Other Submission Documents

Don't assume that just submitting a set of plans is enough to get a permit. Some bale builders get so focused on the plans, they forget all the other components of the application. Site maps and surveys, water tests or wells, septic permits, driveway allowances, zoning, property deeds, and many other documents will likely be required as part of your application. More straw bale plans have been turned down the first time because they were lacking some of these factors than because they were straw bale plans. Most municipalities have a package that contains all this

Q: What suggestions would you have for people when introducing the idea of straw bale construction to building officials who have never heard of it?

A: I think a wide variety of approaches is necessary. It's an education process. Let the building official know that this isn't a crackpot idea but a tried-and-true building method that's been used for years. Give the officials adequate material and don't push too hard. They see a lot of snake-oil artists and you don't want them to think you're pushing them into something. Give them time to review the information, put on a program to show them photos or books or videos. Use as many approaches as you can to educate them about it. You have to elevate their level of comfort.

Q: What suggestions would you have for those building officials?

A: Keep an open mind. We all need to understand that we have to embrace different methods of construction. We must find low-cost sustainable methods to build housing. Here is an opportunity to use a waste product. Express your concerns, ask your questions. Take the time to really look at it and learn about its history. I'm convinced that if you do, you'll get excited about it, too.

— From an interview by David Eisenberg, with Bob Fowler, FAIA, RE, C.B.O., originally published in The Last Straw, no. 13, Spring, 1996 p. 4. Mr. Fowler was the chief building official for Pasadena, California, at the time of the interview, and was a past chairman of the board of the International Conference of Building Officials (ICBO), board member and vice-president of the World Organization of Building Officials (WOBO), and founding chairman of the board of the International Code Council (ICC). He was killed in a motorcycle accident in August 2001 — a huge loss —

though he left behind a legacy of inspirational work, vision and leadership. ■

information; make sure you get it early and meet all its requirements.

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