Asking Questions of Your Plans

It is a good idea to ask yourself a series of questions as you scrutinize your plans. The world's best authors have editors and proofreaders; your plans will benefit from a similar third-party reading. Friends and family may be able to help a little, but someone with building experience will be most helpful. It may even be worth it to pay a professional builder to review your plans. If you can find someone who has had some experience building with bales, all the better.

Run your plans through a philosophical checklist to be sure they fulfill your original intentions. Is the house the right size? Does it contain the kinds of rooms you wanted? Does its appearance suit your esthetic sense and the landscape it will occupy? On a more practical note, do some budget estimates. By this point, you'll be able to do an accurate tally of all required components, including lumber, doors, windows, roofing, concrete, and interior finishing. Give your plans to professionals who can generate estimates for materials and labor.

Check your plans for buildability. Do all your measurements pan out? Will the intersections of different components be possible to construct as drawn? Do measurements make sense — lengths,

12.13: There are so many possible scenarios at the top of the wall when using post and beam. The key is to have a baffle of plywood or other solid material at the top of the straw to seal it and provide a plaster stop.

widths, and spans? Where there are interruptions in wall or roof directions, can the transitions be achieved without undue hassle? Will gravity pull water into the building? Will your finishing components — plaster, drywall, wood, etc. — be well detailed, with accurate starting, finishing, and attachment points? Have you planned adequately for the installation of the bale walls? Sufficient roof overhangs, raised curbs, and flashing? Does the height of your

12.14: Don't let the square page fool you into making everything square. Bale walls can be curved, sculpted and oriented to create unique spaces. Some of this can happen spontaneously on site, but it's usually best to plan for it ahead of time.

walls correspond to even bale heights? Do you understand how you will achieve directional changes with your top plate? Do your window and door bucks correspond with bale heights and your desired finish?

With carefully considered drawings prepared, your troubleshooting scrutinizing process can begin in earnest.

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