when a home dreams green it dreams strawBale

Sustainable living for a Sustainable future, for when a home dreams green it dreams strawbale.
From the beginning it was our intention to build ecologically friendly, structurally sound, naturally efficient homes, using a minimum amount of embodied energy. These methods resulted in a home that is comfortable, artistic, and modern while minimizing the monthly and ever increasing utility bill. To that end I believe we succeeded.
After a decade and 8 homes, my goal now, is to promote the continuance of the strawbale paradigm. I wish to use this blog as a vehicle to perpetuate the ideals that we can reduce our 'footprint’. That we do have options that don’t include following the path of oil. That sometimes the best solutions are the simplest ones.
In the end, the big bad wolf, he huffed and he puffed and he huffed and he puffed and.........The 3 little pigies sat comfortably in their home of straw, completely unaware of the danger out there. The wolf contemplated, totally in awe. Perhaps it weren’t so bad to have a home made of straw.
©gregory vroom walter 11/29/11
I believe that the most comfortable home I have ever been in is a Strawbale home.
It is not my intention to teach everything there is to know about strawbale, for there are plenty of books already written that do this quite well, of which I will recommend. Rather my intention is to share the knowledge I have gained from designing and building eight homes that have all performed beyond expectation. I hope you find my posts and pages informative, enjoyable and helpful.

Thursday, February 9, 2023

To Naturally build or not? That is a very serious question.

 To build or not to build

I Was a Strawbale home design builder. I designed and built 8 homes, 3 of which i used REU’s or Rammed earth tires as a means to get above grade? 

Is it cheaper to build naturally than conventional construction…Yes, but only if you do it yourself and no if you don’t. What is your time worth and do you have it!

As to building your own Natural home:

1] Building your own home is one of the most empowering things you can do. It will also be one of the most difficult, especially if you do not have experience. Having said that, a home will teach you how to build it, you just have to get started.

2] Building your home and the “SWEAT equity” that comes with it will be one of the greatest investments you will ever make.

3] A natural built home is very LABOR intensive. 

4] Plan on giving yourself, at the very least, Two years to build. One for planning and design and a Minimum of one year to build and move in and possibly much longer to finish!

I recommend Straw Bale as it has passed all ASTM standards and with flying colors! Lots of building Departments are aware of them and may allow them as are insurance companies and banks.

Cons of Natural Building:

1] Very difficult to finance and insure. You must be persistent and don’t take no for an answer!

2] As such they are also harder to sell and as an investment will not be worth what a conventional new build home would be. So you must ask yourself…is this a place I plan on spending a large part of my life in

3] Because a home is possibly the single biggest investment in your life and life is unpredictable, will this be a good investment for me in the long run. Possibly? If it is very efficient it may become more valuable over time as our paradigm shifts.

4] VERY LABOR INTENSIVE. Are you up for that?

Pros: For a Straw Bale Home, as that is what I know!

1] Somewhat smaller Carbon Footprint.

2] Very Cozy, efficient, warm and snuggly in winter, cool in summer.

3] Artistic, Creative and Righteous!

4] Very Quite!

5] When done, you will love your home and it will love you back.

To Summarize; Building your own home can be one of the most rewarding things you can do in your life and also the most stressful. Be sure to not paint yourself into a financial corner by building a home that may be difficult to sell. Do your homework!

If you have the time and money to build for yourself and you want a very efficient home that will be comfortable in all seasons and you plan on being in that home for a long time then a Naturally Built home might be just for you, but remember, it might be just for you. 

If you are building a home as an investment and are hoping to cash in on your sweat equity then I would think twice about building a alternative “natural home”

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Tooley's Trees

Tooley’s Trees
    It’s spring, once more, it’s COVID 19 spring, forever to be known as the spring of 2020. This spring represents an awakening! A coming back to what is truly important. Family, close friends, the land. We are in the midst of a back to the land movement, yearning for and taking long hikes, learning how to be still and enjoying, if not appreciating, the great slowdown, people are diggin and digging gardens, and people are planting Trees.
    The Earth, Mother Earth, the Big Blue Ball, the Miracle of the Universe that without our existence would not, well….exist, she too is diggin the great slowdown of 2020.        For my Wife Terri and I, life, for now, has not been that different aside from not traveling to see kids and grand kids, and not having our dinner parties with close friends, our life is not so different. We have always lived a “slower life”. We have always tried to “stop and smell the roses”. As a result our life has been quite rosy. Knock on wood! After all, life, like perfection, is in the eye of the beholder, isn't it.
   So this, now, brings me to my story. Today we are going to plant a few trees. Our Mother Earth Day if you will. Not just any Tree, but a heirloom Whitney crab tree from Tooley’s Trees. I have known Gordon Tooley my entire adult life. We were roommates and climbing partners at Colorado Mountain College in Leadville Co. Even back then Gordon was an advanced being, a real soul-man, he had that twinkle, that spark, and he still does. To me he is an inspiration. A self taught naturalist, Botanist, who's mission in life is to take care of our planet, to be a good steward of the land and he does this with his trees, his stone fruits, Tooley's Trees.
    Gordon is a natural teacher, he can’t help it. His enthusiasm for his vocation bubbles out of him like a spring, a spring of knowledge, and his love of the planet is infectious... Inspirational. To walk with Gordon is to saunter with a walking encyclopedia. Whether in his orchard or a saunter in the woods he can’t help but teach you something. What that plant is, it’s common and Latin names, what it’s uses are, whether it’s medicinal or not.
   The main lesson that we got from him this last meeting, the lesson that stuck, was that ½ of the world is Bare Ground and consequently is the leading cause of our climate warming. I’d never heard that before, but, if you think about it, it makes sense. No Bare Ground, be a steward of the land, plant something, plant a tree.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

A letter to congress.

Increasing U.S. oil and gas exports to other nations will only accelerate fracking at home, transforming rural and impoverished communities into sacrifice zones and endangering public health, natural resources and local economies.
The oil and gas industry claims that fracking for gas can lead to energy independence, but that is simply not the case if we're just going to export that resource abroad.
Ultimately, approving and building infrastructure is a lengthy, expensive process, and the limited oil and gas reserves available under U.S. soil will not support the money and energy needed to ship it overseas. Instead, we should invest in renewable energy.
Not just renewables but responsible building practices that naturally will reduce the need for energy while increasing comfort. see: www.thestrawbalecottage.com
Why are we continually in such a hurry to use up our resources? If we are a country of conservatives, why can't we practice true conservatism and save our resources for a rainy day? The rich and powerful will remain the rich and powerful.!
There is only so much wealth [ resources ] on the planet why use them up all at once. Those are our resources and one of the many things that should help keep our country powerful.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Strawbale Workshop Set for September 13th - 20th 2014

This Work Shop is Full. stay tuned for future workshops.

This Workshop is designed for people who are truly interested in building Strawbale either for a home, shop or outbuilding. Whether you have been thinking about building it yourself or acting as the general contractor or having someone build for you the information that I share will be invaluable and hopefully will give you the confidence to take the next step towards building a home that is naturally efficient with a smaller embodied energy footprint. Much of what I will be sharing would apply to standard stick frame construction.

The Work shop will be hosted on my 70 acre off grid inholding called the Way Back Inn.

For more info about the property see: http://www.thewaybackinn.com/;

There is plenty of room for car and tent camping, facilities, and kitchen amenities.

 For when a home dreams green it dreams strawbale ™

In this workshop we will be Building a small studio of my own design. The Studio will be approximately 200 sq. ft. The foundation will be of “Earthship Design” made of tire. Then we will switch to Strawbale for everything above grade.


 Workshop participants can expect to learn my basic techniques for residential Strawbale construction from design to foundation to roof including electrical wiring in a strawbale wall and at the least a general overview of my approach to Natural Plasters and Finishes.

Itinerary: Each Morning will begin with a discussion of Passive Solar and Construction design principles as it applies to Strawbale Building. Including but not limited to site location, infrastructure, building envelope, Vapor and moisture management heat transfer and how it relates to mass and glazing, plaster paints and finishes and myth busting ie…fire, earthquake, wind, moisture and engineer testing.

I have designed the course so that Individuals may sign up for 1 or more days or the entire week.

Sat. 9/13

            Arrival Set up camp,

2:00 PM;

Tour of property and it's infrastructure; Photovoltaic system, septic, gravity fed well and spring, Historic Log Cabin and Tyre Strawbale addition.

Discussion; an overview of what we hope to learn over the coming days.

Cost: $25.00 per person

Sun. 9/14 – Fri. 9/20

            9:00 – 10:30 AM. Open Discussion; design principles etc…

            11:00 – 12:00 getting that day’s job started; layout, assignment of duties, organization and work.

            12;00 – 1:00 Lunch

            1:00 – 5:00 Finally we’ll get something done!

Cost $75.00 per person per day.

            $10:00 per tent site per day

            $15:00 per person per day for meals. Meals include: Continental breakfast, Deli style lunch, and family style dinner prepared by teams to be determined at orientation.

To register Contact me---Greg Walter @ 719-539-0420 or  greg@wanderlustroad.com  or Fill out Registration form here


About the Instructor: Greg Walter has over the course of the first decade of the 21st Century has designed and built from the ground up eight Strawbale Homes, three of which used tires for the below grade stem-wall / foundation.

                My interest in alternative construction or natural building goes back to at least my late teens. While living in Red Feather Lakes I was exposed to a variety of interesting folks who definitely did not fit into the normal social paradigm. From tree houses, to modern day homesteaders who were literally living off the land, to multi generation mountain folk whom had their own 19th century belt drivin, off grid machine shop and foundry. I was also introduced to books like Homework , Homemade Houses, and books that featured folks who had turned old trucks and busses into comfortable homes. As someone living on my own throughout my teens and early 20’s these all had a powerful influence on me.

            Later on through my 20’s I would be turned on by the Earthship books by Micheal Renalds, Living the Good Life by Helen and Scott Kneering and Bill Mollison’s Permaculture: a Designers Manual. During this time I started to here of Strawbale. This was some time in the late 80’s and early 90”s and there was something that really rang true to me about that kind of construction. At the time there really wasn’t much literature on the subject but the idea--- it just stuck with me.

            At the same time I was finishing up a 10 year career in ski bumming and as I was nearing my 30’s I began to burn out on the lifestyle. I mean really, if you are thinking of yourself as a granola crunching, tree huggin, 3-pinnen hippy carrying the weight of the world----well, ya can’t be livin much higher on the carbon and economic food chain than living at 10,000 feet, riding a chairlift every day, and workin for tips off the more well to do folks of society. Or at least that’s how I began to see it. No offence.

            So that’s when I decided to buy some off the grid property and take my own stab at “Living the Good Life” and sustainability and all that stuff that really is ever elusive and not that easy to attain. But, in my opinion is sure is worth the try. I mean you gotta believe in something. Right! Anyhow, I went about finding a local Strawbale Guru and a small little self-published guide called Build it with Bales by Matts Myhrman. Soon I found myself building a Tire and strawbale addition to an old historic log miners cabin that I was also remodeling on the property that I had purchased.

            After starting that project I was approached locally by someone who wanted me to help design and build her home. It was also a tire and Strawbale hybrid.

            Ten years and eight homes later; which I designed and built, and with a lot of research and reading I now feel confident, inspired and obliged to share the knowledge and passion I have acquired.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Ted Talks. Save the bees-----says it all

What this lady reveals in her ted talk and her closing statement, in my mind........is the solution!

Friday, August 23, 2013

Past Projects

The Thomas Residence

For our second Strawbale Building in Smeltertown, we built a 1640 sq foot home for some more folks wanting to lower their ”Carbon Footprint”. The home is part of a piece of land that is also home to the Cox / Hvoslef project. It features, a variety of historic buildings that comprise of an old homestead. The home incorporates traditional natural plasters inside and out, an adobe earth troumb wall, in-floor radiant heat, solar domestic hot water, and 3000-Watt Solar Grid Inter tie system. This home also features a passive solar radiant air floor influenced by the work of James kachadorian’s in his book “The Passive Solar House”.
Built in 2008-2009; The Thomas’s Home has very clean lines. They wanted a modern, European look. To accomplish this we used no trim for baseboard, doors, or ceiling. The result; a nice clean simple finish. This Strawbale home is Energy Star Rated



Merry Cox and Eric Hvoslef’s Residence is an artists home with an artists touch. Definitely the most fun we’ve been able to have to date.! This pad not only has all the amenities that you expect from The Strawbale Cottage But cool touches through out. Such as; The grill of a 57? Chevy pick up with the chrome arrows saying Apache integrated in the main rooms plaster walls. The headlights work too! Tadalakt style shower walls, an old steering wheel incorporated into the truth window among other cool details.