Re: The Real Con
From: Harry Pasternak (
Date: Mon, 12 Jun 95 15:16 CDT

Can you answer Maire questions?
Over the years, I have watched many folks become guineau pigs--because
someone (a so-called expert) had this "fantastic way" of building. This not
only happened with homes; but, with complete communities.
Some example: 
- the "Double Envelope House" that "froze" people in the winter in Vai.l
- the  "Underground Homes" built in Canada that "froze" people because the
ground temperature is certainly different from that of Phoenix (where it can
- the " Passive Solar Homes" that cooked people in the summer and froze them
in the winter.
_ the "perfectly planned" city of Columbia Maryland that caused children to
cross 8 lanes of expressway (no bridge!) in order to get to the "local"
playground--the only real way was to get there by car
- And then there is cohousing............

So before people are sent off to build permanent straw bale homes and common
buildings, I believe that they should know at least the following:

* Tested R Value of Straw Bales:
- Can you give me the name of the accredited laboratory (for testing
insulation) that tested the "R" value of a fresh straw bale and an aged straw
bale ?
- It is approved by any Code authority in North America?
- Can you get a mortgage?

* Cost of Strawbale Construction Versus Conventional:
- Can you give the name of one quantity surveyor (or cost engineer) that has
done a cost analysis (both labor and materials) of a dozen or so strawbale
house with that of a conventional built homes, the same style/size etc. ?
 - Can I get a copy of the report?

* Finishes and Skills For The Do It Yourself:
- Is it just as easy to plaster and stucco for a beginner as it is to learn
how to do drywall ?
- Is it just as easy to build post and beam for beginners as it is to do
stick framing?

*Environmental Issues:
- How many tons of pesticides and herbicides are used in the agricultural
system that finally produces the straw?
- How much production does it take to pay for the tractors at $75,000 a pop?
- How many water diversion schemes (and at what $ cost and environmetal
costs) does it take to get water to the farm fields?
- What's the cost (both $ and ecological) of the fertilizer to replace the
lost nutrients?
- What's the planetary cost of cutting our forests and turning the space into
agricultural uses.?

Harry Pasternak
Unpaid Volunteer For D.I.Y.'s Who Need Info On Designing and Building 
Affordable,Frugal Supportive Neighborhoods, Who Works At:
Thousand Islands Institute
The Independent Centre For Housing Research & Education
(Harry_Pasternak [at]


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  • The Real Con Tom Ponessa, June 10 1995
    • Re: The Real Con Harry Pasternak, June 12 1995
    • The Real Con TIM HEUSER, June 13 1995

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