PLAN 1042 (HABITAT), four bedrooms, one bath.
1. This plan was selected by Habitat for Humanity, Pueblo, Colorado as their first Straw Bale house, built in the summer of l997. Click here to see photos of the house being build.
Although it was originally planned to have straw bales in the south wall, it was modified during construction to eliminate straw in front of the bathroom and kitchen. This provided a foot more room where it was needed most, made it easier to install the bathtub and south facing kitchen cabinets and simplified the placement of south facing windows.
2. I purposely put the kitchen and the bath on the south side, as these rooms have a lot of thermal mass in the tile counter tops, tile floors, bathtub, and toilet. The idea is to tile all the south facing rooms and put carpet in the three back bedrooms as a compromise for people in energy transition. The south bedroom is problematic because the bed, in direct winter sunlight, offer little thermal mass, and may cause the air to overheat. An exposed water bed mattress could solve this problem.
3. The L shaped kitchen is efficient and adequate, especially with the round table doubling as counter and eating space. The lounge, which shares space with the kitchen/dining area, is small but adequate to seat the family if you pull in a couple of kitchen chairs when everyone is around at the same time.
4. The bathroom is sectioned, to allow more than one persons use, a necessity with four bedrooms. A large window over the tub provides natural light and air and heats the bathing area in the winter. The utility room with outside door shares a continuation of the wet wall (plumbing wall) for cost efficiency. Shelving or cabinets over the washer/dryer provides plenty of linen space as well as garden and all purpose storage. The utility room functions as a mud room and air lock entry for extreme conditions.
5. The plan shows no windows on the short east and west walls to reduce cost and minimize summer heat build up from direct sun. (Next time I would add an east and west window) Super insulation and south side overhangs reduce the number of days requiring summer air conditioning or evaporative cooling.
6. Three of the bedrooms have good access to the bathroom, including the slightly larger "master bedroom". The east bedroom may be used as an office or studio, when not needed as a bedroom.
7. The Pueblo habitat house was build with a simple and inexpensive gable roof, but a hip or double shed with clearstory are good alternatives. A flat roof with parapets would create a southwest look.
8. (Note) In the beginning I was worried that the house (at 1042 sq. ft.) was too small to function well. This was unfounded. The house is now functioning quite well serving a very large family...feels light and airy, with a good sense of space.