The 57 acres that comprise Cedar Ridge Farm are located in the beautiful rolling hills of South Central Kentucky. My wife, our four children, and I are on a homesteading adventure as we work toward increased self-sufficiency. We grow much of our own food and enjoy being in touch with the agrarian roots of our lives.

One of the major projects we have undertaken is the building of our own home. The house we're building has three major distinguishing features: 1. we're building it without incurring any debt; 2. it is a timber frame structure; and 3. the exterior walls will be plastered straw bales. We live debt and mortgage free, and building our house with that approach makes perfect sense. Large timbers in a home possess a beauty and project a sense of strength, stability, and warmth that we want in our home. Straw bale walls provide insulation and make ecological sense. This blog is a record of our home-building project.

Friday, November 12, 2010

The siding is complete

front of houseWith the blessing of good weather this week, we were able to get the siding all installed. We first completed the walls around the mudroom, laundry room, and sewing room and then began on the walls on the porch on the west side of the house. The process went very smoothly, and we were able to finish Thursday afternoon.

The siding has several different colors, but we’ll be painting it next summer when the weather warms up. There were about 7 different colors in all. I think some of the material was leftover from other projects that was returned to the building supply company. I bought it from a local guy who bought it in auction from the supplier. So, I got a really good deal on it.

northwest cornerfrom a distance

I still have to caulk around the windows and corners, but other than that the house is closed in now. It’s been my goal to have it closed in before Thanksgiving. It’s really quite exciting to meet that goal. I feel very blessed.


Julie said...


Anonymous said...

Woo hoo! I'm happy for the whole family. Ya'll continue to inspire. Jennifer

Anonymous said...

Hey, Your project looks great. My name's Jordan Speigle, I've been into timberfaming for years, and have lately been getting into strawbale construction, and the thought of how awesome it would be to merge the two; so i was excited to see what you're doing. Crazy thing is, I moved to Paintsville, KY this past June, and I'm volunteering for Christian Appalachian Project, anyways, I saw that it said that you're in south central KY, so if it ever suited, I'd love to come down and see your house. You can either call me 814-418-3462, or e-mail me at Thanks, look forward to hearing from you. ~Jordan

David said...

I am just catching up on your progress, having found your blog this morning. I tried to read carefully but may have missed if you have already addressed it. Why did you decide to use siding over strawbales?
I love the site (and the homestead site as well). Congratulations on your progress.

dp said...

Hi, David. Welcome to my blog.

I've wanted to build a straw bale house for several years. The primary concern with straw bale construction is moisture which can cause the bales to rot -- not a good thing. I liked the advantages of a clay plaster on the bales -- clay and straw go together very well. However, a mud plaster is not as durable when pelted with driving rain. I figured that siding would provide an additional barrier to keep out moisture.

I didn't put the siding directly on the plastered bales; there is an air gap between the plaster and the siding. This gap should keep moisture from condensing on the inside of the siding directly against the plaster. Also, the way the siding is installed, the air gap is vented to allow any moisture to escape. The siding will stand the weather and keep moisture away from the bale walls.

Oh, I also didn't really want a stucco look for the house. Just a personal preference.

David said...

thanks for the update and detail concerning the siding. Haven't you created a perfect environment for mold growth between siding and bale-plaster?
My understanding is that plastered bales could be directly exposed to the elements - so long as it was not under constant rain impact. I will follow your experiment with great interest. thanks for being willing to show you build.

dp said...

Hey, David. Thanks for the question. I don't believe that siding the house has created a perfect mold-growing environment.

First of all, siding on a straw bale house is not new with me; it's been done before. I only decided to go ahead and use siding after reading about others having done so. And, yes, the walls could have been left with plaster only. Some types of plaster are more durable to weather but are less advantageous in terms of potential moisture problems in the bales.

Additionally, the air space between the bale plaster and the siding is not an airtight space (it's vented). This allows whatever moisture that migrates through the wall or sneaks in past the siding to be vented out freely. Since the siding is not against the plaster directly, it will not hold moisture against the plaster which could contribute to erosion and decay of the plaster. It functions as a wind screen.

The mold growth that is a potential problem for bale walls happens within the straw. It's related to its natural decay process. My bales are well plastered to keep our moisture and to draw it out of the bales when it naturally gets in there. If moisture got behind the siding, the straw is still protected.

Sarai Loftis said...

Congratulations! How’s your siding now? Did you paint it in the colors that you like? A properly installed siding will serve as protection from water build-ups during rainy season and snow build-up during winter. I hope you consider checking it regularly for spots that need repair to ensure its longevity. Thanks for sharing! :)

Sarai Loftis @ Edmunds General Contracting