Publication 11

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BWB Straw-Bale Construction Guide

by Dr. Owen Geiger and Katia LeMone.
Due out Summer, 2004 from Builders Without Borders.

The Builders Without Borders (BWB) Straw-Bale Construction Guide was created to meet the growing demand for easy-to-understand instructions on building strawbale homes. It is designed for workshop participants, the communities that work with BWB and anyone who wants to build a comfortable, affordable home. This book is a pictorial how-to guide on straw-bale construction basics that emphasizes low-cost methods to help those in the greatest need for affordable housing.

The latest tips and techniques on building strawbale houses are covered, some of which do not appear in other books. These methods are illustrated with photographs and drawings to help readers build their own homes while saving time, labor and resources. Another goal is to reach the widest possible audience, so this Guide focuses on what works best in most regions of the world instead of one particular locality.

An overarching goal of BWB and this Guide is to empower people versus just telling them how to do it. This approach may very well be the missing link that prevents many housing projects from reaching their full potential. The Chinese proverb “If I hear it, I forget it. If I see it, I remember it. If I do it, I know it.”, is very appropriate. Placing the emphasis on training, including job training for local communities, instead of just building houses is one key to successful projects. The process used throughout this Guide encourages shared learning, self discovery, hands-on activities, open dialog, problem solving and building multicultural relationships, instead of just telling how it should be done.

Special features of the BWB Straw-Bale Construction Guide:
- The pictorial format helps bridge language and illiteracy barriers.
- A 3-ring binder makes it easy to update.
- Tabs along the side organize each topic (Foundations, Walls, etc.).
- Updates to the Guide will become available as new ideas and methods develop.
- The Guide is designed to be easily translated into other languages.

Dr. Owen Geiger is the Director of Builders Without Borders, an engineer and licensed contractor specializing in straw-bale construction. He also contributed to Building Without Borders: Sustainable Construction for the Global Village. Geiger lives near Las Cruces, New Mexico.

Katia LeMone is a doctoral candidate, professional curriculum developer and trainer working with Upper Mohawk. Her experience includes work with Native American reservations, government agencies and providing health care in developing countries. LeMone lives in Las Cruces, New Mexico.