Background on Joanne’s Straw Bale Home
Joanne Calkins approached Paja Construction wanting to improve her existing house in Albuquerque. Heating and cooling costs were exorbitant, windows were single paned and/or in undesirable locations and she wanted to create a second story on a 1000 sq foot, 70 year old, stick frame house. She wanted the second story for a view of the mountains and an additional bedroom.
“We decided the most economical way to meet her needs was to ‘retrofit’ the existing house with straw bales, and add a second story straw bale structure. “
Construction started in September of 2011 and completed four months later
An insulated concrete footing was poured around the perimeter of her existing house. Straw bales were then stacked against her house, attached to the existing frame all the existing windows were removed and either brought to the outside of the new straw bale wall,, or replaced.
For the second floor addition, (800 sq ft) we chose to create our own post and beam structure rather than investigating the 70 year old footing and frame work to verify whether the old structure could support a second floor. As part of that process, footers were dug on the inside of the house and columns were constructed leading up through the existing roof.
Step by Step
“Monthly heating and cooling bills have plummeted to a tiny fraction of her former costs and there no electricity bills.”
Miss Calkins is also on schedule to regain the entire cost of the solar installation within 6 years, upon which time she will start accruing a profit for the electricty her house generates and sells to Albuquerque’s PNM system.
The Calkins’s Straw Bale Retrofit and Expansion has
been featured in numerous articles and won several awards