Sunday, February 21, 2010

Green House Tour (for Apartment Therapy)

Everyone has heard The Three Little Pigs. The first little pig builds a house of straw, but the wolf blows it down. Randy from western Maryland disproved this story when he built his own straw home--and it's still standing eight years later. When Randy got the idea to build a straw house, he could not stop thinking about it until finally he just decided to do it. His family lived in a large home on the same property, but as his children left home, the expense and size of the home because too burdensome. Knowing that they had to downsize, Randy fully committed himself to building their tiny, sustainable, dream home. It took three years for Randy and his wife, along with help from family and friends, to build the first straw home built in Frederick County, Maryland. Randy's home is proof that not only can a straw house withstand the elements, but that building a home that is sustainable can also be affordable. His home includes solar paneling, reused doors, local clay and limestone, and compost toilet. The cost was approximately $90/sq. ft., though he jokes it is closer to $150/sq. ft. including all of the soup and sandwiches he made for friends helping throughout the process.

AT Questionnaire:

Name: Randy (he asked that his last name not be included)
Location: Frederick County, MD
Size: Exterior 1,300 Interior 1,000
Years lived in: 8 years
My/Our Style: Southwest
Inspiration: Straw bale houses were floating around popular conversation for awhile. I knew I could build, and I thought straw bale would be a wonderful challenge.
Favorite green element: Straw! Everything else is icing on the cake.
Biggest challenge: Learning to work with green products
What friends say: It's quiet because of the straw insulation and that they like the natural appearance.
Biggest embarrassment: Started too early--I bought straw and then had to sell it because I wasn't ready.
Proudest DIY: pulling it off
Biggest indulgence: compost toilet and the gray water system.
Best advice to anyone trying to green their home: research!
Future goals: Experiment with color on walls using natural materials


Landscaping: Cedars placed in the north of the house act as a wind barrier
Appliances: Energy Star for washing machine and refrigerator
Hardware: Almost all of the hardware is recycled
Lighting: A combination of task lighting and ambient lighting all using compact fluorescent light bulbs. The windows are also large which creates most of the needed light during the day.
Tile & Stone: Tile from kitchen to the bathroom were all recycled.
Paint: Window frames are tinted using natural oils and wax.
Flooring: Oak flooring which is naturally sustainable for this region.
Other: is an excellent source for state-by-state rebates on green products.

Thanks, Randy! More photos can be found here.

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