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Permies.com Forum Discussion — 4 Comments

  1. I’ve thought often about doing the pole construction/post-and-beam with earthbag or straw bale in-fill. When it comes to earthbags as an in-fill, I always worried about how well bags would conform to the posts. I also worry about how well they would compact/harden, as a result of potentially poorly-conformed sections next to the beams.

    How would you address those concerns, Owen? Obviously the bags/bales aren’t structural, in this situation. Is the compaction not necessarily as important, as a result? Is it just a matter of ensuring a good tie-in between the top of the walls and the upper framework and maybe some vertical stabilizing periodically throughout the walls’ construction?

    Maybe I just answered my own question, but I’ll feel better hearing the (best) answer from an engineer. ;-]

    • The post and beam frame is structural all by itself. Like you say, the earthbags or bales are just infill. You can put the posts on the exterior, the interior or inside the walls. Both bales and earthbag can be shaped around the posts. It’s probably easiest to put the posts on the interior so the bales/earthbags are stacked uninterrupted. Less work that way. Plus, this leaves the post and beam exposed for esthetics. That’s where recycled wood or roundwood really shine.

      Bales and bags can be easily attached to the wood frame with pieces of expanded metal mesh or scrap metal sheeting.

      A post and beam frame allows you to work out of the sun and rain in greater comfort. There’s also less tarping/UV and rain damage concerns.

  2. Pole construction or post and beam construction is very fast and efficient. It’s easy to get code approval. Once the roof is on you can add straw bales, earthbags, scoria bags, whatever are your leisure. Ex: Start with a scoria bag or gravel bag foundation and stack straw bales on top. That would be very fast and provide high insulation value. Again, take into consideration the climate, codes and what’s available in your area.

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