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Name: The Robins' Nest Retreat

Owner: Gail and Brian Robins


Web site:

Type of building (home, cottage, studio, cabin): home, bed and breakfast and retreat centre

Construction method (load-bearing, post and beam, hybrid): load-bearing

Square footage: 2844

Stories: one

Stage of completion: complete

Date of occupancy: July 27, 2000

Other unique systems/features of the building: masonry heater, largest single story load bearing building in Canada (that we know of!)

Builder (owner, contractor, both): both

Designer: Gail and Brian Robins


Engineered components:

Volunteer participation: family, friends and strangers all pitched in for stacking bales and getting ready to spray the masonry. We couldn't have done it as quickly as we did without the wonderful hands and energy of the volunteer helpers. Cudos to bale enthusiasts!!!

Length of time to build: 1 year

Foundation method and material(s): floating pad, styrofoam insulation and vapour barrier under it with styrofoam down the outside of the pad for 12" and out for 2 ft.

Roofing method and material(s): Wooden trusses with steel roofing

Bale wall style: Nebraska

Notes on bale walls (ie, pinned or not, mesh, framing material/style): no pinning, mesh, 2x4 and 2x8 framing for doors and windows

Plastering methods/materials: sprayed masonry (Hi-Bond) 2 coats inside and out with Stonemasons Instant waterproofing cement (colour pigment added) to seal the outside and Sheetrock 90 sponged on the inside

Other insulation materials: blown cellulose in the attic

Window style/materials: vinyl double hung, low E argon gas

Heat source(s): Cross fire masonry heater supplemented by propane water heaters in the bathrooms

Cooling source(s): none, extended 3 ft. eaves help to keep the sun out in the summer

Electrical source/system: hydro at this time, planning for bio-diesel generator and solar in the future

Water collection/distribution system: drilled well, rainbarrels on each corner for garden use

Sewage collection/disposal system: traditional septic


Cost for per square foot: Approx. $65

Other information you'd like to share: We did all the interior finishing ourselves except for some of the wiring. Although it was tiring and there were times we felt we were never going to be finished, it is very rewarding to know that our love and energy is in every inch of this home.





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