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Kawartha Lakes


Owner: Helen and Marcel Lafleur


Web site:

Type of building (home, cottage, studio, cabin): home addition and greenhouse/workshop

Construction method (load-bearing, post and beam, hybrid): home addition is Quebec style load bearing and greenhouse/workshop is post and beam with straw bale veneer

Square footage: home is 1600 and greenhouse/workshop is 832

Stories: home addition is one, greenhouse/workshop is two

Stage of completion: home addition is complete, greenhouse/workshop bale walls and roof are complete

Date of occupancy: home addition 1997, greenhouse/workshop 2002

Other unique systems/features of the building: The house addition has 12 foot high ceilings and a large great room (20 x 32) with tall windows to allow solar warming in winter. The greenhouse can be completely closed off from the workshop space, allowing for a comfortable living temperature. A Solviva design, the greenhouse ought to be self heating and cooling when completed in all details.

Builder (owner, contractor, both): home addition by owner, greenhouse/workshop owner with Camel's Back Construction for plaster and Bobcaygeon for timber frame



Engineered components:

Volunteer participation: Four people volunteered for a day to raise the roof beam on the first building

Length of time to build: home addition took 5 months, greenhouse/workshop took 3 months

Foundation method and material(s): Both buildings were built on a floating cement pad which was insulated around the perimeter

Roofing method and material(s): The roof on the house was built of preformed trusses, engineered to size etc, and finished with sheets of OSB board, and asphalt shingles. The greenhouse was roofed with preformed trusses and OSB board, finished with steel.

Bale wall style:

Notes on bale walls (ie, pinned or not, mesh, framing material/style): The house addition walls are loadbearing, and it was built in the Quebec style with bales piled one above the other; the mortar covers all 4 sides and is allowed to set as the work moves on along the wall. No pins, mesh or wood is used in the walls, except for the window framing. The greenhouse was built as a non-loadbearing wall, two stories high. Our greenhouse has a timberframe structure, and a strawbale exterior wall. Light fencing mesh was used to strengthen the walls both sides and stitched to the straw with baling string. No pins were used after the first two rows.

Plastering methods/materials: The walls were plastered with two coats of portland and sand, and a mechanical trowel was used to apply it. The house was plastered with cement also, without mesh.

Other insulation materials:

Window style/materials: The house and workshop has mullioned casement windows, and the solar gain was planned carefully. The greenhouse plans include glass and plastic glazing.

Heat source(s): Heating is done with woodstove, and plans are ahead for added solar thermosiphon heating in both buildings.

Cooling source(s): No cooling is needed because the thick walls make it unnecessary.

Electrical source/system: The electrical source is Ontario hydro, with plans to switch to alternative ASAP.

Water collection/distribution system: Well water for drinking and a collection in barrels for the greenhouse.

Sewage collection/disposal system: Septic tanks disposal system, except in greenhouse which will connect with a greywater treatment field of plants.


Cost for per square foot:

Other information you'd like to share: Building in strawbale has allowed us to have airy spacious buildings at less than conventional structures would cost. We like it and believe it to be the solution for timbered areas with a dry climate such as California and British Columbia; bale houses are less flammable because they are virtually fireproof.




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