affects the installation of rough wiring and plumbing.
Moisture concerns can be handled easily with proper design and construction methods. So long as the bales are installed when dry (moisture content of 14% or less) and are properly sealed within the plaster and protected from water infiltration, they will perform well. The 2015 and 2018 International Residential Code, Appendix S (“Straw Bale Structures”) has standards in place to accommodate this design and construction. Even if a building is heavily rained on, it will be fine as long as it is allowed to dry out. Problems arise when high moisture levels above 20%) are sustained for long periods of time.
Organic material requires both oxygen and water in order to decompose. With proper construction techniques, water will not enter the building thus making decomposition impossible. Rice straw, in particular, has a high silica content which increases its resistance to decay. Straw has been used as an insulating material for many centuries, and has even been found in excellent condition in Egyptian tombs thousands of years old. Straw will not decompose as long as its moisture content is kept low.
Bale walls do not breathe in the sense of allowing air to move through the walls. In fact, it is a good idea to limit air infiltration into the walls as air carries moisture. When we say they breathe, we are referring to the movement of moisture through, and out of, the walls. It is critical that moisture moves out of the walls. Permeable plasters such as Lime or Earth should be used in wet or humid climates and Cement based plasters should only be used in dry climate climates, if at all. This transfer of moisture improves indoor air quality without sacrificing energy efficiency and keeps the bales dry. Straw is a natural material, and as such it does not off gas the way conventional insulations do, adding to the health of the home and its occupants.
Bale walls can be finished in many ways. The typical options include lime plaster, stucco, and earth plaster. Each of these materials has its pro and cons although some have more cons than pros. When choosing a finish material, consideration must be given to durability, maintenance requirements, permeability, flexibility, strength, ease of application, cost, embodied energy, and aesthetics. The most important factors are the finish’s breathability, embodied energy, and durability.
Bale homes built in the 1800’s till exist in Nebraska and Europe. Straw bale homes have consistently withstood severe weather and wind in Wyoming as well as major earthquakes in California.I will reply to your e-mail about Insider’s Guide #3 so we can get cranking on that material. Many architects and engineers consider straw bales to be the ideal “seismic-resistant” building material. In wind tests, bale structures see no movement in a sustained 75 mph gale and only 1/16 inch movement with 100 mph gusts.
The use of straw bales can have a huge impact on our natural resources and air pollution. Each year, the U.S. alone burns or disposes of 200 million tons of ‘waste straw,’ producing massive amounts of carbon dioxide. The use of straw as insulation reduces the need for initial energy outputs in regards to manufacturing. There is less embodied energy in straw as it is available in almost every local market, thereby reducing transportation costs and efforts. Straw is a renewable resource that has a one year growth/harvest cycle. By using this local, agricultural by-product as a building material, we reduce energy expenditures, the amount of straw burned, and the use of fossil fuels needed for material transportation.
When a quality plaster is used, most items can be hung directly on the plaster with conventional plaster screws and plugs. This is true for pictures, coat hangers, and other small items. In order to hang larger items such as kitchen cabinets, wooden drive stakes must be used to anchor the hangers into the bales before the plaster is applied. By driving a wooden stake into the tough interior of the bales, a solid base is laid onto which just about any load can be applied. In the case of extremely heavy loads, a bolt can be threaded through the bales and fastened to an over sized washer on the opposite side of the wall.
In a perfect world, plumbing would be kept out of the bales entirely. Whenever possible, design a structure so that the plumbing can be run through the floor and interior stick frame walls. Check with your plumber about “wet venting” plumbing fixtures so the vents can also be run through the floor to interior walls. When it is not possible to keep plumbing out of the bales, you can either build a faux wall in front of the bales in which to run the plumbing or you can place the plumbing in a continuous sleeve which will contain any leaks or sweaty pipes.
Although Romex is allowed by many codes for straw bale construction, most building inspectors want to see direct burial cable (UF-B) in the walls when a sheathed wiring is employed. If wire upgrades are possible in the future, or if additional circuits may someday be added, it is a good idea to use flexible chases with single wires pulled through. If, at a later date, you decide to upgrade the system, you can simply pull new wires through the conduit to the desired location. To reduce the effects of electrical magnetic fields (EMFs) use metal cased, twisted wire. The twist in the wire along with the metal conduit reduces the emission of EMFs. Electrical boxes are typically screwed to tapered stakes driven flush with back of recesses cut into the straw. The wires are then let into the boxes. It is important to hold the wires back from the face of the bales so they are not damaged during the construction or post construction process.
Straw bale construction is famous for its high energy efficiency. You can expect to have walls with R-40 ratings, far exceeding code requirements. These cottages are perfect for cold climates, hot climates, and just about anything in between. The one climate they don’t do well in is areas with high humidity for long periods of time.
The Applegate Cottage plans do not come with an engineer’s stamp, even though the building was engineered when it was originally designed. The reason is that engineering requirements vary so much from jurisdiction to jurisdiction and there’s just no way to anticipate what the needs will be for each plan sale we make. As such, if your building department requires a stamped set of plans, the next step would be to speak with an engineer. We can connect you with the original engineer who may be the least expensive because all of the original work is already done. He just needs to confirm that everything is in place to satisfy your jurisdiction’s requirements and make any necessary changes accordingly. You may also have to create a site specific plot plan for your construction drawings that shows required elements like property lines, wells and septic fields, existing and proposed structures, etc. In most cases, a hand sketched, drawn to scale plot plan on 8 1/2 x 11 paper will suffice. Check with your local building department to confirm their requirements
I have seen a spiral staircase and a custom metal staircase used to access the loft. It takes some reworking of the plans to make it work (to find room), but it’s absolutely possible.
Title Page with:
Wall to Floor Connection Details
Tie Down/Anchor Details
Roof Detail Sections:
Construction Details Showing the following details:
Window Jamb Details
Window Sill Details
Door Header Details
Door Jamb Details